Thursday, December 16, 2010

Worship for Advent 4 - 2010

Thursday in the week of Advent 3
December 16, 2010

The Lord be with you

This coming Sunday will be the Fourth Sunday in Advent. The appointed lessons for the day are: Isaiah 7:10-17, Romans 1:1-7; and Matthew 1:18-25. As we will be using the service of Matins for our liturgy (page 219), instead of the Introit we will be using the appointed Psalm for the day, which is Psalm 24. The antiphon is verse 7. The text for the sermon will be Isaiah 7:14 and is titled “But That’s Impossible.” This will be the last week for our “new” hymn, “The Night Will Soon Be Ending” (LSB 337). It will be our opening hymn. The sermon hymn will be LSB 352, “Let the Earth Now Praise the Lord.” Our closing hymn will be LSB 917, “Savior, Again to Thy Dear Name We Raise.”

This coming Sunday is also the Commemoration of Adam and Eve. Adam was the first man, made in the image of God and given dominion over all the earth (Genesis 1:26). Eve was the first woman, formed from one of Adam’s ribs to be his companion and helper (Genesis 2:18-24). God placed them in the Garden of Eden to take care of creation as His representatives. But they forsook God’s Word and plunged the world into sin (Genesis 3:1-7). For this disobedience, God drove them from the garden. Eve would suffer pain in childbirth and would chafe at her subjection to Adam; Adam would toil amid thorns and thistles and return to the dust of the ground. Yet God promised that the woman’s Seed would crush the serpent’s head (Genesis 3:8-24). Sin had entered God’s perfect creation and changed it until God would restore it again through Christ. Eve is the mother of the human race, while Adam is representative of all humanity and the fall, as the apostle Paul writes, “For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive” (1 Corinthians 15:22).

A lot of “extras” have been added to the biblical account of Adam and Eve, some harmless, others harmful. It is harmless to think the fruit Adam and Eve ate was an apple, though the Bible never identifies it as such. (In earlier generations the pomegranate was a popular option.) Some have thought that eating the forbidden fruit is a euphemism for sexual intercourse. This is a harmful idea as God commanded Adam and Eve to “be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth” (Genesis 1:28). God does not command us to sin! This would also mean that every married couple would be commanded by God to sin.

Below is a video of some fellow playing on the organ “Savior, Again to Thy Dear Name We Raise,” our closing hymn this coming Sunday. No one is singing. He plays it a little slow, but does a fine job. This has to be one of my favorite closing hymns. I also want to say what a great decision the Commission on Worship made when they jettisoned the “updated” version of Lutheran Worship in favor of the traditional words restored in the Lutheran Service Book. The words are:

Savior, again to Thy dear name we raise
With one accord our parting hymn of praise;
Once more we bless Thee ere our worship cease,
Then lowly bending, wait Thy word of peace.

Grant us Thy peace upon our homeward way;
With Thee began, with Thee shall end, the day.
Guard Thou the lips from sin, the hearts from shame,
That in this house have called upon Thy name.

Grant us Thy peace, Lord, thorugh the coming night;
Turn Thou for us its darkness into light.
From harm and danger keep Thy children free;
For dark and light are both alike to Thee.

Grant us Thy peace throughout our earthly life,
Our balm in sorrow and our stay in strife;
Then, when Thy voice shall bid our conflict cease,
Call us, O Lord, to Thine eternal peace.

Preview of the Lessons
Isaiah 7:10-17: Isaiah prophesied from 740 to 681 BC in the Southern Kingdom of Judah. During this time the Northern Kingdom of Israel was destroyed by the Assyrian Empire (721 BC), never to be restored. This section of Isaiah tells of an event that happened when Ahaz was king of Judah (735-715 BC). Ahaz was not a good king, promoting synchronistic religious practices (it doesn’t matter what you believe as long as you are sincere). There was a collation of forces (including Israel) planning to invade Judah. God, through Isaiah, tells Ahaz not to worry but to trust in the Lord. Not only will the collation fail in their objectives, but the nations planning the attack will themselves be destroyed (which happened when Assyria defeated them). God then tells Ahaz to ask for a sign from God so that God could verify this promise and strengthen Ahaz’s trust (this is where the reading begins). Ahaz refuses. God is displeased. God then proclaims that he will give a sign far more difficult than Ahaz would have ever thought of, he would come himself, in human flesh, born of a virgin.

Romans 1:1-7: Paul’s letter to the Romans stands out as something different from his other letters. It is the only letter he wrote to a church he had never been to. This, in part, explains the general nature of the letter. There is also another reason. Paul was planning to bring the Gospel to the areas of modern France and Spain. For this he would need a home base, much like Ephesus served for him as he brought the Gospel to the Easter Roman Empire. He was hoping the Church at Rome would serve that purpose. To help establish this, the letter to the Roman Church covered most of the basics of the Christian Faith as Paul taught it. He was seeking to get everyone on the same page. As usual, Paul’s opening address (which is this reading) is extremely rich. Scholars, after reading scads of letters from the first centuries BC and AD, have determined that Paul was the first to use these expanded greetings. He was copied by those who followed him. In a nutshell Paul tells us what he teaches: the Trinity; Jesus is the fulfillment of prophecy; Jesus is the Son of God; Jesus was raised from the dead; we receive grace through Jesus; the Gospel is for all people (including Gentiles); and salvation is a gift from God. He will develop each of these thoughts in greater depth in the letter.

Matthew 1:18-25: This is Matthew’s account of the birth of Jesus. His focus is on how Joseph’s reservations were overcome. Joseph finds out that Mary is pregnant and doesn’t believe that she is still a virgin. In a dream, an angel appears to him and allays his concerns. Matthew further confirms the uniqueness of Jesus by quoting this Sunday’s Old Testament lesson, establishing that the birth of Jesus was in fulfillment of prophecy. One of the key elements in Matthew’s Gospel is the fulfillment of prophecy.

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 (Matthew 1:23a)
Alleluia. Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall call his name Immanuel. Alleluia.

Collect for the Day
Stir up Your power, O Lord, and come and help us by Your might, that the sins which weigh us down may be quickly lifted by Your grace and mercy; for You live and reign with the Father and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.

Psalm 24; antiphon verse 7
Lift up your heads, O gates!
And be lifted up, O ancient doors,
that the King of glory may come in.
The earth is the LORD’S and the fullness thereof,
the world and those who dwell therein,
for he has founded it upon the seas
and established it upon the rivers.
Who shall ascend the hill of the LORD?
And who shall stand in his holy place?
He who has clean hands and a pure heart,
who does not lift up his soul to what is false
and does not swear deceitfully.
He will receive blessing from the LORD
and righteousness from the God of his salvation.
Such is the generation of those who seek him,
who seek the face of the God of Jacob.
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!
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.
Lift up your heads, O gates!
And be lifted up, O ancient doors,
that the King of glory may come in.

Adult Bible Study
We continue our series “Puzzlers and Questions about the Bible.” This coming Sunday we will be considering the question “Why was Jesus baptized, since He is sinless?” Join us and learn the answer. The study begins at 9:00 AM.

Well, I hope to see you Sunday.

Blessings in Christ,
Pastor John Rickert

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