Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Worship for Epiphany 8 - 2011

Commemoration of Polycarp of Smyrna, Pastor and Martyr
Wednesday after Epiphany 7
February 23, 2011

The Lord be with you

This coming Sunday is the Eight Sunday after the Epiphany. We will be celebrating the Lord’s Supper. For our liturgy we will be using the first setting of the morning service, which begins on page 151 of the hymnal. This will be the last Sunday we will be using bulletins purchased from a supply house. After this we will be using bulletins produced in-house that depict the stained-glass windows above our altar.

The appointed lessons for Sunday are Isaiah 49:8-16a; 1 Corinthians 4:1-13; and Matthew 6:24-34. The text for the sermon is Matthew 6:24. The sermon title is “Who Do You Trust?”. (It seems like I’ve been on a question kick lately for my sermon titles. Maybe next week I’ll come up with something different.”

As this is a Communion Sunday, we have three distribution hymns. The first of these (Jesus, Once with Sinners Numbered) is a new hymn. We would have started learning it last week, but I wanted to have only well known hymns for our Friendship Sunday.

Our Opening Hymn will be “Lord, Open Now My Heart to Hear” (LSB 908). Our Sermon Hymn will be “We Give Thee But Thine Own” (LSB 781). Our Closing Hymn will be “Almighty Father, Bless the Word” (LSB 923). The Distribution Hymns will be “Jesus, Once with Sinners Numbered” (LSB 404), “Thy Body, Given for Me, O Savior” (LSB 619), and “Take My Life and Let It Be” (LSB 783).

I normally post a video of one of the hymns, but that proved too difficult for me this week. I could find recordings of only two of them, “We Give Thee But Thine Own” and “Take My Life and Let It Be.” There are two well-know tunes to “Take My Life.” Sunday we will be singing the easier of the two. All the choirs on YouTube seem to prefer the harder of the two. There are also plenty of people “interpreting” each of the hymns, which means they don’t sound anything like what you and I will be singing on Sunday. So, this week, I have no video. Instead of a video, I’m posting a picture of Isaiah by Michelangelo, because our OT reading is from Isaiah.

This Sunday will mark the final installment in our adult Bible study series “Puzzlers and Questions about the Bible.” Our final question is: “What is the meaning of the story of Balak and Balaam in Numbers?” The story of Balaam and Balak can be found in Number 22-25. Balaam’s death is recorded in Numbers 31, along with a treacherous act not recorded earlier. The story is again referred to in Deuteronomy 23; Joshua 13 & 24; Nehemiah 13, Micah 6, 2 Peter 2, Jude, and Revelation 2. In other words, there is ample biblical information to provide a good answer. Our Education Hour begins at 9:00 AM and everyone is invited to come.

Preview of the Lessons
Isaiah 49:8-16a: The years of Isaiah’s activity were 740 to 681 BC. This means that he worked through the time that the Northern Kingdom of Israel was defeated by the Assyrians (722 BC) and scattered throughout the Middle-East, but before the fall of Jerusalem to the Babylonians (586 BC). There is so much Gospel in his book that Isaiah is sometimes called the “Evangelist of the Old Testament.” The book is largely poetic, and understanding it properly requires reading it with that in mind. In other words, you expect symbolic language, parallelisms, and the like. There are three main images of Christ presented in the book: The Ideal Davidic King; the Servant of Yahweh; and Yahweh in Person. In Isaiah 49:1-7 we see Jesus as the Servant of Yahweh. Verses 8-16 continue the Servant image. In verse 8 we hear that God answers “in a time of favor.” The background for this is the Year of Jubilee (Leviticus 25), when land was restored and slaves set free. Jesus is the ultimate fulfillment of this. He sets us free from slavery to sin, death, and the devil and gives us our eternal home. Verse 8 also tells us that the Servant (Jesus) is the covenant. As Paul wrote, “For all the promises of God find their Yes in him. That is why it is through him that we utter our Amen to God for his glory” (2 Corinthians 1:11). Verse 10 is quoted in Revelation 7:16-17 as a description of heaven, teaching us that the ultimate fulfillment of this passage will be at the Second Coming of Jesus. People look at their current troubles and conclude that God has abandoned them (v 14), but we are assured that He has not (15-16). Verse 16 has a remarkable reversal of ancient practices. It was common for a slave to have his owner’s name carved into their flesh. God reverses it here, demonstrating just how committed he is. He will not forget his people.

1 Corinthians 4:1-13: We continue with 1 Corinthians. This troubled congregation had lost its focus, and Paul is seeking to refocus then on Jesus. Apparently some of the problems were cause by people with visions they claimed were from God. Paul reminds them to “not go beyond what is written” (6). Such “visions” tend to “puff-up” those who claim to receive them, and even those who follow them, because the followers consider themselves superior to those who do not recognize the vision. All this is taking their eyes off of Jesus. Everything we receive, we receive from him. Paul is getting worked up. These people want all the goodies (from a human perspective), but none of the cost. They view the sufferings of the Apostles as a mark of the inferiority of the Apostles. These, in reality, indicate the faithfulness of the Apostles. Even today we tend to think in terms of human accolades as evidence of God’s favor. We need to be on our guard that such things to not turn our eyes off of Jesus. As Paul said in chapter 1, “Let him who boasts, boast in the Lord” (31).

Matthew 6:24-34: We continue with the Sermon on the Mount. This reading includes the well-known words of Jesus about not being able to “serve two masters” and “consider the lilies of the field.” This reading will serve as the text for the sermon, so I will not write more on it here.

• Paper copies of our March newsletter will be available Sunday for those who do not have internet access. For the rest of us, the newsletter will be posted on this blog.
• My count of visitors for “Friendship Sunday” is at 9. This represents about 20% of the people in the worship service. Of course some of them are regular visitors, still I feel it was a good effort.

Well, that's all folks. I pray I will see you Sunday.

Blessings in Christ,
Pastor John Rickert

No comments:

Post a Comment