January 19, 2012
The Lord be with you
This coming Sunday is the Third Sunday after the Epiphany. For our liturgy we will be using the First Setting of the Divine Service (page 151). (I know we have used the terminology “Divine Service” since the introduction of Lutheran Worship back in 1982, but it still sounds pompous to me. I still prefer “Morning Service,” as the main service was called in The Lutheran Hymnal. Oh well, I guess I just need to get over it.) This is one of the “Cathedral” services in our hymnal. These services (all called “divine” in our hymnal) that come to us from the cathedral services which developed throughout Europe. They are designed with the idea that the laity will be attending (unlike the “monastic” services, like Matins). As such, they are communion services, and we will be celebrating the Lord’s Supper Sunday.
The Epiphany season will be reflected in our opening hymn (“I Want to Walk as a Child of the Light,” LSB 411), sermon hymn (“O Savior of Our Fallen Race,” LSB 403), and the first of our distribution hymns (“O Morning Star, How Fair and Bright,” LSB 395). Our second distribution hymn is a favorite communion hymn, “Eat This Bread,” LSB 638. Our final distribution hymn (“I Love Your Kingdom, Lord,” LSB 651) and our closing hymn (“Rejoice, My Heart, Be Glad and Sing,” LSB 737) each reflect the sermon to some degree (as does the sermon hymn, it just also happens to be an Epiphany hymn). .
The appointed lessons for Sunday are: Jonah 3:1-5, 10; 1 Corinthians 7:29-35; Mark 1:14-20. We will be using Mark a lot this year for our Gospel lessons. The sermon text is Mark 1:15. The sermon is titled “The Kingdom of God.”
In our prayers Sunday we will remember The Lutheran Church - Hong Kong Synod (LCHKS) along with its President, Rev. Dr. Allan Yung. We will also remember Tony and Constance Booker, missionaries in the Czech Republic. We will remember the persecuted believers in Burma (Myanmar) and our sister congregations: Our Redeemer, Newark, DE; Our Savior, Rehoboth Beach, DE; Christ, Seaford, DE; Peace, Smyrna; DE; Mt. Olive, Irmo, SC. We will also remember the orphans in Haiti that our youth are seeking to help. We also 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.
The video below is of our opening hymn, “I Want to Walk as a Child of the Light.” It has the words and some beautiful photographs.
Our adult Bible class meets at 9:00 Sunday morning. This Sunday we will pick up at Matthew 12:33. I’m hoping we will get through verse 42, which includes the sign of Jonah. That is because our Old Testament lesson for Sunday comes from the book of Jonah. As always, everyone is invited to come.
Preview of the Lessons
Jonah 3:1-5, 10: Jonah is a book that is best known for the prophet being swallowed by a great fish, only to be regurgitated three days later. I have no desire to get into the debate about whether or not such a thing happened to Jonah. However, it is true that people, in modern times, have had similar experiences without having a call from God to go preach repentance to some foreign nation. Therefore, there is no reason in nature to discredit the account. Our lesson for Sunday comes immediately after Jonah is vomited out upon dry land. His call to go to Nineveh is renewed. Jonah goes and proclaims God’s message of judgment. The people of Nineveh, an enemy of Israel, repent. Upon repenting God calls off the destruction of the city. To me, one of the biggest themes of Jonah is that God’s grace in Christ Jesus is for all people. Tied to that is our call to go to all nations and make disciples of Christ by baptizing and teaching. So we have two main messages: (1) Christ is for all people and, (2) his Church is his messenger. Of course Jesus uses chapters one and two, in a typological way, as pointing to his death and resurrection. This understanding you would probably not get just by reading Jonah (which is only four chapters long). However, with the insight provided us by our Lord, we also find in this book a very important typological presentation of our Lord’s ultimate sacrifice and victory.
1 Corinthians 7:29-35: Most of this passage is easy enough to understand. We are living in the Last Days (Hebrews 1:1-2). We should, therefore, live with “undivided devotion to the Lord” (35). Paul has some recommendations about how this might be accomplished, but clearly says “I say this for your own benefit, not to lay any restraint upon you,” meaning this is not a command from the Lord but just how Paul sees things. All of us who are married can relate to his observations. Married men are (or should be) concerned about the welfare of their wives, and vise versa. This is how the Lord wants it. However it does take time away from other things you might be doing. The tricky part of translating this passage is found in verse 7. The ESV reads “the appointed time has grown very short.” Paul is talking about this present age and how long until the Second Coming. The phrase “grown very short” is two words in Greek. One of them is the word “is.” The other one is in the perfect tense, which is used for something that has been accomplished. While the ESV translation is possible, so is a translation like “has been shortened.” I prefer this second way because it does not imply that Paul was expecting the Second Coming at any moment. What Paul is saying is that we should live realizing that the time we, indeed the world, has is limited. Some have aptly used an analogy to the terminally ill. The person who knows his remaining time is limited has a changed perspective. He sees, hears, and values everything in a new way.
Mark 1:14-20: Mark’s Gospel is the shortest of the four canonical Gospels. In it everything seems to happen fast. This lesson covers the calling of our Lord’s first disciples. It happens after Jesus’ temptation in the wilderness (verses 12-13) and the arrest of John the Baptist (the first halve of verse 14). Boom, boom, and Jesus is calling Peter, Andrew, James and John. There is no hint that these men even knew about Jesus before he calls them, yet they leave their work and follow Jesus. This accents the power of Christ’s calling word. What was Jesus doing during these early days? Mark says he was, “proclaiming the gospel of God, and saying, ‘The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand, repent and believe in the gospel’” (14b-15). These verses form the text for Sunday’s sermon.
• Information for the February newsletter is due Sunday. You can put it in Kitty’s box, hand it to her, or e-mail it to her.
• The Evangelism Committee will get together Sunday for lunch and their regular meeting. Part of what they will be planning is our upcoming “Game Day” (February 11). They will also be planning ways to get the word out about our upcoming Lenten services which will feature a look at the Stations of the Cross. Lent, after all, begins Ash Wednesday, February 22.
• Tomorrow is the Commemoration of Sarah. Look for a post about her on this bolg tomorrow. Next week, on Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday, the Church also has special commemorations (St. Timothy, Pastor and Confessor; the Conversion of St. Paul; St. Titus, Pastor and Confessor; John Chrysostom, Preacher). Come to this blog each of these days and you will find a post for each one of them.
Well, I pray I’ll see you Sunday.
Blessings in Christ,
Pastor John Rickert