Thursday, July 26, 2012

Worship for Pentecost 9 - 2012

Thursday after Pentecost 8
July 26, 2012

The Lord be with you

This coming Sunday is the 9th Sunday after Pentecost. It is also the Commemoration of Mary, Martha, and Lazarus of Bethany. The liturgical calendar used in the LC-MS divides special days into two general categories. The first is called “Feast and Festivals.” The second is called “Commemorations.” The days that fall into the “Feast and Festivals” section all have special lectionary readings assigned to them. The days that fall into the “Commemoration” section do not have special lectionary readings. The day we recognize Mary, Martha, and Lazarus of Bethany is a “Commemoration” so we have no special Bible readings assigned. In stead, we will use the ones assigned for Pentecost 8, which are Genesis 9:8-17, Ephesians 3:14-21, and Mark 6:45-56. For our liturgy we will be using Morning Prayer, which begins on page 235. The appointed Psalm is Psalm 136:1-9, and the antiphon is verse 26. This is a non-communion service.

Our opening hymn is “The Gifts Christ Freely Gives” (LSB 602). Our sermon hymn is “O God, Forsake Me Not” (LSB 731). Our closing hymn is “Rock of Ages, Cleft for Me” (LSB 761). Our sermon text is Mark 6:49-50a. The sermon is titled “Desperate Times.”

In our prayers on Sunday we have been remembering different denominations and their leaders as we accent the Communion of Saints this year. So far, we have only remembered “partner” churches of the LC-MS. However, as of last week, we have remembered all of them. The Church, though, is not circumscribed by the LC-MS and those denominations with which we are in alter and pulpit fellowship. So we will continue to remember other denominations in our prayers. This week we will remember the Roman Catholic Church and Pope Benedict XVI. We will also remember our missionary, Emily Goddard, who serves in South Africa. We will remember the persecuted believers in Oman. Oman is on the Arabian Peninsula, and is a neighbor of Saudi Arabia. The country is 92.66% Muslim and 2.54% Christian. Other religions compose the other 4.8%. Non-Muslims are mainly foreigners. It is illegal to convert from Islam to any other religion. Christians live as second-class citizens, but their condition is better than Christians in many other Muslim nations. Still, they need our prayers as they carry the light of truth in this spiritually darken country. We will also remember our sister SED congregations: Good Shepherd, Reston, VA; Bethlehem, Richmond, VA; Redeemer, Richmond, VA; Resurrection, Richmond, VA; and Calvary, Charleston, SC. We will continue to remember those who have been misled 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 that are pleasing in his sight to end this sinful practice.

Below is a recording of the LutheranWarbler singin our closing hymn, “Rock of Ages” (LSB 761).

Our adult Bible class meets at 9:00 Sunday morning. We are currently in Matthew 24.

Preview of the Lessons

Genesis 9:8-17:          This reading is pretty much the ending of the story of the Great Flood. It has the covenant God makes to never flood the entire earth again and the establishment of the rainbow as a symbol of that promise. There is a detail or two that are often overlooked in the reading. First, the covenant isn’t between just God and Noah (and his family). God’s covenant is with the entire earth, including “every living creature” (10, 12, 13, 15, 16, 17). God is actually hammering the point in but, because we are so sinfully self-centered, we tend to think that God is making the covenant between himself and humanity only. This is one of those passages that indicate God has real concern for his entire creation, not just the human creation. This entire creation has a place in God’s plan, and has value simply because it is God’s creation. This is true even if we don’t recognize what is that value. The rainbow has caused some people problems. Did God change the properties of light or water so that rainbows could now appear? There are two standard answers these days. Answer 1) the environment in the pre-flood world was such that rainbows didn’t appear. In other words, the earth was covered with a thick marine layer. Answer 2) there always were rainbows but God is now selecting it as a symbol to remind his creation of his promise. There is no need to go into the arguments for each answer as both conform to the “Analogy of Faith.” If you are interested, there are books and books on the subject.

Ephesians 3:14-21:    This is one of those passages that is far too rich to cover in these brief notes. It ties in with the OT lesson as Paul wrote that he bows before the Father “from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named.” While this refers first to Creation, it also alludes to the flood, for, in the Bible, all people and animals are descendent from the passengers on the ark. It ties into the Gospel lesson as Paul writes about all the blessings we have in Christ, and in our Gospel lesson we see some of those blessings. It is well worth noting the role of faith and love in this text. Faith in Christ results in love for others. However the evidence that Christ is in our hearts is not our acts of love, but the gift of faith in him. In Christ we have abundant riches. The question is not whether or not we have them, but what are we doing with what we have been given. His power is at work in those who believe. Also note the presence of the Church in verse 21. This underscores that being a Christian is not simply and “God and me” thing. It is always a community thing (without excluding the personal element). We are to be in the Church.

Mark 6:45-56:            Jesus puts his disciples on a boat while he goes to a mountain and prays. If prayer was important for Jesus, how much more so for us. Jesus sees that the disciples are having trouble in the crossing because of the bad weather. This reflects our Lord’s divine knowledge. Jesus walks across the water, reflecting his divine mastery over nature. The disciples are terrified, but Jesus comforts them. Jesus is always willing to comfort our terrified hearts. The disciples are astounded when Jesus calms the storm, because they still didn’t understand just who Jesus is. To this day, those who do not know Jesus by faith are flabbergasted by what the Bible says he did. They find it impossible to believe. When they have finished their crossing, many people began to bring their sick to him. Jesus had compassion on them all. So, too, today, Jesus has compassion on all who come to him in faith.

  • Our August newsletter should be posted on the blog before Sunday. Print copies will be available for those who do not have internet access.

  • The LWML has a meeting scheduled for Sunday after the worship service.

  • A small group of us met this past Wednesday to discuss Lamb of God’s involvement with the Lutheran Malaria Initiative. You can look for more about this in the newsletter, bulletin, and on this blog in separate posts, over the next several months.

Well, I pray I’ll see you Sunday.

Blessings in Christ,
Pastor John Rickert

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