Thursday, December 15, 2011

Worship for Advent 4 - 2011

Thursday after Advent 3
December 15, 2011

The Lord be with you

This coming Sunday is the Fourth (and last) Sunday in Advent. For our liturgy we will be using the service of Matins (page 219). This is one of the services we use that uses the appointed Psalm instead of the appointed Introit for the Day. This week that appointed Psalm is Psalm 89, verses one through five. The antiphon will be verse eight. This is also a non-communion service. Matins has options that are used during Advent, and we will be using them. For our canticle we will use the Benedictus, which fits the Advent season better than the Te Deum. The appointed lessons are: 2 Samuel 7:1-11, 16; Romans 16:25-27; Luke 1:26-38. Our hymns will be “Lo, How a Rose E’er Blooming” (LSB 359), “Thy Strong Word” (LSB 578), and “Hark! A Thrilling Voice Is Sounding” (LSB 345). The sermon is titled “Living By The Word” and the text is Luke 1:38.

In our prayers Sunday we will remember The Lutheran Church of Nigeria (LCN) along with its President, Rev. Christian Ekong, President, Concordia International School Hanoi, the persecuted believers in Bangladesh, and our sister congregations Redeemer, Parkton, MD; Galilee, Pasadena, MD; Immanuel, Preston, MD; Lutheran Church of the Cross, Rockville, MD; and Holy Trinity, Columbia, SC. We will continue to remember those who are trapped by the modern practice of slavery, and those who have fallen victim to our cultures acceptance of abortion and advocacy of sexual immorality. We will also remember the orphans in Haiti that our youth are seeking to help.

The video below is of the Tyler Junior College A-Cappella choir singing the first two verses of our opening hymn, “Lo, How a Rose E’er Blooming.” This hymn is based on Isaiah 11:1, which was part of our Old Testament lesson this past Wednesday. It is also the verse that inspired our Advent Altar paraments.

Our adult Bible class this coming Sunday will pick up at Matthew 12:9. We looked briefly at 9-14 last week but will give it a closer look this coming week. Class begins at 9:00 AM. As always, everyone is invited to come.

Preview of the Lessons

2 Samuel 7:1-11, 16: In this reading we have a story from a time when David’s throne was secure and peace had come to the people of Israel. The Tabernacle (a large tent) had been the site of the Arc of the Covenant and the worship place for Israel since the days of Moses. David decided that God should have a permanent dwelling place (the Temple) and ran the idea by the prophet Nathan. Nathan gives David the “thumbs up.” I guess the idea seemed like such an obviously good one that Nathan didn’t feel he needed to confirm the plan with the Lord. However, that very night, the Word of the Lord came to Nathan and told him that David should not build the Temple. God has built the “house” of David, but David is incapable of building a “house” for God. Nonetheless, the Lord did say that David’s heart was in the right place so the Lord reveals, through Nathan, God’s plan to continue to build David’s “house.” David is promised a house and kingdom that will last forever. This is a promise concerning Jesus, whose rule has no end. Through Jesus, the line of David still reigns, and will for all eternity. We do know that David’s son, Solomon, was permitted the privilege of building the Temple. Both the Temple and the Tabernacle were types of Jesus. They represented God dwelling with his people, and Jesus is the fulfillment of that type and promise. Jesus is “God with us.”

Romans 16:25-27: This is a particularly rich text. Just a few highlights include Paul writing “my gospel.” We should all be able to say of the gospel that it is “my gospel.” Paul also speaks of the gospel as “the preaching of Jesus Christ.” Jesus was then, is now, and ever shall be, the heart of the gospel. Take away Jesus and you take away the gospel. You also take away all the divine assistance Paul speaks of in this passage. Paul also writes about the “mystery that was kept secret for long ages.” This “mystery” is one of those things that people don’t understand until after the fact, then everything falls into place. It is kind of like a well written mystery. Once you read the last chapter you can recognize all the clues from the preceding chapters, but before that the ending was a “mystery.” The “mystery” Paul is speaking of is that the Messiah was for all people. This is why Paul says the mystery, “through the prophetic writings has been made known to all nations.” Once again we see Jesus as the heart of the gospel. We should also recognize the vital roll the Old Testament prophets had in communicating this gospel mystery.

Luke 1:26-38: This is Luke’s well know account of the announcement of Jesus’ forthcoming birth to the virgin Mary. You might say this story suffers from being too well known. I don’t know who selected the various passages for our lectionary, but pairing our OT lesson with this Gospel lesson was a stroke of inspiration. In this lesson we recognize that the entire Old Testament hope is about to be realized. The promise of the Tabernacle and the Temple is coming about. Protestants often have trouble with the role of Mary. This is an anti-Roman Catholic sentiment and really has nothing to do with the Bible. Certainly the Bible depicts Mary as a remarkable and blessed woman. In this lesson she is described as a virgin. There is no linguistic argument that has any merit which would have us translate this word any other way. She has found favor with God. This is not a reference to any merit on her part, but a reference to God’s grace which she has received. She is a descendant of David and will be the instrument of God fulfilling his Old Testament promises. In verse 38 Mary says, “I am the slave of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word.” This statement of faith received the word spoken by the angel. So we too receive the Lord when we receive the word in faith. Mary conceived the Lord then by the action of the Holy Spirit (35). So with us also, the Lord Jesus is conceived and born in our hearts by the working of the Holy Spirit through the word. I could go on, but the focus of this text is really Jesus. He is Mary’s Son and the Son of the Most High. He receives the throne of his Father David and there will be no end to his reign. He is holy and the Son of God. I might also point out that the Trinity is found throughout this reading. However, as this text will be the foundation for Sunday’s sermon, I’ve probably written too much, so I’ll end my comments.


• The Church Council is scheduled to meet Sunday after the worship service..

• Information for the January newsletter is due Sunday.

• Thank you to everyone who helped “Green” the church this past Wednesday.

• We have just one more Advent service. This coming Wednesday the saint we will focus on will be the Apostle Thomas. Wednesday is his Saints’ Day. Our first service is at 12:15 and our second service is at 7:00 PM. We will also have a soup supper beginning at 6:15 PM.

• The choir will practice after the evening Advent service. This is our final practice before Christmas.

Christmas falls on a Sunday this year. We will have our regular “Christmas Day” schedule. That means worship will be at 10:00 AM, and we will not have an education hour. The Christmas Day service will be our “Carols and Communion” service, which we have done for a number of years. In this service we do not have a single “long” sermon but several short meditations inspired by the Christmas Hymns we sing.

• We will also have our traditional Christmas Eve Candlelight service. This service begins at 7:00 PM. As I have done the last couple of years, instead of a “normal” sermon I will tell an original Christmas story. Just to put everyone’s mind at ease, this will not be a “Santa is really real” or “someone falling in love at Christmas” story. I’m leaving those to the television stations.

Well, I pray I’ll see you Sunday.

Blessings in Christ,
Pastor John Rickert

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