Thursday, March 18, 2010

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

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