Thursday, April 29, 2010

Worship for Easter 5

Thursday after Easter 4
April 29, 2010

The Lord be with you

This coming Sunday is the Fifth Sunday of Easter. The appointed lessons are Acts 11:1-18, Revelation 21:1-7, and John 16:12-22. The appointed Psalm is Psalm 148. The antiphon is verse 13. We will be using the Service of Prayer and Preaching (page 260) for our liturgy. The opening hymn will be “Our Paschal Lamb, That Sets Us Free” (LSB 473). The Sermon hymn will be “Were You There” (LSB 456), The Closing hymn will be “Christ the Lord Is Risen Today” (LSB 469). The sermon is based on the lesson from John and is titled “Follow Your Heart?” The text is John 16:16.

Some hymns seem to me to be a perfect blend of text and music. The hymn “Were You There” is one of them. However, when professionals get a hold of such hymns, they find it almost impossible to not jazz them up, schmaltz them up, or in some other way ‘make the song their own. I kind of feel that such songs are the Church’s songs and are best when not tinkered with. The following video of “Were You There” is done straight, which is the way I like it.

You can hear the melody for most of Sunday’s hymns at Better Noise (see the link on the side bar).

Preview of the Lessons
Acts 11:1-18: At the first Pentecost people from all over the Roman Empire heard Peter preach (Acts 2:9-11), many becoming Christians. At first these new believers stayed in Jerusalem so they could learn more from the Apostles. In other words, they were handling the Great Commission by saying, “We will proclaim the truth, if you want to hear the truth come to Jerusalem.” First pressure to stop sharing the Gospel, and then outright persecution developed, in order to force the fledgling Church to reach beyond Jerusalem and Jews (Acts 3-7). This led to the disbursement of the believers (Acts 8:1) and the Gospel (Acts 8:4). However the Gospel remained mainly within Jewish circles. Acts 10 deals with the Gospel breaking through to the Gentiles. Acts 11:1-18 is Peter’s report to the leaders of the Church in Jerusalem, many of whom were not happy that Gentiles were becoming Christians. Our reading is the report from Peter. The bottom line is that Gentile believers are not second-class Christians. In the world there are people who might be called “second class.” These might be the poor, the uneducated, those from “foreign” lands, and so on. In the Church there are no second class people. All have an equal need as sinners before God. All are equally dependent on God’s grace in Christ Jesus for forgiveness, life, and salvation. All are equally citizens of the Kingdom of God.

Revelation 21:1-7: John sees a vision of eternal life after the Second Coming of Jesus. There is a “new heaven and a new earth.” The present creation, corrupted by sin, has been destroyed and replaced. The presence of a new earth accents the physical resurrection of the dead on the Last Day. John sees a “new Jerusalem.” This is contrasted with the city of Babylon in Revelation. Babylon represents all that is corrupt, all that is sinful, the fallen world with its fallen political systems. The new Jerusalem is adorned like a bride (what that looked like I don’t know). The Old Testament often depicted the people of God as the wife of God. In the New Testament the image of being the bride of Christ is used for the people of God. This city being adorned as a bride accents the truth that the new heavens and earth is people by the people of God from all ages, those who have trusted in Christ. In the new heavens and new earth there will be no separation between God and humanity (3). This accents the absence of sin, for sin is what separates us from God. There will also be no more consequences from past sins (4), sorrow, pain, etc. The accent that all this is by grace is brought out beautifully in verse 8 where we receive the waters of life without payment of any kind. In the world to come we will all be “sons,” that is, the child that inherits.

John 16:12-22: The setting for this text is the Upper Room on Maundy Thursday. John’s Gospel includes far more of the teaching Jesus did that night that the other three Gospels. In verses 12-15 he is speaking of the Holy Spirit. It would be a great text for Trinity Sunday. Consider verse 15: “All that the Father has is mine [Jesus]; therefore I said the He [the Holy Spirit] will take what is mine and declaim it to you.” Many today are quite confused about the Holy Spirit. They think the Spirit’s work is to glorify the believer or to glorify himself. Verse 14 speaks volumes, “He [the Holy Spirit] will glorify me [Jesus]. In verse 16 Jesus refers to his impending death, which the disciples do not understand. Jesus knows that his death will bring sorrow to his followers (20) but that the sorrow will turn to joy when Jesus is resurrected (21-22). It is instructive that this passion and resurrection revelation follows immediately after Jesus tells us that the Spirit will glorify Jesus, and take what is his and give it to us. All too often we freight “glorify” with carnal, human, fallen ideas of glory, power, riches, prestige, and the like. The glory of Christ is the cross (John 12:23). The way of the cross is also for us the way of glory (Matthew 10:38).

Sunday’s Collect
O God, You kame the minds of Your faithful to be of one will. Grant that we may love what You have commanded and desire what You promise, that among the many changes of this world our hearts may be fixed where true joys are found; through Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord, whol lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.

Gradual (adapted from Matt 28:7; Heb 2:7; Ps 8:6)
Christ has risen from the dead.
God the Father has crowned him with glory and honor,
He has given him dominion over the works of his hands;
He has put all things under his feet.

Verse (Romans 6:9; John 20:14)
Alleluia. We know that Christ being raised from the dead will never die again; death no longer has dominion over him. Alleluia. If anyone loves me, he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him. Alleluia.

Psalm 148 will be used instead of the appointed Introit.

Adult Bible Study
We continue, in our adult Bible class, our series titled Puzzlers and Questions About the Bible. Every week we deal with a question submitted by someone. The question for this week is “Does God change His mind as a result of Moses plead? (Numbers 14:11-20)” Join us Sunday morning at 9:00 AM as we dig deeper into the Word of God.

Blessings in Christ,
Pastor John Rickert

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