August 7, 2010
The Lord be with you
I’m late getting these worship notes posted this week. The reason for that is that I have been in class this past week at Gardner Webb University working on my D.Min degree. The time away truly cut into my preparation time for Sunday’s sermon. In stead of preaching a poorly prepared sermon, I have decided to go in a different direction. This Sunday we will have a "dialogue service." This is our regular liturgy (we will be using the third setting which begins on page 184 of Lutheran Service Book) interspersed with commentary on the liturgy. The commentary basically provides some of the biblical and theological foundation for the liturgy. Mr. Wayne Mabb will be our commentator. Knowing we were going to do this, I was able to work-up the commentary portion of the service several weeks ago. For the most part, then, the “sermon” will be the liturgy. I will have a very short sermon (about five minutes) titled “Worship Like the Saints.” The text will be Hebrews 11:4. So this will be a normal service with a twist.
This coming Sunday is the Eleventh Sunday after Pentecost. The appointed lessons are Genesis 15:1-6, Hebrews 11:1-16, and Luke 12:22-34. We will celebrate the Lord’s Supper. The opening hymn will be “O Bless the Lord, My Soul” (LSB 814). The sermon hymn this week will be the one we are learning; By All Your Saints in Warfare (LSB 517, vs 1, 4, 3). Our distribution hymns will be “Your Table I Approach” (LSB 628), “Holy Spirit, Ever Dwelling” (LSB 650), and “The Lord’s My Shepherd, I’ll Not Want” (LSB 710). Our closing hymn will be “Go, My Children, with My Blessing” (LSB 922).
The video below is of “O Bless the Lord, My Soul,” which is our opening hymn. I think Karen will play it a little faster than the person in the video (which in my opinion is a good thing).
Preview of the LessonsGenesis 15:1-6: This reading begins with the words “After these things.” The things being referred to is the rescue of Lot along with the citizens of Sodom, Gomorrah, Admah, Zeboiim, and Zoar, who had been captured by the kings of Shinar, Ellasar, Elam, and Goiim. As Abraham returned victorious, Melchizedek, king of Salem and priest of God Most High, came out and blessed Abraham. All this happened in chapter 14. In this reading “the Word of the LORD” came to Abraham and promised him many descendants, even though Abraham had not yet even one child. Verse 6 reads, “And he (Abraham) believed the LORD, and he (the LORD) counted it to him (Abraham) as righteousness.” It may sound amazing, but this is the first time in the Bible where believing in God is spoken of. Of course such faith is assumed right from the beginning. A legitimate question to ask is “why here?” This reference becomes a key text in the New Testament, being directly quoted at least three times (Romans 4:3; Galatians 3:6; James 2:23). In this context we have contrasted the deeds of Abraham (rescuing Lot) with the faith of Abraham. Abraham is righteous (provided a right standing with God) by faith, not by his deeds. His deeds reflect his faith, but do not create it.
Hebrews 11:1-16: This is the great “Faith Chapter” in the Bible. The writer of Hebrews was facing a problem in the Church. Persecution of Christians was increasing. The Jews were a sanctioned religion in the Roman Empire (this was before the Jewish rebellion in 70 AD that led to the destruction of the Temple and the disbursement of the Jews). Many were tempted to abandon Christ and become Jews (or return to the Jewish Faith) to avoid persecution. Throughout the book the writer contrasts the Jewish Faith with the Christian Faith and demonstrates how the historic Jewish Faith was always pointing to Christ and was fulfilled in our Lord Jesus. To return to the Jewish Faith would be like leaving the dinner table and returning to the door of the restaurant and looking at the menu. In this chapter the writer provides a survey of many of the saints of old, telling us that they all looked forward to Christ and were saved by putting their faith in the One to Come, Jesus. Based on this faith they, and all faithful Jews in Old Testament times, were saved. In general, reading and understanding the book of Hebrews is one of the best ways of getting a handle on understanding the Old Testament.
Luke 12:22-34: This is part of Jesus’ “Sermon on the Plain.” There are many parallels in it to the “Sermon on the Mount” recorded in Matthew 5-7, leading some to think the Bible contradicts itself here (Where did Jesus give this sermon, a plain or a mount?) Such thinking is silly. Before the age of mass communication messages were repeated time and time again in different locations. For example, the Lincoln-Douglas debates in the 1800’s were repeated in many locations with much the same (but not identical) content. In this section of his sermon Jesus reminds us that life is far more than a physical reality. If we take care of our bodies but not our souls, we will in the end have nothing. Our true treasure is in heaven. We are to set our hearts on heaven, live like we know heaven is where our true treasures are, and trust in God to care for us. A concrete example might be putting money in an IRA to make our earthly retirement secure or giving money to help spread the Gospel, which will be recognized in heaven. Another example might be going to a ball game for an enjoyable afternoon out, or using that same time to help at a Church work day. In neither of these examples are any of the choices sinful, but one choice clearly values eternity at a higher level than the other choice.
Sunday’s CollectAlmighty and merciful God, it is by Your grace that we live as Your people who offer acceptable service. Grant that we may walk by faith, and not by sight, in the way that leads to eternal life; through Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.
Gradual (Psalm 34:9, 19, alt.)Fear the LORD, you his saints,
for those who fear him lack nothing!
Many are the afflictions of the righteous,
but the LORD delivers him out of them all.
Verse (Luke 12:32)Alleluia. Fear not, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom. Alleluia.
Introit (Psalm 147:8-11; antiphon: v. 7)Sing to the LORD with thanksgiving;
make melody to our God on the lyre!
He covers the heavens with clouds; he prepares rain for the earth;
he makes grass grow on the hills.
He gives to the beasts their food,
and to the young ravens that cry.
His delight is not in the strength of the horse,
nor his pleasure in the legs of a man,
But the LORD takes pleasure in those who fear him,
in those who hope in his steadfast love.
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.
Sing to the LORD with thanksgiving;
make melody to our God on the lyre!
Adult Bible StudyWe continue our series “Puzzlers and Questions about the Bible.” This Sunday we will look at two questions: “If someone lives their entire life never having learned of Jesus or heard the gospel is that person going to hell when he or she dies?” and “What happens to the souls of babies who die, and to people who are mentally retarded and unable to comprehend Christ’s gift of salvation?” Both of these questions revolve around how salvation is granted. The study is titled: “Salvation in Tough Circumstances”.
Blessings in Christ,
Pastor John Rickert