Thursday, March 31, 2011

Worship for Lent 4 - 2011

Thursday after the Third Sunday in Lent
Commemoration of Joseph, Patriarch
March 31, 2011

The Lord be with you

This coming Sunday will be the Fourth Sunday in Lent. The Latin name for this coming Sunday is Laetare, which means “rejoice.” It again comes from the first word of the old Latin Introit (Isaiah 66:10). The new Introit for this coming Sunday opens with the words from Psalm 25:10, which has no mention of rejoicing. The old Epistle lesson (Galatians 4:21-5:1a) also referred to rejoicing, but the current one does not. So, in this case, the old Latin name no longer fits with the Propers of the day in series A. All of this is a little moot, as we will be using the Service of Prayer and Preaching (page 260 of the hymnal) for our liturgy Sunday. It does not use the Introit.

The appointed lessons for the day are: Isaiah 42:14-21; Ephesians 5:8-14; John 9:1-41. Our Opening Hymn will be “When I Behold Jesus Christ” (AKA “What Kind of Love is This?”) (LSB 542). The Sermon Hymn will be “Amazing Grace” (LSB 744). Our Closing Hymn will be “Jesus, Greatest at the Table” (LSB 446).

The sermon for Sunday is title “Two Options.” The text will be John 9:39.

Below is a video of the “Lutheran Warbler” playing and singing “Amazing Grace.” The other two hymns are not available either at Better Noise or from the Lutheran Warbler. By the way, you can view all the hymns the Lutheran Warbler has posted by clicking here.

Our Sunday morning adult Bible study is continuing its study of the Gospel of Matthew. This week we should finish chapter two. Our Education Hour begins at 9:00 AM and everyone is invited to come.

Preview of the Lessons

Isaiah 42:14-21: Isaiah was active from 740 through 681 BC. This means he was active at the time of the fall of the Northern Kingdom of Israel to the Assyrians (722 BC) but well before the fall of the Southern Kingdom of Judah to the Babylonians (586 BC). Modern “scholars” typically reject Isaiah as the sole author of the book that bears his name. They believe that there were two, three, and sometimes even four, different writers. A few even deny that Isaiah wrote any of the book. The arguments are not based on any historical facts. Instead they assume that differences in the writing of different parts of the book reflect different authors. They also typically reject the possibility of any direct prophetic utterances about the future. Any such statements, they believe a priory, must have been written after the fact. Such arguments are far too weak, in my opinion, to overcome the self-testimony of the book itself (Isaiah 1:1; 2:1; 13:1), the overall verbal and thematic unity of the book, and the unified testimony of Christian and Jewish tradition. One example of verbal unity can be seen in the use of the phrase “the Holy One of Israel.” This phrase occurs 26 times in Isaiah, all over the place (1:2; 1:5-6; 5:27; 6:1; 6:11-12; 11:1; 11:6-9; 11:12; 35:10; 40:30; 49:22; 51:11; 52:13; 53:2; 4-5; 57:15; 62:4; 65:25; 66:24), and only 6 times in the rest of the entire Bible. The differences are much easier to explain by change of topics and by the fact that Isaiah’s book was composed over the years of his ministry. There is so much Gospel in the book of Isaiah that he is sometimes called the Old Testament Evangelist. One of the striking features of Isaiah is the Servant passages. This reading is taken from one of them. In verses 14-17 the LORD states that the Israelites had failed in their commission to live by the Torah and to proclaim his grace to the world. Instead they had abandoned God and gone after idols. Yet in the midst of this judgment we continue to find the hope of the Gospel held out (16). In verses 18-21 the Lord’s messenger/servant comes to Israel but the people refuse to be healed. This is reflected in the Gospel lesson where the Jewish leadership refused to believe, even though there were powerful reasons to do so.

Ephesians 5:8-14:
Paul, using a metaphor of light and darkness, encourages us to live like Christians. This life recognizes all that is good and right and true. This life takes no part in the unfruitful works of darkness. This life seeks to try to discern what is pleasing to the Lord. With such sweeping statements, we recognize that the Christian life is not limited to attending worship services and morning devotions. It encompasses our entire life, our family life, our employment, our relationships with our neighbors, how we spend our free time, how we spend our money, our language, and so on. Such high expectations are actually impossible for us fallen creatures, but that does not lessen the requirement. Therefore the first and critical step in living in the light is living a life of repentance and dependence on the grace of God in Christ Jesus, who is the Light of the world. We live, not by our own power, but by the power of the cross of Christ.

John 9:1-41:
This is a long reading (which makes using the Service of Prayer and Preaching a good choice because it is a shorter service). In it Jesus heals a man born blind. The Jewish leaders, even though they know the man was born blind and that Jesus healed him, refuse to come to the light. I have placed some posts on the blog about disasters and theology. One of the misunderstandings people have concerning this topic is reflected by the Jewish leaders as they cross-examine the healed man. Because he was born blind they say to him, “You were born in utter sin”. Because the man was undeniably healed, and they didn’t want to face the obvious fact that Jesus was the Jewish Messiah, the leaders “cast him out.” Boy do they ever reflected the attitude Isaiah spoke of! This healed man, though, comes to faith in Jesus (38). In this account, Law is seen by rejecting the Gospel. If you reject grace, all that is left is law, and the law damns. While the Jewish leaders, through self-deception, claimed that they were in the light and the healed man was in darkness, the reality was exactly the opposite.


• The LWML will have a meeting after the worship service this Sunday. The ladies are asked to bring snacks.
• The office will be closed on Monday as Pastor attend the Professional Church Workers Conference in Cary, NC.
• Our Wednesday Lenten services continue with our focus on what happened during Holy Week. This coming Wednesday we will finish our reading covering Maundy Thursday. There are two services, one at 12:15 and a second at 7:00 PM. Choir practice follows the evening service.
• On Sunday, April 10, LitWits will meet. LitWits is our book club. The book to be discussed is titled “The Book of Sorrows.” It is a sequel to “The Book of the Dun Cow.”

Well, I pray I will see you Sunday.

Blessings in Christ,
Pastor John Rickert

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