Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Worship for Pentecost 13 - 2011

Thursday after Pentecost 13
September 15, 2011

The Lord be with you

This coming Sunday is the Fourteenth Sunday after Pentecost. For our liturgy we will be using Matins (page 219). This is a non-communion service. Our opening hymn will be “All the Earth with Joy Is Sounding” (LSB 462). The sermon hymn will be “Spread the Reign of God the Lord” (LSB 830). The closing hymn will be “Thine the Amen, Thine the Praise” (LSB 680). The appointed lessons for the day are: Isaiah 56:1, 6-8; Romans 11:1-2a, 13-15, 28-32; Matthew 15:21-28. The sermon is once again based on our Epistle lesson as we continue our trip through Romans. It is titled “What About the Lost?” and the text is Romans 11:32.

Matins is one of those prayer services that developed in the monasteries throughout the Middle Ages and was part of their daily routine. This explains the differences from the first five settings for the morning service in our hymnal, which are based on the liturgy that developed in the churches where the town’s people worshiped each Sunday (called “Cathedral” services because they occurred in the Cathedral). Cathedral services always celebrated the Lord’s Supper. Nine different “Monastic Hours” (as they are sometimes called) developed in the monasteries and they each were prayed every day. When the monks received the Lord’s Supper they would attend the same service as the Laity and so there was never a need for the Monastic Hours to develop as a Communion service. Instead they are prayer services with a focus on praying through all the Psalms. Part of the way this is reflected in our modern form of the service is in the liturgical songs we sing which are drawn from the Psalms. Another way is for the congregation and pastor to sing/chant the appointed Psalm for the Day. Sunday that will be Psalm 67. The antiphon (a verse that is sung at the beginning and end of the Psalm and captures a main thought of the Psalm) will be verse 5.

The video below is of “Thine the Amen, Thine the Praise,” our closing hymn. The words for this hymn were written by Herbert F. Brokering (1926-2009), a former member of the American Lutheran Church (one of those denominations that helped form the ELCA). The music was composed by Carl F. Schalk (born 1929), who is a member of The Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod. The hymn was published in 1983 and so could not be included in the Lutheran Book of Worship (© 1978) or Lutheran Worship (© 1982). However it is a great song both lyrically and musically and has quickly jumped Lutheran denominational lines to other churches.

Sunday we will continue our trip through Matthew in our adult Bible class. We will be picking-up at chapter eight, verse 14. Class begins at 9:00 AM. As always, everyone is invited to come.

Preview of the Lessons
Isaiah 56:1, 6-8: This whole reading, including the omitted verses, is about how the “covenant” of God is for all people. Thus Jesus quotes verse 7 in Matthew 21:13, “My house shall be called a house of prayer for all peoples.” How powerful God’s grace is is seen in verse 3 where two groups thought to be outside the realm of the covenant of grace are spoken of:
    Let not the foreigner who has joined himself to the LORD say,
    “the LORD will surely separate me from his people”:
    and let not the eunuch say,
    “Behold I am a dry tree.”
They are not to say such things because the Lord will not reject them. They are established forever. Worship features prominently in these verses. It is not that worship saves, but that one who is saved worships. So a sub-theme here is the importance of worship for maintaining one’s spiritual life. Of course the main theme is that God’s love is not restricted, but is for all people, all who come to faith in Christ Jesus our Lord. A sub-theme, then, is that we who have received God’s grace are not to horde it, but share it with others.

Romans 11:1-2a, 28-32: In this chapter Paul, the great “missionary to the Gentiles,” grapples with the rejection by the Jews of the promised Messiah. In the skipped verses he draws in the example of Elijah in the Old Testament. At the time of Elijah the Israelites by blood were also rejecting their God. Two stories are in mind. First, during a drought, Elijah sought refuge with the widow of Zarephath in the pagan area of Sidon (1 Kings 17). After some time this woman and her small family come to faith in the Lord. Second, after the drought ended, Elijah complained that he was the only believer in God left. The hard heart of the blood descendants of Abraham proved to be the opportunity for God’s grace to stretch beyond these national boundaries. Also, even though the majority of blood descendants had rejected God, 7000 had remained faithful. This remnant, coupled with the converted pagans, comprise the “true Israel.” The blood descendants of Abraham are not the children of promise because they have rejected the promise. Paul makes this same point with an analogy to a olive tree. Thus God is severe, rejecting those who reject him. Yet he is also merciful, granting salvation and inclusion into the family of God to all who receive his promises. Those who believe have always been the “true Israel.” The mystery Paul refers to in verses 25 and 26 has this background. When Paul says “in this way all Israel will be saved,” his is not referring to all the blood descendants of Abraham. (How could he when only 7000 believers existed in the days of Elijah?) “All Israel” means all those who believe in the Messiah promised to Israel, no matter what their ancestral background is. In every generation this includes some who are blood descendants of Abraham, but is never restricted to people with this genetic code. However God did pour great blessings on the blood descendants of Abraham and they do have a privilege position in salvation history. This can never be taken away. God also desires them to come to faith in their Messiah. When you read the word “Israel” in the New Testament you must always pay attention to the context to determine if “Israel according to the flesh” or “Israel according to the promise” is being referred to. The sermon is based on this reading but most of this information will not be in the sermon.

Matthew 15:21-28: This is a reading that has bothered many. In it a Canaanite woman approaches Jesus and asks him to cast a demon out of her daughter. Not only does Jesus refuse, but uses an analogy that makes the woman, and one would assume all Canaanites, dogs. Many have tried to soften the story by pointing out that the Greek word translated “dogs” is one used for pet dogs, and of course by the dog being around the table as the family eats accents that it is a pet dog. Still, whether it is a wild dog or a pet dog, Jesus seems far harder in this story than in many other accounts of his interaction with non-Jews. What makes the story harder is that Matthew provides no interpretative words along side the story. Of course Jesus does, in the end, heal this poor woman’s child, and that is what most focus on. For a full treatment of this passage you will just have to come to the adult Bible on Sunday when we get there. This is a quick summary. Jesus withdraws to this pagan area because persecution is picking up in Jewish areas. The Canaanite’s were ancient enemies of the Jews and crass idolaters. This woman, then, is about as unlikely a convert to the cause of Christ as one can imagine. While continually pleading for help Jesus appears to completely ignore her. The disciples take up her cause and start also pleading with Jesus to heal her daughter and dismiss her. This is the only why the pleading of the disciples to dismiss the woman makes sense as Jesus said to the disciples, “I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel,” and “It is not right to take the children’s bread and throw it to the dogs.” The faith of the woman comes across in numerous ways. She call Jesus “Lord” three times, a title Matthew consistently has on the lips of Jesus’ disciples. She also remarkably calls Jesus the “Son of David,” indicating that she viewed Jesus as the promised Jewish Messiah. Finally she picks-up on Jesus’ comments to his disciples and doesn’t disagree with it, but draws an implication from it that might get her a hearing. Even pets get the scraps that fall from the table. (By the way, the ESV is correct in its translation “Yes, Lord, yet even …” in verse 27 unlike .most English translations that have this translated in an adversative or contrasting way.) Now Jesus acts, healing the girl and telling all she has a “great faith.” May the Lord be able to say the same about all of us. Even in the face of adversity she hung on to her faith. I’m reminded of the hymn “God Moves in a Mysterious Way.” Verse two reads:
    Judge not the Lord by feeble sense,
    But trust Him for His grace;
    Behind a frowning providence
    Faith sees a smiling face.
• The Church Council will meet after Sunday’s worship service in the library.

• Newsletter information for the October newsletter is due Sunday.

• Pastor’s Hermeneutics seminary begins tomorrow (Thursday) and continues for the next four weeks each Thursday and Friday, meaning the office will be closed on those days for four weeks.

• The office will also be closed Tuesday, September 20, as pastor will be in Asheville meeting with his GWU supervision group. .

• Pastor Jeffrey Van Osdol, who has filled in for Pastor Rickert a few times when he was out of town, has accepted a time restricted Call to Good Shepherd Lutheran in Charleston. The installation service will be Sunday, October 2. Good Shepherd meets in a rented Seventh Day Adventist Church (who worship on Saturdays). If Good Shepherd can make the arrangements, the installation will be in the afternoon, making it possible for circuit pastors and congregations to attend. If this happens, Pastor Rickert will perform the installation. The Call is “time restricted” because Good Shepherd’s current pastor, Rev. Timothy Sandeno, has been activated by the Navy. Pastor Sandeno is an office in the Reserves. He will be on active duty for a little over a year. When he returns he will resume his role at pastor of Good Shepherd.

• Junior Confirmation Class will meet Wednesday.

Well, I pray I’ll see you Sunday.

Blessings in Christ,
Pastor John Rickert

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