Thursday, January 14, 2010

Worship for Epiphany 2

Thursday after the Baptism of our Lord
January 14, 2010

The Lord be with you

This coming Sunday is the Second Sunday after the Epiphany. The appointed lessons are Isaiah 62:1-5; 1 Corinthians 12:1-11; and John 2:1-11. Psalm 128 is the appointed Psalm. Verse 5 is the antiphon. The sermon, based on the Epistle lesson, is titled “THE Mark of the Spirit.” We will be using Matins (page 219) for our liturgy. Our opening hymn will be “From God the Father, Virgin-Born” (LSB 401). The sermon hymn will be “O Holy Spirit, Enter In” (LSB 913). The closing hymn will be “All Depends on Our Possessing” (LSB 732). Better Noise (see the link on the right-hand side of this page) has each of these hymns. “From God the Father, Virgin-Born” is a new hymn for Lamb of God, and we will be singing it each week for the next few weeks, to learn it. The hymn was selected by our hymnal review committee. While it may be new to us, it is hardly a new hymn. “From God the Father, Virgin-Born” was written sometime between the 5th and the 10th centuries, in Latin. So this hymn must certainly be considered a “good old hymn.” I could find no videos of the hymns on YouTube.

We are in the Epiphany Season, which always begins on January 6th. The length of the Epiphany Season varies, depending on the date of Easter. As Easter comes early this year (April 4), we will have only 6 Sundays in the Epiphany Season. The word “epiphany” means “manifest,” “to make obvious,” etc. What is being made obvious in the Gospel lessons throughout the Epiphany Season is that Jesus is the Son of God. That Jesus was a human being was obvious to all with eyes in their heads. He ate, he slept, he bled, he died, and was able to do all else that people do. That he was the Son of the Father could not be seen (and still cannot be seen) with human eyes alone. It had to be revealed; it had to be made obvious. So the Gospel lesson for the First Sunday after the Epiphany is always the Baptism of our Lord, where the voice of the Father identifies Jesus as His beloved Son. The Gospel lesson for The Second Sunday after the Epiphany is always Jesus’ first miracle, turning water into wine at the marriage feast in Cana. Certainly no mere human could do this. The Last Sunday after the Epiphany is always Transfiguration Sunday, where Jesus is transfigured with some of the glory he had before the incarnation and again the voice of the Father identifies Jesus as the Son of God. Each week throughout the Epiphany Season, as you listen to the Gospel lesson, ask yourself, “How does this lesson reveal that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the Father, God in the flesh?”

Preview of the Lessons
Isaiah 62:1-5: Isaiah lived and prophesied from 740 to 681 BC. This means that he saw the fall of the Northern Kingdom of Israel to the Assyrian Empire (722 BC). He worked, though, in the Southern Kingdom of Judah. Kings that ruled Judah during his lifetime were: Uzziah (who died in 740), Jotham, Ahaz, Hezekiah, and Manasseh. Manasseh outlived Isaiah by many years. Isaiah is sometimes called the Evangelist of the Old Testament. While he certainly has passages of judgment, his clear gospel messages are what have drawn Christians to this book over the centuries. This reading is one of those Gospel sections. Isaiah has seen the coming captivity of Judah by the Babylonians, a nobody-nation at the time of Isaiah. This passage looks forward to the deliverance of God’s people. The deliverance of OT Israel is a type of the greater deliverance Jesus accomplished by his death on the cross. So, while this reading certainly had meaning for the OT people of God, giving them hope in their dark times, it also continues to have meaning for the NT people of God. The “righteousness” and “salvation” that goes forth from the people of God ultimately is Jesus (1). This is not self-righteousness. It is not how to live in order to please God. It is pure grace. This righteousness (Jesus) goes forth to the nations (2) bringing all who receive Jesus salvation. The people of God receive a new name (2), which is “Christian.” Verses 3-5 speak of just how precious believers are to the Lord, and how blessed we are by the Lord.

1 Corinthians 12:1-11: This will actually be the text for the sermon, so I’ll be even briefer in my description. This is one of the well-known “gift-lists” in the New Testament that are so popular with Pentecostal and Charismatic groups. These groups began in the first decade of the 20th century in Los Angeles, CA. The movement is now global, probably touching every major denomination. Most who read this already know that I think this movement is supported by a faulty understanding of the Bible and at its best driven by human emotions. This lesson will help us see that a truly “Spirit-filled” person is focused on Jesus, not the Holy Spirit, not Spiritual gifts, and certainly not on ourselves. We will also see that a truly “Spirit-filled” person gets involved in service. Enough said for now. Come Sunday and hear more.

John 2:1-11: This is the standard Gospel lesson for the Second Sunday after the Epiphany. Jesus attend a wedding with his early disciples (Jesus has not yet picked the 12, but the ones with him will become part of that group). The wine runs out. Mary, the mother of our Lord, asks Jesus to help. Jesus does, turning water into wine. The text ends with the disciples believing in Jesus. This lesson has been used many ways through the centuries. Jesus presence at the wedding is used to underscore God’s approval of marriage. Mary turning to Jesus in a time of need has been used to remind us to turn to Jesus in all our needs. Jesus obeying Mary and helping has been used to remind us that we are to honor, serve obey, love and cherish our parents and other authorities. That Jesus turned water into wine has been used to remind us that having a glass of wine is not, in and of itself, sinful. But the main point of the text is that Jesus “manifested his glory” and because of that his disciples believed in him. This belief was not that Jesus was a human being, a good teacher, a great showman, a dutiful son, that Jesus thought drinking wine was okay, etc., but that he was the Messiah, God in the flesh. Sure, their understanding was imperfect, but whose understanding isn’t imperfect. Sure, we have a greater understanding because we live after the cross, but they already believed that the Messiah had come, and that Messiah was Jesus who “manifested his glory” that day.

Sunday’s Collect
Almighty and everlasting God, who governs all things in heaven and on earth, mercifully hear the prayers of Your people and grant us Your peace through all our days; through Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.

Gradual (Psalm 117:1-2a; 96:8)
Praise the LORD, all nations!
Extol him, all peoples!
For great is his steadfast love towards us,
and the faithfulness of the LORD endures forever.
Ascribe to the LORD the glory due his name;
bring an offering, and come into his courts!

Verse (John 2:11)
Alleluia. This, the first of his signs, Jesus Did at Cana in Galilee, and manifested his glory. And his disciples believed in him. Alleluia.

Psalm 128 is the appointed Psalm for the day and we will be using it instead of the appointed Introit.

Blessings in Christ,
Pastor John Rickert


  1. Hi John,
    What about the Sunday School lesson? What question will be tackled this week?

  2. 1 Peter 3:19, "in which he [Jesus] went and proclaimed to the spirits in prison."