Commemoration of Cyril and Methodius, Missionaries to the Slavs
Friday of Easter 5
May 11, 2012
The Lord be with you
This coming Sunday is the Sixth Sunday of Easter. It is also Mothers’ Day. I hope everyone has a little something special planned for their mother. Mothers’ Day is not on any official liturgical calendars of which I know. Nonetheless, I believe the vast majority of churches in the USA will recognize the day in some fashion. Normally I don’t give a lot of air time to “secular” holidays (Mothers’ Day, Fathers’ Day, Arbor Day, Earth Day, National Day of Prayer, Memorial Day, Veterans Day, Labor Day, etc.). I am not opposed to such holidays, far from it. I feel that, as an American citizen, recognizing Presidents' Day is quite worthwhile. However, as a Christian, the practice of the secular government setting holidays for the Church is troublesome to me. If the secular government wants to set aside days the Church already recognizes as special, designating them as national holidays (Christmas, Easter, or whatever), that is okay with me. They can do the same for any religion, philosophy, or ideology. As a citizen, I can do something special on those days, or not, as I choose. However, I should not wish to recognize, in my church, a day which elevates concepts that are counter to the Christian Faith, and letting the government determine the days recognized in our churches runs that risk.
All this being said, it just so happens that the appointed lessons for this coming Sunday actually work rather nicely with Mothers’ Day. So, I will actually have a sermon that accents Mothers. Those of you who are used to me reducing civic holidays to the announcements will have a small surprise. The text for the sermon is John 15:9. The sermon is titled “The Power of Love.”
Speaking of those appointed lessons, they are: Acts 10:34-48, 1 John 5:1-8, and John 15:9-17. We will be using Setting 3 of the Divine Service (page 184) for our liturgy. This is a communion service. To prepare to receive the Lord's Supper, I suggest you pray Psalm 86. Our opening hymn is “O Sing to the Lord” (LSB 808). The sermon hymn is “Awake, O Sleeper, Rise from Death” (LSB 697). The closing hymn is “Alleluia, Alleluia! Hearts to Heaven” (LSB 477). Our distribution hymns are, “What Wondrous Love Is This” (LSB 543), “Oh, Blest the House” (LSB 862), and “What Is This Bread” (LSB 629).
We will continue our regular prayer pattern in our public prayers Sunday. That means we will remember in our prayers this Sunday the Siberian Evangelical Lutheran Church (SELC) and their Bishop, Rev. Vsevolod Lytkin. We will remember Matt and Kim Myers, missionaries in Macau. Macau is one of the two special administrative regions of the People’s Republic of China lying on the western side of the Pearl River Delta across from Hong-Kong. We will remember the persecuted believers in Laos, and our sister congregations: St. James, Southern Pines, NC; Holy Trinity, Statesville, NC; Salem, Taylorsville, NC; St. Paul, Taylorsville, NC; Calvary, Charleston, SC. Of course, this Sunday we will remember our mothers in our prayers. 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.
Below is a video of “What Wondrous Love Is This,” our first distribution hymn. It is sung and played by “Rachel” aka the LutheranWarbler.
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
Acts 10:34-48: We continue with the practice of substituting a reading from Acts for the Old Testament lesson during the Easter Season. This is the apex of the account about how Peter brought the Gospel of Jesus Christ to the Gentiles. It is, perhaps, hard for us today to recognize just how big a step this was, and how counterintuitive it must have been for Peter. He had been raised on the idea that God was the God of the Jews. Good news for him, a Jew, but not so good for Gentiles. If a Gentile wished to worship the real God, they first had to become Jews. Christ breaks down this social barrier, and the Christian Faith jumps to a whole new mission field. For us today, one powerful lesson to learn is that the Gospel is for all people. We should not limit who we share God’s love with. The Holy Spirit will work faith when and where he pleases.
1 John 5:1-8: John is called the “Apostle of Love.” He certainly has a lot to say on the topic, and this reading is no exception. However we should never be led to believe that John taught love as a means of salvation. In verse 1 he wrote: “Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ has been born of God, and everyone who loves the Father loves whoever has been born of him.” Notice the priority of faith. Faith saves. Faith, though, bears fruit. It is never just a sterile acknowledgement of facts. The fruit John exalts is love. In no other way is our Christlikeness more manifest. Paul, in 1 Corinthians, lists all sorts of gifts from the Spirit. In the end, though, he says that if they are exercised without love they are useless (chapter 13). To this, John would say “Amen.” But again, John does not want us to be like the foolish people who speak only of deeds, ignoring creeds. He reminds us that it is our faith that overcomes the world (4-5), not our love. This faith is firmly grounded in the historical person, Jesus (6-8). True Christian love flows only from true Christian faith.
John 15:9-17: As you read this lesson, which records the words of Jesus, it become clear why love is such an important topic for John; it was important to Jesus. As this reading is the foundation of the sermon, I’m not going to say much. However, in verses 14-15 Jesus tell his followers that he no longer calls them slaves, but friends. What a precious title for Jesus to give us. I don’t know, but it sure would make sense if this passage inspired the hymn “What A Friend We Have In Jesus.”
- Well, if you haven’t figured it out yet, Sunday is Mothers’ Day. Many have special plans to honor their mothers. To enable this, we have nothing scheduled after the worship service. Have a wonderful time with your mother.
Well, I pray I’ll see you Sunday.
Blessings in Christ,
Pastor John Rickert