August 18, 2011
The Lord be with you
This coming Sunday is the Tenth Sunday after Pentecost. We will be using Matins for our liturgy (page 219). In this service we use the appointed Psalm instead of the Introit for the Day. This week the appointed Psalm is Psalm 119. This happens to be the longest chapter in the Bible. We will not use the entire Psalm. Instead verses 57-64 have been selected for our use. The antiphon will be verse 89. The other appointed lessons are: Isaiah 44:6-8; Romans 8:18-27; Matthew 13:24-30, 36-43. The sermon, again based on the epistle lesson, is titled “Prayer in a Fallen World.” The text is Romans 8:26. Our opening hymn will be LSB 788, “Forgive Us, Lord, for Shallow Thankfulness.” This is a hymn selected by our hymnal review committee as worth learning, so we will be using it over the next four weeks. I am unable to find a video of the hymn, or one of the hymn that shares the same tune (LSB 764, "When Aimless Violence Takes Those We Love"). The sermon hymn will be LSB 497, “Come Holy Ghost, God and Lord.” Our closing hymn will be LSB 571, “God Loved the World So That He Gave.” These two hymns were rated as “Well-Known” by the hymnal review committee.
“Forgive Us, Lord, for Shallow Thankfulness” was written by William W. Reid, Sr (1891-1983) and first published in 1965. Reid served as the director of the department of news service of the Methodist Board of Missions and was also, at one time, the executive secretary of the Hymn Society of America. This is another great example of the ecumenical nature of hymnody. I doubt that this hymn will ever become wildly popular in America. Not because of the music, but because of the words. Just in general we don’t like to think of ourselves as needing forgiveness because that means we’ve done something wrong. We rather like to think that God is always patting us on the back and telling us just how wonderful we are, just as we are; there is no call to discipleship, no call to change. Reid, however, goes the extra mile and has us asking God to forgive us for many of those invisible sins (like shallow thankfulness) which are so much a part of American life.
The video below of “Come Holy Ghost, God and Lord,” is from a worship service at St. Lorenz Evangelical Lutheran Church. It includes the words. I’ve used a number of the posted hymns sung by this congregation in the past, so you just might recognize the altar. The hymn is built on a pre-Reformation German antiphon, which Martin Luther expanded into the current three verse hymn.
Sunday we will continue our trip through Matthew in our adult Bible class. We are starting chapter 7, which is still part of the Sermon on the Mount. Class begins at 9:00 AM. As always, everyone is invited to come.
Preview of the LessonsIsaiah 44:6-8: This is an exceptionally powerful passage and deserves to be cross-stitched and hung in every Christians’ home. The opening two lines identifies the Father as “the LORD, the King of Israel” and the Son as “his Redeemer, the LORD of hosts.” The next two line are picked up by John in his Revelation, “I am the first and I am the last; besides me there is no god.” So we see in the Old Testament a plurality in the One God and that this Being is the only true God. He is our Redeemer and our King. Verse 7 tells us that our Triune God is completely unique. Only the Lord knows the future and reveals it to us. If you doubt that, just look at all the failed and failing predictions that come out each year from so-called psychics. Verse 8 tells us that, based on the fact that the Triune God is the only real God, those who trust in him need not be afraid. He is the Rock, the only rock really, on which humanity can depend and not be disappointed.
Romans 8:18-27: We ended our reading last week in Romans with Paul telling us that we are heirs with Christ. He continues this week by pointing us towards that inheritance, which he places in stark contrast with the present corrupted creation. It is that future hope towards which we strive. However we live now. So the Spirit aids us, especially in this reading in our prayer life. As this reading forms the foundation for Sunday’s sermon I’ll say no more now.
Matthew 13:24-30, 36-43: Matthew 13 has a series of parables about the Kingdom of God. Last week we looked at the Parable of the Sower. This week we have the Parable of the Weeds. Jesus tells this and other parables to the crowds. Later his disciples ask him about the meaning of the parable, which is why there are omitted verses in the reading. We hear the parable, then skip foreword to Jesus’ explanation. This parable would actually be easy to misunderstand if Jesus hadn’t explained it to his disciples. He tells us that a sower goes out to plant his field. The sower is Jesus. Because of the Parable of the Sower we would be inclined to see the “good seed” as the word of God, but Jesus tells us point blank that it is “the sons of the kingdom.” Christians are the good seed here. The field is the “kingdom of heaven.” Many are inclined to see this as the Church, but Jesus tells us point blank that “the field is the world.” So we have a parable about the Church in the world. How can the world, with all its sin, be considered the Kingdom of Heaven? In this case we have the Kingdom considered from God’s omnipotent rule. Jesus says in the last chapter of Matthew that “all” authority in heaven and on earth are his, not just some. It is an “enemy” that sows “bad seed.” This underscores the point that all the sin, hatred, oppression, evil, suffering, and so on, in the world are not God’s fault. The devil “sows” his “seed” which are those who work against Christ and his Church. They bring suffering into the world, and usually blame Christ and his Church for it. It is often said by detractors that, if God is real, why does he let suffering continue? This parable gives at least one answer. It is to preserve the salvation of the elect. Let us say that you really love or admire someone, but that person is not a believer. If God determined to punish all unbelievers before the end, you would see something horrible happen to them. This just might make your faith waver. You might say, “Why didn’t God give them more time to repent?” So God gives them a lifetime to repent. There is a reckoning, though. It is the harvest day in the parable. For those who resist to the end the call of Grace, it is a graceless eternity of misery for them. For those who receive the gift of salvation, it is an eternity joy.
Tidbits• Don’t forget that this Saturday is “Game Day.” Come to church at 2:00 PM for Pictionary and refreshments. The more people we have the more fun we will have. So bring a friend.
• I will meet with the parents and students for this year’s Jr. Confirmation class briefly after the worship service in the library this Sunday. We will be selecting a day and time for the classes, and material will be handed out.
• LitWits will meet Sunday at 6:30 PM. The book we will be discussing is “I Can’t Wait For Heaven,” which is a quick-read novel. Everyone is welcome.
• Information for the September newsletter is due Sunday.
• The backpacks have been delivered. As always, they are greatly appreciated.
Well, I pray I’ll see you Sunday.
Blessings in Christ,
Pastor John Rickert