March 23, 2012
The Lord be with you
This coming Sunday has two names. Most of our congregations will probably celebrate it as the Fifth Sunday in Lent. A few will celebrate it as The Annunciation of Our Lord. We will be among the few. This festival celebrates the day the angel Gabriel appeared to Mary and announced that God had showed her special favor, for she would become the mother of the Son of God, Jesus. The date of the Annunciation falls on March 25 because it was widely believed that people died on the same day they were conceived, and the Ancient Church believed Jesus was crucified on March 25. In a time when birthdays were not really closely attended to (if you asked someone when their birthday was, they probably would not be able to give you an answer) such a belief could easily be maintained. (This is also the reason December 25 became the date we celebrate the birth of Jesus.) Be celebrating the Annunciation on the day it was believed Jesus died, the Church joined together both the incarnation of Jesus and the atonement He accomplished.
The assigned readings for the Annunciation of Our Lord are Isaiah 7:10-14, Hebrews 10:4-10, and Luke 1:26-38. The text for the sermon will be Luke 1:38 and the sermon title will be “Picked by God.” For our liturgy we will be using the first setting of the Divine Service (page 151 Lutheran Service Book). We will be using the regular Lent options. This is a communion Service. To prepare to receive the Lord’s Supper you may re-read the sections dealing with it in Luther’s Small Catechism. Our opening hymn will be “Christ, the Life of All the Living” (LSB 420). Our sermon hymn will be “The Angel Gabriel from Heaven Came” (LSB 356). Our closing hymn will be “By Grace I’m Saved” (LSB 566). Our distribution hymns will be “Lamb of God” (LSB 550), “My Song Is Love Unknown” (LSB 430), and “Lord Jesus Christ, We Humbly Pray” (LSB 623).
In our prayers Sunday we will remember the The Evangelical Lutheran Church of England (ELCE) and their Chairman, Rev. Jon Ehlers. We will remember Alan Ludwig, our missionary in Siberia, Russia, and his wife Patricia. We will remember the persecuted believers in Gaza and the West Bank, especially those associated with Holy Land Missions (HLM), and our sister congregations: Grace, Durham, NC; Our Redeemer, Fayetteville, NC; Resurrection, Franklin, NC; Peace, Franklin, NC; and Good Shepherd, Greenville, SC. We 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 the Stonewall Jackson High School Choir in the Vatican on Good Friday, 2006 singing our opening hymn, “Christ, the Life of All the Living.” They sing verses one and seven.
Our adult Bible class meets at 9:00 Sunday morning. This Sunday we will continue in Matthew. As always, everyone is invited to come.
Preview of the Lessons
Isaiah 7:10-14: This is the well know passage, quoted in Matthew’s birth narrative, foretelling the virgin birth of Jesus about 700 years before it happened. The name given for Jesus is “Emmanuel,” which means “God with us.” Thus the Holy Spirit revealed that the Messiah would be God in the flesh (the literal meaning of the word “incarnation”).
Hebrews 10:4-10: As persecution of Christians increased, some Jews were returning to a non-Jesus form of their faith. The book of Hebrews was written, in part, to encourage these believers to remain true to Jesus. To accomplish this, the writer demonstrates over and over again that the Old Testament points to Jesus. In this passage the writer cites Psalm 40:6-8 and attributes it to Jesus saying, “when Christ came into the world, he said …” This ties into the Annunciation for it identifies the Lord who spoke in the Psalm as the Lord who was en-fleshed when Jesus was conceived. It also ties into the crucifixion in that the writer brings in the sacrificial system saying “it is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins.” However, the death of the en-fleshed Son of God, to which the sacrificial system pointed to, does “take away sins.” Based on this, the writer of Hebrews teaches that, in Jesus, the old sacrificial system has been “done away with” and Jesus has established a new covenant in his blood.
Luke 1:26-38: This is Luke’s account of the Annunciation. The angel Gabriel comes to Mary and tells her she will be the mother of God. Mary finds it had to believe at several levels. However, the angel overcomes her doubt. It is at this moment that Mary conceives the Lord so Martin Luther used to colorfully say Mary conceived through her ear. Her famous words of faith, “Behold, I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word” are the text for the sermon.
• The message for this coming Wednesday’s Lenten services will focus on the final two stations of our Stations of the Cross, stations thirteen and fourteen (depicted below). What stories can you identify before the service? What relationships can you identify before the service? Our Wednesday schedule is:
- 12:15 – half-hour worship service, using Responsive Prayer for our liturgy
6:15 – soup supper
7:00 – forty-five minute worship service, using Evening Prayer for our liturgy
8:00 – choir practice
• The April newsletter should be posted either today or tomorrow.
• Holy Week is fast approaching. Along with our traditional special services (Palm Sunday, Maundy Thursday, Easter Vigil, and Easter Sunday) we will be introducing a Stations of the Cross service on Holy Saturday (April 7), at noon. You can read more about it in our April newsletter.
Well, I pray I’ll see you Sunday.
Blessings in Christ,
Pastor John Rickert