June 23, 2011
The Lord be with you
This coming Sunday is the Second Sunday after Pentecost. We are now in the season of Pentecost, also called the non-festival half of the Church Year or the season of the Church. The first half of the Church Year has all the major festivals like Christmas and Easter, ending with Pentecost and Trinity Sundays. While the second half does have quite a few Feasts and Commemorations, like tomorrow which is the Festival of the Nativity of St. John the Baptist, none of them are “the biggies.” In a standard lectionary series the readings for major Festivals always supersede the Sunday’s regular readings. So, for example, the readings on Pentecost will always be related to Pentecost, no matter what Sunday Pentecost in the year may fall. By contrast, if the Festival of the Nativity of St. John the Baptist happened to fall on a Sunday, the church would exercise the option of staying with the regularly appointed lessons for that Sunday or switching to the readings for the Festival. Most churches I know of simply stay with the regular lessons.
This year the regular lectionary lessons take us through much of the book of Romans during the Pentecost season, starting with this coming Sunday. I have decided to stick with the epistle lessons and sort of preach through Romans. This is a powerful book that had a major impact on the Reformation and the Reformation churches understanding of Justification.
We celebrated the Lord’s Supper on both Pentecost and Trinity Sundays. This was because they are such special days. This coming Sunday we return to our normal rotation, which has us celebrating the Lord’s Supper on second and fourth Sundays. Because this coming Sunday is a fourth Sunday, we will again share the Sacrament of the Altar. As always, an excellent way to prepare is to read the Small Catechism.
I should probably be clear when I say “read the Small Catechism.” Luther’s Small Catechism is only a dozen (give or take) pages long. Just how many pages depends on how large the pages are. The Catechism you probably received when you were in Junior Confirmation class included an “explanation.” This is much longer than Luther’s Catechism. When I say “read the Small Catechism” I mean the part that Luther wrote.
The appointed lessons for Sunday are Isaiah 49:8-16a, Romans 1:8-17, and Matthew 6:24-34. The sermon is titled “True Power.” The text is Romans 1:16. The opening hymn is “O God of Love, O King of Peace” (LSB 751). The sermon hymn is “Not What These Hands Have Done” (LSB 567). The closing hymn is “My Hope Is Built on Nothing Less” (LSB 575). The distribution hymns are “Just as I Am without One Plea” (LSB 570), “Creator Spirit, by Whose Aid” (LSB 500) and, “O Jesus, Blessed Lord to Thee” (LSB 632). For our liturgy we will be using the first setting of the morning service.
The following video is of the “Lutheranwarbler” playing and singing one of our distribution hymns, “My Hope Is Built on Nothing Less.”
Our Sunday morning adult Bible study is continuing its study of the Gospel of Matthew. We will are in the Sermon on the Mount. Our Education Hour begins at 9:00 AM and everyone is invited to come.
Preview of the Lessons
Isaiah 49:8-16a: This is a wonderful gospel passage. It is in a poetry part of Isaiah and so is full of metaphors. The bottom line is that God will never forsake you … NEVER. Even when his people feel forsaken (v. 14) God assures us that he has not.
Romans 1:8-17: Paul had never been to Rome when he wrote this letter. His goal was to travel there. Once there he would work among the Romans for a while and then push further west. This letter, then, was kind of his introduction to the Church at Rome. So, unlike so many of Paul’s other letters, he is not addressing some specific problem. In stead he is spelling our his fundamental theology. Not surprisingly then, the key organizing principle of Paul’s theology comes out very early – “the Gospel is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes” (16).
Matthew 6:24-34: This is part of the Sermon on the Mount, which we are studying in our Sunday morning Bible class. You might call this section our Lord’s “anti-anxiety” prescription. It dovetails nicely with our reading from Isaiah. The more you know down deep that what Isaiah is saying is true, the less anxious you will be. In other words, keep God first, trust that he will not forsake you, follow him, and your life naturally is less anxious. An additional thought is that “trusting” “believing” and so on is not so much a word we do but a response to the goodness of God. Therefore Jesus tells us to seek first the kingdom of God (that is the reign of God) and all these things will be added … As you do this you can’t help but notice the goodness and faithfulness of the Lord. The result is trust.
• LitWits will meet Sunday to discuss the very engaging book The Reason for God: Belief in an Age of Skepticism. We meet at 6:30 PM. Everyone is welcome.
Well, I pray I will see you Sunday.
Blessings in Christ,
Pastor John Rickert