Thursday, January 21, 2010

Worship for Epiphany 3

Thursday after Epiphany 2
January 11, 2010

The Lord be with you

This coming Sunday is the Third Sunday after the Epiphany. It also happens to be the Commemoration of St. Timothy, Pastor and Confessor, a minor holiday which will not impact our worship. However I will post something about St. Timothy on this blog. The appointed lessons are Nehemiah 8:1-3, 5-6, 8-10; 1 Corinthians 12:12-31a; and Luke 4:16-30. The sermon, based on the Epistle lesson, is titled “The Mystery of Baptism.” We will be using the third setting of the morning service (page 184) for our liturgy (the one like the Morning Service in The Lutheran Hymnal). We will be celebrating the Lord’s Supper. To prepare you can read the “Christian Questions with Their Answers” from Luther’s Small Catechism, found on page 329 of Lutheran Service Book or in your copy of the Catechism. Our opening hymn will be “Open Now Thy Gates of Beauty” (LSB 901). Our sermon hymn will be “Baptized into Your Name Most Holy” (LSB 590). Our distribution hymns will be “”From God the Father, Virgin-Born” (LSB 401) (the hymn we are learning), “Eat This Bread” (LSB 638), and “All Christians Who Have Been Baptized” (LSB 596). Our Closing hymn will be “Go, My Children, with My Blessing” (LSB 922).

Every hymn for Sunday can be found on line at “Better Noises” (see link on the right-hand side of this blog). I found a video of “Open Now Thy Gates of Beauty,” sung at an installation service at a Lutheran congregation. The embedding function has been disabled but if you click on the highlighted hymn title you will be taken to the video.

Preview of the Lessons
Nehemiah 8:1-3, 5-6, 8-10: Judah had been taken captive by the Babylonians, the city walls and temple destroyed and only the poor and uneducated left in the land. The Babylonians, in turn, were conquered by the Persians. The Jews were allowed to return to their homeland and the returning Jews were led by Nehemiah (political leadership) and Ezra (spiritual leadership). The books of Ezra and Nehemiah are largely about the rebuilding of Jerusalem’s walls and temple. In this lesson a break is take from building the walls to celebrate the Feast of Trumpets (Leviticus 23:24-25). It was a day for worship, the offerings of gifts and sacrifices to the Lord, the partial stopping of work, and in this case feasting and the exchange of presents. Ezra read from the “Book of the Law of Moses” (1) which could have been any of the first five books of the Bible but most think it was Deuteronomy. There was also preaching (7-8) or at least what we might call Bible class. The Spirit worked repentance in the people but they were in danger of remaining broken (9-10). Nehemiah quickly realizes that the people need to move from sorrow over their sins to the joy of forgiveness. What makes a day holy is not so much regret for sins but the reception of forgiveness, the restoration of a right relationship with the Lord. One way this is reflected in modern practice is in the season of Lent. Many fast from Ash Wednesday until Easter. However the Sunday’s in Lent are not part of Lent. They remain Feast Days. On Sundays, according to tradition, you do not fast. This lesson accents the importance of the Word of God and corporate worship as well as the joy of having our sins forgiven in Christ Jesus, our Lord.

1 Corinthians 12:12-31a: The thrust of this passage is Baptism, how it connects us to Christ and therefore to one another making us the body of Christ. It ends with another “gift” list. These gifts are, therefore, linked to baptism, indicating that the Spirit has given us gifts in our baptism to use for the common good of the body. Certainly the greatest gifts given in baptism are that “it works forgiveness of sins, rescues from death and the devil, and gives eternal salvation to all who believe this, as the words and promises of God declare” (Mark 16:16). We will hear more about baptism in Sunday’s sermon.

Luke 4:16-30: This account is from the first year of Jesus’ public ministry. He returns to his hometown of Nazareth and is invited to read and expound on the Scriptures. He reads from Isaiah 61. This is a pure gospel lesson from Isaiah which reveals the Trinity. The (Holy) Spirit of the LORD (the Father) is upon Me (the Son) …” According to Isaiah the work of the Son is to bring deliverance. That deliverance ultimately was accomplished through the cross. Jesus indicates that the Anointed One (Messiah/Christ) spoken of by Isaiah was himself. The people were not interested in forgiveness (I guess they figured they had that handled just fine by themselves). Instead they wanted Jesus to perform miracles. Therefore they rejected Jesus and tried to kill him. Again the importance of worship is accented as we are told that it was Jesus’ custom to regularly attend the worship services (16). The word is accented as Jesus reads from the Old Testament. Sermons are accented as Jesus expounds on the Bible reading. Grace is for all is accented in Jesus’ sermon as he brings in two non-Israelites who received God’s grace while many in Israel were rejecting it.

Sunday’s Collect
Almighty and everlasting God, mercifully look upon our infirmities and stretch forth the hand of Your majesty to heal and defend us; 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. The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. Alleluia.

Introit (Psalm 102:18-22; Psalm 102:13)
You will arise and have pity on Zion;
it is the time to favor her; the appointed time has come.
Let this be recorded for a generation to come,
so that a people yet to be created may praise the LORD:
that he looked down from his holy height;
from heaven the LORD looked at the earth,
to hear the groans of the prisoners,
to set free those who were doomed to die,
that they may declare in Zion the name of the LORD,
and in Jerusalem his praise,
when peoples gather together,
and kingdoms, to worship the LORD.
Glory be to the Father and to the Son
and to the Holy Spirit;
as it was in the beginning,
is now, and will be forever. Amen.
You will arise and have pity on Zion;
it is the time to favor her; the appointed time has come.

* Information for the February newsletter is due Sunday.

Blessings in Christ,
Pastor John Rickert

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