March 8, 2012
The Lord be with you
Sunday, March 11
3rd Sunday in Lent
This coming Sunday is the Third Sunday in Lent. Our assigned readings are Exodus 20:1-17, 1 Corinthians 1:18-31, and John 2:13-25. The text for the sermon will be John 2:17 and the sermon title will be “A Holy Zeal.” For our liturgy we will be using the third setting of the Divine Service (page 184 of Lutheran Service Book). This is a Communion Service. We will be using the normal Lent options. Our opening hymn will be “My Song Is Love Unknown” (LSB 430). This is the hymn we are learning this month. Our sermon hymn will be “I Love Your Kingdom, Lord” (LSB 651). Our closing hymn will be “May God Bestow on Us His Grace” (LSB 824). Our distribution hymns will be “O Sacred Head, Now Wounded” (LSB 449), “Lord Jesus Christ, You Have Prepared” (LSB 622), and “I Lay My Sins on Jesus” (LSB 606).
In our prayers Sunday we will remember the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Belgium (ELFD) and their President, Rev. Gijsbertus van Hattem. We will remember Anthony DiLiberto, our missionary in Peru. We will remember the persecuted believers in Eritrea, Africa, and our sister congregations: Our Savior, Clyde, NC; Grace, Concord, NC; St. Peter’s, Concord, NC; Concordia, Conover, NC; and Holy Trinity, Columbia, 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 our first distribution hymn, “O Sacred Head, Now Wounded.” Most people, when they think of this hymn, think of J.S. Bach. They are 25% correct. The hymn is part of a poem, written by Bernard of Clairvaux (1091-1153). The poem is a series of meditations inspired by various portions of our Lord’s body as he hung on the cross (head, hands, side, etc.). The portion of the poem dealing with our Lord’s head was translated and turned into a hymn by the great Lutheran theologian Paul Gerhardt (1607-1676). The tune was provided by Hans Leo Hassler (1564-1612). Finally, J.S. Bach (1685-1750) provided the setting we are most familiar with. The work of these men, separated by as much as 700 years, produced this classic of Lenten piety.
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
Exodus 20:1-17: This is the first listing of the Ten Commandments. They are also listed in Deuteronomy 5. I certainly cannot do them justice in these notes, so I will confine myself to some general comments. You might be surprised to know that the Ten Commandments were the last element to be added to the catechetical instruction of the Church in the early centuries. That is because of the commandment, “Remember the Sabbath Day.” As most probably know, the Sabbath Day was Saturday. Jews still worship on Saturday, as well as 7th Day Adventists and a few others. As Christians began worshiping on Sundays almost immediately, this commandment caused confusion. This was especially true because, in the teachings of our Lord and the Apostles, it is obvious that Saturday worship was not mandated for the Church. For a moral code the Church used passages like the Sermon on the Mount, or documents like “The Two Ways.” However, Saint Augustine (354-430) developed a way of understanding this commandment in harmony with the words of Jesus and his Apostles which has stood the test of time and allowed the Ten Commandments to become a standard part of Christian catecheses. Another interesting thing to observe is that the Ten Commandments are not numbered. Moses does not say, “The 1st Commandment is …, the 2nd Commandment is …” and so on. This has led to variation in how they are numbered and even what is considered a Commandment. This is complicated by two factors. First, there are way more “command” words in these verses than ten. Second, in the Hebrew, these commands are not called the “Ten Commandments” but the “Ten Words.” So, a statement could be one of the “ten words” without being a command! The Jewish people make the statement, “I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery” the First Word. The Second Word then is, “You shall have no other gods,” the Third Word is, “You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain,” and so forth. Saint Augustine made the First Commandment, “You shall have no other gods,” the Second, “You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain,” the Third Commandment, “Remember the Sabbath Day,” and so on. John Calvin (1509-1564), changed Augustine’s numbering. The First Commandment remained “You shall have no other gods,” but the Second became “You shall have no idols,” the Third became “You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain,” etc. Because the Bible does not provide us a numbering, fighting over who is “right” and “wrong” is silly. What is important is how we understand these verses.
1 Corinthians 1:18-31: Paul writes about what, from a human perspective, is the upside-down nature of the Gospel. God uses what appears weak, foolish, and of little importance, to work salvation. The reason Paul gives for God operating in this fashion is “so that no human being might boast in the presence of God.” NO ONE will be strutting around in heaven taking credit for their own salvation. We will ALL give God thanks and praise that He saved us, with no merit or worthiness on our part. This is not to discount education, a beautiful church building, heroic actions on the part of believers, and so forth. They are a real blessing. But we keep them in their proper place. They are underserved blessings from our gracious God, for even our lives of sanctification are a gift from God, as Ephesians 2:10 makes clear.
John 2:13-25: This is one of the accounts of Jesus cleansing the temple. Matthew, Mark, and Luke tell of Jesus cleansing the temple during Holy Week. John tells of Jesus cleansing the temple early in his ministry. Some find this confusing. The resolution, though, is painfully simple. Jesus cleansed the temple at least twice, once at the beginning of his ministry and once near the end. If I say “Joe drove to church this past Sunday,” and someone else says “Joe drove to church this past Wednesday,” does that mean one of us is in error? The most likely explanation is that Joe drove to church both Wednesday and Sunday. Upset by what Jesus was doing, the Jewish leaders asked Jesus for a sign to validate his actions. (By-the-way, whenever the Gospel of John uses the word “Jews” he is referring to the Jewish leadership, not the average "man-on-the-street.") After being confronted by the Jewish leaders, Jesus offers as his sign the promise of his resurrection. Because he is at the temple, which was the dwelling place of God on earth, and because Jesus is the incarnation of God being the ultimate local for God on earth, he used the temple as a metaphor for his death and resurrection. Another indication that Jesus is God in the flesh comes with John telling us, after indicating that many believed in him, that “Jesus on his part did not entrust himself to them, because he knew all people and needed no one to bear witness about man, for he himself knew what was in man.” Jesus today still knows what is in our hearts. This is part of his divine omniscience.
• DAYLIGHT SAVINGS TIME BEGINS, sometime in the wee hours of Sunday morning. We “spring forward.” That means you need to set your clocks forward one hour before you go to bed Saturday, or you will miss church on Sunday.
• Choir practice has been moved this week to this coming Saturday, at 9:00 AM.
• The combined attendance at our Wednesday Lenten services has been quite strong, rivaling attendance on Sunday morning. Our messages have been about our Stations of the Cross. This coming Wednesday’s message is titled “A Tear for Jesus” and explains Stations nine and ten. 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
Well, I pray I’ll see you Sunday.
Blessings in Christ,
Pastor John Rickert