November 3, 2011
The Lord be with you
All Saints’ Day was November 1 in the West. Like many other churches, Lamb of God will celebrate this coming Sunday as All Saints’ Sunday. Churches that are affiliated with the Eastern Orthodox denomination celebrate All Saints’ Sunday on the first Sunday after Pentecost. The connection to the Easter season is logical, with its theme of resurrection hope and new life. In the Western Church, the date of November 1 seems to have been set in the eighth century when Pope Gregory III dedicated a chapel in the Basilica of Rome to all the saints and fixed November 1 as the day throughout the Church to remember those saints, “known and unknown.” In the Roman Catholic denomination, November 2 is reserved as “All Souls’ Day,” in honor of those they believed still trapped in purgatory, in the hope that they might eventually attain the beatific vision.
The Reformation understanding of sainthood as pertaining to those who are pure because they are forgiven by grace through faith transforms All Saints’ Day into a wonderful remembrance and celebration of all the faithful departed. On All Saints’ Sunday we, like many others, will remember by name departed loved ones by the reading of their names in the service and tolling a bell for each one. While many names have been submitted, we will accept more names Sunday morning, they just will not have their names included in the bulletin.
The service will be printed out in the worship bulletin. We will begin with the remembrance of the departed. Our first hymn, which will follow the remembrance, will be “For All the Saints” (LSB 677). The hymn of praise will be “Praise to the Lord, the Almighty” (LSB 790). The sermon hymn will be “O Love, How Deep” (LSB 544). The offertory hymn will be “Take My Life and Let it Be” (LSB 784). Our closing hymn will be “Saints, See the Cloud of Witnesses” (LSB 667). The appointed lessons are Revelation 7:2-17, 1 John 3:1-3, and Matthew 5:1-12. We will be using the appointed Psalm instead of the Gradual, which is Psalm 149 (antiphon verse 4). As is our custom, we will chant the Psalm by the half verse. The sermon will be based on the reading from 1 John and is titled “The Bottom Line”
There has been some concern expressed by the Council of Presidents of the LC-MS about plagiarism in the pulpit. From my time at Gardner-Webb University I’ve discovered that this concern cuts across denominational lines. In the interest of disclosure, I want to say I leaned heavily on Concordia Pulpit Resources in preparing this coming Sunday’s sermon. In the coming days, I think I will put a post on this blog explaining how I think about this whole issue.
The video below is of the LutheranWarbler singing and playing “For All the Saints.” This hymn has been in all the hymnals of the Lutheran Church – Missouri Synod. It was first published in 1837 by Richard R. Mant. This is the only hymn by Mant in our hymnal.
Sunday we will continue our trip through Matthew in our adult Bible class. Class begins at 9:00 AM. As always, everyone is invited to come.
Preview of the LessonsRevelation 7:2-17: In this portion of John’s vision he reports seeing a glorious vision of all the saints in heaven who have come “from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages.” They are standing before the Lamb, who is Jesus, in white clothes waving palm branches in worship and praise (verse 9). The emphasis is on the universal dimension of the Gospel, which is meant for all regardless of race, ethnicity, language, or nation. Verses 4-8 are often misunderstood. Here 144,000, 12,000 apiece from twelve tribes of Israel, are seen by John. These are those who have been “sealed.” The sealing is baptism. The number 12 represents the people of God. The number 10 represents completeness. 12,000 equals 12 times 10 times 10 times 10. This number represents all the people of God. The reference to the Old Testament patriarchs (a unique selection of names, by the way) indicates that those in heaven come from both the Old Testament age and our New Testament age. The symbolic meaning of numbers was covered at great length (looking up countless Bible passages) when we covered the book of Revelation in our adult Sunday school class.
1 John 3:1-3: According to most commentators John wrote this epistle sometime during the 90’s and was seeking to combat early versions of a heresy known today as Gnosticism. This belief system considered people to be basically good spirits that are trapped in an evil material world, including corrupt, inferior physical bodies. The way out of this dilemma is through special knowledge (Greek – gnosis, hence the name of the belief system). This belief led to a seriously flawed Christology. For example, some forms denied the true, full deity of Christ. The very first verse of 1 John clearly stipulates that the “Word of life,” Jesus Christ, was actually “seen” and “touch” and “heard.” However there is more to John’s first epistle than accenting a proper understanding of Jesus. He also clearly proclaims salvation for all by grace through faith in Jesus (not for a few by acquiring some secret knowledge). However John is clear that good works follow faith. As Douglas Rutt put it, “salvation by grace through faith, apart from works, but not without works.” Luther said John proclaimed the true “middle ground.” John does see a relationship between faith and good works, but those good works are a result of faith, not a cause of faith or salvation (4:19). As this will be the text for the sermon I’ve kept my comments more general. Sunday we will focus on this specific reading.
Matthew 5:1-12: Those who know their Bible will immediately recognize this pericope as the Beatitudes from the Sermon on the Mount. Here we find the description of the ideal Christian. Even though this believer might suffer all sorts of humiliation and persecution he or she still can “rejoice and be glad” (5:12). Rutt says of this phrase, “A better translation of agalliasthe would be ‘be exceeding glad.’” It is worth noticing that Jesus does not promise to deliver us out of various trials in this life, but that he will sustain us in these trials. We will be ultimately delivered when we join the heavenly hosts.
Tidbits• This coming Saturday, November 5, members of Lamb of God will gather at 10:00 AM to give the church a “deep clean.” The more hands we have, the faster the work will get done. Please plan to come and assist.
• DAYLIGHT SAVINGS TIME ENDS! Don’t forget to set your alarm clock back an hour before you go to bed Saturday night or you will get to church early (when only I am here).
• The Board of Evangelism will have their regular lunch meeting Sunday after the worship service at Panara’s Bread Company.
• The office will be closed Tuesday, November 8, as I will be leading the Circuit Pastors’ Conference (Winkel) down in Irmo.
• The Women’s Bible Fellowship will be having a dinner meeting Wednesday. I do not have any details (place, time, etc.).
• Our cubs will meet on Tuesday and our Jr. Confirmation will meet on Wednesday, as usual.
Well, I pray I’ll see you Sunday.
Blessings in Christ,
Pastor John Rickert