Commemoration of Esther
Thursday after Easter 7
May 24, 2012
The Lord be with you
This coming Sunday we celebrate the Feast of Pentecost. This is one of those festivals that was first celebrated by the Old Testament people of God, but brought over into the worship life of the New Testament people of God with a fuller understanding. There will be a special post concerning Pentecost that I will put on this blog Sunday, so I will not go into a lot of background today.
This weekend also happens to be when we, in the United States, “observe” Memorial Day. I say “observe” because Memorial Day is actually May 30. Monday, when we “observe” the day, will be May 28. The day we observe Memorial Day was changed to the last Monday in May in 1971 by congress with the passing of the National Holiday Act. The purpose of this act was to create as many three-day weekends as possible. Most of the holidays thus effected have gradually lost their distinctiveness as people view them more and more as just long weekends.
In the U.S., Memorial Day began after our Civil War, and was a way to recognize the sacrifice of all the war dead, North and South. After World War I, the day was expanded to include all who have died in our nation’s wars. I have, for a long time, thought that there is a wonderful parallel between those who have given their lives for our freedom with our Lord, who gave his life that we might be free from sin, death, and the power of the devil. Of course, it is not an exact parallel, but it is a good one nonetheless.
For our liturgy Sunday we will use the first setting of the Divine Service, which begins on page 151 of the hymnal. This is a communion service. To prepare for receiving the Lord’s Supper you may read Psalm 139, especially verses 1-16. As you read, reflect on the work of the Holy Spirit.
Our appointed lessons are Ezekiel 37:1-14; Acts 2:1-21; and John 15:26-27; 16:4b-15. Throughout the season of Easter, our Old Testament lesson has been replaced by a reading from the book of Acts. As this Sunday marks the beginning of a new season in the Church Year, we return to a reading from the Old Testament for our first lesson. Our opening hymn will be “Come, Holy Ghost, Creator Blest” (LSB 498). The sermon hymn will be “The Lamb” (LSB 547). Our closing hymn will be “Dear Christians, One and All, Rejoice” (LSB 556). This hymn has ten verses. We will sing verses 1-5. Our distribution hymns will be “O Sing to the Lord” (LSB 808), “Draw Near and Take the Body of the Lord” (LSB 637), and “Come, Holy Ghost, God and Lord” (LSB 497).
The sermon will be based on the Old Testament lesson. The text will be Ezekiel 37:3. The sermon will be titled: “Can These Bones Live?”
In our prayers we will remember the U.S. military, and specially the family members who have lost loved ones while serving in the military. the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Brazil (IELB) (Igreja Evangélica Luterana do Brasil) and their President, Rev. Egon Kopereck. We will remember our missionary, Megan Birney. Megan serves in Hong Kong. She desires that we pray that the Lord would pave the way and open hearts to the ministries of LCMS World Mission, Church of All Nations, and The Lutheran Church—Hong Kong Synod; that the Lord would grant her discernment and wisdom as she serves in this leadership role; that God will continue to bless the ministry in Hong Kong and that nothing would hinder the work of the Holy Spirit. We will remember the persecuted believers in Libya. We will also remember our sister SED congregations: Our Redeemer, Wilson, NC; St. John’s Winston-Salem, NC; St. Mark, Winston-Salem, NC; Bethany, Alexandria, VA; Holy Trinity, Columbia, SC. We will be remembering the Southeastern District, which will be meeting in convention this coming week. Naturally we will continue to remember those who have been miss-led by our cultures acceptance of abortion and sexual immorality, asking God’s grace for their lives that they may be healed and restored by the Holy Spirit. We will also continue to remember those trapped in the modern practice of slavery and ask God to bless all efforts to end this sinful practice that are pleasing in his eyes.
Fifty-two members of the U.S. military with S.C. ties have died in Iraq, and eight in Afghanistan. A number of them came from the upstate, and two from Spartanburg. As our country remembers the sacrifice of our military this weekend, we will honor these individuals in our prayers and remember specifically their family and friends who mourn their loss. They are:
- S.C. Army National Guard Pvt. Algernon Adams, 36, of North Augusta; Oct. 28, 2003, noncombat injuries, Forward Operating Base St. Mere, Iraq
- Army Pfc. Michael Scott Adams, 20, of Spartanburg; Aug. 21, 2003, in combat, caused by ricocheting bullet near Baghdad
- Airman 1st Class Carl L. Anderson Jr., 21, of Georgetown; Aug. 29, 2004 in a bomb attack near Mosul
- Army Staff Sgt. George Buggs, 31, of Barnwell; March 23, 2003, in ambush of convoy near Nasiriyah
- Army Capt. Josh Byers,29, an Anderson native; July 23, 2003, when homemade bomb exploded under his Humvee east of Baghdad
- Army Reserve Pfc. Thomas Caughman, 20, Lexington; June 9, 2004, when his vehicle was ambushed near Baghdad
- Marine Staff Sgt. Jay T. Collado, 31, of Columbia; Feb. 20 from a roadside bomb near Baghdad
- Marine Lance Cpl. James R. Davenport, 20, of Anderson, died Nov. 22 while conducting combat operations in Al Anbar province
- Army Chief Warrant Officer Jason G. Defrenn, 34, of Barnwell; Feb. 2 when his Apache helicopter was shot down in Taji
- Army Sgt. Joseph Derrick, 24, Columbia; Sept. 23, 2005, small-arms fire near Ar Ramadi
- Marine Cpl. Matthew V. Dillon, 25, of Aiken, died Dec. 11 in a bomb blast while conducting combat operations in Al Anbar province
- Army Spc. Rian Ferguson, 22, of Taylors; Dec. 14, 2003, fell from vehicle near Forward Operating Base Quinn, Iraq
- Marine 2nd Lt. Almar L. Fitzgerald,23, of Lexington; Feb. 21, of wounds suffered Feb. 18 from a hidden bomb in Al Anbar province
- Marine Lance Cpl. Travis A. Fox, 25, of Cowpens; Oct. 30, 2004, killed in enemy action in Al Anbar Province
- Army Sgt. Donald D. Furman, 30, of Burton, Oct. 12, 2005; Humvee he was riding in collided with civilian vehicle near Balad
- Marine Lance Cpl. Jonathan E. Gadsden, 21, of Charleston; died Oct. 22, 2004,from injuries suffered in combat in Al Anbar Province on Aug. 21
- Army Lt. Clifford V. Gadsden, 25, of Red Top; died April 29, 2005 when a bomb exploded near his convoy vehicle in Balad
- Marine Cpl. Armando Areil Gonzalez, 25; died April 14, 2003, in Kuwait in an accident. A Florida resident, he was based at the Beaufort Marine Corps Air Station
- Army Pfc. Satieon V. Greenlee, 24, of Pendleton; died Oct. 2 in Baghdad from small arms fire
- Air Force Staff Sgt. Patrick Lee Griffin Jr., 31, an Elgin native; May 13, 2003, of shrapnel wounds near Diwaniyah
- Army Capt. Kimberly Hampton, 27, Easley; Jan. 2, 2004, when the Kiowa helicopter she was piloting was hit by ground-fire near Fallujah
- Army Spc. Seth A. Hildreth, 26, of Myrtle Beach, died on Aug. 27, in Baghdad, of injuries suffered when a bomb exploded near his vehicle
- Army Pfc. Melissa J. Hobart, 22, of Ladson; June 6, 2004, in Baghdad, after collapsing while on guard duty
- Marine Pvt. Nolen Ryan Hutchings, 20, of Boiling Springs; March 23, 2003, in combat at Nasiriyah
- Army Spc. Darius T. Jennings, 22, of Cordova; one of 16 soldiers killed Nov. 2, 2003, when Chinook transport helicopter was hit by ground-fire over Fallujah
- Army Spc. Katrina Johnson,32, of Orangeburg; Feb. 16, 2005after the supply delivery truck she was riding in overturned
- Army Sgt. Anthony G. Jones, 25, of Sumter; June 14, 2004, in Baghdad where a bomb exploded near his vehicle
- S.C. National Guard Chief Warrant Officer Patrick Leach, 39, Rock Hill; Dec. 9, 2004 in a helicopter crash near Mosul
- S.C. National Guard Staff Sgt. Jerome Lemon, 42, of North Charleston; Oct. 27, 2004 in Balad, when a car bomb exploded near his vehicle
- Pfc. Juan M. Lopez Jr., 23, of Florence; Aug. 13, 2007, one of three killed when an IED struck their vehicle in Qayyarah
- Army Pfc. Vorn J. Mack, 19, of Orangeburg; drowned Aug. 23, 2003 in the Euphrates River
- Army Pfc. Spence McNeil, 19, of Bennettsville; fatally injured March 8, 2003, in a truck crash in Saudi Arabia before the war started
- Army Spc. Jason Moski, 24, of Blackville; one of three soldiers killed Feb. 25, 2005, by a roadside bomb north of Baghdad
- Army Staff Sgt. Paul Neff, 30, of Fort Mill; one of six soldiers killed Nov. 7, 2003, when a Black Hawk helicopter crashed near Tikrit
- Army Spc. Anthony C. Owens, 21, Conway; Feb. 1; when his unit was attacked in Baghdad
- Army Staff Sgt. Esau Patterson Jr., 25, Ridgeland; one of eight soldiers who died April 19, 2004, in a Baghdad bomb blast
- Marine Sgt. John P. Phillips, 29, of St. Stephen; died Aug. 16 at Brooke Army Medical Center, San Antonio, Texas, from wounds received March 7 during combat operations in Al Anbar province
- Chief Warrant Officer John R. Priestner, 42, of North Charleston, died Nov. 6, in Balad, of injuries suffered in AH-64 Apache helicopter crash at Balad
- S.C. National Guard Lt. Andrew Shields, 25, Campobello; Dec. 9, 2004 in a helicopter crash near Mosul
- Army Spc. Orenthial J. Smith, 21, Martin; June 22, 2003, when his convoy was ambushed south of Baghdad
- Army Sgt. Maj. Michael B. Stack, 48, Lake City; April 11, 2004, in combat in Anbar province
- S.C. Army National Guard Master Sgt. Thomas Thigpen, 52, Augusta; suffered either heart attack or stroke March 16, 2004, at Camp Virginia, Kuwait
- Army Staff Sgt. Anthony O. Thompson, 26, of Branchville; one of three soldiers who died Sept. 18, 2003, when their Humvee was ambushed near Tikrit
- Army Spc. Douglas L. Tinsley, 21, of Chester; killed Dec. 26 when in a vehicle rollover incident in Baghdad
- Marine Master Sgt. Timothy Toney, 37, Columbia; March 27, 2004, collapsed and died of natural causes at Camp Wolverine, Kuwait
- Marine Lance Cpl. Joshua L. Torrence, 20, of Lexington; March 14, 2005, of wounds suffered in hostile action in Al Anbar province
- Staff Sgt. Terry D. Wagoner, 28, of Piedmont; Sept. 14 in Baghdad of wounds suffered when an improvised explosive device detonated near his vehicle during combat operations
- Army Spc. Zandra T. Walker, 28, of Greenville; Aug. 15, 2007, when the enemy attacked with indirect fire in Taji
- Marine Cpl. David G. Weimortz, 28, of Irmo; died Aug. 26, in a roadside bombing in Al Anbar province
- Army Spc. Harry Winkler III, 32, of Hampton, died Nov. 12, when a car bomb went off near his vehicle in Samarra
- Army Pfc. Dustin Yancey, 22, of Goose Creek; Nov. 4, 2005, of wounds suffered when Humvee he was in struck a roadside bomb near Baghdad.
- Marine Pvt. Rodericka Youmans, 22, Allendale; one of four Marines killed July 6, 2004, in a bomb attack near Fallujah in Al Anbar province
- Army Reserve Sgt. Edward R. Heselton, 23, of Easley; Aug. 11, 2005, in Orgun-E, Afghanistan, when ordnance exploded near the vehicle he was driving
- Air Force Staff Sgt. Jason Hicks, 25, of Jefferson; March 23, 2003, helicopter crash near Ghanzi, Afghanistan
- S.C. National Guard Sgt. Stephen High, 45, of Spartanburg; April 6, 2005, helicopter crash in bad weather near Ghanzi, Afghanistan
- Army Sgt. Michael R. Lehmiller, 23, of Anderson, Aug. 21, 2005, when a bomb exploded near his Humvee during patrol operations, near Baylough, Afghanistan
- Marine Capt. Daniel McCollum, 29, of Irmo; Jan. 9, 2002, refueling plane crash in Pakistan while supporting the war effort
- Army Maj. Edward Murphy, 36, of Mount Pleasant; April 6, 2005, helicopter crash in bad weather near Ghanzi, Afghanistan
- Army Staff Sgt. Tony B. Olaes, 30, of Walhalla; Sept. 20, 2004, in hostile action near Shkin, southeastern Afghanistan
- S.C. National Guard Spc. Chrystal Stout, 23, of Travelers Rest; April 6, 2005, helicopter crash in bad weather near Ghanzi, Afghanistan
Below is a video of “Come, Holy Ghost, Creator Blest,” our opening hymn. It only has three of the verses and it is an older form of the hymn, with “thee’s” and “thou’s” in it.
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
Ezekiel 37:1-14: Ezekiel lived and worked during a dark time for the Jews. The Northern Kingdom of Israel had long been gone, destroyed by the Assyrians. A new world power, the Babylonians, had risen. The Jews were disciplined by God through the Babylonians due to their unfaithfulness. Ezekiel warned them of this before it happened, but his message was rejected. Finally, as Ezekiel warned, the Babylonians attacked again, destroying the temple. As God told Ezekiel, the glory of God had departed from the nation. But Ezekiel’s message was not all doom and gloom. He foretold of a future when the nation would return to their God and their land. It was a tough sell to a people in exile. Just as the people didn’t believe God when Ezekiel told them of the impending disasters, so now they didn’t want to believe God when Ezekiel told them of their future restoration. (The human heart is constantly at war with God.) This part of Ezekiel is about the restoration of the Jews and is the vision of “dry bones.” The Spirit’s ability to bring life where death reigns supreme is a strong gospel theme wherever it appears.
Acts 2:1-21: No big surprise here. Sunday is Pentecost Sunday and this is part of the story of the first Christian Pentecost. It begins with the believers gathered together. The Holy Spirit comes with the sound of a mighty wind and the appearance of “tongues” of fire. The disciples begin to speak in foreign languages, proclaiming the Gospel of Jesus Christ. All who believe in Jesus have “life in his name.” The passage makes it abundantly clear that they are speaking standard human languages, and not in “tongues of ecstasy,” as some have maintained. It is certainly worth noting that it is through the proclaimed word that the Holy Spirit is choosing to work to bring the audience to faith in Jesus. This is again emphasized by how the story ends in verses 40 and 41. Saint Paul emphasized this same point in Romans 10, “How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching? And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written, ‘How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!’” (14-15). The word of God is a “means of grace,” that is, a means used by the Holy Spirit to “call, gather, enlighten, and sanctify” us.
John 15:26-27; 16:4b-15: Jesus is teaching about the person and work of the Holy Spirit. There is far too much in these verses to do them justice here. I will draw out just a couple of points. In verse 26, speaking of the Holy Spirit, Jesus says, “whom I will send to you from the Father”. This is reflected in the Nicene Creed with the words concerning the Holy Spirit, “who proceeds from the Father and the Son.” This is peek into the mystery of the Trinity, a mystery we cannot come close to truly comprehending. We confess with the Bible teaches, without full comprehension. The Holy Spirit is called the “Helper” in the ESV translation. The Greek word is “Paraclete.” There is no good single English word to translate the Greek. Some translations have “Advocate,” others, “Comforter,” and still others “Counselor.” All are good, but limited, translations. The word means all of the above. Another thing to note is how the Holy Spirit works to spread the gospel of God’s grace in Christ Jesus. Finally, some have used the closing verses to teach “continuing revelation.” The idea is that the Holy Spirit continues to reveal new truths which are not recorded in scripture. The book of Acts actually does record the Holy Spirit revealing things, and the books written by the Apostles (Acts, Romans, 1 & 2 Corinthians, etc.) all testify that the Holy Spirit can and has provided us with greater clarity concerning what Jesus and the Old Testament taught. However, one must be extremely careful in this area. The biblical standard for claiming direct inspiration from the Holy Spirit include 1) absolutely no errors; 2) absolutely no contradictions of former confirmed revelations; and 3) in absolute harmony with the rest of revealed scripture. I, personally, have found no contemporary “prophet” who had given a message that fills these requirements. I have found many that I would classify as “false” prophets, like the ones the true prophets of God battled in the Old Testament and of whom Jesus warned us of in places like Matthew 7:15. In deed, it is probably best to think of Jesus as referring primarily to the writing of the New Testament canon.
- As in the past, we will have a cook-out this Pentecost Sunday. Everyone is encouraged to attend. There will be games (corn hole, etc.) lost of food (hamburgers, hotdogs, etc.) and wonderful fellowship.
- Paper copies of our newsletter will be available Sunday.
- The Southeastern District will be meeting in convention May 30-June 2. Pastor and Kitty are Lamb of God’s representatives.
Well, I pray I’ll see you Sunday.
Blessings in Christ,
Pastor John Rickert