August 31, 2011
The Lord be with you
This coming Sunday is the Twelfth Sunday after Pentecost. It also is the Commemoration of Moses. Moses was, of course, the great leader and prophet of the Hebrew people at the time of the Exodus. He is credited with writing the first five books of the Bible. The first book, Genesis, takes place entirely before Moses was born. In fact it ends centuries before he was born. How do you think Moses knew about all these events? Something we often do not consider when thinking of the Bible is the possibility of the writers using sources. However, if we take Luke 1:1-4 seriously, then it is entirely possible for the writers of the Bible to use sources. One such source mentioned by Moses himself is the Book of the Wars of the Lord (Numbers 21:14). So, when we say the scriptures are inspired, we do not automatically mean that the writers wrote down visions they received. We mean that the Holy Spirit so guided the process that what was recorded is exactly what the Holy Spirit wanted recorded. While God could have given Moses a vision and revealed the book of Genesis, like he gave a vision to St John for the book of Revelation, the most like scenario is that the Holy Spirit guided Moses in gathering the information from prior sources.
For our liturgy we will be using the service of Prayer and Preaching found on page 260 of the Lutheran Service Book. Our opening hymn will be “Forgive Us, Lord, for Shallow Thankfulness” (LSB 788). Our sermon hymn will be “Hark, the Voice of Jesus Calling” (LSB 827). Our closing hymn will be “Jesus Shall Reign” (LSB 832).
The service of Prayer and Preaching is one of those services where we use the appointed Psalm for the Day instead of the appointed Introit. This Sunday it will be Psalm 136:1-26 and the antiphon will be verse 26. Our assigned readings are: Isaiah 55:1-5, Romans 9:1-13, and Matthew 14:13-21. The sermon text will be Romans 9:2 and the sermon is titled “A Godly Sorrow.”
The video below is of someone playing “Jesus Shall Reign” on a 92 rank pipe organ. My guess is that Karen will play it a little faster than he does.
“Jesus Shall Reign” was written by Issac Watts (1674-1748). Our hymnal has fifteen hymns by Watts. This may seem like quite a few, until you realize he wrote around 600 hymns! Watts was a brilliant man, also writing theological and philosophical works. Due to the influence of Calvinism in England, the church only sang Psalms in their services, usually only with a few tunes to choose from. This left the singing of the church rather bland and without any real New Testament witness. A young Issac complained to his father about this and his father told him that if he though he could do better then he should. Issac took up the challenge and became the Father of English Hymnody.
Sunday we will continue our trip through Matthew in our adult Bible class. We are in chapter 7 and will pick up with verse 15. Class begins at 9:00 AM. As always, everyone is invited to come.
Preview of the Lessons
Isaiah 55:1-5: This is a great passage about the open invitation of the Gospel. As is so common in the prophets, Isaiah gives this message in poetic form. That means the rules of poetry are applied to understand it. One of the keys to understanding poetry is the use of metaphor. Isaiah’s poem sets things up as if in a market place with a dealer calling to those in the market, advertising his goods (water and bread). The big surprise is that the bread and water are free. No one is bared from receiving. But there is also bread that does not satisfy and water that does not quench the thirst. For these things people actually spend money. In the Old Testament the longing for God, his wisdom and mercy is often associated with longing for food and water (Psalm 36:8; Proverbs 18:4; Jeremiah 2:13; etc.). Here in Isaiah’s passage, the free gift of God’s grace is depicted as bread and water that satisfies. False teachings, which lead to false hope, are depicted as bread and water the people buy, but which does not satisfy. The true bread and water is linked to the covenant God made with David and is for all people. David’s descendant (Jesus) will be a leader and commander for the peoples, not just the Hebrew people. Because of the work of Jesus people from all over the globe will become believers.
Romans 9:1-13: Paul speaks of his sorrow over how many of the Jewish people had not received faith in Jesus. It is especially mind-boggling in light of the great blessings God had bestowed on them. However Paul is quick to point out that this is not a failure on the part of God or his word. The true Israel is composed of those who have faith in Christ. Being a physical descendant of Abraham does not make a person part of Israel. As this lesson serves as the foundation for the sermon, I’ll say no more.
Matthew 14:13-21: This is an account of one of the times Jesus fed a multitude of people with minimum supplies. Of course we can see a tie-in with the Old Testament lesson. Isaiah sees a time when the Lord will provide and Jesus provides. With this in mind we can remember what Jesus said earlier in Matthew, that he did not come to abolish the Law and the Prophets but to fulfill them (5:17). We can also see this fulfilling the “Law and the Prophets” in reference to the giving of manna and water to the Israelites during their wilderness wanderings (Exodus 16; Numbers 20). Jesus acts as he does because of compassion for the people who had tracked him down (14). This gives support for “compassion” ministries like soup kitchens, clothing closets, Habitat for Humanity, Doctors without Boarders, and so on. It is interesting that Matthew does not mention that Jesus was teaching the crowds. Now I’m sure that Jesus did teach the crowds. The evidence elsewhere that Jesus regularly taught is overwhelming. The question then is why is this left out? Perhaps the Spirit is telling us that “compassion” ministries are valid as primary efforts. When the opportunity to share the faith presents itself, we certainly take advantage of it (1 Peter 3:15). However it is not a failure if the opportunity does not present itself. Some have observed that the disciples gather up twelve baskets of leftovers. Counting Jesus, though, there are thirteen mouths to feed (not counting others who were often with Jesus and his disciples). The idea drawn from this is that the need to share is built in. This thought does tie in with the compassion theme. One of the big things this lesson teaches is that Jesus exercises the power of God over the material realm. Any miracle over the physical realm accents this truth and can bring us extra assurance that Jesus is the Incarnate God.
Tidbits• We will be receiving Jill Snow and her son Joshua into membership in the worship service Sunday.
• The LWML will have a business meeting following the worship service.
• Monday, September 5, is Labor Day. The banks and schools will be closed.
• The September newsletter has been posted on this blog. Just click on the link in the left hand column.
Well, I pray I’ll see you Sunday.
Blessings in Christ,
Pastor John Rickert