Thursday, March 25, 2010

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

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