Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Worship for Easter 6

Commemoration of Friedrich Wyneken, Pastor and Misssionary
May 4, 2010

The Lord be with you

This coming Sunday will be celebrated as the Sixth Sunday of Easter. It also happens to be the Commemoration of Job so some of the churches in the LC-MS will be celebrating that day. The appointed lessons are Acts 16:9-15, Revelation 21:9-14, 21-27, and John 16:23-33. We will be using the first setting of the morning service, which begins on page 151 of the hymnal, for our liturgy. This will be a communion service. You may prepare by reading the Christian Questions with their Answers in Luther’s Small Catechism, or by reading/singing some of the hymns out of the Communion section of the hymnal. The opening hymn Sunday will be “Up through Endless Ranks of Angels” (LSB 491). The Sermon hymn will be “I’m But a Stranger Here” (LSB 748). The Distribution hymns will be, “Eat This Bread” (LSB 638), “I Know That My Redeemer Lives” (LSB 461) and “Jerusalem the Golden” (LSB 672). The Closing hymn will be “Thine the Amen, Thine the Praise” (LSB 680). The sermon is based on the lesson from Revelation and is titled “Heaven is my Home” The text is Revelation 21:9.

The only hymn we will be singing Sunday that is not known by the congregation is “Up through Endless Ranks of Angels.” This hymn was marked as one worth learning by our hymnal review committee. We will use it for the next four weeks moving it from the unknown to the known list. “Up through Endless Ranks of Angels” was written by Jaroslav Vajda (1919-2008). He was an LCMS pastor and poet who wrote and translated hundreds of hymns and poems in his lifetime. In this hymn Vajda does a masterful job of demonstrating the significance of Jesus’ Ascension for our lives. For example, in the following stanza he describes the ongoing work of Jesus, our brother, who intercedes for us:

Death-destroying, life-restoring,
Proven equal to our need,
Now for us before the Father
As our brother intercede;
Flesh that for our world was wounded,
Living, for the wounded plead!

In the final stanza, Vajda invites us to consider the joy that will be ours on that final day when Jesus returns. The expectation is heightened as each person of the Trinity is introduced.

Alleluia, alleluia!
Oh, to breathe the Spirit's grace!
Alleluia, alleluia!
Oh, to see the Father's face!
Alleluia, alleluia!
Oh, to feel the Son's embrace!

“Up through Endless Ranks of Angels” first appeared in Lutheran Book of Worship and then Lutheran Worship. It has since spread to all the American Lutheran bodies I know of, and has jumped across Lutheran lines to hymnal from the Reformed, Episcopal, and other traditions. Our hymnal review committee has done Lamb of God a real favor by selecting this hymn as one worth learning. (Most of the information about “Up through Endless Ranks of Angels” is from an article titled “Why Learn New Hymns” by Rev. Dr. Paul Grime, and is posted in three parts on the LCMS website.)

You can hear the melody for “I’m But a Stranger Here,” “I Know That My Redeemer Lives,” and “Jerusalem the Golden” at Better Noise (see the link on the side bar). Due to copy write restrictions Better Noise does not have “Up through Endless Ranks of Angels,” “Eat This Bread,” and “Thine the Amen, Thine the Praise,” all newer hymns. Below is a video of “Eat This Bread.”

Preview of the Lessons
Acts 16:9-15: Verses nine and ten contain the famous “Macedonia Call” of Paul. In the night Paul had a vision of a man urging him and his companions to come to Macedonia. Such visions are not the normal way God works. We have no promise that God will grant us visions to direct us. We do have his promise that the Holy Spirit will work through the Word and Sacraments. However God is always able to do more than he promises, and he did so here. In verses 11 and 12 Luke describes the trip. Many have question the historicity of Luke and passages like this have been a bulwark for those defending Luke’s work. Non-biblical historical records have confirmed this as normal sailing trip during the first century AD. Paul and his company arrive in Thyatira, a city of Macedonia, and met Lydia. In her case we see the normal Means of Grace operating: “The Lord opened her heart to pay attention to what was said by Paul. And … she was baptized, and her household as well” (14-15). By Word and Sacrament salvation came to Lydia and her household. In a day before modern birth-control, and when having children was considered a blessing from God, to imagine there were no small children or infants in Lydia’s household is quite a stretch. This passage, then, also lends support to baptizing infants and small children.

Revelation 21:9-14, 21-27: In spectacular language John describes our heavenly home. In Sunday’s sermon some of it will be unpacked.

John 16:23-33: The opening verses of this lesson are favorites for those in the “name it claim it” camp of thinking. Jesus says, in part, “whatever you ask of the Father in my name, he will give it to you.” We covered this topic in last weeks adult Bible study. When considering prayer, we must take what the entire Bible teaches into consideration, not “cherry pick” our verses. Here we see the phrase “in my name.” This is not a magical formula. It means in harmony with the will of Christ. So passages like “And this is the confidence that we have toward him, that if we ask anything according to his will he hears us” (1 John 514) and “And behold, a leper came to him and knelt before him, saying, ‘Lord, if you will, you can make me clean’” (Matthew 8:2) help us understand this promise in a God-pleasing way. Jesus then turns the conversation towards his upcoming arrest, death, and resurrection (this conversation took place on Maundy Thursday in the Upper Room). This happens after the disciples begin to show signs of self-reliance. We are to depend on Christ, not ourselves. During the hours of Jesus passion the disciples abandoned their Lord. We, of course, were not there and so did not face the fears the disciples did. We might confidently feel we would have remained true. Jesus, though, warned us that “in the world you will have tribulation.” How often have we denied our Lord in word or deed, by action or inaction? “But take heart; I [Christ] have overcome the world” (33). When we sin, we can turn to Him who,on Good Friday, won the victory over the world, sin, death, and the power of the devil. We receive forgiveness and the grace to stand again for our Lord.

Sunday’s Collect
O God, the giver of all that is good, by Your holy inspiration grant that we may think those things that are right and by Your merciful guiding accomplish them; through Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord, who 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 16:33b)
Alleluia. We know that Christ being raised from the dead will never die again; death no longer has dominion over him. Alleluia. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world. Alleluia.

Introit (Psalm 55:4, 16-18; antiphon: Psalm 55:22)
Cast your burden on the LORD, and he will sustain you;
he will never permit the righteous to be moved.
My heart is in anguish within me;
the terrors of death have fallen upon me.
But I call to God,
and the LORD will save me.
Evening and morning and at noon I utter my complaint and moan,
and he hears my voice.
He redeems my soul in safety from the battle that I wage,
for many are arrayed against 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.
Cast your burden on the LORD, and he will sustain you;
he will never permit the righteous to be moved.

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: “Lot was called righteous, yet he offered his virgin daughters to a mob of degenerates (Genesis 19:6). Why?” 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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