Thursday, December 2, 2010

Worship for Advent 2 - 2010

Thursday in Advent 1
December 2, 2010

The Lord be with you

This coming Sunday will be the Second Sunday in Advent. The appointed lessons for the day are: Psalm 72:1-7 (antiphon v. 18), Isaiah 11:1-10, Romans 15:4-13; and Matthew 3:1-12. The text for the sermon will be Isaiah 11:6. The sermon is titled “An Unnatural Peace.” We will be using the Service of Prayer and Preaching (page 260) for our liturgy. Our hymns will be LSB 337, “The Night Will Soon Be Ending,” LSB 342, “What Hope! An Eden Prophesied,” and LSB 922, “Go, My Children, with My Blessing.” “The Night Will Soon Be Ending” is the hymn we are learning this month.

Advent marks the beginning of a new Church Year. At Lamb of God we use a Three-Year Lectionary. The lectionary has appointed Scripture lessons for each Sunday and significant holy day of the Church Year. Each new cycle begins with the season of Advent. Therefore we have moved to a new cycle in our lectionary as of this past Sunday, which is Series A. Each of the series (A, B and C) accents a different one of the “Synoptic” Gospels. The Synoptic Gospels are Matthew, Mark and Luke. “Synoptic” is Latin and means something like “seen together.” Matthew, Mark and Luke are called the Synoptic Gospels because they cover pretty much the same material in very similar fashion. This year (series A) our Gospel lessons will feature Matthew.

Now you might be wondering, “What about the Gospel of John?” John wrote his Gospel many years after the first three and was familiar with them. He covers some of the same material as the other three, but adds significant information that is not in the others. Basically, it seems, John included the same material if he had important additional information to include or because the event was so important that he could not leave it out and tell the story. This allowed him to include information that is totally absent from the other Gospels. The Three-Year Lectionary handles this by including significant material from John’s Gospel in each of the series. So John is not overlooked, he is just inserted in the other series at needed times.

Below is a video of a man playing an organ and singing the first verse of “Go My Children, with My Blessing.”

Preview of the Lessons
Isaiah 11:1-10: This is a well-known passage where Isaiah speaks of the Coming One in terms of a shoot coming from the stump of Jesse (the father of King David). The “stump of Jesse” is the dead remains of a once mighty tree (the house of David). The shoot is new life springing from the apparently lifeless stump. So Christ, a descendant of David, came long after the House of David was producing kings. Instead they were a subject people in the mighty Roman Empire. The results of his coming are also reveled, in metaphorical language, and that is what we will focus on in Sunday’s message.

Romans 15:4-13: This lesson from Romans is a foretaste of the coming year. Most of Romans will be read during the year. When Paul says, “Whatever was written in former days,” he is referring to the Old Testament. In Biblical language time is divided into two great periods, the “Former Days” and the “Latter Days.” The “Former Days” is time from Creation to the First Coming of Jesus. The “Latter Days “ is Time from the First Coming to the Second Coming of Jesus.” (Hebrews 1:1-2). We are living in the Latter Days, and have been since Jesus. Paul urges us to remember that the Old Testament was “written for our instruction,” so we should not ignore it. For this reason I am pleased that, ever since the introduction of Lutheran Worship, our lectionary series has included an Old Testament lesson. With The Lutheran Hymnal we only had an Epistle and Gospel lesson. This reading is at the end of Romans. Paul is concluding by assuring his Gentile readers that they are included in the promises of God to his people, and cites several Old Testament passages to underscore his point. One of those passages is from Isaiah and refers to Jesus as the “root of Jesse.”

Matthew 3:1-12: The ministry of John the Baptist, as he prepares the way for Jesus, is a perennial Advent theme. This reading covers a portion of his ministry. John was a fiery preacher who unflinchingly pointed to the sins of the nation, calling them to repentance. He is sometimes misunderstood as a preacher of good works. He was not. He was a preacher of repentance. However he knew that true repentance bore results and those results are good works. He speaks in this passage about false security, telling his audience not to count on being the physical descendants of Abraham for their salvation. If they do not repent and believe in the Messiah, they will be chopped down and cast into the fire. This will not leave God without children or Abraham without descendants. God is fully capable of raising descendants of Abraham, and creating his own children, out of rocks! This is a reference to the Gentile mission, for Jews of the First Century often characterized Gentiles as rocks. This is also a sobering reminder that we are not to rest on our past laurels, especially those laurels of past generations that include such great saints like Luther and Melanchthon. We are to bear the fruit of repentance and not rely on the faith of former generations. It is also important to notice that John is fully aware of the Triune God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit. He speaks of the one “who is coming after me,” who is Jesus. He says Jesus will “baptize you with the Holy Spirit.” And, of course, he speaks of “God,” who in this case is the Father because he is distinct from the Son and the Spirit.

Gradual (Zech 9:9; Ps 118:26, alt.)
Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion.
Shout aloud, O daughter of Jerusalem.
Behold, you king is coming to you;
righteous and having salvation.
Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.
From the house of the Lord we bless you.

Verse (Luke 3:4b, 6)
Alleluia. Prepare the way of the Lord, make his paths straight; all flesh shall see the salvation of God. Alleluia.

Collect for the Day
Stir up our hearts, O Lord, to make ready the way of Your only-begotten Son, that by His coming we may be enabled to serve You with pure minds; through the same Jesus Christ, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.

Psalm for the Day: Psalm 72, antiphon v. 18
Blessed be the LORD, the God of Israel,
who alone does wondrous things.
Give the king your justice, O God,
and your righteousness to the royal son!
May he judge your people with righteousness,
and your poor with justice!
Let the mountains bear prosperity for the people,
and the hills, in righteousness!
May he defend the cause of the poor of the people,
give deliverance to the children of the needy,
and crush the oppressor!
May they fear you while the sun endures,
and as long as the moon, throughout all generations!
May he be like rain that falls on the mown grass,
like showers that water the earth!
In his days may the righteous flourish,
and peace abound, till the moon be no more!
Blessed be the LORD, the God of Israel,
who alone does wondrous things.

Adult Bible Study
We continue our series “Puzzlers and Questions about the Bible.” This week we will conclude the study we began two weeks ago. The question is, “We studied Romans 6:6. What is the (“body of sin”) and if we have no sin in our body (or does “that the body of sin might be destroyed” – not mean that we have no sin in our body? Then what does 6:7 mean if we are free from sin – does that mean we don’t sin & 6:9 – death has no dominion – it doesn’t say spiritual death – could it mean physical death? Matthew 16:28 and there in the Old Testament it says “death is the enemy” can’t recall where but if death is the enemy what enemy (Satan)? If Satan is the enemy then can’t he be destroyed?” Class begins at 9:00 AM. Everyone is invited.

Well, I hope to see you Sunday.

Blessings in Christ,
Pastor John Rickert

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