March 14, 2012
The Lord be with you
This coming Sunday is the Fourth Sunday in Lent. Our assigned readings are Numbers 21:4-9; Ephesians 2:1-10; John 3:14-21; and Psalm 107:1-9 (antiphon v 19). The text for the sermon will be John 3 19 and the sermon title will be “Children of Darkness and Light.” For our liturgy we will be using Matins (page 219 Lutheran Service Book). This is a non-communion Service. We will be using the normal Lent options and the appointed Psalm instead of the Introit.. 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 “‘Come, Follow Me,’ the Savior Spake” (LSB 688). Our closing hymn will be “I Want to Walk as a Child of the Light” (LSB 411). The choir will be singing Beautiful Savior, with the congregation joining in.
In our prayers Sunday we will remember the Evangelical Lutheran Free Church in Denmark (ELFD) (Den evangelisk-lutherske Frikirke i Danmark) and their President, Rev. Leif G. Jensen. We will remember Anthony DiLiberto, our missionary in Peru. We will remember the persecuted believers in Ethiopia, Africa, and our sister congregations: Immanuel, Conover, NC; St. John, Conover, NC; St. Peter’s, Conover, NC; Lake Norman, Denver, NC; and Incarnate Word, Florence, SC. We will 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 closing hymn, “I Want to Walk as a Child of the Light” (LSB 411). It is a male singer performing a cappella.
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
Numbers 21:4-9: This is an account taken from when the Israelites were in the wilderness after they escaped Egypt. Forgetting what slavery was like, and yearning for the “good old days” they complain about their current circumstances, turning from God and his representative, Moses. Poisonous serpents enter the camp and the people begin to die. Repenting, they run back to God and Moses. Moses is instructed to make an image of a serpent and place it on a pole. All who look to the mounted serpent, and believe that God will heal them, receive healing. Jesus refers to this incident in our Gospel lesson, telling Nicodemus that, just as the bronze serpent was raised up on the pole so also would Jesus be raised up. More on that in the notes on the Gospel lesson. This story is reflected in our illustration found in Station ten of our Stations of the Cross because of the words of Christ in our Gospel lesson..
Ephesians 2:1-10: This is a wonderful passage that accents our salvation by grace through faith in Jesus. Paul begins by painting our hopeless situation as sinners. He then proclaims God’s solution, faith in Jesus. The final verse reminds us that, as redeemed people, we have a purpose, which is to do the good works God has prepared for us.
John 3:14-21: This reading has one of the best known passages in the New Testament, at leas in America. (I still think passages like the Lord’s Prayer, and others that are regularly used in worship services, are better known.) What happens in verses 1-13 is that Nicodemus, a Pharisee and a leader of the Jewish people, visits Jesus at night. Jesus tells him “unless one is born again, he cannot enter the kingdom of God.” Nicodemus doesn’t understand what Jesus is talking about. Jesus explains by saying, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God.” With this Jesus refers to the power of baptism, which is a blessed washing by which countless multitudes have been drawn to faith in Jesus. Nicodemus continues to struggle with Jesus’ meaning. To be honest, Nicodemus never does understand that evening. It is to his eternal credit that he didn’t just give up. He is there to help bury Jesus, and John clearly calls him a disciple. Nicodemus did finally comprehend. Jesus then speaks of his future crucifixion, using the analogy of the serpent on the pole from our OT lesson. Verse 13 has a “textual” issue and most translations have a footnote concerning it. Many of the best texts have the phrase “who is in heaven” in this verse. It would reflect the divine/human union of Jesus. I happen to believe it is part of the original text. Many others do not. Then we get the passage I spoke of, “For God so loved the world that …” You know it. Jesus then continues to accent that it is faith in him that gives eternal life. The sermon will pick up with verse 19, so I’ll end my notes here.
• The Church Council will meet Sunday, after the worship service.
• The message for this coming Wednesday’s Lenten services will focus on the stations eleven and twelve of our Stations of the Cross (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
Well, I pray I’ll see you Sunday.
Blessings in Christ,
Pastor John Rickert