Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Worship for Epiphany 7 - 2011 (Friendship Sunday)

Commemoration of Philipp Melanchthon (birth), Confessor
Wednesday after Epiphany 6
February 16, 2011

The Lord be with you

This coming Sunday is the Seventh Sunday after the Epiphany. At Lamb of God we have chosen this Sunday to celebrate as Friendship Sunday. Each of our members has been encouraged to invite someone to worship with us.

We will be using Matins (page 219) for our liturgy. In the service of Matins a Psalm is used instead of the Introit. Our Psalm Sunday will be Psalm 119: 33-40. The antiphon will be verse 35.

You might be interested in knowing that the historic worship services of the Church come from two different tradition streams. The services in which we celebrate the Lord’s Supper come from the “Cathedral” tradition. Services like Matins and Vespers come from the “Monastic” tradition. The “Cathedral” tradition focused on Sunday morning and developed with the laity in mind. The “Monastic” tradition developed in monasteries and had full-time clerics in mind. Matins was a very early morning service, done each day of the week (monks spent eight hours a day in prayer and this was the first prayer service of the day). With this in mind, the opening words of Matins seem even more significant: “O Lord, open my lips, and my mouth will declare Your praise” (Psalm 51:15). What a great way to begin the day.

The appointed lessons for Sunday are Leviticus 19:1-2, 9-18; 1 Corinthians 3:10-23; Matthew 5:38- 48. The text for the sermon is Matthew 5:48. The sermon title is “Tips for Living?”.

Our Opening Hymn will be “My Faith Looks Up to Thee” (LSB 702). Our Sermon Hymn will be “I Am Trusting Thee, Lord Jesus” (LSB 729), Our Closing Hymn will be “What Is the World to Me” (LSB 730). The hymn below is the “LutheranWarbler” singing “I Am Trusting Thee, Lord Jesus,” the Sermon hymn.

In our adult Bible study we are just about finished with our series “Puzzlers and Questions about the Bible.” This coming Sunday our question is “Who are the two anointed ones in Zechariah 4:11-14?”. We will examine the entire chapter to help answer the question. There is only one more question after this one. Our Education Hour begins at 9:00 AM and everyone is invited to come.

Preview of the Lessons
Leviticus 19:1-2, 9-18: In the opening words of this reading, God tells the Israelites “You shall be holy, for I the LORD your God am holy.” We then have a list of how this holiness would express itself in relationship to one’s neighbors, ending with the passage Jesus quoted as one of the two “great commandments,” “you shall love your neighbor as yourself.” People often get focused on how the Israelites are told to live and almost overlook the opening words “You shall be holy, for I the LORD your God am holy.” It is God who cares for the poor, the sojourner, the powerful and weak, the blind, who does not lie, betray, and so on. We see this reflected in the life of our Lord Jesus, who fulfilled the Law perfectly on our behalf. He was able to do that because he is holy. As we think of this passage in terms of Jesus, the words “You shall not take vengeance or bear a grudge against the sons of your own people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself” seems even more powerful. Does this not describe our Lord as he went to the cross?

1 Corinthians 3:10-23: Paul continues to try to straighten out the Corinthians. Last week he brought up the topic that they had divided into groups, some claiming to follow Paul, some Apollos, some Peter, and the like. He ended by introducing the metaphor that we are “God’s building.” He continues that metaphor with this reading. The foundation of this building is Jesus, recalling what Paul said earlier that he desired to know nothing among them except Jesus Christ, and him crucified. Then he speaks of those who work on the building. These workers are the ministers, people like Paul, Apollos, and Peter. There are two different types of building materials, good and bad. The quality of this building material will be revealed on the Last Day, with the bad material being destroyed but the good material entering Glory. What exactly is the material used in building the Church? It is not people for the builders (Paul, Apollos, etc.) are people and members of the Church. Also, while the building material is destroyed causing those who have built with it to “suffer loss,” Paul adds “though he himself will be saved.” What do the teachers of the Church build with except with what they teach, that is, with doctrine? Paul goes on and says we are God’s temple. The application is that bad building material can lead to the destruction of the Temple, so be sure to build with the gold, silver, and precious stones of Christ-centered, Biblically grounded, doctrine. We should not be drawn away from this by the “wisdom of the world.” While all things are ours in Christ, including the wisdom of the world, it should never supplant a Christ-centered faith, a Christ-centered understanding of the Bible, a Christ-centered life. Girolamo Savonarola († 1498) said it well in his hymn Jesus, Refuge of the Weary:
“Jesus, may our hearts be burning
With more fervent love for You;
May our eyes be ever turning
To behold Your cross a-new
Till in glory, parted never
From the blessed Savior’s side,
Graven in our hearts forever,
Dwell the cross, the Crucified.”

Matthew 5:38-48: We continue hearing our Lord’s “Sermon on the Mount.” Once again the sermon is based on this reading, so I’m not going to say much. Jesus, though, is on the same theme as our Old Testament lesson, and even what we read in Paul’s letter to the Corinthians.

• Last week our voter’s meeting selected a design for our bulletins. This new look will be first used the first Sunday in March, which happens to be Transfiguration Sunday, the Last Sunday after Epiphany.
• This coming Sunday evening LitWits (our book club) will meet at 6:30 PM and talk about the book “Life among the Lutherans” by Garrison Keillor. There is still time to read it.
• Also this Sunday information for our March newsletter is due.
• REMEMBER – this Sunday is “Friendship Sunday.” Everyone should be seeking to invite someone to the service.
• I did get some of the above information wrong on last week’s post. It is correct this week.

Well, I pray I will see you Sunday.

Blessings in Christ,
Pastor John Rickert

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