Thursday, April 7, 2011

Worship for Lent 5 - 2011

Thursday after the Fourth Sunday in Lent
April 7, 2011

The Lord be with you

This coming Sunday is the Fifth Sunday in Lent. The Latin name is Judica, which means “judge” and comes from the first word in the old Latin Introit (Psalm 43:1-2a, 3). The Introit used in the three-year Series A is Psalm 116:1-4, antiphon Psalm 116:15. It does not use the word “judge,” and, in general, does not match the theme of the old Introit so the old name not longer fits this Sunday.

We will be using the third setting of the morning service (page 184) and be celebrating the Lord’s Supper. One of the features of liturgical services is the omission of certain features of the liturgy during Lent. We’ve kind of dropped the ball on that this year, but we will start this Sunday. That means we will not be singing the Alleluia Verse or the Gloria in Excelsis.

The appointed lessons for this coming Sunday are Ezekiel 37:1-14, Romans 8:1-11, and John 11:1-53. The sermon is titled “The Truth About Death.” The text for the sermon is John 11:32. Our opening hymn will be “Be Still, My Soul” (LSB 752). Our sermon hymn will be “Jesus, Grant That Balm and Healing” (LSB 421). Our closing hymn will be “O God, Our Help in Ages Past” (LSB 733). Our distribution hymns will be “Water, Blood, and Spirit Crying” (LSB 597), “Jesus, Greatest at the Table” (LSB 446), and “Jesus Sinners Doth Receive” (LSB 609).

The video below is of the hymn “Be Still My Soul.” It has three of the four verses in our hymnal. Better Noise has each of the hymns except “Water, Blood, and Spirit Crying” and “Jesus, Greatest at the Table.” These hymns are not included due to copyright restrictions. The link to Better Noise can be found on the right hand sidebar of this webpage.

Preview of the Lessons

Ezekiel 37:1-14: Ezekiel worked from 875 to 848 BC. This means he worked after the nation of Israel broke into two nations (Israel in the north and Judah in the south). This happened after the death of Solomon (930 BC). Ezekiel also worked well before the fall of the northern kingdom to the Assyrians in 722 BC. This is Ezekiel’s famous vision of the Valley of Dry Bones. In it Ezekiel is shown by the Lord a valley of dry bones. He is then told to prophesy to them, and they come back to life. Not just as walking skeletons, but as human beings. The immediate message was to Israel, who were despairing. God is giving them a message of hope. The word translated “wind” in verses 1-10 is translated “Spirit” in verses 11-14. In English we miss this play on words. Also, every time you see either the word Lord or the word God in all capital letters, it is the Hebrew proper name for God (Yahweh). It is usually translated “LORD,” however the Hebrew word “Adonai” is also typically translated as “Lord,” just not in all capital letters. Sometimes these two names for God occur together. An English translation that reads “Thus says the Lord LORD” would be clunky, and so when this happens (as it does in this reading) Yahweh is translated “GOD.” This vision also has a fuller understanding, pointing to the resurrection on the Last Day. The “graves” spoken of, then, are not metaphors, but our actual graves. On the Last Day all Christians will all be raised, more fully human than ever before, and live eternally in our new home.

Romans 8:1-11: This is a powerful lesson and well worth reading by all those who divorce human nature and being “spiritual.” This foolish idea, quite popular in some circles today, is basically Gnostic (an heresy popular in the second through fifth centuries). This impacts our understanding of eternity as well. Will we live as disembodied spirits, or have real physical bodies? The Bible teaches us that we will have real bodies. When Paul uses the words “spirit” and “flesh” they are not synonyms for non-corporal and physical. This is obvious in many ways in this reading. First Jesus is sent as a flesh and blood human being, yet he still walked according to the Spirit. Paul also addresses the Romans, who were normal physical human beings, and said that they were “in the Spirit.” Finally, while the “flesh” cannot please God nor inherit eternal life, Paul says that the Father will “give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit who dwells in you.” Clearly, then, “mortal bodies” is not equivalent with “flesh” and “spirit” does not mean “without a physical body.” The body is important. Jesus died for the whole human being. “Flesh” is being used in a moral sense. It is all that is opposed to the will of God. Having the mind of the Spirit is having a mind that is in tune with the will of God. We attend worship services, study the Bible, give aid to those in need, and so on, in the body. We receive the Holy Spirit in our baptism, and He guides us through the Means of Grace.

John 11:1-53: Clearly, this is a long reading. It is the story of how Jesus raised Lazarus from the grave, just before Palm Sunday. Any reading this long has way more content than I can comment on in these notes, or cover in a sermon. I will just say that the resurrection of Lazarus points to the resurrection of Jesus, and also to our resurrection on the Last Day. We again see that the disincarnate accent of some today is not in harmony with the Bible. If being physical was, by deffinition, bad, then Jesus did Lazarus a great disservice by raising him physically from the dead and Jesus perpetrated one of the greatest disservices of all time by being raised physically. The sermon will explore this topic more. I would also say that the April 2011 issue of The Lutheran Witness has several great articles about this general topic.

    * LitWits, our book club, will be meeting Sunday at 6:30 PM. We will be discussing “The Book of Sorrows” by Walter Wangerin Jr.

    * Our adult Bible study continues in Matthew, starting our look at chapter 3.
Blessings in Christ,
Pastor John Rickert

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