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

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