Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Worship for Lent 1

Shrove Tuesday
February 16, 2010

The Lord be with you

For those who come to this site regularly, you will notice that these notes concerning this coming Sunday’s worship service is being posted earlier that usual. That is because this Thursday (the usual day these notes are posted) I will begin my first seminar class at Gardner Webb University as I pursue a Doctorate of Ministry degree. Indeed this degree program will have me at GWU for most Thursdays over the next two years (the third year I’ll be working on my D.Min. project and expect to be back in Spartanburg for most of the time). If you want to pray that my old brain can develop a few more wrinkles, I’d be grateful. Now, I will turn my attention to the notes about Sunday’s service.

This coming Sunday is the First Sunday in Lent. Lent lasts 40 days. This parallels Jesus’ 40 days of temptation in the wilderness at the beginning of his ministry, and the 40 years the Jewish people wandered in the wilderness after they were delivered through the waters of the Red Sea when they left Egypt. If you look at your calendars, though, you will notice that there are 46 days during Lent, starting on Ash Wednesday and ending with Holy Saturday. The 40 days of Lent exclude Sundays. This counting comes about because many Christians throughout the centuries fasted during Lent, but Sunday is always a “Feast Day,” when you don’t fast. So, if you are planning a fast this Lenten season, remember to celebrate each Sunday by breaking the fast to celebrate the Resurrection of our Lord.

Sunday will be using the Matins for our liturgy (page 219). We will use all the Lent options, which includes dropping the use of the word “Alleluia.” (This will be restored Easter Sunday.) The appointed lessons are Deuteronomy 26:1-11; Romans 10:8b-13; and Luke 4:1-13. Instead of the Introit we will be using the appointed Psalm (Psalm 91). The antiphon will be verse 1. Our opening hymn will be “Swiftly Pass the Clouds of Glory” (LSB 416), which is the “Transfiguration” hymn we are learning. The sermon hymn will be “Jesus Loves Me” (LSB 588). Our closing hymn will be “Christ, the Life of All the Living” (LSB 420) (finally a true Lent hymn). The sermon is titled “We are Weak, but He is Strong.” The sermon is based on the Gospel lesson, and the text will be verse 2.

Due to copyright restrictions, the hymn “Swiftly Pass the Clouds of Glory” is not to be found at the “Better Noises” webpage, nor could I find a video for it. “Better Noises” does have the words and music for our other two hymns. I found a wonderful video of Christ, the Life of All the Living by Tom Limbaugh being played on the guitar, but I cannot copy it to these notes. However if you click on the highlighted hymn name, it will take you to that video on the YouTube web site.

Preview of the Lessons
Deuteronomy 26:1-11: The word “deuteronomy” means “second law.” It is not that Moses was giving the people a law that superseded what they received at Mt. Sinai. Instead Moses is giving them the Law a second time. In other words, Deuteronomy is a series of sermons, given by Moses just prior to his death, where he reviews the history of God’s interaction with the people. So we can find the Ten Commandments, not only in the book of Exodus, but also in Deuteronomy. In this reading Moses is telling the people about a thank offering that they should give to the Lord when their crops come in. This is to be from their “first fruits.” It is in recognition of the Lord’s faithfulness in keeping his promise to Abraham and giving the land to his descendants. As the sacrifices all point to Jesus in one way or another, you might also see this are pointing forward to the Father giving his only begotten Son, fulfilling the promise of the “seed” given first to Adam and Eve, but then renewed to Abraham and his descendants.

Romans 10:8b-13: Paul starts with a quote from Deuteronomy 30:14, which he applies to the Gospel. This word of faith both invites us to Christ and creates our faith in Jesus. Verses 9 and 10 have confused some, making them think that there are two steps in salvation. Step one is believing. Step two is public confession. Actually this is two aspects of one reality, which is accented by Paul reversing the order found in verse 9 when he speaks of it in verse 10. To say this a little differently; a person who believes in Christ speaks of what he believes showing that they are saved. Paul also accents that it is a unit by quoting Isaiah 28:16 and Joel 2:32 to show that salvation is for all by grace through faith in Jesus (no matter what their ancestry might be).

Luke 4:1-13: The traditional Gospel lesson for the First Sunday in Lent is one of the accounts of Jesus being tempted in the wilderness. That is what this reading is. Luke leads up to this account by recording the ministry of John the Baptist, including the baptism of Jesus (3:1-22) and then the genealogy of Jesus (3:21-38). (Matthew starts his Gospel with Jesus’ genealogy, Mark skips it, and John really turns it on its ear with his prologue (1:1-14)). As the sermon is in its early stages so I don’t know what will be omitted (and therefore can be included here), I’m not going to say much more. I’ll just say, as you ponder this reading think of possible parallels between Jesus and Adam as well as Jesus and the nation of Israel in the wilderness.

Sunday’s Collect
O Lord God, You led Your ancient people through the wilderness and brought them to the promised land. Guide the people of Your Church that following our Savior we may walk through the wilderness of this world toward the glory of the world to come; through Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.

Gradual (Hebrews 12:2)
O come, let us fix our eyes on Jesus,
the founder and perfecter of our faith,
who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame,
and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.

Verse (Ephesians 6:11)
Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil.

Instead of the Introit, this Sunday we are using the appointed Psalm.

Blessings in Christ,
Pastor John Rickert

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