Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Worship for Epiphany 4 - 2011

Wednesday after Epiphany 3
Feast Day of St. Titus, Pastor and Confessor
January 26, 2011

The Lord be with you

This coming Sunday is the Fourth Sunday after the Epiphany. We will be using Morning Prayer (page 235) for our liturgy. This is one of those services that uses a Psalm instead of an Introit. Our Scripture lessons for Sunday will be: Psalm 15 (antiphon Psalm 16:1), Micah 6:1-8, 1 Corinthians 1:18-31, and Matthew 5:1-12. The sermon text will be Matthew 5:3, and it is titled “Are You Blessed?”

Our hymns will be “I Want to Walk as a Child of the Light” (LSB 411), “Christ Be My Leader” (LSB 861), and “Abide, O Dearest Jesus” (LSB 919). The video is from the “Lutheranwarbler” and is “Christ Be My Leader.” I posted “I Want to Walk as a Child of the Light” with last weeks worship notes, so you can preview two of this coming Sunday’s hymns if you desire.

The question we will consider in Sunday’s Adult Bible Study is: “How do we do 1 John 4:1 – “But test the spirits?” (2 John 1:7) Do we ask each other if we can confess that Jesus came in the flesh?” This is a significant question and points to the absolute importance of the incarnation for the believer. In answering the question we will examine 1 John 4:1-6, and bring in 2 John 7. The Bible study begins at 9:00 AM and everyone is invited to come.

Preview of the Lessons
Micah 6:1-8: Micah is one of the twelve “minor” prophets. They are not called “minor” because they are unimportant, but because their books are short. All twelve fit on one scroll. Though the exact identity of Micah is debated, we do know he was a contemporary of Isaiah and worked from around 750 to 686 BC. Concerning the book of Micah, The Lutheran Study Bible says,
    One reclines on the grass. The other stands on a rock. The first lazily eats mutton and drinks wine. The other turns and watches the tree line at the edge of the field. The first snores. The other sees the lion coming.
    Micah called out against the leaders of Judah and Israel (1:2), who indulged themselves. They did not see the problems that threatened their subjects, including the threat of exile for the daughters of Zion (1:16; 4:10; 5:7). Yet Micah also prophesied the coming of a faithful Shepherd, who would stand guard over His people and spring to their defense with the strength of a young lion. This Ruler would come from a shepherd’s town (Bethlehem), ascend to the “tower of the flock” (David’s palace/throne), and renew the kingdom. Micah’s Shepherd is Jesus (5:2, 4; Mt 2:6).

In this passage Micah is using metaphorical, anthropomorphic, and even hyperbolic language. “Mountains” stand for ages. They can represent great strength and permanence. They are also witnesses to the Lord’s acts in the past. Because mountains are part of the landscape of a country, they can also represent the country, much like “purple mountains majesty” or “sea to shining sea” represent America. Here the mountains are spoken to (anthropomorphic language) because they have witnessed (metaphorical language) the Lord’s mercy to the Israelites and their current turning away from the Lord. The people claim God has “wearied” them. How tragic it is for a people when they forget God’s mercy and consider following him as something that kills joy. God reminds them of his care and mercy in their own history. How important an accurate memory of God’s blessings in history is in maintaining a faithful walk! His saving acts in creation, redemption and sanctification should always be part of our active memory. One soul responds to God’s call and wonders what he should do. The ideas grow more and more extravagant (hyperbolic language). Micah points the man to the Scriptures (v. 8, “He has told you”). That source has told us to be fair, honest, loving, and humbly walk with God.

1 Corinthians 1:18-31: Paul is writing to a quarrelling church as faction vies against faction. He is seeking to deflate everyone’s pride. He does this by pointing to how God always works in an upside down way from the world. What the world considers wisdom is foolishness. What the world considers strength is weakness. So the Gospel is advanced by the “foolishness” of preaching Christ crucified, instead of by the “wisdom” of great philosophical structures or spectacular signs. This passage should give all who are part of charismatic churches, or churches that are constantly pointing to their own achievements, something to think about. Among the Corinthians, few were rich and powerful by the world’s standard, but God saved them by grace through faith in Christ Jesus. We do not point to ourselves, but to Christ. If we keep him central, and not our own egos, then we do well.

Matthew 5:1-12: This reading is the opening words of our Lord from his Sermon on the Mount. You know them as the Beatitudes. Some translations have the word “happy” instead of “blessed.” This is a weak translation at best. “Blessed” is far more than “happy.” We would say that Steven had a blessed death (Acts 7), but I don’t think he was “happy” as he was being stoned to death (at least not “happy” as we normally think of the word). If you don’t want to use the word “blessed” because you don’t think people will understand, a better substitute would be “saved” as the results of these blessings indicate. Some wonder if these blessings are for this life or the life to come. The answer is, “yes.” While in the sermon I will accent the future aspect of these blessings, we do not have to wait until Glory. For example, “Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.” Surely the ultimate comfort is when we are in eternity with Jesus. However we already receive comfort because we are His and we know our future is secure, a future where God will wipe away every tear. Each beatitude has this double edge. We also see the upside-down view of the world here, for what is considered “blessed” by God is despised by the world that treasures power, prestige, and the like.


  • The February newsletter will be posted on our blog before Sunday. A paper copy will be available for those without internet access on Sunday.
  • Saturday, February 5, Rev. Frank Senn will be leading a workshop on “The Church’s Prayer” at the Lutheran Church of the Good Shepherd in Greenville. For more information see the post on the blog.
  • Scout Sunday will be February 6. Boys from our Cub Scout Pack 1031 will assist with the service and members of their family will be present.
  • On February 10, Pack 1031 will have their Spaghetti Dinner fund raiser. Cost is $5.00 per person, with no family having to give more than $20.00. Eat-in or Take-out. Dinner is available beginning at 5:00 PM.
  • February 20th will be “Friendship Sunday.” Everyone should be praying about who they will invite to the service.
  • Also, on February 20, LitWits (our book club) will meet and talk about the book “Life among the Lutherans” by Garrison Keillor. There is still time to read it.

Well, I pray I will see you Sunday.

Blessings in Christ,
Pastor John Rickert

Monday, January 24, 2011


Feast Day of St. Timothy, Pastor and Confessor
January 24, 2011

The Lord be with you

The following video is, I think, laugh-out-loud funny. However, if you go to a “mega-church” you might not laugh quite so loud. None of us is perfect, and you could probably do an equally funny video concerning traditional worship forms, but this is the one sent to me.

Blessings in Christ,
Pastor Rickert

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Worship for Epiphany 3 - 2011

Wednesday after Epiphany 2
January 19, 2011

The Lord be with you

There are two major themes that dominate the season of Epiphany in liturgical churches: Darkness/Light and Death/Live. These themes are explored in reference to Jesus so Jesus is depicted as the Light in a world of darkness and the Life in a world of death.

The theme of Light over darkness is found in both our Old Testament lesson (Isaiah 9:1-4) and our Gospel lesson (Matthew 4:12-25), which quotes our OT lesson. The theme of Live over death is also seen in the Gospel lesson as Jesus heals “every disease and every affliction among the people.” The Epistle lesson (1 Corinthians 1:10-18) at first does not seem to connect, as Paul deals with a squabbling congregation that had divided into factions. This, though, can be viewed as darkness and death sneaking in the side door of a congregation that was intended by God to be a gathering of Life and Light (as all congregations are intended by God).

The sermon will use Matthew 4:16 as the text and is titled “I’ve Seen the Light.” This will be a Communion Sunday. For our liturgy we will use the first setting of the Divine Service, which begins on page 151 of the Lutheran Service Book.

We will begin learning a new hymn this week, which fits wonderfully with the general Epiphany theme of Light: “I Want to Walk as a Child of the Light” (LSB 411). It will be our first hymn. Our other hymns will be: “Arise and Shine in Splendor” (LSB 396), “I Lay My Sins on Jesus” (LSB 606), “O Lord, We Praise Thee” (LSB 617) “The Church’s One Foundation” (LSB 644) and “Guide Me, O Thou Great Redeemer” (LSB 918).

The words and music for “I Want to Walk as a Child of the Light” were written by Kathleen Thomerson. She is Organist and Music Director at Mt. Olive Lutheran Church in Austin, Texas. She was born in Tennessee and grew up in Mississippi, California, and Texas. College music study was at the Universities of Colorado and Texas, the Flemish Royal Conservatory in Antwerp, and privately in Paris. Before retirement in Austin, she lived in Collinsville, Illinois, where her husband was a biology professor at Southern Illinois University at Edwardsville. As I checked out YouTube videos I discovered that this hymn has jumped denominational lines, being sung by choirs and congregations from Baptist to Roman Catholic. The video below is the Notre Dame Lit Choir Alumni. I like it because you can understand all the words.

The question we will consider in the adult Bible study is: “Mark 9:44 and 46 and 48 – What do these mean?” This is where Jesus speaks of cutting of your hand and foot and gouging out your eye. This whole section (Mark 4:42-50) has some very powerful images (which is why it is so memorable) but they have been misunderstood over the centuries, even leading some poor souls to mutilate themselves. Trust me on this, no one will be cutting off their hands after the Bible study, which begins at 9:00 AM and to which every is invited to come.

There will be a Church Council meeting after the worship service.

Information for the February newsletter is due Sunday.

There are a couple of things coming up I just want to mention.
    Saturday, February 5, Rev. Frank Senn will be leading a workshop on “The Church’s Prayer” at the Lutheran Church of the Good Shepherd in Greenville. For more information see yesterday’s post.
    • Scout Sunday will be February 6. Boys from our Cub Scout Pack 1031 will assist with the service and members of their family will be present.
    February 20th will be “Friendship Sunday.” Everyone should be seeking to invite someone to the service. I’m telling you this now so you have time to invite the same person more than once. Some people (maybe most) need more than one friendly invitation.
    • Also, on February 20, LitWits (our book club) will meet and talk about the book “Life among the Lutherans” by Garrison Keillor. There is still time to read it.
Well, I pray I will see you Sunday.

Blessings in Christ,
Pastor John Rickert

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

The Church's Prayer

You are invited to an all-day workshop on

The Church's Prayer

The focus is on the historic prayer offices of the church.

Presented by:
The Reverend Dr. Frank C. Senn, STS
Pastor of Emmanuel Lutheran Church, Evanston, Illinois
Senior of the Society of the Holy Trinity

The Lutheran Church of the Good Shepherd (LCMS)
1601 North Pleasantburg Drive
Greenville South Carolina 29609
(864) 244-5825

Day and Time:
Saturday, February 5, 2011
9:30 AM -3:30 PM

$10.00 per person
(includes lunch)

The Church's Prayer

9:00 AM Registration & refreshment

9:30 AM Office of Matins Lutheran Service Book

10:15 AM break

10:30 AM Session One

11:45 AM break

12:00 PM Responsive Prayer 1 (Suffrages) Lutheran Service Book

12:15 PM lunch

1:00 PM Session Two

2:00 PM break

2:15 PM Session Three: Questions and discussion

3:00 PM Office of Vespers (Evening Prayer) Lutheran Service Book


Please register by Monday, January 31, 2011

NAME: ____________________________

PHONE # ( _) _____________________

E-mail: _____________________________

Please enclose $10.oo

Checks should be made out to:
The Lutheran Church of the Good Shepherd
and mailed to:

LCGS Prayer Workshop
1601 N. Pleasantburg Drive
Greenville, SC 29609

The Reverend Dr. Frank C. Senn, STS

Dr. Frank C. Senn has served as Pastor of Immanuel Lutheran Church (ELCA) in Evanston, Illinois since 1990. He is also Senior of the Society of the Holy Trinity, a Lutheran ministerium (religious order) for Lutheran pastors.

He holds a B.A. from Hartwick College, Oneonta, NY, a M.Div. from the Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago, and a Ph.D. from the University of Notre Dame.

He has served congregations in South Bend, IN, Louisville, KY, Chicago, IL, and Lincolnshire, IL before his current pastorate in Evanston.

He served as Assistant Professor of Liturgics at the Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago from 1978-81 and has taught courses at the University of Chicago Divinity School, the University of Notre Dame, Concordia University in River Forest, IL, Seabury-Western Theological Seminary and Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary in Evanston.

Active in liturgical circles, Dr. Senn has served as President of the North American Academy of Liturgy and The Liturgical Conference. Active in ecumenical affairs, he was a member of the Lutheran-Episcopal Dialogue in the U.S.A. from 1977-81 and served as the ecumenical officer of the Metropolitan Chicago Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America under former Bishop Ken Olson.

Dr. Senn is the author of ten books, including most recently Lutheran Identity: A Classical Understanding (Fortress Press, 2008) and The People's Work: A Social History of the Liturgy (Fortress Press, 2006). Other recent books include Christian Liturgy—Catholic and Evangelical (Fortress Press, 1997), A Stewardship of the Mysteries (Paulist Press, 1999), and New Creation: A Liturgical Worldview (Fortress Press, 2000).

He has contributed chapters to other books, written essays and reviews in many journals, and provided articles to several dictionaries and encyclopedias. He has lectured throughout the United States as well as in Canada, England, Sweden, Iceland, and Australia.

Pastor Senn is married to Mary Elizabeth Langford and they have three children: Andrew, Nicholas, and Emily.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Vacation, Days 5 & 6

Saturday after the Epiphany of our Lord
January 8, 2011

The Lord be with you

Kitty and I have been back from our vacation now for a couple of days but this is the first chance I’ve had to wrap-up the posts on our vacation as I’ve been going full steam since getting back to South Carolina.

On January 3, we got up before the sun once more and headed out on the first leg of our return trip. After a “quick” three hour jaunt we arrived at Isaiah’s home for breakfast. He purchased for us some “breakfast tacos.” The rest of the country would call these “breakfast burritos,” but “breakfast burritos” in Corpus Christi four or five times as large. We had placed our orders with Isaiah the day before. I tried two exotic ones. The first had chorizo for the meat and the second had a meat from the face of a cow (I don’t remember the name). The second one was quite greasy. I also had eggs on mine. Kitty played is safe with just bean and cheese. You can get just about anything on these (eggs, potatoes, rice, bacon, sausage, and so on). Isaiah feels that the majority of the people in Corpus Christi eat these for breakfast. The children were off to school and Athena was feeling ill (something was going around in their family) and so didn’t join us. After an hour or so, we were off on the road again. We made Baton Rouge, LA, by evening. I was beginning to feel poorly and hit the sack right away. If I had been feeling better, we probably would have pushed on a little farther. That night I think I was running a fever. I was shaking as if I was walking around on the North Pole in shorts. Two aspirins helped me sleep better.

On January 4 we got a late start, thanks to me. The skies were overcast and we faced rain on and off all day. I have a strong constitution and so had mostly shaken off what ever was making me feel poorly. As the day progressed I grew stronger and was able to do my share of driving.

I tried to keep my eyes pealed for the unusual names I spoke of before. Kitty helped, but I know we missed some. Some names that follow are here because they are a challenge for outsiders to pronounce. Others are easy enough to pronounce, I just felt they were fun names. (I can’t guarantee the spellings.) Any ways, here are some of the names of various sights on the trip from SC to TX (in no particular order):

Breaux Bridge
Lake Bigeaux

Before leaving we checked out some books on CD to listen to while driving. On this trip we heard a couple of Star Trek books (Enterprise: The First Adventure and Strangers from the Sky). If you like Star Trek, you will like these stories. We also listened to Davis Bunn’s book Gold of Kings. It is an Indiana Jones like book, set in 2009 instead of the mid-20th century. They are looking for the treasure from King Herod’s Temple, and of course the hero and heroine wind up together. The last book was Rude Awakenings of a Jane Austen Addict by Laurie Viera Rigler. The premise of the story (that someone from the time of Pride and Prejudice switches bodies with someone from our time) was less believable than the Star Trek books. However it was entertainingly written and would probably delight any Jane Austen fan. Recorded books are the way to go on long trips. The miles melt away and you can listen to books you normally would never take the time to read.

Next time, we fly.

Blessings in Christ,
Pastor John Rickert

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Vacation, Day 4

Monday after the Second Sunday in Christmas
Tenth Day of Christmas
January 3, 2011

The Lord be with you

Kitty and I got a little slower start today, which means I didn’t see the sunrise. After a light breakfast we got on the road and headed into Corpus Christi, arriving in the early afternoon. On the way we stopped briefly at a gift shop with gigantic items in the front like dinosaurs, shells, and the like. We took a couple of pictures, including one of me inside a sharks mouth, which matches one I took of Kitty inside a sharks mouth which was the entrance to another gift shop. We spent about an hour chatting with Athena and Isaiah before heading out to pick up Ara and William at school. After picking up the children we picked up Athena’s brother John from work. Then we all went to the Aquarium here in town. Everyone had a great time. We saw part of a dolphin show, sea otters at play, sea turtles, all kinds of fish, got to pet sting rays (with their stingers removed) and even had a few minutes to visit the gift shop where Kitty got a new pair of earrings. We then ate at an Italian restaurant. All too soon it was time to take the three hour trip back to our place. Tomorrow we leave. Next time we will stay longer.

Blessings in Christ,
Pastor John Rickert

Just so you know how big these "shells" are, Kitty is standing at the base of the Palm Tree.

That's me petting a dinosaur. (Good thing it is fake!)

William, Isaiah, Ara, Athena, Athena's brother John & Isaiah II

Isaiah pets a sting ray (and I thought he was smarter than that)

Athena, William and Ara watch the life of the sea swim by

Isaiah II isn't quite sure what to make of the fish tank

William and Ara at the Otter tank

Kitty and Isaiah II at the Otter Tank

Kitty, Ara, Isaiah, Isaiah II

Kitty and I outside the aquarium.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Vacation, Day 3

Second Sunday in Christmas
January , 2, 2011

The Lord be with you

Today started early enough for Kitty and I to see the sunrise from the porch from our apartment. It was beautiful. Then we were off to church. We ate breakfast on the way.

We attended Our Savior Lutheran in Corpus Christi. We picked this church because it was on the way to Isaiah and company’s home. To our surprise we were greeted by Rev. Bill Seaman. Bill is the Mission and Ministry Facilitator of the SED for the southern region, of which I am a part. I knew he was in Texas visiting his son, who is a pastor, but I didn’t know it was this church where his son served. Small world.

I would guess that the service was about 70% Latino. I am told the membership is maybe 80 or 85% Latino, which I find easy to believe. We went to the 10:30 AM service, which was in English. The early service is in Spanish, and I expect almost entirely Latino. At the service we attended there were about 24 children that came up for the Children’s message. They also confirmed a dozen or so children. They use what is the second setting in LSB, but from LW. They did not use hymnals, but a projection screen. I have expressed my feelings about how this excludes people who do not know the music in other posts. When the members of this congregation Pass the Peace, they really go all out. The sermon was based on the Gospel lesson from Luke about when Joseph and Mary “lost” Jesus on one of their trips to Jerusalem for the Passover. Pastor Seaman (the son) tied it in with the idea that sometimes people can feel like they have lost Jesus. We find him in Church (just like Joseph and Mary found Jesus in the Temple), where we find the Word and the Sacraments. The sanctuary was beautiful. It was a real blessing to gather with the believers of Our Savior, hear the word preached, and share the Lord’s Supper with them.

After church we continued on to Isaiah’s home. It is less than 15 minutes away from the church. Aside from Isaiah, Athena and the children, Jarn (one of Athena’s brothers) and he father were there. We brought in our Christmas presents and so everything got off to a grand start. For lunch/dinner we had some excellent monster burritos, which we are told are one of the things Corpus Christi does well. I have to agree. We also played a game of Monopoly, which I won. We left around 7:30 or 8:00 for the three hour drive back to our place. Next time we come we will plan better so we can spend more than a couple of days here and find a place MUCH closer.

Blessings in Christ,
Pastor John Rickert

Jarn is in the back left, next to Athena, and Athena's father is by Isaiah.

William's new Nerf gun meets with his approval.

Athena and Isaiah open a present.

Ara outside trying out her 3-D chalk.

Kitty and Little Isaiah play a new game together.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Vacation, Day 2

Saturday, January 1, 2011 (1-1-11)
Circumcision and Name of our Lord
New Year’s Day

The Lord be with you

Kitty and I reached Texas today, to be precise, South Padre Island. We pulled in at sunset. It was a beautiful sky, though we didn’t get a chance to truly enjoy it because we were un-packing. The place we are staying in is named Inverness. We are on the sixth floor with sliding glass doors leading to a patio overlooking the Mexican Gulf. The sound of the waves breaking and rolling onto the beach is wonderful. It is facing east, so we can see the sunrise over the water.

Gas in Texas is about ten cents cheaper than the rest of the trip. The temps were in the 60’s most of the day. The sky is clear tonight and we can see the stars over the gulf. No city lights means more are visible.

Tomorrow I will post a picture or two, I promise.

Just a random thought: Why is it that there are so many ways to make the long e sound in English? Dixie ends with a long e sound, made by an ie. Danny ends with a long e sound, made by a y. Compete has a long e sound in its final syllable, made by a silent e at the end of the word. Beat has a long e sound, made by an ea. Biloxi ends with a long e sound, made by an i. Beet has a long e sound, made by the double e. Is it any wonder that we need spell check in our word processors?

Blessings in Christ,
Pastor John Rickert (on vacation)