Thursday, December 17, 2009

Worship for Advent 4

Thursday after Advent 3
Commemoration of Daniel the Prophet and the Three Young Men
December 17, 2009

The Lord be with you

This coming Sunday is the Fourth Sunday in Advent. The appointed lessons are Micah 5:2-5a, Hebrews 10:5-10 and Luke 1:39-45. Psalm 80:1-7 is the appointed Psalm. Verse 7 is the antiphon. The sermon, based on the Gospel lesson, is titled “The Beauty of Christmas.” We will be using Matins (page 219) for our liturgy. Our opening hymn will be “O Come, O Come, Emmanuel” (LSB 357). The sermon hymn will be “The Angel Gabriel from Heaven Came” (LSB 356). Our closing hymn will be “Tell Out, My Soul, the Greatness of the Lord” (LSB 935). The choir will be singing “Born In Bethlehem.”

Speaking about being born in Bethlehem, don’t forget our Christmas Eve Candlelight service at 7:00 PM, and our Christmas Day service of Carols and Communion at 10:00 AM. I’ve always had a hard time understanding Christians who do not attend a worship service in celebration of our Lord’s birth; so be kind to my poor brain and worship the newborn King this Christmas.

Better Noise (see the link on the right-hand side of this page) has “O Come, O Come, Emmanuel” and “The Angel Gabriel from Heaven Came,” but not “Tell Out, My Soul, the Greatness of the Lord.” I did find a video on YouTube of “Tell Out, My Soul, the Greatness of the Lord,” and it is posted at the end of these notes. It was recorded at a church named St. John’s and is played on their church bells.

Preview of the Lessons
Micah 5:2-5a: Micah lived and worked from about 750 to 686 BC. He saw the fall of the Northern Kingdom of Israel to Assyria in 722. In general he called the people, especially in the North, to wake-up to the dismal state of their spiritual condition or they would suffer the consequences. They did not and Israel fell. These are the famous “lost” tribes of Israel. These “Jews,” who had abandoned the faith of Abraham long before the fall of Israel, were simply assimilated into the Mesopotamian culture. Judah (the southern kingdom) listened and repented under the good king Hezekiah, and held off Assyria. While the leaders of Israel, identified as shepherds, didn’t care for the spiritual state of the people, the Lord promised a Shepherd who would. That Shepherd is Jesus. In Sunday’s reading Micah indicates that this Shepherd would be born in Bethlehem. This is the passage that the scribes referred Herod to when the wise men asked Herod where the Messiah would be born.

Hebrews 10:5-10: The writer of Hebrews probably quotes the Old Testament more than any other New Testament writer (though Matthew gives him a run for his money). His purpose in this is to establish that the Old Testament is fulfilled in Jesus. Apparently persecution of Christians was increasing and the Roman sanction faith of the Temple was looking mighty tempting to some believers. In this reading the superiority of the once for all time sacrifice of Jesus over the time and time again sacrifices of the Temple is accented. It is interesting that the writer of Hebrews cites Psalm 40:6-8 in this lesson as the words of Jesus. This is not an error on his part. He is fully convinced that it was Jesus speaking through the King David. Therefore King David would also encourage those considering returning to the Roman sanction Jewish religion to remain faithful to Jesus.

Luke 1:39-45: Sunday’s sermon will be based on this lesson, so I don’t want to say much here. However there is a point or two that will not make the sermon. This is the story about how Mary, right after the angel Gabriel informed her that she would be the Messiah’s mother, went to visit Elizabeth. Elizabeth was about six months pregnant with John the Baptist. When Mary greets Elizabeth the English text says “the baby [John] leaped in her womb.” The word “leaped” in Greek means to “skip about like a calf.” It is also worth noting that John recognizes Jesus, even though Jesus would have been only the size of a pencil dot. What a way to underscore that life begins at conception. Also notice the accent on the Word of God throughout the story. “When the sound of your greeting came to my earys, the baby in my womb leaped for joy.” “Blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfillment of what was spoken to her from the Lord.” Based on this last quote, Luther once said that Mary “conceived through her ear.”

Sunday’s Collect
Stir up Your power, O Lord, and come and help us by Your might, that the sins which weigh us down may be quickly lifted by Your grace and mercy; for You live and reign with the Father and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.

Gradual (Zechariah 9:9; Psalm 118:26)
Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion.
Shout aloud, O daughter of Jerusalem.
Behold, your king is coming to you;
righteous and having salvation.
Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.
From the house of the Lord we bless you.

Verse (Luke 3:4b, 6)
Alleluia. Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall call his name Immanuel. Alleluia.

Psalm 80:1-7 is the appointed Psalm for the day and we will be using it instead of the appointed Introit.

Blessings in Christ,
Pastor John Rickert

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