Thursday, October 13, 2011

Worship for Pentecost 18 - 2011

Thursday after Pentecost 17
October 13, 2011

The Lord be with you

Well I’m back from the Professional Church Workers Conference and I must say it was excellent. I picked up a number of excellent ideas that just might work well right here in Spartanburg, which I will be sharing with the leaders of the congregation. If they agree, they we will share them with the rest of the congregation. Now, I’m glad to be able to have time to post these worship notes.

This coming Sunday is the Eighteenth Sunday after Pentecost. For our liturgy we will be using Matins (page 219). This is a non-communion service and uses the appointed Psalm instead of the appointed Introit. That Psalm is Psalm 103:1-12 (antiphon verse 13). Our other appointed lessons are: Genesis 50:15-21; Romans 14:1-12; Matthew 18:21-35. This will mark our final sermon based on Romans and means that the following week we will “catch up” with the rest of the LC-MS in reference to our readings. The sermon is titled “Things Indifferent” and the text is Romans 14:1. Our hymns will be “Why Should Cross and Trial Grieve Me” (LSB 756), “Heavenly Hosts in Ceaseless Worship” (LSB 949), and “Earth and All Stars” (LSB 817).

The video below is of our closing hymn, “Earth and All Stars.” This hymn was written by Herbert Brokering in 1964 for the 90th anniversary of St. Olaf College in Minnesota. Regarding its contents Brokering said, “I tried to gather into a hymn of praise the many facets of life which merge in the life of community. So there are references to building, nature, learning, family, war, festivity.” To put this another way, our Christian faith is “incarnational,” impacting our whole life, and this hymn reflects this truth. You will easily recognize the influence of the hymn being written for the anniversary of St. Olaf’s when you sing verse 5:

Classrooms and labs!
Loud boiling test tubes!
Sing to the Lord a new song!
Athlete and band!
Loud cheering people!
Sing to the Lord a new song! (Refrain)

Sunday we will continue our trip through Matthew in our adult Bible class. Sunday we will pick up at 9:18. Class begins at 9:00 AM. As always, everyone is invited to come.

Preview of the Lessons

Genesis 50:15-21: The last part of the book of Genesis is sometimes called the “Joseph Cycle.” That is because Joseph is the featured character. It begins with Joseph as a young boy who is just about all that a parent could want. Therefore his brothers are jealous of him. To get him out of the picture they sell him into slavery. Taken into Egypt things go bad for him because he holds to his principles. Based on false testimony, he is thrown into jail. By God’s grace, Joseph is able to interpret dreams. Pharaoh has a dream that no one can interpret except Joseph, so Joseph is released from jail and rapidly rises to a position of power second only to Pharaoh himself. A famine strikes Egypt and Canaan but due to Joseph’s skills there is enough food in Egypt. Joseph’s brothers traveled to Egypt to buy food and come face to face with Joseph. Surprisingly, Joseph forgives them and provides for them, setting them up in some of the richest grazing lands in Egypt. Our reading begins many years after these events. Jacob (Israel), the father of Joseph and his brothers, dies. The fears of the brothers resurface. Has Joseph been holding a grudge and only holding off until dad dies? They appear before Joseph and seek to placate him. To their surprise, Joseph has not only really forgiven them, but has understood their history as the action of God. Though the brothers had meant evil, God had intended all these events for good, for the salvation of many people, Egyptians, the children of Israel and ultimately the ancestor of our Lord Jesus. Two big messages we can learn from this lesson is that God really is ultimately in control, even when everything seems out of control, and the importance of forgiveness. Joseph is able to forgive because he understands and believes that “all things work together for the good of those who love the Lord, who are called according to his purpose.”

Romans 14:1-12: This is our last reading from Romans. Actually Romans has two more chapters but the lectionary doesn’t cover them at this time. In this reading Paul deals with a very common human problem, being unnecessarily judgmental. I say “unnecessarily” because there are certainly times when passing judgment is called for. However those times tend to be far fewer than most people imagine. At Lamb of God we use a form of the historic western liturgy for worship. Are those who do not use this worship tradition “wrong?” This type of question applies to all kinds of things in our lives. Are you “right” if you pick school A and “wrong” if you pick school B. What about something like the Lutheran Malaria Initiative? Or some Christians “right” when they support this very important effort by our denomination and other Christians “wrong” if they do not support it? Certainly we may judge that a person is “wrong” if they choose as a career path the professions of prostitution or a pimp, but is such clarity there for each individual in reference to their job search? In other words, is there one “right” job for each person and we are “wrong” if we don’t find it? These are the sorts of questions we will explore in Sunday’s sermon.

Matthew 18:21-35: In this reading Jesus tells a parable about forgiveness and therefore this reading dovetails nicely with our reading from Genesis. In the story a king is settling accounts with his servants. One servant owes him 10,000 “talents.” A “talent” was equal to the wages a common laborer would make in 20 years. While the debt is impossibly high, the servant nonetheless begs to not be thrown into the debtors’ prison but be granted more time to repay. The King does the unbelievable and forgives the entire debt. This same servant then comes upon another servant that owed him 100 “denarii.” A “denarius” was equal to the daily wage of a laborer. Clearly this is also a large sum, but not impossible to pay. It equals about what a laborer would earn in four months. With the very same words the first servant used before the king, the second servant asked for more time to repay. The first servant denies the request and has the second servant thrown into the debtors’ prison. This heartless act was reported to the king who was outraged. The king’s mercy surely should have motivated the first servant to show mercy to the second servant. The king, therefore, repeals the forgiven debt of the first servant and has him cast into prison. In short we see that the mercy of God in Christ Jesus towards us is the power and motivation to forgive those who have sinned against us. Therefore Paul can remind us that Christian Love “keeps no record of wrongs” (1 Corinthians 13:5 NASV).

• Sunday we will have a Pot-Luck luncheon following the worship service. Be sure to plan to join in the fellowship. Coupled with the pot-luck luncheon …

• We will have the LWML auction Sunday. There are always great items to purchase and the proceeds go towards the many projects our ladies support.

• Sunday, at 6:30 PM, our book club (LitWits) will meet and discuss the book The Great Divorce by C.S. Lewis. While it is a quick read, it is packed with thought provoking images. There is still time to read the book, but even if you don’t read it you are still more than welcome to join the group. One question we can try to answer might be, “Why did Lewis name the book ‘The Great Divorce?’”.

• Our Elders will meet on Monday.

• Our Cubs will meet on Tuesday.

• Our Junior Confirmation Class will meet on Wednesday.

• On Sunday, October 23, we have a voters’ meeting scheduled, but I seem to recall that it has been postponed until November and there will be a council meeting on the 23rd. We will see if what I have written down or what I remember is correct.

• Looking further into the month, don’t forget the Lutheran Lecture Series presentation, October 29, titled “God’s Gift to Mankind—Marriage”. The presentation will be at Augustana Lutheran in Hickory. Presenters include two of the Synod’s VPs and a professor from Concordia Theological Seminary. More information can be found in Sunday’s bulletin.

Well, I pray I’ll see you Sunday.

Blessings in Christ,
Pastor John Rickert

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