Thursday, May 5, 2011

Worship for Easter 3 - 2011

Thursday after Easter 2
Commemoration of Friedrich the Wise, Christian Ruler
National Day of Prayer
May 5, 2011

The Lord be with you

This coming Sunday will be the Third Sunday of Easter (Easter 3). The season of Easter lasts until Pentecost, which is always fifty days after Easter and therefore always a Sunday because Easter is always a Sunday. Ascension, which always falls forty days after Easter and is therefore always a Thursday, falls during this season. (By-the-way, we will again have a joint Ascension Day service with Good Shepherd, Greenville, and Abiding Savior, Anderson. Other area LC-MS congregations may elect to join as well.)

The Latin name for this coming Sunday in our one-year lectionary is Misericordias Domini. It comes from the first words of the Introit, as it is in the Latin, and means “Goodness of the Lord” and was taken from Psalm 33:5b. In the lectionary used in The Lutheran Hymnal, and in the Roman Catholic Church historically, this was actually the name and Introit for the Second Sunday of Easter. We use the three-year lectionary at Lamb of God Lutheran and are currently in “Series A.” The Introit is drawn from Psalm 133, and the antiphon is verse 1. In English the words are “Behold, how good and pleasant it is when brothers dwell in unity!” As you can see, once again the old name no longer fits the new readings.

This Sunday will also be Mother’s Day in America. This is an American civic holiday. Many other countries have similar days, though not necessarily celebrated on the second Sunday in May, like ours.

Our appointed lessons from Sunday are: Acts 2:14a, 36-47; 1 Peter 1:17-25; Luke 24:13-35. The sermon is titled “Spirit-Water.” The text is Acts 2:38. For our liturgy we will be using the third setting of the “Divine Service” (page 184). This is the service which is most similar to the Morning Service with Communion in The Lutheran Hymnal. Our opening hymn is the one we are learning this month, “This Is the Spirit’s Entry Now” (LSB 591). I am unable to find a video for it, but I think you will agree when you see the words that it is well worth learning. The words were written by Thomas Herbranson, who was born in 1933. The tune was written by Roy Hopp, born in 1951. Both are copyrighted, which is probably why I can’t find them online.

The sermon hymn is titled “All Who Believe and Are Baptized” (LSB 601). The closing hymn is “All Hail the Power of Jesus’ Name” (LSB 549). The distribution hymns are “Lord Jesus Christ, Life-Giving Bread” (LSB 625), “I Am Content! My Jesus Ever Lives” (LSB 468), and “Come, You Faithful, Raise the Strain” (LSB 487).

Below is a video of our sermon hymn, “All Who Believe and Are Baptized,” being played on the organ, but not being sung. This hymn has only two verses.

    All who believe and are baptized
    Shall see the Lord’s salvation;
    Baptized into the death of Christ,
    They are a new creation.
    Through Christ’s redemption they shall stand
    Among the glorious, heav’nly band
    Of ev’ry tribe and nation.

    With one accord, O God, we pray;
    Grant us Your Holy Spirit.
    Help us in our infirmity
    Through Jesus’ blood and merit.
    Grant us to grow in grace each day
    That by this sacrament we may
    Eternal life inherit.

I am always amazed by the anti-baptism attitude of some. When I read passages like “Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned” (Mark 16:16), “Jesus answered, ‘Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God’” (John 3:5), “[T]hat he [Jesus] might sanctify her [the Church], having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish” (Ephesians 5:26-27), and other such passages, I just can’t help but feel that baptism is a wonderful and precious gift God has given us. We will be talking about that more in Sunday’s sermon.

Our Sunday morning adult Bible study is continuing its study of the Gospel of Matthew. This week we will begin chapter four. This chapter has Jesus' temptation in the wilderness, the baptism of John, the calling of Jesus’ first disciples, and Jesus teaching and healing the crowds. Our Education Hour begins at 9:00 AM and everyone is invited to come.

Preview of the Lessons

Acts 2:14a, 36-47: Acts 2 is dedicated to the birthday of the Church, that is, Pentecost. A large portion of the chapter is given over to Peter’s sermon, which begins in verse 14. This reading begins with a snippet from verse 14, simply so everyone will know that it is Peter speaking. Verse 36 is the final sentence of Peter’s sermon. Starting with verse 37 we find the response of the people to Peter’s message, and a description of the very early days of the Church in the city of Jerusalem. In fact it is possible that Jerusalem was the only place in the world where you could find Christians at this time. While people from all over the world were converted to Christ on Pentecost (Acts 2:5-11), they may well have decided to remain in Jerusalem to continue to learn about the Faith from the Apostles and others who heard Jesus. The sermon will focus on the connection Peter makes between baptism and the reception of the Holy Spirit.

1 Peter 1:17-25: In verses 13 through 25 Peter is speaking about being holy. The words are packed with overtones from the rest of the Bible. For example, when he says “throughout the time of your exile” he is comparing our time in this fallen creation to the exile of the Israelites from Promised Land. Our “Promised Land” is heaven (v. 13) and will be revealed when Jesus comes to Judge the living and the dead. When Peter speaks of Christ as “a lamb without blemish or spot” the background is the sacrificial system of the Old Testament. So, while we are called to be holy in this life, our holiness will always be imperfect. Our complete holiness will be revealed on the Last Day. This is no excuse to live as our sinful hearts desire. We are not to conform ourselves to the sinful ways of the world (v. 14) but seek to live holy lives (v. 15). This is manifested by lives shaped by Christian love for others (v 22) and seen by how we live (vs. 16-17). It is created and powered by the Gospel (vs. 22-23). Therefore separating yourselves from the Means of Grace (Word and Sacrament) is to separate your self from the source and power to live a holy, God-pleasing, Christian-loving life. Another wonderful and encouraging point Peter makes is that our salvation is no accident. The Atonement of humanity was planned from the foundations of the world (v. 20).

Luke 24:13-35: During the Easter Season we have the joy of reading about Jesus’ various post-resurrection appearances. This is the account of two disciples walking home to a town named Emmaus, about three and a half miles from Jerusalem. The story takes place on Easter Sunday. These two men had heard the report that Jesus had been raised for the dead, but didn’t believe it. In stead of sticking around Jerusalem, they head home … they head away from the action. Jesus appears to them but they were “kept from recognizing him” (v. 16). They are talking about the events of Easter Sunday when Jesus joins them. Jesus explains how the events they didn’t believe in were all foretold throughout the Old Testament (v 27). When they arrive at Emmaus the two men invite Jesus (whom they still do not recognize) to stay with them and have dinner. Jesus accepts. At the dinner table Jesus stands, “took the bread and blessed and broke it and gave it to them.” At that moment they recognized Jesus, and the Lord vanished from their sight. Many have seen strong overtones with this and the Lord’s Supper. It is as if Luke is telling us that we meet the resurrected Christ in the “breaking of the bread,” an expression in the Apostolic Church for the Lord’s Supper (Acts 2:42). The text not only accents the power of the Lord’s Supper, but also the word of God. As they remembered Jesus’ Bible study they said, “Did not our hearts burn within us while he talked to us on the road, while he opened to us the Scriptures?” (v 32). So we have both Word and Sacrament as the means by which we encounter the Living Lord.

• Remember, Sunday is Mothers’ Day.
• The May newsletter has been posted on this blog. Just click the link. The church calendar has a separate link.
• The Ladies of the Women’s Bible Fellowship will be dinning out tonight (6:00 PM)
• This Saturday, 9:00 AM, pastor will be leading our cub pack on a trip to the Cottonwood Trail here in Spartanburg. The office will be closed.

Well, I pray I will see you Sunday.

Blessings in Christ,
Pastor John Rickert

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