Thursday, January 12, 2012

Worship for Epiphany 2 - 2012

Thursday after the Baptism of Our Lord
January 12, 2012

The Lord be with you

For those who come to this blog regularly, you will know that the worship notes have not been posted for the last two weeks. That is because I have been on vacation. What does a pastor do on vacation? Well, I spent most of my time working on what Lamb of God will be doing this upcoming Lenten season. It was still a vacation because I vacated my home. Sometimes I even do more typical things on my vacation, like sight seeing or visiting friends and family. But I’m back now, and so are the worship notes.

Epiphany was back on Friday, January 6, so we are now in the season of Epiphany. There can be up to nine Sundays in Epiphany. Just how long it is depends on the date of Easter. This year Easter is a little early, April 8. That means that Ash Wednesday (the beginning of Lent and therefore the end of Epiphany) is also a little early, February 22. So we will have seven Sundays in Epiphany. The first Sunday in Epiphany is always the Baptism of Our Lord and the Last Sunday in Epiphany is always the Transfiguration of Our Lord. This should give you an idea of the focus of the season. This man Jesus is, in reality, God in the flesh.

This coming Sunday is the Second after the Epiphany. 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's appointed Psalm is Psalm 139:1-10. The antiphon is verse 14. Matins is a non-communion service, having been born in the monasteries. The appointed lessons are: 1 Samuel 3:1-20; 1 Corinthians 6:12-20; John 1:43-51. Our hymns will be “O Splendor of God’s Glory Bright” (LSB 874), “All Christians Who Have Been Baptized” (LSB 596), and “Arise and Shine in Splendor,” (LSB 396). “O Splendor of God’s Glory Bright” is a new hymn for Lamb of God, so we will be singing it a couple of weeks in a row. The sermon is titled “Your Call” and the text is John 1:43.

In our prayers Sunday we will remember the China Evangelical Lutheran Church (CELC) (Taiwan ROC) along with its President, Rev. Andrew Miao. We will also remember Tony and Constance Booker, missionaries in the Czech Republic. We will remember the persecuted believers in Brunei and our sister congregations: Concordia, Upper Marlboro, MD; Peace in Christ, Walkersville, MD; Faith, Bear, DE; St John’s, Dover, DE; Island, Hilton Head Island, SC. We will also remember the orphans in Haiti that our youth are seeking to help. Each Sunday at Lamb of God we also 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.

The video below is a gentleman playing “All Christians Who Have Been Baptized” on a trombone. Over the years I’ve dabbled at playing some musical instruments, trumpet, piano, and guitar. All these instruments have something in common. You really can’t be close to your note. You either hit it, or you don’t. With some instruments, like violins or trombones, you can be close but not on the money. I’ve always been a little in awe of such musicians. The trombonist stops his slide at just the right spot. The violinist places his finger in just the right place. It is kind of cool. At any rate, Bob does a good job.

Boy it seems like forever since the last time our adult Bible class met. That is what happens when you have off two Sundays in a row. At any rate, we will meet again this coming Sunday. We are in Matthew 12 and we will pick up either at Matthew 12:9 or 14. I’m sure the class will help me remember. Class begins at 9:00 AM. As always, everyone is invited to come.

Preview of the Lessons

1 Samuel 3:1-20: The book of 1 Samuel deals with a time of transition for Israel. At the beginning of the book Israel is a loose association of tribes where “everyone did what was right in his own eyes” (Judges 21:25). The main religious and political figures that gave these tribes some unity were called Judges and/or Prophets. By the end of 1 Samuel these tribes have become a kingdom, complete with a king. An interesting way to read the book is to be aware of all the vows/oaths/promises that are made. Ask yourself such questions like: How important are they? How does God view them? Sunday’s reading has the first vow/oath/promise in the book.

The reading for Sunday tells the story of the birth of Samuel, the last great Judge before the rise of Israel as a kingdom. He actually anointed both King Saul and King David. This story has clear overtones of the New Testament births of John the Baptist and our Lord Jesus. In each case a woman who could not bear a child, received a child by the promise of the Lord. This is another worthwhile way to read, not only this book but the entire Old Testament. Ask yourself, “How does this relate to the New Testament?”

1 Corinthians 6:12-20: This lesson has two thrusts. The first is Christian Freedom. The second is application. Paul sums it up in verse 12. “‘All things are lawful for me,’ but not all things are helpful. ‘All things are lawful for me,’ but I will not be enslaved by anything.” Luther summed it up this way: “A Christian is a perfectly free lord of all, subject to none. A Christian is a perfectly dutiful servant of all, subject of all, subject to all.” One application of this principle Paul presents deals with food. That may seem odd to us, but it was a big deal in his day. The Jewish Christians had grown up with all kinds of dietary rules. The Gentile Christians didn’t, however they had grown up the idea that eating the meat of animals that had been sacrificed to idols was the same thing as participating in the worship of the idols. Jewish believers had no problem eating such meat, which was cheaper, because idols represented nothing. Gentile believers had no problem eating pork, because they didn’t grow up with the diet restriction of the Jews. Paul says that it is okay to eat anything in and of itself, but it is wrong to eat anything if it causes a fellow believer to stumble. The next application comes with sexual immorality. The problem with this should be more obvious. It is distressing that our culture has so influenced believers in America that sexual immorality not only is not rejected, but some denominations even endorse it. Paul reminds us, “You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body” (19-20). Compassionate and moral Christian living flows directly from the sacrifice of Jesus. How we live reflects just how important his sacrifice is to us.

John 1:43-51: This is the account of the call of Philip and Nathanael. Jesus finds Philip and said to him, “Follow me.” On the word of Christ alone, Philip does. Philip finds Nathanael and says to him, “We have found him of whom Moses in the Law and also the prophets wrote, Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph.” Nathanael is skeptical, to say the least, but Philip manages to bring him. Jesus shares some information with Nathanael, about Nathanael, which would be humanly impossible for Jesus to know. Nathanael confesses faith in Jesus as "the Son of God." Jesus basically says that what Nathanael has witness is small potatoes. He will see something far greater. In somewhat guarded phrasing, Jesus says Nathanael will see the joining of heaven and earth, that is, the redemption of humanity, which is accomplished on the cross. The power of Christ’s word in calling Philip, the knowledge about Nathanael, the knowledge of the future, all point to Jesus as exactly who Nathanael confessed him to be, “the Son of God.” This is the theme of Epiphany.

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

• The Greek Club will meet Monday morning at 8:30.

• Monday is also the observation of Martin Luther King Jr, so banks and some other business will be closed. This shows-up a difference between the dates the Church assigns to commemorate someone, and the dates the culture assigns. January 15 was picked for Martin Luther King Jr. because he was born on that date. The Church will typically choose the day the person dies. For this reason the Episcopalians and Methodists, who have included King on their liturgical calendars, have his commemoration on April 4, the anniversary of his death. The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America also commemorates King, but has adopted the date of his birth, just like our culture.

Well, I pray I’ll see you Sunday.

Blessings in Christ,
Pastor John Rickert

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