Tuesday, March 30, 2010

The Litany

Tuesday in Holy Week
March 30, 2010

The Lord be with you

“The Litany” is used in services that do not celebrate the Lord’s Supper. It is traditionally prayed on Good Fridays, and can stand alone as a service in itself. When that is the case it is often concluded with the Lord’s Prayer. Luther Reed wrote:

    The Litany is a responsive prayer of the church, penitential in character but unselfish in its intercessions for all human need and mighty in its grasp of the grounds for divine compassion. It is the most ancient of the services of the church except the Holy Communion. In form and content it is a people’s prayer. The Te Deum scales the heights, and the Litany plumbs the depths of our common humanity.
In using the Litany “we can turn to the whole world, Christian and otherwise, and say, ‘This is how we pray, this is how we are taught to think of life and death, of God and man.’” (Bayard Jones, quoting Dearmer).

Some who read this blog might not be able to attend a Good Friday worship service. Others may attend churches that do not use the ancient worship forms and therefore would not have an opportunity to pray the Litany this Good Friday. I love this prayer and would hate it if I did not at least provide those all who read this blog an opportunity to pray the Litany this Good Friday, or any other day they choose. So the Litany, as found in the Lutheran Service book (page 288) follows. May the Lord bless you as you pray.


L: O Lord,
C: have mercy.
L: O Christ,
C: have mercy.
L: O Lord,
C: have mercy.
L: O Christ,
C: hear us.
L: God the Father in heaven.
C: have mercy.
L: God the Son, Redeemer of the world,
C: have mercy.
L: God the Holy Spirit,
C: have mercy.
L: Be gracious to us.
C: Spare us, good Lord.
L: Be gracious to us.
C: Help us, good Lord.
L: From all sin, from all error, from all evil;
From the crafts and assaults of the devil; from sudden and evil death;
From pestilence and famine; from war and bloodshed; from sedition and from rebellion;
From lightning and tempest; from all calamity by fire and water, and from everlasting death:
C: Good Lord, deliver us.
L: In all time of our tribulation; in all time of our prosperity; in the hour of death; and in the day of judgment:
C: Help us, good Lord.
L: We poor sinners implore You
C: to hear us, O Lord.
L: To rule and govern Your holy Christian Church; to preserve all pastors and ministers of Your Church in the true knowledge and understanding of Your wholesome Word and to sustain them in holy living;
To put an end to all schisms and causes of offense; to bring into the way of truth all who have erred and are deceived;
To beat down Satan under our feet; to send faithful laborers into Your harvest; and to accompany Your Word with Your grace and Spirit:
C: We implore You to hear us, good Lord.
L: To raise those who fall and to strengthen those who stand; and to comfort and help the weakhearted and the distressed:
C: We implore You to hear us, good Lord.
L: To give to all peoples concord and peace; to preserve our land from discord and strife; to give our country Your protection in every time of need;
To direct and defend our president and all in authority; to bless and protect our magistrates and all our people;
To watch over and help all who are in danger, necessity, and tribulation; to protect and guide all who travel;
To grant all women with child, and all mothers with infant children, increasing happiness in their blessings; to defend all orphans and widows and provide for them;
To strengthen and keep all sick persons and young children; to free those in bondage; and to have mercy on us all;
C: We implore You to hear us, good Lord.
L: To forgive our enemies, persecutors, and slanderers and to turn their hearts; to give and preserve for our use the kindly fruits of the earth; and graciously to hear our prayers:
C: We implore You to hear us, good Lord.
L: Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God,
C: we implore You to hear us.
L: Christ, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world,
C: have mercy.
L: Christ, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world,
C: have mercy.
L: Christ, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world,
C: grant us Your peace.
L: O Christ,
C: hear us.
L: O Lord,
C: have mercy.
L: O Christ,
C: have mercy.
L: O Lord
C: have mercy. Amen.

Monday, March 29, 2010

A Paschaltide Prayer

Monday in Holy Week
March 29, 2010

The Lord be with you

I have a friend who is an ordained Lutheran minister in a different, though conservative, Lutheran body. He is The Rev. Father Fredrick B. Mauney. (That is how they say it in his denomination.) Today I received a letter from him which included a “Paschal Prayer” that I thought was so good I wanted to post it here. (“Paschal” is another word for “Easter,” which is preferred by some. In most of the languages in the world, some form of the word “Paschal” is their word for “Easter.”) Paschaltide is just another name for the Easter Season, which lasts from Easter to Pentecost. (By the way, I changed all the England-English spellings to American-English spellings.)

    Thou, O God, by Thy Power and Might didst smash the bonds of sin and death to raise Thine Only-begotten Son Jesus the Christ to Life; send, now, then, Thy Holy Spirit upon us to roll away the stones of discouragement and despair so that we might receive new life in the Same, Jesus the Christ, Our LORD and Savior; that, just as we have died with Him in baptism, so we seek to live with Him, both now and forever; deepen our joy as we celebrate these fifty days of Holy Paschaltide, and strengthen in us the conviction that we need not fear anymore; we ask through the Same Jesus the Christ Our LORD Who is God, and Who liveth and reigneth with Thee, Father, in the Undivided Unity of the Holy Ghost, both now and always, henceforth forever and forevermore even unto ages and ages of ages yet still to come, from Everlasting unto Everlasting, One God, World without end: Amen and Alleluia!

He is Risen. He is Risen, Indeed!

Pastor John Rickert

Sunday, March 28, 2010

What Happened During Holy Week?

Palm Sunday
March 28, 2010

The Lord be with you

Paul T. McCain, a facebook friend of mine, has posted an excellent link on his fb page concerning Holy Week. It is interactive with google earth, so you can zoom in on the areas being talked about as well as read what happened throughout the last week of Jesus’ earthly ministry. The link below will take you to the post.

Paul's Post

Blessings in Christ,
Pastor John Rickert

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Annunciation of Our Lord

The Commemoration of the Annunciation of Our Lord
March 25, 2010

The Lord be with you

March 25, since ancient times, has been set aside to commemorate the Annunciation. The angel Gabriel appears to Mary and announces that God has shown her favor and will use her as the means for the Messiah’s birth. So Mary conceives Jesus when the angel says: “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you” (Luke 1:25). This same Spirit who hovered over the waters and brought forth creation (Genesis 1:2) will now “hover over” the waters of Mary’s womb to conceive the creation’s Redeemer. As the Holy Spirit comes upon Mary, she conceives Jesus “through her ear” (as Martin Luther says). The one who is conceived is called Holy, the Son of God. This is the moment of the incarnation of our Lord. The date of the Annunciation falls on March 25, because the Ancient Church believed the crucifixion occurred on that date. In antiquity, people linked the day of a person’s conception with the day of his or her death. Thus, in the Annunciation, the Church joined together both the incarnation of Jesus and the atonement He accomplished. It was this same reasoning, that a person was conceived and died on the same date, that led the Early Church to conclude Jesus was born on December 25.

Blessings in Christ,
Pastor John Rickert

Worship for Palm Sunday

The Commemoration of the Annunciation of our Lord
March 25, 2010

The Lord be with you

This coming Sunday (March 25) will be celebrated as Palm Sunday at Lamb of God Lutheran (LC-MS). The Sunday may be celebrated as either Palm Sunday or the Sunday of the Passion. There are actually two Gospel lessons assigned for this Sunday, one reflecting the Palm Sunday theme and one reflecting the Sunday of the Passion theme. We will use only the Palm Sunday reading (John 12:12-19). Our bulletins come with the lessons pre-printed on the back, and the Gospel lesson the publisher selected to print was the Sunday of the Passion lesson, so everyone will simply have to listen as the Gospel lesson is read. The other two lessons are the same (Deuteronomy 32:36-39 and Philippians 2:5-11). The sermon will be based on the Palm Sunday Gospel lesson and is titled “A Strange Coronation.”

We will be using a specially designed liturgy this coming Sunday. You will recognize that all the standard sections (like the confession of sins, absolution, Sanctus, and so on) are present, however the standard pieces have mostly been replaced with options. So, for example, the normal Sanctus has been replaced with the hymn “Holy, Holy, Holy” and the standard Agnus Dei has been replaced with the hymn “Lamb of God, Pure and Holy.” So, when I list the hymns, do not be surprised by the number of them. As we have done for a number of years now, the service will end with a procession, the members carrying their palms, outside while singing “All Glory, Laud, and Honor.” The service will actually conclude outside. This accents our desire to carry the Gospel message of salvation by grace through faith in Jesus into the world. As Sunday is a fourth Sunday, this will be a Communion service.

Sunday’s hymns, in the order they appear in the service, are:
“Praise to the Lord, the Almighty” (LSB 790)
“In Thee is Gladness” (LSB 818)
“Hosanna, Loud Hosanna” (LSB 443)
“Let the Vineyards” (LSB 955)
“Holy, Holy, Holy” (LSB 507)
“Lamb of God, Pure and Holy” (LSB 434)
“Ride On, Ride On in Majesty” (LSB 441)
“Draw Near and Take the Body of the Lord” (LSB 637)
“In Thee Is Gladness” (LSB 818)
“Sent Forth by God’s Blessing” (LSB 643)
“All Glory, Laud, and Honor” (LSB 442)

You can hear the melody for each of these hymns, except “Let the Vineyards,” at the Better Noise website (see the link on the side bar). At the end of these notes there is a video I found on YouTube of “Hosanna, Loud Hosanna.” There is no singing, but the organ playing is excellent. If you have a hymnal you can sing along easily.

The choir will be singing “The Apple Tree”.

Preview of the Lessons

Deuteronomy 32:36-39: This is part of the “Song of Moses.” In this passage, the true Triune God contrasts himself with all the phony-baloney “gods” people run after. These idols are of no help, either in time or for eternity. In verse 39 God says “I kill and I make alive; I wound and I heal.” Part of the reason for bringing this up is the obvious fact that He alone, and not the lifeless idols, can do this. However there is a clear Law/Gospel accent in these words. God’s “alien work” (as it is called) is the Law. It is intended to bring us to repentance. In that sense all the calamities that may befall us (kill, wound) have been permitted by God so that we may learn to trust in Him in all circumstances. The “proper work” of God is the Gospel (make alive, heal). Here is the promise of eternal life and all the blessings found in living with God forever. We know, of course, that the “healing” and “making alive” comes by grace through faith in Jesus. This is also a clear promise of the resurrection of the dead on the Last Day.

Philippians 2:5-11: In traditional Lutheran catechistical instruction we speak of the steps of humiliation and steps of exultation of Jesus. These terms are taken from this lesson. Jesus humbled himself, becoming a man, suffering, dying, and being buried. After completing all that was necessary for our salvation he was exulted when he descended into hell to proclaim his victory to the spirits there, rose on the third day, and ascended to heaven, from whence he will return with all creation confessing his greatness and glory. Aside from the obvious Christological importance of this passage, Paul also slides in a moral lesson. In verse 5 he says we are to have the same humble attitude of Jesus. Jesus was willing to lay aside everything for the salvation of the world. We too should not let our pride hinder us in reaching out with the message of God’s grace in Christ Jesus.

John 12:12-19: This is John’s account of Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem. Each Gospel writer provides his own details. The name for Palm Sunday actually comes from John’s Gospel as he is the only writer to mention palm branches. The other writers mention branches, but neglect to tell us what kind of trees the branches came from. As the sermon will be based on this lesson, I will say no more.

Sunday’s Collect

Almighty and everlasting God, You sent Your Son, our Savior Jesus Christ, to take upon Himself our flesh and to suffer death upon the cross. Mercifully grant that we may follow the example of His great humility and patience and be made partakers of His resurrection; through the same Jesus Christ, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.

Gradual (Hebrews 12:2)

Instead of using the appointed Gradual, the choir will sing “The Apple Tree.”

Verse (Philippians 2:8b)

He humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.

Introit (Psalm 24:7-10; antiphon Psalm 118:26)

Blessèd is he who comes in the name of the LORD!*
We bless you from the house of the LORD.
Lift up your heads, O gates! And be lifted up, O ancient doors,*
that the King of glory may come in.
Who is this King of glory*
The LORD, strong and mighty, the LORD, mighty in battle!
Lift up your heads, O gates! And lift them up, O ancient doors.*
that the King of glory may come in.
Who is this King of glory?*
The LORD of hosts, he is the King of glory!
Blessèd is he who comes in the name of the LORD!*
We bless you from the house of the LORD.

Adult Bible Study

We continue, in our adult Bible class, our series titled Puzzlers and Questions About the Bible. Last week be began what might be called a sub-series. There were a number of questions asked about some of the ancient ceremonial laws in the Old Testament. I’ve grouped them all together. The regulation under examination this coming Sunday will be the test for virginity found in Deuteronomy 22:13-21. The actual submission read: “The Virgin test: Deuteronomy 22:13-21 – Isn’t this a flawed way to test for virginity? We learned in 6th grade health class that it doesn’t take sexual penetration to tear the hymen.” We will tackle this question plus examine the Christological reason for it (otherwise it would be an extremely short study).

Blessings in Christ,
Pastor John Rickert

What Happened to Palm Sunday?

The Commemoration of the Annunciation of Our Lord
March 25, 2010

The Lord be with you

This coming Sunday is now known as either “Palm Sunday” or the “Sunday of the Passion.” When I was a child the common hymnal in the Lutheran Church – Missouri Synod (LC-MS) was The Lutheran Hymnal (TLH). The official name for this coming Sunday with that hymnal was either “Palmarum,” or the “Sixth Sunday in Lent,” but we all called it "Palm Sunday." The assigned lessons were Philippians 2:5-11 and Matthew 21:1-9. The Matthew lesson is about Jesus’ triumphant entry into Jerusalem with the crowds strewing cloaks and branches before him while shouting their “hosannas.” With the advent in 1982 of the hymnal Lutheran Worship (LW), the names “Palmarum” and “Sixth Sunday in Lent” were replaced with “Palm Sunday” and “Sunday of the Passion.” Other changes included the introduction of a three year lectionary (meaning that there was now a three year cycle in the assigned readings for Sunday mornings instead of the one year cycle used with TLH) and the addition of a regular Sunday morning reading from the Old Testament. (With TLH there were only two assigned reading from the Bible each Sunday, one from a Gospel and the second typically from an Epistle, though sometimes the second reading was from the Old Testament or the book of Acts.) Another change was a greatly expanded Gospel lesson for Palm Sunday, which reflected the “Sunday of the Passion” name.

At Lamb of God we, like most in the LC-MS, adopted the Lutheran Service Book (2006) when it came out. It retained the changes LW made that I’ve mentioned. These changes reflect what is called by some “the liturgical renewal movement.” Exactly what this term means depends on who is using it. For some it might mean the inclusion of “praise bands,” skits, dancing, clowns, and the like, in a Sunday morning service, thus “renewing” the service. That is not what in means in the LC-MS. In our circles it means more of a liturgical renaissance movement, with the word “renaissance” meaning more what it meant 500 to 800 years ago. Then it meant a rebirth of study with a looking backward for a guide to the future. So the liturgical renewal movement, as it is expressed most commonly in the LC-MS, is a looking backward at the liturgies of old for guidance into the future. Therefore I expect, though I’ve not done the research to verify the suspicion, that “Sunday of the Passion” is an old name for Palm Sunday.

The general assumption of the liturgical renewal movement seems to be that the worship experiences of the past, which shaped the spirituality of Christians for multiple centuries and produced such luminaries as Augustine, Athanasius, and even Martin Luther, clearly are effective. With the Reformation, and especially in the history of the churches that developed as a result of the Reformation, much of the richness of the past was jettison in an anti-Roman Catholic sentiment. Some denominations went much further down this rejection of the past’s worship practices than the Lutheran tradition. A return to the “good” practices of old would then strengthen the spiritual life and worship of the congregation. I put “good “in quotes because different people see value/corruption in different practices of earlier times.

What is kept of the restored practices will be known in a hundred years or so. I think more of the renewed practices will be retained, instead of less.

The much longer Gospel reading in today’s lectionaries for Palm Sunday/Sunday of the Passion includes everything from the Triumphant Entry of Jesus to Jerusalem on Palm Sunday through his burial on Good Friday. I suspect this much longer reading was adopted because, even back in the early 80’s, attendance at Holy Week services was slacking off. So parishioners might come to a Palm Sunday worship service, skip all the mid-week services, and then attend the Easter Service the next Sunday. Theologically and biblically this gives a very distorted picture. You skip the passion, the price paid for our redemption, the pounding effect of the Law, and only hear the “happy” stories. There is no victory without a battle, and there is no salvation without the cross, but that is exactly what a “Palm Sunday, skip the events of the Holy Week, Easter Sunday” worship life teaches. So, I suspect, the greatly lengthened Palm Sunday Gospel lesson is an attempt to counter the bad theology that people can learn if they skip Holy Week services.

From a worship design point-of-view, the longer Gospel reading presents a real challenge. Do we try to focus on all the events of Holy Week? If so, how can we do Palm Sunday, Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, and Holy Saturday justice? If we seek to do the events during the week justice, how can we keep the service down to a “reasonable” length? If we do a little bit on each of the major themes of Holy Week with a Sunday of the Passion, will it further suppress attendance in the mid-week services? On the other hand, if you do not deal with each theme and just keep it as Palm Sunday, are you doing a disservice to those who do not attend the mid-week services? In the days of Augustine they simply started the worship service Thursday evening and it continued until Easter. That’s right, a three day worship service. People did go home to eat a little and sleep a little, but the service continued and they hurried back to rejoin the worshiping community (though even when they left for food and sleep they were encouraged to continue in a worshipful frame of mind). No one I know of is suggesting we return to that practice. Each local congregation will handle these issues in ways that they feel is best for them.

At Lamb of God, we will be using the extended reading from the Gospel, but will keep the worship service theme as Palm Sunday. The members are encouraged to attend Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, and Holy Saturday services. There are readings assigned for Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday in Holy Week, and some churches offer services on those days as well. Information about each of the services will be posted on this blog.

If you live in the Spartanburg area, we invite you to worship with us this Holy Week. If you do not live in the Spartanburg area, we encourage you to investigate what your options are in your area, and attend Holy Week services where you live. Remember, there is no victory without a battle, and Easter has no Christian meaning meaning without the events of Holy Week.

Blessings in Christ,
Pastor John Rickert

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

The Passion

Wednesday after the Fifth Sunday in Lent
March 24, 2010

The Lord be with you

This Friday, March 26, at 7:00 PM, we will be showing the movie “The Passion of the Christ,” commonly simply called “The Passion,” at Lamb of God Lutheran Church (1645 Fernwood-Glendale Rd, Spartanburg). This is the movie that was directed by Mel Gibson and in the theaters a couple of years ago. The movie is graphic, dealing as it does with the arrest, mistreatment, and crucifixion of Jesus, and therefore is not suitable for all ages. However watching it again is a good way to prepare for Holy Week, when the events depicted in the movie occurred.

Everyone is invited to come. There will be plenty of popcorn for all. No RSVP is required. A trailer for the movie, that I found on YouTube, follows.

Blessings in Christ,
Pastor John Rickert

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Seder Celebrated

Saturday after the Fourth Sunday in Lent
March 20, 2010

The Lord be with you

About 20 people gathered at Lamb of God Lutheran Church (LCMS) this evening to experience a Seder meal. Klaudia Zhelezny from Chosen People Ministries led us through the meal. Klaudia is a Russian born Jew who has become a Christian.

A complete Jewish traditional Seder meal would last at least five hours. If each portion of the meal was given a Christian interpretation, well let us just say no one would be awake by the end. Every Christian Seder I’ve seen trims a lot and provides some Christian interpretation. Klaudia’s presentation followed this pattern, so our meal lasted about two and a half hours.

Just one of the nuggets shared deals with the unleavened bread. According to Jewish tradition the unleavened bread must be striped and have holes, as well as being unleavened. There are three pieces of unleavened bread placed in a special bag. The middle piece is withdrawn, broken in half, and half is hidden, to be found later. This has been seen as representing Jesus by whose stripes we are healed, who was pierced for our transgressions, broken on the cross, buried, and raised three days later.

The Seder meal, also known as the Passover meal, was what Jesus was celebrating when he instituted Communion. Participating in our Seder/Passover meal helped us develop a deeper understanding of this Sacrament. Below are some pictures that were taken tonight.

Blessings in Christ,
Pastor John Rickert

Friday, March 19, 2010

Concerning Holy Baptism

Friday after the Fourth Sunday in Lent
March 19, 2010

The Lord be with you

"Concerning holy Baptism, St. Peter says in Acts 2:38 that it occurs for the forgiveness of sin, and in 1 Ptr. 3:21 that it makes us saved. St. Paul attests to it in Tit. 3:5 that it is a bath of rebirth and renewal of the Holy Spirit, and in Eph. 5:26 that Christ cleanses His Church through this water-bath in the Word. To this relates also the formality of the administration of this holy Sacrament; for, when the servants of Christ speak according to His command and ordinance: "I baptize you in the Name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit," then, among other things, this indicates that God the Father takes on and takes up the baptized [person] as His dear child and heir; that Christ washes the baptized of his sin through His blood; and that the Holy Spirit desires to work the grace of rebirth and renewal in the baptized."

Johann Gerhard, A Comprehensive Explanation of Holy Baptism and the Lord's Supper (1610), translated by the Rev. Elmer Hohle

I though this was a great quote.

Blessings in Christ,
Pastor John Rickert

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Cub Spaghetti Supper

Thursday after the Fourth Sunday in Lent
March 18, 2010

The Lord be with you

Lamb of God’s Cub Scout Pack (Pack 1031) had a Spaghetti Supper fund raiser this evening. Over 40 people enjoyed the meal and the boys raised $344.00 after expenses.

Most Cub Scouts pay dues, and these dues are used to purchase awards, supplies, and the like. Lamb of God decided that such a practice could keep some boys from joining, especially in these difficult economic times. So our boys are not charged dues. Instead they do fund raisers. The boys still have to pay national fees, but all in all, our pack is a cheap pack for the boys to belong.

Below are some pictures taken this evening.

Blessings in Christ,
Pastor John Rickert

A Trip to Sam's Club

Thursday after Lent 4
March 18, 2010

The Lord be with you

Okay, there is nothing "theological" or "churchly" about this post. It is just a funny story e-mailed to me by someone who isn't retired. I thought others would get a laugh out of it.

Blessings in Christ,
Pastor John Rickert

Yesterday I was at my local SAM’S CLUB buying a large bag of Purina dog chow for my loyal pet, Biscuit, the Wonder Dog and was in the checkout line when woman behind me asked if I had a dog.

What did she think I had, an elephant? So since I'm retired and have little to do, on impulse I told her that no, I didn't have a dog, I was starting the Purina Diet again. I added that I probably shouldn't, because I ended up in the hospital last time, but that I'd lost 50 pounds before I awakened in an intensive care ward with tubes coming out of most of my orifices and IVs in both arms.

I told her that it was essentially a perfect diet and that the way that it works is to load your pants pockets with Purina nuggets and simply eat one or two every time you feel hungry. The food is nutritionally complete so it works well and I was going to try it again. (I have to mention here that practically everyone in line was now enthralled with my story.) Horrified, she asked if I ended up in intensive care because the dog food poisoned me. I told her no, I stepped off a curb to sniff an Irish Setter's tail and a car hit us both.

I thought the guy behind her was going to have a heart attack he was laughing so hard.

Sam’s Club won't let me shop there anymore.

Better watch what you ask retired people. They have all the time in the world to think of crazy things to say.

Worship for Lent 5

Wednesday after the Fourth Sunday in Lent
March 18, 2010

The Lord be with you

This coming Sunday is the Fifth Sunday in Lent. At Lamb of God Lutheran (LCMS) we will be using Matins (page 219) for our Sunday worship. We will use the Lent options. Our hymns will be “My Song Is Love Unknown” (LSB 430), “The Church’s One Foundation” (LSB 644) and “Built on the Rock” (LSB 645). The Scripture lessons will be Isaiah 43:16-21, Philippians 3:8-14, and Luke 20:9-20. Our Psalmody will be Psalm 126, antiphon verse 3. The sermon, which will be based on the Gospel lesson, is titled “Whose Church Is It?”

You can hear the music for each of the hymns at Better Noise. The link is in the column on the right hand side of this page. The video at the end of these notes is “The Church’s One Foundation,” sung at a Reformation Day service in a Lutheran Church. It is complete with trumpets and they were using the Lutheran Service Book.

"The Church’s One Foundation" was written by Samuel Stone (1839-1900), a pastor and Englishman. He published four books of poetry in his lifetime. The hymn quickly became a “hit” and has been in each of the English hymnals of the LCMS.

Preview of the Lessons
Isaiah 43:16-21: This is a great passage that compares the deliverance God achieved for his people from Egypt with the greater deliverance he would achieve through Christ Jesus. Verses 16-17 deal with the deliverance from Egypt. Verse 18 is a transition verse which says, in essence, that the deliverance from Egyptian slavery is small potatoes compared to what God will accomplish in Jesus. Verses 19-21 speak of the greater deliverance in metaphorical language. The wilderness/desert is the world. The wild beasts/jackals/ostriches are the various people who inhabit the world. The water/streams/rivers refer to the new life in Christ Jesus. The “chosen people” are no longer thought of as just the physical descendants of Abraham, but are the wild beasts/jackals/ostriches. From all the nations of the world (which does not exclude the descendants of Abraham) God forms for himself a new people who declare his praise, praise for the greater deliverance from sin, death, and the power of the devil.

Philippians 3:8-14: Compared to having the salvation earned for us by Jesus, all things of the world are “rubbish” (cleaned up from what Paul wrote in the Greek). But the salvation we have now by grace through faith in Christ is only the foretaste of what is to come. Therefore our “salvation” is incomplete in this life and will be “complete” when Jesus returns. So we are always leaving behind this life and pressing forward to the life to come at the Second Advent of our Lord. Paul makes it abundantly clear that his current salvation, and his future salvation, are not by virtue of his righteousness, but comes “through faith in Christ” who is “the righteousness from God”. As always, for Paul, the Christian life is now, and always will be, grace powered.

Luke 20:9-20: Jesus tells a parable about some wicked tenet farmers who beat and/or kill the representatives of the owner and finally kill the owners son. In the end the owner of the vineyard destroys those tenants and gives the vineyard to others. Vineyards are a standard Old Testament metaphor for the people of God. The scribes and the chief priests perceived that the parable was spoken about them. The “others” who receive the vineyard are the believing Jews and Gentiles. The problem in preaching this parable is that too easily it can become simply a case of finger-pointing. ‘Those hardhearted scribes and priests sure were losers.’ Then we leave the worship service all smug and self-satisfied, confirmed in our sin. But there is a lesson for us today in this parable. The lesson is first for the pastors, theology professors, directors of Christian Education, teachers in our schools, and the like. We are all tempted to react like the scribes and chief priests. However the temptation does not stop with the professional church workers. The same temptation is present in the laity as well. Indeed the very sin that captured the hearts of the scribes and chief priests has torn apart many a church. This text is the foundation of the sermon, so I better not write any more or I won’t have anything to preach.

Sunday’s Collect
Almighty God, by Your great goodness mercifully look upon Your people that we may be governed and preserved evermore in body and soul; 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 (Luke 20:17b)
The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone.

Instead of the appointed Introit we will be using the appointed Psalm (Psalm 126)

Adult Bible Study
We continue, in our adult Bible class, our series titled Puzzlers and Questions About the Bible. This week we have been asked to explain “The Adultery test: Numbers 5:18-28 - Was this a potion or drug? Did a miracle take place to cause her ‘belly to swell and thigh to rot?’?” A number of questions about Old Testament regulations have been submitted, and we will handle them over the next several weeks.

Blessings in Christ,
Pastor John Rickert

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Who Was St. Patrick?

Commemoration of Patrick, Missionary to Ireland
Wednesday after the Fourth Sunday in Lent
March 17, 2010

The Lord be with you

Patrick is one of the best-known of the missionary saints. Born to a Christian family in Britain around the year 389 AD he was captured as a teenager by raiders, taken to Ireland, and forced to serve as a herdsman. After six years, he escaped and found his way to a monastery community in France. Ordained a bishop, it is believed that Patrick made his way back to Ireland in the summer of 433, and there spent the rest of his long life spreading the Gospel and organizing Christian communities. He strongly defended the doctrine of the Holy Trinity in a time when it was not popular to do so. His literary legacy includes his autobiography, Confession, and several prayers and hymns still used in the Church today. At least one tradition states that Patrick died in Ireland on March 17, around the year 466 AD.

Rev. Prof. Dr. Francis Nigel Lee has translate Patrick’s Early Morning Hymn (Patrick wrote in Irish Lorica) and set it to the music used for the U. S. Navy Hymn (88 88 88). The words follow. If you go to his site you can also hear the music.

Today I rise, and now commune
with my Creator God Triune.
He's One, by grace through faith I know –
Jehovah God, from long ago!
He's also Elohim. Thus Three
from, and until, eternity!

Today I rise, and with my eyes
I see how John did Christ baptize –
His cross and grave I clearly see.
I know He went there, all for me.
Because He rose up from His tomb,
my sin no longer means my doom!

Today I rise, while angels serve
I'll pray with every ounce of nerve.
I'll heed God's heralds; read His Word;
then I will very gladly gird
His Spirit's sword for works of love.
His saints must be: pure as a dove.

Today I'll rise before the sun
its daily rising has begun –
before the rushings of the wind,
or thunderbolts have loudly dinned.
For God's deep sea is in His hand,
and rock-firm is His promised land.

Today I rise. God's strength me guides;
His might all day with me abides.
His wisdom leads; His eye shall guard;
His ear shall hear; His Word bombard
my foes. His gentle hands protect
and keep me on His road correct.

God's angels guard me 'gainst all snares;
against all vicious trials and scares;
against all of my carnal lusts;
against all nature's stormy gusts;
against all harm, both far and near.
Against all foes, I have no fear.

Christ shelters from each harmful wound
no matter what my foes impugned.
'Gainst burns and drownings, 'gainst all falls.
Against all poisons, and all brawls
Christ guards me with His mighty sword.
So I'll yet get His good reward.

My Christ is with me, and before,
behind, beneath, above -- and more.
Christ's on my left, Christ's on my right –
there when I sit, and when I fight.
Whatever I may take to hand,
Christ's there -- when I'm asleep, or stand.

Christ's where I rise, when every day
I read His Word and to Him pray.
When I'm discussed, He's in the heart –
He's in the mouth, right from the start.
He's in the eye of all who see
and hear the actions done by me.

Today I rise, in God's strong Name,
the great Jehovah to proclaim.
The Lord is always One and Three –
my God, for all eternity!
Yes, God is always One and Three –
my Lord, for all eternity!

Blessings in Christ,
Pastor John Rickert

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

I Have Nothing To Say

Tuesday after the Fourth Sunday in Lent
March 16, 2010

The Lord be with you

When I first started this blog, I went to numerous blogs to see what others were doing. One thing I noticed was that some bloggers felt compelled to post something every day. Often, when they had nothing to say of value, they spent hours combing the web looking for something worthwhile. I suspect that, as they began their search, their standards were high. I also suspect that as the hours worn on their standards began to slip. So some of the more worthless posts were from bloggers who admitted they had writers block.

Anyone who comes to this blog regularly will have noticed that I do not post every day. That is because I do not feel I have something worth posting every day. I do not now, nor do I intend to start, spending hours surfing the web in the hope of finding something of value. This policy prevents me from becoming desperate and posting just any-old-thing just to post.

The bottom line is that there will be days that nothing new appears on this blog. It also means that what I do post I really feel is of value.

Blessings in Christ
Pastor John Rickert

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Luther Painting

Fourth Sunday in Lent
March 14, 2010

The Lord be with you

The following painting was recently completed by Thomas duBois, member and elder of the Beufort mission. I thought I'd share it with you.

Blessings in Christ,
Pastor John Rickert

Friday, March 12, 2010

The Manhattan Declaration

Friday after the Third Sunday in Lent
March 12, 2010

The Lord be with you

I received the following interesting e-mail and thought I’d post it. I have not confirmed the information. If the story is correct, government officials would rather have people die from AIDS, or some other disease, than have them receive treatment from people who do not share their political and social views.

Blessings in Christ,
Pastor John Rickert

Gay Marriage v. Religious Freedom
A Cautionary Tale

March 8, 2010

Catholic Charities in Washington, D.C., has announced changes to its employees’ health care benefits. Normally, this wouldn’t be big news. But this story isn’t only about deductibles and co-pays—it’s about the increasingly fragile state of religious freedom in the America.

Employees were told that starting March 2, Catholic Charities would “not offer benefits to spouses of new employees or to spouses of current employees not already enrolled” in the health plan. Spouses currently covered under the plan would still be covered.

The timing of the changes wasn’t a coincidence. On March 3, same-sex “marriage” became legal in the District of Columbia. In connection with the new law, the D.C. Council insisted that, as a city contractor, Catholic Charities had to offer the same benefits to same-sex couples that it did to heterosexual ones.

In other words, Catholic Charities had to choose between church teaching and ministering to the city’s neediest residents.

To put it mildly, the Council wasn’t sympathetic to the Archdiocese’s concerns. One Council member called them “childish.”

It’s also no surprise that the D.C. Archdiocese is being portrayed as the villain. The Washington City Paper’s headline ran “To Avoid Funding Gay Marrieds, Catholic Charities Denies Benefits to All Spouses,” with the emphasis on “all.” In case the reader didn’t get it, the City Paper added a visual reminder: a picture of a rosary.

There’s no recognition that what the Washington Post called a “bitter debate” between the District and the Archdiocese was, in fact, a profound infringement of religious freedom–an infringement done at the behest of a tiny minority within a tiny minority.

Nor was there any acknowledgment that these kinds of infringements aren’t limited to government contractors. Ordinary people are being asked to choose between their livelihood and obedience to their faith—like photographers, landlords, and caterers.

You will also search in vain for mainstream media coverage of the indispensable role played by Christian institutions in caring for the vulnerable and marginalized. Almost 25 percent of the world’s AIDS patients are cared for in Catholic institutions alone. Christian hospitals in the U.S. serve a disproportionate percentage of the urban poor.

All we read about, however, is the Catholic Church’s “stubbornness” or “recalcitrance.”
But it’s not just Catholics. All faithful Christians engaged in charitable work increasingly are being told to choose between serving their neighbors or following the dictates of their faith.

This threat to religious freedom was one of the driving concerns behind the Manhattan Declaration. Interestingly enough, one of the original signers was Archbishop Wuerl of D.C., who refused to bend to the District’s demand. More than 425,000 people have now pledged not to “comply with any edict that purports to compel our institutions” to do that which God has forbidden.

Christians no longer have the luxury of sitting idly by while religious freedom, the sanctity of human life, and the institution of marriage come under more assault.

Please join us—Christians must stand together. Go to ManhattanDeclaration.org, read the document, and sign it today. Get your friends to do the same.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Worship for Lent 4

Wednesday after the Second Third Sunday in Lent
March 3, 2010

The Lord be with you

This coming Sunday is the Fourth Sunday in Lent. At Lamb of God Lutheran (LCMS) we will be using the first setting of the morning service with Communion (page 151). We will use the Lent options. Our hymns will be “Come to Calvary’s Holy Mountain” (LSB 435), “Rock of Ages, Cleft for Me” (LSB 761), “Jesus, Greatest at the Table” (LSB 446), “My Song is Love Unknown” (LSB 430), “What Is This Bread” (LSB 629), and “My Hope Is Built on Nothing Less” (LSB 575). You can hear the music for each of the hymns except “What Is This Bread” and “Jesus, Greatest at the Table” at Better Noise. The link is in the column on the right hand side of this page. If you want to know why Better Noise sometimes does not have the music or words of a hymn, it is because they are newer and are therefore copy written. The new writers want to be paid for their work but the dead ones don’t. (To be honest, most of the dead ones never did get much money for their work. Often they received nothing as they thought of it as a service to the Lord and his church.) The video at the end of these notes is Rock of Ages, sung by a Mennonite choir. Rock of Ages was written by Augustus M. Toplady in 1775. He was the son of a tavern owner and was left to his own devices as a child. What a wonderful gift the Lord gave the Church through him.

The appointed lessons are Isaiah 12:1-6, 2 Corinthians 5:16-21, and Luke 15:1-3, 11-32. The sermon is titled “A Misunderstood Father” The sermon text will be Luke 15:11.

Preview of the Lessons
Isaiah 12:1-6: Isaiah 12 has only six verses. Members of Lamb of God will instantly recognize this chapter as the source of the Old Testament Canticle in the Service of Prayer and Preaching, which we use once a month. This is the first of Isaiah’s “songs of praise.” Verses 1 & 2 use singulars (I, my). Starting in verse 3 plurals are used. Apparently this chapters was intended to be used in worship with a soloist going first and then the congregation joining. God is praised for relenting of his just anger and bringing forgiveness and salvation. In verse two the ESV reads “the LORD GOD is my strength and my song.” LORD GOD is, in Hebrew, Yah Yahweh. Yah or Yahweh is the name revealed to Moses at the burning thorn bush. This doubling of basically the same name of God’s strengthens the thrust of the passage; salvation is attributed to God alone. We do nothing to merit or deserve it. It is all from God’s divine goodness and mercy. Notice also in verses 4 & 5 the clear call for us to share the good news of God’s grace in Christ Jesus with all. The Church is not a private club for members only, but is to welcome the stranger and open to them the gates of salvation.

2 Corinthians 5:16-21: Verse 16 – Christ transcends all human divisions in the Church. Verse 17 – This is so because we are a “new creation” as Christians and this “new creation” is what we recognize in others, not old earthly divisions. Verse 18 – This is a gift based on the reconciliation Christ earned, and it is of that reconciliation which we now are ambassadors. Verse 19 – In case you don’t get it, the reconciliation being spoken of is Christ reconciling the world to himself and the Father through his death on the cross, bringing forgiveness of our sins. Verse 20 – So we are ambassadors of Christ’s reconciliation. Verse 21 – In case you still don’t get it, the Father made Jesus sin (very strong wording) who knew NO sin, so that we might be righteous in God’s eyes.

Luke 15:1-3, 11-32: This is the well know parable called the “Prodigal Son.” It will serve as the text for the sermon. I know I’ve used this story more than once in the past but, what can I say, I REALLY like it. The lectionary being used with the LSB has added the first few verses of Luke 15 to the reading. This gives us the context for the three parables in Luke 15, and therefore the context for the story of the “Prodigal Son.” I’m just not going to say anything else, you will have to wait until Sunday.

Sunday’s Collect
Almighty God, our heavenly Father, Your mercies are new every morning; and though we deserve only punishment, You receive us as Your children and provide for all our needs of body and soul. Grant that we may heartily acknowledge Your merciful goodness, give thanks for all Your benefits, and serve You in willing obedience; 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 (Luke 15:22a, 24a)
The father said to his servants, “This my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found.”

Introit (Psalm 51:2-6; antiphon, verse 1)
Have mercy on me, O God, according to your steadfast love,
according to your abundant mercy blot out my transgressions.
Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity,
and cleanse me from my sin!
For I know my transgressions,
and my sin is ever before me.
Against you, you only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight,
so that you may be justified in your words and blameless in your judgment.
Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity,
and in sin did my mother conceive me.
Behold, you delight in truth in the inward being,
and you teach me wisdom in the secret heart.
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.
Have mercy on me, O God, according to your steadfast love,
according to your abundant mercy blot out my transgressions.

NOTE #1: At the meeting last Sunday after the worship service it was decided that our Passover Meal, Saturday, March 20, will be free. However you will need to RSVP. See the post about on this blog (posted March 7).

NOTE #2: This is the last week of my first class at Gardner Webb University, so next week these notes will again be posted on Thursday.

Blessings in Christ,
Pastor John Rickert

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Our Camping Scouts

Tuesday after the Third Sunday in Lent
March 9, 2010

The Lord be with you

This past weekend the Webelos of Cub Scout Pack 1031 went camping, and had a great time. One of our parents took some photos with his cell phone. Here are a few of them.

Blessings in Christ,
Pastor John Rickert

Monday, March 8, 2010

Messiah in the Passover

Monday after the Third Sunday in Lent
March 8, 2010

The Lord be with you

On the night he was betrayed, our Lord celebrated the Passover with his disciples. At this meal, he established the Lord’s Supper. To this day the Church continues to celebrate this sacred meal, but often the roots of the meal are forgotten.

To help us understand the background to Communion, and thereby better understand this Sacrament, we are having a full Passover meal Saturday, March 20. Guiding us will be Klaudia Zhelezny from Chosen People Ministries. The meal will last from two to two and a half hours, beginning at 6:00 PM. The official name of Zhelezny's presentation is "The Messian in the Passover."

Such meals are also called “Seder” banquets. “Seder” means “order” and refers to the liturgy used during the meal. It is this liturgy which explains each part of the meal. Our Seder will incorporate not only traditional Jewish explanations, but also Christian understandings of how these traditions pointed to our Lord Jesus.

The meal is FREE. However, because it is a full meal, we need to have a good idea of how many people will be attending. Therefore we ask you to RSVP. You can e-mail Kitty (kamrickert@gmail.com) with your intention to attend. There will also be an opportunity to sign-up at church this Sunday (especially handy for those who do not have internet access).

This experience is open to the community. If you are not a member of Lamb of God, but would like to attend, you may. We do need you to RSVP. If you have a Jewish friend who might be interested in a way Christians might understand their traditional Seder meal, they would be welcome. One of the Jewish traditions concerning the Passover meal is to invite a non-Jewish person to share the meal with them. Reversing the process and inviting a Jewish friend to this Seder meal, then, seems only hospitable.

Blessings in Christ,
Pastor Rickert

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Perpetua and Felicitas, Martyrs

Third Sunday in Lent
Commemoration of Perpetua and Felicitas, Martyrs
March 7, 2010

The Lord be with you

At the beginning of the third century, the Roman emperor Septimus Severus forbade conversion to Christianity. Among those disobeying that edict were Perpetua, a young noblewoman, and her maidservant Felicitas. Both were jailed at Carthage in North Africa along with three fellow Christians. During their imprisonment, Perpetua and Felicitas witnessed to their faith with such conviction that the officer in charge became a follower of Jesus. After making arrangements for the well-being of their children, Perpetua and Felicitas were executed on March 7, 203. Tradition (Tertullian, 160-230) holds that Perpetua showed mercy to her captors by falling on a sword because they could not bear to put her to death. The story of this martyrdom has been told ever since as an encouragement to persecuted Christians.

Blessings in Christ
Pastor John Rickert

Saturday, March 6, 2010

St. Patrick's Breastplate Prayer

Saturday after the Second Sunday in Lent
March 6, 2010

The Lord be with you

March 17 is recognized on both secular and liturgical calendars as St. Patrick’s Day. In many places in the USA this will mean wearing green, drinking to excess, and in some places even dying rivers green. Lost in the secular celebrations will be the man who was a missionary to Ireland.

I thought I’d make a preemptive strike, and put something up about St. Patrick early. What follows is “St. Patrick’s Breastplate Prayer,” which will give you a peek into the faith of this missionary of the Lord’s, and can help us all remember why his name is remembered on our calendars. I will post something about St. Patrick for the 17th.

St. Patrick's Breastplate Prayer

I bind unto myself today
The strong Name of the Trinity,
By invocation of the same,
The Three in One and One in Three.

I bind this day to me for ever.
By power of faith, Christ's incarnation;
His baptism in the Jordan river;
His death on Cross for my salvation;
His bursting from the spiced tomb;
His riding up the heavenly way;
His coming at the day of doom;
I bind unto myself today.

I bind unto myself the power
Of the great love of the cherubim;
The sweet 'well done' in judgment hour,
The service of the seraphim,
Confessors' faith, Apostles' word,
The Patriarchs' prayers, the Prophets' scrolls,
All good deeds done unto the Lord,
And purity of virgin souls.

I bind unto myself today
The virtues of the starlit heaven,
The glorious sun's life-giving ray,
The whiteness of the moon at even,
The flashing of the lightning free,
The whirling wind's tempestuous shocks,
The stable earth, the deep salt sea,
Around the old eternal rocks.

I bind unto myself today
The power of God to hold and lead,
His eye to watch, His might to stay,
His ear to hearken to my need.
The wisdom of my God to teach,
His hand to guide, His shield to ward,
The word of God to give me speech,
His heavenly host to be my guard.

Against the demon snares of sin,
The vice that gives temptation force,
The natural lusts that war within,
The hostile men that mar my course;
Or few or many, far or nigh,
In every place and in all hours,
Against their fierce hostility,
I bind to me these holy powers.

Against all Satan's spells and wiles,
Against false words of heresy,
Against the knowledge that defiles,
Against the heart's idolatry,
Against the wizard's evil craft,
Against the death wound and the burning,
The choking wave and the poisoned shaft,
Protect me, Christ, till Thy returning.

Christ be with me, Christ within me,
Christ behind me, Christ before me,
Christ beside me, Christ to win me,
Christ to comfort and restore me.
Christ beneath me, Christ above me,
Christ in quiet, Christ in danger,
Christ in hearts of all that love me,
Christ in mouth of friend and stranger.

I bind unto myself the Name,
The strong Name of the Trinity;
By invocation of the same.
The Three in One, and One in Three,
Of Whom all nature hath creation,
Eternal Father, Spirit, Word:
Praise to the Lord of my salvation,
Salvation is of Christ the Lord.

Blessings in Christ,
Pastor John Rickert

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Cherokee Legend

Cherokee Legend

Do you know the legend of the Cherokee Indian youth's rite of Passage?

His father takes him into the forest, blindfolds him an leaves him alone. He is required to sit on a stump the whole night and not remove the blindfold until the rays of the morning sun shine through it. He cannot cry out for help to anyone.

Once he survives the night, he is a MAN.

He cannot tell the other boys of this experience, because each lad must come into manhood on his own.

The boy is naturally terrified. He can hear all kinds of noises. Wild beasts must surely be all around him . Maybe even some human might do him harm. The wind blew the grass and earth, and shook his stump, but he sat stoically, never removing the blindfold. It would be the only way he could become a man! Finally, after a horrific night the sun appeared and he removed his blindfold.

It was then that he discovered his father sitting on the stump next to him.
He had been at watch the entire night, protecting his son from harm.

We, too, are never alone.
Even when we don't know it, God is watching over us, Sitting on the stump beside us.
When trouble comes, all we have to do is reach out to Him.

"For we walk by faith, not by sight."

Worship for Lent 3

Wednesday after the Second Sunday in Lent
March 3, 2010

The Lord be with you

This coming Sunday is the Third Sunday in Lent. At Lamb of God Lutheran (LCMS) we will be using the Service of Prayer and Preaching, which begins on page 260 of our hymnal. We will use the Lent options. This means we will be using a different New Testament Canticle, one without Alleluias. The Hymnal Review Committee indicated that “My Soul Now Magnifies the Lord” (LSB 934), a setting of the Magnificat, was well known, so we will use it. We will also be singing “My Song is Love Unknown” (LSB 430), “O God of God, O Light of Light” (LSB 810), and “Go, My Children, with My Blessing” (LSB 922). You can hear the music for each of these hymns at Better Noise, except 430. I have no videos for you this week.

The appointed lessons are Ezekiel 33:7-20, 1 Corinthians 10:1-13, and Luke 13:1-9. The sermon is titled “Examples” The sermon text will be 1 Corinthians 10:6.

Preview of the Lessons
Ezekiel 33:7-20: If I was to sum up these verses it would have to be that the repentant sinner finds a forgiving and merciful God, but the unrepentant sinner finds the opposite. The closing paragraph (verses 17-20) gives the typical sinners response to God’s mercy, “The way of the Lord is not just.” They turn from God’s mercy to their own hard hearts, and in the end they will find a God of justice. How sad, for a God of justice will condemn all sinners. How wonderful that in Christ we have a God of mercy.

1 Corinthians 10:1-13: Paul draws on several examples from the Old Testament to demonstrate God’s continuing mercy in Christ Jesus. However there are also examples of those who rejected God’s mercy, desiring to follow their own fallen sinful hearts. Without Christ their end was destruction. We are to learn from these examples and cling to Christ, trusting in him as we face all kinds of trials and temptations.

Luke 13:1-9: Jesus comments on some “current” events, where people died. (It reminds me of the recent earthquakes.) He assured his hearers (and us) that these disasters didn’t befall the victims because they were somehow worse sinners that the rest of us (a common sinful assumption). All sinners deserve to die, both temporally and eternally. The way to escape death is by trusting in the mercies of God in Christ Jesus. Yes, the believer will die temporally. But that is only a temporary death. On the Last Day the believer will be raised physically to live eternally with all the saints in Glory.

Sunday’s Collect
O God, whose glory it is always to have mercy, be gracious to all who have gone astray from your ways and bring them again with penitent hearts and steadfast faith to embrace and hold fast the unchangeable truth of Your Word; 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 (2 Peter 3:9b, c)
The Lord is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance.

For the LORD knows the way of the righteous,
but the way of the wicked will perish.
For you are not a God who delights in wickedness;
evil may not dwell with you.
The boastful shall not stand before your eyes;
you hate all evil-doers.
You destroy those who speak lies;
the LORD abhors the bloodthirsty and deceitful man.
But I, through the abundance of your steadfast love, will enter your house.
I will bow down toward your holy temple in the fear of you.
Lead me, O LORD, in your righteousness because of my enemies;
make your way straight before me.
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.
For the LORD knows the way of the righteous,
but the way of the wicked will perish.

NOTE: After the worship service there will be a meeting of those who are planning our upcoming Passover Meal.

Blessings in Christ,
Pastor John Rickert

Monday, March 1, 2010

How Sure Is Our Salvation?

Monday after the Second Sunday in Lent
March 1, 2010

The Lord be with you

This coming Sunday, the Third Sunday in Lent, March 7, 2010, we will continue our series “Puzzlers and Questions about the Bible” in our adult Bible class at Lamb of God Lutheran (LCMS). As noted in earlier posts on this blog, this series is simply examining questions that have been submitted. This coming week's question is a good one:
    In light of the verse that states that it is impossible to restore to repentance one who has been a Christian and turned his back, could Judas have been saved & did Peter really lose his faith? Add to this David.
The only partial quote given in the question is from Hebrews 6:6. I have to guess what references are in the mind of the person who submitted the question in relation to Judas, Peter, and David. The three most likely candidates are Acts 1:25; Luke 22:31-34; and Psalm 51, especially verses 10-12.

There are really two questions here:
    1) Can someone loose their salvation?
    2) Can someone who has lost their salvation be restored?
I am reminded of the 17th century hymn by Johann Olerius, “Oh, How Great Is Your Compassion,” verse 4
    Lord, Your mercy will not leave me;
    Ever will Your truth abide.
    Then in You I will confide.
    Since Your Word cannot deceive me,
    My salvation is to me
    Safe and sure eternally. (LSB 559)
The study is titled “How Sure Is Our Salvation?”

Blessings in Christ,
Pastor John Rickert

Breaking 1000

Monday after the Second Sunday in Lent
March 1, 2010

The Lord be with you

At the beginning of October 2009, I installed a “counter” on this blog. This past February marked a milestone of that event, sort of. The blog blew past 1000 visits. We have had visitors from 28 different countries. They are: America (no surprise), Canada (congratulation, by the way, to Canada for winning the Olympic Gold in hockey yesterday), Australia, United Kingdom, Russian Federation, Philippines, South Africa, Switzerland, Ireland, Germany, Vietnam, Singapore, United Arab Emirates, India, Guam, Fiji, Romania, Cambodia, Peru, Japan, Malaysia, Republic of Korea, Brazil, Italy, Saudi Arabia, Spain, Grenada, and the Netherlands. Seventeen of these countries have only visited once and so someone probably stumbled on this blog by accident, didn’t find it interesting, and never came back. Still, with two or more visits from eleven different countries and over a 1000 visits must mean that some people find this blog worth returning to with some regularity. I thank you, and I hope this blog will continue to be a blessing to those who visit. (If you want to learn a little more about the countries that have visited this blog, just click on the counter on the right hand side of this page.)

Blessings in Christ,
Pastor John Rickert