June 30, 2011
The Lord be with you
Why are the lessons being used at Lamb of God not the same lessons being used in other LC—MS congregations?
As everyone who reads these notes regularly knows, we use a “lectionary” at Lamb of God. There are any number of lectionaries “out there.” We use the one prepared by the Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod. Lectionaries provide scripture lessons that the pastor may choose from as he prepares his sermon. Liturgical churches, like Lutherans, Episcopalians, Roman Catholics, and others, commonly use lectionaries. They are also catching on in non-liturgical “free” churches. For example, I know of a number of Baptist ministers that now use one of the lectionaries available.
Because lectionaries are keyed to the Church Year there are any number of possible readings that are not used each year. That is because certain seasons of the Church Year vary in length. They do this because the date for Easter is based on a lunar calculation instead of a solar calculation. Our civic calendars are based on a solar year. Because of this, the earliest date for Easter, I believe, is March 23. The latest date for Easter, I believe, is April 25. Pentecost Sunday is always 50 days after Easter so there is also over a 30-day spread of dates for when the Pentecost season begins. However it always ends with the beginning of Advent. The beginning of Advent is determined by Christmas, which is set by the solar year and is always December 25. Lectionaries have to have assigned reading for all possible Sundays. This means that, in a year with a late Easter and Pentecost like 2011, we don’t have as many “Sundays after Pentecost” as we will in years that have an early Easter like next year (April 8) or the year after (March 31).
There are up to 29 possible Sundays in the Pentecost season (counting Pentecost). This year, though, we will have only 24 Sundays in the Pentecost season. Which readings should we skip? The current practice would have us retain the readings for Pentecost and Trinity Sundays (“propers” 1 & 2), skip propers 3 through 7, and start our regular Pentecost readings with proper 8. This is what most liturgical churches do today. However, as I did my planning for the year and reviewed all the assigned readings (both the ones typically used and the ones typically skipped) I noticed that the Epistle lessons take a trip through the book of Romans. However that trip begins with proper 3, one current liturgical practice would have us skip. Current practice would have us pick up our reading through Romans with Romans 7:1-13. This would be the epistle lesson most LS—MS congregations heard last Sunday.
I wanted to “preach through Romans” so, instead of using the current practice, I adopted the practice used back in the days we used The Lutheran Hymnal. With that hymnal and that lectionary series, the omitted Sundays were taken from the end of the Pentecost season. For people who visit this site that are not members of Lamb of God this means that my notes for the appointed lessons will probably not coincide with the lessons being read in your churches. Once we finish Romans we will join the rest of the denomination.
Now, if you are thinking that all the above information is more than the average layman might want, you can thank Jim Kimsey for me including it. He is an Elder at Lamb of God and he caught my deviation from the norm on the very first Sunday. That got me to thinking that others might catch it also so I thought I’d explain myself.
This coming Sunday is the Third Sunday after Pentecost. Our lessons will be Deuteronomy 11:18-21, 26-28; Romans 3:21-28; and Matthew 7:15-29. The sermon text will be Romans 3:27. The sermon is titled “Do You Need A Publicist?” We will be using the Service of Prayer and Preaching (page 260). This service uses the appointed Psalm for the day instead of the Introit, so we will be using Psalm 4. The antiphon is verse 8. This will be a non-communion Sunday. Our opening hymn will be “O God of Love, O King of Peace” (LSB 751). This is the hymn we are currently learning. The sermon hymn will be “Love Divine, All Loves Excelling” (LSB 700). Our closing hymn will be “My Faith Looks Up to Thee” (LSB 702).
I know that this coming Sunday is July 3, just one day before our nation celebrates its independence from England. Maybe I should have picked a hymn like “God Bless Our Native Land” (LSB 965), and I’m sure many churches have done so. However, as Psalm 33:12 says, “Blessed is the nation whose God is the LORD” so I think it is indeed patriotic hear about and sing praises to the Lord. We will, of course, remember our nation and its leaders in our prayers. I will say this, from my point of view the hymn we are learning is a patriotic hymn. Check out the words to the first verse and see if you agree.
- O God of love, O King of peace,
Make wars throughout the world to cease;
The rage of nations now restrain:
Give peace, O God, give peace again!
Our Sunday morning adult Bible study is continuing its study of the Gospel of Matthew. We will are in the Sermon on the Mount and this week we will cover “lust” and maybe what Jesus has to say here about “marriage.” Our Education Hour begins at 9:00 AM and everyone is invited to come.
Preview of the Lessons
Deuteronomy 11:18-21: The word “Deuteronomy” means “second law.” The book is mainly a series of sermons given by Moses just before he died and the Israelites entered the Promised Land. In it he reviews the time he has spent leading the Israelites, including the giving of the Ten Commandments, and gives them directions for life in the Promised Land. This particular passage deals with living in the Promised Land. This passage should be understood in an illustratively way, as the very first direction indicates: “You shall therefore lay up these words of mine in your heart and in your soul”. Moses does not mean that we should have an operation to implant small copies of the Bible, or even the book of Deuteronomy, into our hearts. What he means is that the Word of God should shape our lives. The focus of the Bible is Jesus, as our Epistle lessons tells us (Romans 3:21), and so he should be the focus of our lives. If Scriptures are not leading us to Jesus, we are not reading them correctly. When Moses says that we should bind the word on our hands and hang them as frontlets before our eyes, he does not mean what the Jews did in Jesus’ day of literally binding bits of the Scriptures on their hands and hanging bits of the Bible on their heads (much less the entire Bible of book of Deuteronomy), but that we view everything from a biblical point-of-view and all that we do is shaped by our Christian Faith. When Moses says, “You shall teach them to your children, talking of them when you are sitting in your house, and when you are walking by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise,” he doesn’t mean that if you are standing in your home you shouldn’t teach your children about the Lord or that you have to go on a walk to teach about the Lord but never if you go on a drive. He means that our Christian Faith should inform every aspect of our life as a family and that parents should always be willing to share how their Christian Faith shapes how they lovingly relate to each other in the home. The same is true when Moses says, “You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates”. Our home is founded on the Word of God, on Jesus. Sharing the love of Christ in our home should be intentional. Referring to things like putting Scripture on our doorposts, and the like, does indicate that sharing God’s word, the love of Jesus, is not strictly a verbal thing. We can be greatly aided in keeping our homes focused on Christ through the used of visual aids, like a plaque that contains a favorite Bible verse or a painting. We might add music, good movies, worship services, family devotions, and so on. That which focuses us on God’s grace in Christ Jesus builds our homes, our lives, on the solid foundation of Jesus and His word. The lesson ends with a curse and a blessing. The curse is upon all those who abandon God and his word, the blessing is upon all those who cling to God and his word. To put this in a different way, those who remove themselves from the blessings of God have nothing left but a curse, which is life without the blessings of God.
Romans 3:21-28: In verse 21 Paul refers to the “Law and the Prophets.” This was a standard First Century Jewish way of referring to what we call the Old Testament. Paul says that OT teaches us about the righteousness we receive by grace through faith in Jesus. This certainly agrees with what our Lord himself taught (John 5:39; Luke 24:25-27). The big thought in this passage is that you cannot merit eternal life by anything you do or because of your station in life, or what have you. Salvation is a pure gift of God’s grace. I will say no more because this reading is the foundation for Sunday’s sermon.
Matthew 7:15-29: This lesson is the tail end of our Lord’s Sermon on the Mount and concludes with the reaction of the people to his teaching. It contains the Golden Rule, warnings to watch out for those who would draw us away from Jesus and his Word, and the eternal dire circumstances for those who rise to leadership in the visible Church only to draw people away from the sure foundation of our Lord Jesus and his word. I can’t help but worry about those in the visible Church today who claim to have revelations from God and yet those so-called revelations teach something different from what Jesus and his Apostles taught. Jesus tells us that the wise man builds his life on the rock of his words, not the words of such false prophets. The response of the people to the Sermon on the Mount is astonishment. This is something of a neutral word. Jesus taught based on his own authority. He taught as if his words were of the same level of importance as the words recorded in the Old Testament. This astonished everyone, both those who were his disciples and those who were not, and also the fence sitters. We know that Jesus can teach this way because his is the Son of God, the Second Person of the Trinity. He does speak with Divine authority (John 1:1-14).
• The church office will be closed on Monday, July 4. Have a great Independence Day celebration.
• Our Women’s Bible Fellowship will not be meeting Wednesday because so many of our ladies will be out of town for the holiday.
Well, I pray I will see you Sunday.
Blessings in Christ,
Pastor John Rickert
Well, I pray I will see you Sunday.
Blessings in Christ,
Pastor John Rickert