Thursday, March 24, 2011

Worship for Lent 3 - 2011

Thursday after the Second Sunday in Lent
March 24, 2011

The Lord be with you

This coming Sunday will be the Third Sunday in Lent. The Latin name for this coming Sunday is Oculi, which means “eyes.” It again comes from the first word of the old Latin Introit (Psalm 123:1). The Introit for this coming Sunday opens with the words from Psalm 84:5, which has nothing to do with eyes. So, in this case, the old Latin name no longer fits with the Propers of the day.

We will be using the first setting of the Communion Service this Sunday. It begins on page 151 of the hymnal. The appointed lessons for the day are: Exodus 17:1-7; Romans 5:1-8; John 4:5-30, 39-42. Our Opening Hymn will be “Today Your Mercy Calls Us” (LSB 915). The Sermon Hymn will be “Jesus, Refuge of the Weary” (LSB 423). Our Closing Hymn will be “Forth in the Peace of Christ We Go” (LSB 920). Our Distribution Hymns will be “Jesus, Greatest at the Table” (LSB 446), “O Lord, We Praise Thee” (LSB 617), and “O Christ, Our Hope, Our Hearts’ Desire” (LSB 553).

The text for Sunday’s sermon is John 4:6. The sermon is titled “Living in the Wilderness.”

Below is a video of the “Lutheran Warbler” playing and singing “Jesus, Refuge of the Weary.” She just posted this a few hours ago.

Our Sunday morning adult Bible study is continuing its study of the Gospel of Matthew. This week we begin chapter two, which has the story of the visit of the Magi to the Holy Family, the “slaughter of the innocents,” the exile of the Holy Family to Egypt, and their return to Israel. Our Education Hour begins at 9:00 AM and everyone is invited to come.

Preview of the Lessons

Exodus 17:1-7: The events recorded in this reading occurred after the Hebrews were delivered from the Egyptians by God by means of the ten plagues and the crossing at the Red Sea (Exodus 7-15) and before the set up camp at the foot of Mt. Sinai (Exodus 19) and received the Ten Commandments (Exodus 20). Based on Exodus 19:1, we know that these events happened within three months of their crossing the Red Sea. In this short time the Lord had also turned the bitter waters of Marah “sweet,” providing the people with safe drinking water (Exodus 15:22-27). He also began to daily provide them with manna (Exodus 16). In each case the people were grumbling against Moses and God, even longing to return to slavery in Egypt. In this reading the Israelites had moved to Rephidim, where there was no water. Again, instead of trusting the Lord, they “quarreled with Moses” and “tested the LORD.” They were so upset with Moses that they were ready to stone him. As you read Moses’ prayer with the Lord, you can sense his frustration growing. Moses is commanded to strike the “rock at Horeb” with the staff he had stuck the Nile with. When he did so, water gushed out. Many feel this is the incident referred to in Numbers 20:10-13 for why Moses was not allowed to cross the Jordan into the Promised Land. A few feel the Numbers account is referring to Exodus 15:22-27. Horeb is another name for Sinai, so these events took place in the general area of Mt Sinai. St. Paul refers to this story in 1 Corinthians 10:4. There he says the Israelites “all drank the same spiritual drink. For they drank from the spiritual Rock that followed them, and the Rock was Christ.” Some wonder about what Paul says because the Rock accompanying the Israelites during their wilderness travels is not recorded in the Old Testament. However, in Jewish tradition, the wisdom from God continuously supplied water to the Israelites through a single rock, which traveled with them. Paul equates the Rock with Christ, demonstrating that the people were served by Christ. This accents even more strongly the faithlessness of the people. We have an ugly peek at the state of the sinful human heart in these stories. God constantly calls us to remember his faithfulness in the past, and sinful humanity is always saying, “What have you done for me lately?”

Romans 5:1-8: When Paul wrote his letter to the Romans, he had never actually been to that church. He was laying the foundation for his planned future visit, hoping that this already established church would serve the same function for him that Antioch had served in his earlier missionary trips throughout the eastern part of the Roman Empire (that is, a home base). Therefore this letter is less pointed at specific issues in the Roman congregation and more a general exposition of the Christian Faith. In this reading Paul is speaking of the peace we have with God through faith in Jesus. The opening verse is another gospel in a nutshell: “Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.” Through Jesus we obtain the grace in which we stand (notice the power for Christian living flows from God’s grace in Christ Jesus, not our own efforts) (2). This empowers us to stand in the face of all kinds of trials and tribulations (3-4). This is also a wonderful Trinitarian passage. In verse 1 we read of God [the Father] and our Lord Jesus Christ. In verse 5 Paul speak of the Holy Spirit, whom has been given to us. Verses 6-8 continue to accent grace. Christ dies for us while we were yet sinners. Here we understand just what Paul means when he speaks of being justified by faith. Our faith is in the Son who died for us. We see, then, the centrality of the cross in Paul’s theology, and in deed, all Christian theology. I sometimes wonder how those “preachers” that are always talking about God’s favor being seen in an abundance of temporal blessings reconcile their “theology” with passages like this which speak so much of trials. If God wants all his followers to be healthy, how do they handle death? If God wants all his followers to be rich, how do they handle a Lord who had no place to lay his head?

John 4:5-30, 39-42: The Gospels of Matthew, Mark and Luke were written decades before the Gospel of John. This explains, in part, why John’s Gospel is so different from the other three. Because the outline of the life and work of Jesus was well known from the other Gospels, John felt no need to rehearse again stories like the Virgin Birth of Jesus. However, because the size of scrolls was limited and therefore much information had to be omitted in the earlier Gospels, and because John not only knew these stories but shared them with his congregation, his people wanted him to record this additional material before he died. Therefore we have much material about Jesus that appears only in John’s Gospel. Yet John wants us to know that, even with all four Gospels, we do not know all that Jesus said and did. The very last verse of John reads, “Now there are also many other things that Jesus did. Were every one of them to be written, I suppose that the world itself could not contain the books that would be written” (21:25). So, even with John’s Gospel, we have only a slice of what our Lord did.

This Gospel lesson is the story of Jesus meeting a Samaritan woman at a well. It is found only in John’s Gospel. This provides a good example of how the three-year lectionary series handles the Gospel of John. The first year of the three-year lectionary series (series A) features the Gospel of Matthew. The second year (series B) features the Gospel of Mark. The third year features the Gospel of Luke. Readings from the Gospel of John are found in each series and are typically stories not covered in any of the other Gospels.

The story of Jesus and the woman at the well is well known. Jesus and his disciples were traveling through Samaria, already an oddity as Jews typically traveled around Samaria. The two groups despised each other. The disciples had gone off to acquire supplies while Jesus rested. The woman, whom we discover had a checkered past, approached the well and Jesus engaged her in conversation. In the end she is brought to faith in Jesus as the Messiah, and Jesus stays in the Samaritan village two days, with many of the citizens also coming to faith in Jesus. While many lessons can be drawn from this reading, one very big one is that Jesus, and the gospel, is for all people.

• The April newsletter will be posted on the blog before this coming Sunday. Paper copies will be available Sunday for those who do not have internet access.
• Our Wednesday Lenten services continue with our focus on what happened during Holy Week. This coming Wednesday we will cover Holy Wednesday and begin our look at Maundy Thursday. There are two services, one at 12:15 and a second at 7:00 PM. Choir practice follows the evening service.

Well, I pray I will see you Sunday.

Blessings in Christ,
Pastor John Rickert

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