Friday, August 31, 2012

Eat Pancakes & Save Lives!!!

Lamb of God Lutheran Church, Spartanburg, SC, in cooperation with the Lutheran Malaria Initiative (LMI) is sponsoring a pancake breakfast to end malaria in Africa. Cost is $7 per person ($4 goes to LMI); while at the Hwy 9 FATZ, SPAN for Africa (SPonsor A Net) - $10 each (tax deductible); tickets for breakfast may be purchased at the door or by emailing pastorrickert@hotmail.com. Malaria is a completely preventable and curable disease and you can help STOP MALARIA NOW by being part of this event. If you do not wish to eat breakfast, you may donate by sending a check made payable to Lamb of God Lutheran Church, 1645 Fernwood-Glendale Road, Spartanburg, SC 29307. Please put LMI in the comment section of your check. (Sorry, but we are not set up to receive pay-pal, credit cards, etc.) or go to the LMI website http://lutheranmalaria.org. Y'all come out and have a good time saving lives!!! Time is 8:00 - 10:00 am, Saturday, October 27, 2012.

Below are several videos from when LMI began. It is a Press Conference. The videos are all about three minutes long (give or take a few seconds). 














Thursday, August 30, 2012

Worship Notes for Pentecost 14 - 2012



Thursday after Pentecost 13
August 30, 2012

The Lord be with you

This coming Sunday is the 14th Sunday after Pentecost. It is also the commemoration of the Old Testament saint, Hannah. She was the mother of the prophet/judge Samuel. A post concerning her will be put on the blog Sunday. As with all commemorations on our calendar, there are no special lections assigned for the day, so we will use the regularly assigned readings for the Pentecost 14. They are: Deuteronomy 4:1-2, 6-9; Ephesians 6:10-20; and Mark 7:14-23. We will be using the service of Prayer and Preaching (page 260 of the hymnal) for our liturgy. This service uses the appointed Psalm for the Day instead of the appointed Introit for the Day. It is Psalm 119:129-136. The antiphon is verse 132. Psalm 119 is the longest chapter in the Bible and is an acrostic poem. The first eight verses all begin with the first letter of the Hebrew alphabet. The second eight verses all begin with the second letter of the Hebrew alphabet, and so on. The entire Psalm is focused on the word of God. The number eight, often, carries with it overtones of renewal/rebirth/starting over/forgiveness in the Bible. If that meaning was intended by the Lord here, then the idea of the Word of God as a means of grace is subtly but wonderfully implied by the author.

The sermon text will be Mark 7:18. The title of the sermon is “On Guard.” Our first hymn is the one we are learning this month, “In Christ There Is No East or West” (LSB 653). Our sermon hymn is “All Mankind Fell in Adam’s Fall” (LSB 562). Our closing hymn is “Stand Up, Stand Up for Jesus” (LSB 660).

The story behind "Stand Up, Stand Up for Jesus" is worth knowing. “Stand Up for Jesus” was the title of the last sermon ever given by Rev. Dudley A. Tyng. He preached it to a YMCA gathering which included ministers associated with them, at a noon prayer-meeting in 1858. There were 5,000 men in attendance. (This was back in the day when YMCA stood for “Young Men’s Christian Association.” (The YWCA (Young Women’s Christian Association), or more exactly the group that would become the YWCA in 1866, held their first meeting this year.) George Duffield, the author of the hymn, was in attendance. He described Tyng as one of the noblest, bravest, manliest men he ever met. The response to the sermon, based on Exodus 10:11, was tremendous. Duffield estimated 1,000 men were “the slain of the Lord.” (This was before the modern Charismatic/Pentecostal movement began so, whatever Duffield meant, we should not read back onto his words this contemporary and novel interpretation of the Bible.)

As Duffield relates, "The following Wednesday, leaving his study for a moment, Tyng went to the barn floor, where a mule was at work on a horse-power shelling corn. Patting him on the neck, the sleeve of his silk study gown caught in the cogs of the wheel, and his arm was torn out by the roots!" His death occurred in a few hours.

The following Sunday, Duffield preached from Ephesians 6:14 and “Stand Up, Stand Up for Jesus” was written, not as a hymn, but as the concluding exhortation to the sermon. The very words inspired by his friend's final message. These words were copied by the Sunday School superintendent and handed out to the children. A stray copy found its way to a Baptist newspaper, which printed it. From there it spread around the world. The tune was adapted from a secular song written by George Webb in 1830.

We will continue to lift up other Christian denominations and their leaders in our public prayers. This Sunday we will remember Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, Archbishop of Constantinople. While the name “ecumenical” implies a world-wide denomination and authority, and indeed there are churches associated with him around the world, his denomination can primarily be found in Constantinople, most of Turkey, Mount Athos, the Dodecanese Islands (including Crete), and parts of Northern Greece. Since the sweeping reforms of the 1920s, Turkey has officially been a secular state (The only such state in all Islam). There is, however, growing tension between Islamists and secularists. Despite the government reforms to facilitate joining the European Union, there is no indication of increasing religious freedom. While the Turkish constitution includes freedom of religion, worship services are only permitted in "buildings created for this purpose," and officials have restricted the construction of buildings for minority religions. The few who dare to openly profess Christ face harassment, threats, and imprisonment. Recent death threats and murders of Christians highlight the present reality and severity of persecution and the likelihood of more to come. Therefore, at the seat of this particular denomination, it faces serious challenges. We also pray for our LC-MS missionaries around the world. This week we remember Andy and Stephanie Jones, who are in Germany.

We will remember the persecuted believers in Sri Lanka, a country in the Indian Ocean. Before 1972 it was called Ceylon. A 26-year Civil War ended in 2009 with a government victory. Religiously the country is Buddhist (69.1%), Muslim (7.6%), Hindu (7.1%), Christian (6.2%), unspecified (10%). Buddhism is the national religion and, as such, is protected and promoted. The law assures freedom of religion; however, anti-conversion initiatives and sporadic violence against Christians occur because of extreme Buddhist groups. Christianity is often perceived as foreign and evangelism as an unethical inducement to conversion. Traditional mainline churches have declined from 21% of the population in 1722 to its current 6.2. Persecution comes in waves and is sporadic, but it is intense when it occurs. More than 250 churches have been destroyed or damaged in recent years. This persecution is a double-edged sword; it threatens believers, but also fuels church growth and spiritual passion. Its causes are multiple—the hatred of the enemy for God’s people, the extremist agendas of some Buddhist and Hindu groups, the historic association of Christianity with foreign oppressors and the inappropriate, insensitive methods adopted by some evangelists and church planters.

We will also remember, in our prayers, our sister SED congregations: Bethany, Baltimore, MD; Bethlehem, Baltimore, MD; Calvary, Baltimore, MD; Emmanuel, Baltimore, MD; and Island Lutheran, Hilton Head Island, SC. We will continue to remember those who have been misled by our cultures acceptance of abortion and advocacy of 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 video of “Stand Up, Stand Up for Jesus.” It has three of our four verses, with slightly altered words.


Our adult Bible class meets at 9:00 Sunday morning. We are currently in Matthew 26 (Maundy Thursday). Jesus is about to enter the Garden of Gethsemane for prayer, where he will be arrested.

Preview of the Lessons

Deuteronomy 4:1-2, 6-9:       Deuteronomy is the fifth book written by Moses and contains his final sermons to the people before they entered the Promised Land. In this reading Moses encourages the people to remain faithful to the word of God, not adding or subtracting from it. Adding or subtracting from the word of God brings disaster to the people. Faithfulness is also linked to our witness to non-believers. They see our way of life and are attracted. Of course, a life of a person who professes Christianity, but does not live like a Christian, gives the opponents of the Gospel grounds for rejection of Christ. One cannot help but think of all the scandals that have rocked the visible Church when thinking of the negative, and efforts like the Lutheran Malaria Initiative when thinking of the positive.

Ephesians 6:10-20:   We continue our reading through Ephesians, picking up a few verses beyond where we stopped last week. With this lesson we conclude our readings in Ephesians as you might guess from the first word, “finally.” This is the well know passage where Paul urges us to “put on the full armor of God.” The overall impression is that we are in a spiritual battle. God has provided us with what we need in his Church.

Mark 7:14-23:            We continue our reading through the Gospel of Mark, picking up where we left off last week. As with the first two lessons for Sunday, this lesson accents how we live. However Jesus makes it clear that a Christian life flows from the converted heart, and is not simply following some set of external rules and regulations.

Tidbits
  • Portals of Prayer for October – December will be in your mailboxes Sunday. Extra copies are available if you wish to give one to a friend or neighbor. These devotions are an excellent way to share the Gospel.

  • We are sponsoring a Pancake Breakfast, Saturday, October 27, at the FATZ Cafe in Boiling Springs, to support the Lutheran Malaria Initiative (LMI). Members are asked to sell tickets for $7.00 (of which $4.00 will go to LMI and $3.00 will go to FATZ to cover their costs) for this event. Tickets will be available Sunday. Additional help will be needed in the form of greeters who will also sell tickets at the door and/or accept donations. You can expect more information over the next two months on this blog about our Pancake Breakfast and LMI.
Well, I pray I’ll see you Sunday.

Blessings in Christ,
Pastor John Rickert

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Martyrdom of John the Baptist - 2012



Festival of the Martyrdom of St. John the Baptist
Wednesday, August 29, 2012

The Lord be with you

Salome with the head of St John the Baptist - Andrea Solaro
Today is set aside to remember the Martyrdom of St. John the Baptist. In contrast to the Nativity of St. John the Baptist (observed on June 27), this festival commemorates his beheading by the tetrarch Herod Antipas (Mark 6:14-29). From the perspective of the world, it was an ignominious end to John the Baptist’s life. Yet it was in fact a noble participation in the cross of Christ, which was John’s greatest glory of all. Christ Himself said that there had arisen none greater than John the Baptist (Matthew 11:11). He was the last of the Old Testament prophets and also the herald of the New Testament. As the forerunner of Christ, John fulfilled the prophecy that the great prophet Elijah would return before the great and terrible Day of the Lord (Malachi 4:5; Matthew 17:10-13). By his preaching and Baptism of repentance, John turned “the hearts of fathers to their children and the hearts of children to their fathers” (Malachi 4:6). And in the footsteps of the prophets who had gone before him—in anticipation of the Christ whose way he prepared—this servant of the Lord manifested the cross by the witness of his death.

As forerunner of our Lord’s birth, preaching, and death, the blessed John showed in his struggle a goodness worthy of the sight of heaven. In the words of Scripture: Though in the sight of men they were punished, their hope is full of immortality [Wis. 3:4 rsv]. We rightly commemorate the day of his birth [into heaven] with festive joy, for he made it sacred for us through his own suffering and adorned it with the crimson splendor of his own blood. Rightly do we with joyful hearts revere his memory, for he stamped with the seal of martyrdom the witness he gave on behalf of the Lord.

The following is taken from a sermon of Bede the Venerable (commemorated on May 25).

Without doubt blessed John endured imprisonment and chains and laid down his life as a witness to our Redeemer, whose forerunner he was. His persecutor did not order him to deny Christ, but only that he should keep silent about the truth. Nevertheless, he died for Christ. Christ himself said, “I am the truth”; in shedding his blood for the truth, John surely died for Christ.

By his birth, preaching, and baptizing, he bore witness to the coming birth, preaching, and baptism of Christ, and by his own suffering he showed that Christ would also suffer.

Such was the quality and strength of the one who accepted the end of this present life by shedding his blood after the long imprisonment. He preached the freedom of heavenly peace, yet was thrown into irons by the ungodly; he was locked away in the darkness of prison, though he came bearing witness to the Light of life and deserved to be called a bright and shining lamp by the Light itself, which is Christ. John was baptized in his own blood, he who had been given the privilege of baptizing the Redeemer of the world, of hearing the voice of the Father above him, and of seeing the grace of the Holy Spirit descending upon him. But to endure temporal agonies for the sake of the truth was not a heavy burden for such as John; rather it was easily borne and even desirable, for he knew eternal joy would be his reward.

Since death was ever near at hand through the inescapable necessity of nature, such people considered it a blessing to embrace death and thus gain the reward of eternal life by acknowledging Christ’s name. Hence the apostle Paul rightly says, “He graciously granted you the privilege not only of believing in Christ but also of suffering for him as well” [Phil. 1:29]. He tells us why it is a gift of Christ that his chosen ones should suffer for him, “The sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is about to be revealed in us.” [Rom. 8:18]

Prayer: Almighty God, You gave Your servant John the Baptist to be the forerunner of Your Son, Jesus Christ, in both his preaching of repentance and his innocent death. Grant that we, who have died and risen with Christ in Holy Baptism, may daily repent of our sins, patiently suffer for the sake of the truth, and fearlessly bear witness to His victory over death; through the same Jesus Christ, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.

Other appropriate prayers:
  • For all who are wrongfully accused
  • For courage to obey God’s commands in the face of great opposition, to speak the truth, boldly rebuke vice, and patiently suffer for the sake of truth
  • For all who are maintaining the Christian faith under intolerant governments

Blessings in Christ,
Pastor John Rickert


Tuesday, August 28, 2012

St. Augustine of Hippo - 2012


Commemoration of Augustine of Hippo, Pastor and Theologian
Tuesday, August 28, 2012

The Lord be with you

We remember Augustine of Hippo today. He was one of the greatest of the Latin Church Fathers and a significant influence in the formation of Western Christianity, including Lutheranism.

Augustine was born Aurelius Augustinus, November 13, 354 ad, in Tagaste, modern Souk Ahras in Algeria (North Africa), to a Christian Mother (Monica, her day is August 27) and a Pagan father (Patricius). Monica attempted to raise him as a Christian, but without success. Augustine’s early life was distinguished by exceptional advancement as a teacher of rhetoric. In his book Confessions he describes his life before his conversion to Christianity, when he was drawn into the moral laxity of the day and fathered an illegitimate son. At this time he was a follower of Manichaeism, a dualistic religion born in Persia.

Through the devotion of his sainted mother, Monica, and the preaching of Ambrose, bishop of Milan (339-97 ad), Augustine was converted to the Christian faith and baptized at the Easter Vigil in 387. (Ambrose’s commemoration is December 7.) His mother died as they were traveling back to Africa. At first he lived a kind of monastic life. In 391, he visited the city of Hippo. Against his will, the Christians there chose him to be their pastor. From that time on, until his death, Hippo was his residence. He was ordained a priest four years later and, shortly thereafter, became the Bishop of Hippo. He served in that office for thirty-five years.

During the great Pelegian controversies of the fifth century, Augustine emphasized the unilateral grace of God in the salvation of mankind. (Pelegianism taught that we save ourselves by our own good deeds.) Bishop and theologian at Hippo in North Africa from 395 ad until his death in 430 ad, Augustine was a man of great intelligence, a fierce defender of the orthodox faith, and a prolific writer. In addition to Confessions, Augustine’s book City of God had a great impact upon the Church throughout the Middle Ages and Renaissance.

Prayer: O Lord God, the light of the minds that know You, the life of the souls that love You, and the strength of the hearts that serve You, give us strength to follow the example of Your servant Augustine of Hippo, so that knowing You we may truly love You and loving You we may fully serve You—for to serve You is perfect freedom; through Jesus Christ, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.

Other appropriate prayers:
  • For wayward children
  • For the churches in North Africa
  • For those who search for the truth, especially young people who are struggling to find meaning
  • For teachers
  • For those who defend the truth
  • For a deeper love of the Scriptures

Blessings in Christ,
Pastor John Rickert

Monday, August 27, 2012

Monica, Mother of Augustine - 2012



Commemoration of Monica, Mother of Augustine

Monday, August 27, 2012

The Lord be with you

Monica (333 – 387) was the devoted mother of Augustine of Hippo, who wrote extensively of her virtues and his life with her in his Confessions. (Monica is the traditional spelling of her name. However, a fragment of her actual tombstone has been discovered at Ostia, on which her name was spelled Monnica. Therefore, some now use that form of her name.) Throughout her life, she sought the spiritual welfare of her children, especially that of her brilliant son, Augustine, praying many years for his conversion.
Monica, Mother of Augustine

Because of her name and place of birth, Monica is assumed to have been of Berber origin (North Africa). She was married early in life to Patritius, who held an official position in Tagaste in Numidia. Patritius was a pagan, though like so many at that period, his religion was no more than a name; his temper was violent and he appears to have been of dissolute habits. Consequently Monica’s married life was far from being a happy one, more especially as Patritius’s mother seems to have been of a like disposition. There was, of course, a gulf between husband and wife; her alms, deeds and habits of prayer annoyed him, but it is said that he always held her in a sort of reverence. Monica was not the only matron of Tagaste whose married life was unhappy, but, by her sweetness and patience, she was able to exercise a good example amongst the wives and mothers of her native town; they knew that she suffered as they did, and her words and example had a proportionate effect.

Monica had three children: Augustine the eldest, Navigius the second, and a daughter, Perpetua. Monica had been unable to secure baptism for her children, and she experienced much grief when Augustine fell ill. In her distress she asked Patritius to allow Augustine to be baptized; Patritius agreed, but on the boy’s recovery withdrew his consent. Her husband did become a Christian shortly before he died in 371. Monica decided not to marry again.

All Monica’s anxiety now centered in Augustine; he was wayward and, as he himself tells us, lazy. Augustine had been sent to Carthage, to further his studies, and there he lived dissolutely. At Carthage, Augustine had become a Manichean. When he shared his views regarding Manichaeism with Monica, she was horrified.

Monica followed Augustine to Carthage. It was at this time that she went to see a certain holy bishop, whose name is not given, but who consoled her with the now famous words, “the child of those tears shall never perish.” Augustine then left Carthage, secretly so his mother would not accompany him. Monica, though, followed her wayward son to Rome. When she arrived he had already gone to Milan, but she followed him. Here she found St. Ambrose and through him she ultimately had the joy of seeing Augustine convert to Christianity, after seventeen years of resistance on his part, and prayers on her part.

Following her son’s baptism, the two planned to return to North Africa in the fall of 387. However, weakened by her travels, Monica fell sick and died at Ostia, Italy. She was buried there.

The LC-MS has followed the lead of the Roman Catholic Church in celebrating this lady of faith on August 27, the day before the date set aside to remember Augustine, whose life was so interwoven with her own. Other traditions remember her on May 4, making Monica available as a model for Mother’s Day in places where that observance is expected.
Monica and Augustine - Scheffer

Prayer: O Lord, You strengthened Your patient servant Monica through spiritual discipline to persevere in offering her love, her prayers, and her tears for the conversion of her husband and of Augustine, their son. Deepen our devotion to bring others, even our own family, to acknowledge Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord, who with You and the Holy Spirit lives and reigns, one God, now and forever. Amen.

Other appropriate prayers:
  • For mothers that by their prayers and example they may bring up their children in the Faith
  • For homes where only one parent is Christian
  • For the spirit of unceasing prayer
  • For the unity of families in Christ
  • For Christians in Africa

Blessings in Christ,
Pastor John Rickert

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Worship for Pentecost 12 - 2012


Thursday after Pentecost 12
August 23, 2012

The Lord be with you

This coming Sunday is the 13th Sunday after Pentecost. The assigned lessons are: Isaiah 29:11-19; Ephesians 5:22-33; and Mark 7:1-13. The text for the sermon, titled “I Like the Liturgy,” is Mark 7:6. For our liturgy we will be using Setting 1 of the Divine Service (page 151 in the hymnal). This is a Communion service. To prepare for the Sacrament, you may read the “Christian Questions with Their Answers” from Luther’s Small Catechism (page 329 in the hymnal).

Our opening hymn is “In Christ There Is No East or West” (LSB 653). This is a new hymn for us, recommended by the hymnal review committee as one worth learning at Lamb of God.  I found the following account of its origin at Lectionary.org:

In 1889, Rudyard Kipling published his poem, “The Ballad of East and West,” which begins, “Oh, East is East, and West is West, and never the twain shall meet.”

Those lines sound as if Kipling is saying that there is no hope that people from East and West can ever come together, but the opposite is true. The poem tells of Kamal, a man of India who steals an English Colonel’s horse. The Colonel’s son rides off in pursuit. The two men end up in a place where Kamal has a soldier behind every rock, but he respects the young Englishman’s courage and spares his life. The young Englishman, in turn, passes up a chance to use a hidden pistol with which he could have killed Kamal. The poem ends as it began with these lines:

            Oh, East is East, and West is West,
                        and never the twain shall meet,
            Till Earth and Sky stand presently
                        at God’s great Judgment Seat;

            But there is neither East nor West,
                        Border, nor Breed, nor Birth,
            When two strong men stand face to face,
                        though they come from the ends of the earth!

Kipling’s poem celebrates the possibility of mutual respect between people who are very different from each other.

Nine years later after Kipling’s poem was published, William Arthur Dunkerly (using the pen name John Oxenham) wrote this hymn, “In Christ There Is No East or West.” The occasion was a great missionary exhibition sponsored by the London Missionary Society.

The hymn, which gets its inspiration from Kipling’s poem, takes Kipling’s idea a step farther. It reminds us that Christ brings all sorts of people together “in one great fellowship of love.”

The Sermon hymn is “Faith and Truth and Live Bestowing” (LSB 584). The Closing hymn is “Lord, Take My Hand and Lead Me” (LSB 722). Our distribution hymns are “Let All Mortal Flesh Keep Silence” (LSB 621), “Before You, Lord, We Bow” (LSB 966) and “Glorious Things of Your Are Spoken” (LSB 648).

We will continue to lift up other Christian denominations in our public prayers. This Sunday we will remember the Orthodox Church of Jerusalem and their leader, The Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Jerusalem, Ireneos I. We also pray for our LC-MS missionaries around the world. This week we remember Andy and Stephanie Jones, who are in Germany.

We will remember the persecuted believers in Somalia, a country along the coast of the Horn of Africa. It has a little over 10,000,000 people, mostly Moslem. There is no religious freedom in the country and it is one of the most dangerous countries in the world to be a Christian. There are no church buildings in the country nor any legal protection for Christians, some of whom meet in underground churches. Paramilitary groups in Somalia have engaged in widespread looting of Christian graves and are seeking to eradicate Christianity, murdering all they find, including foreign aid workers. For example, in August 2009, International Christian Concern reported that four Christians working to help orphans in Somalia were beheaded by Islamist extremists when they refused to convert to Islam.  

We will also remember, in our prayers, our sister SED congregations: Mt. Olivet, Washington, DC; Peace, Washington, DC; St. Paul, Annapolis, MD; Berea, Baltimore, MD; and Good Shepherd, Greenville, SC. We will continue to remember those who have been misled by our cultures acceptance of abortion and advocacy of 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 video of our opening hymn, “In Christ There Is No East or West.” The tune is the same as in our hymnal, but the words are different. As odd as it may seem, while this hymn was written to accent the unity of the Church, some have had their modern sensibilities offended by the use of the words like “mankind.” Therefore, there are many versions of this hymn in updated form (like in our hymnal), and I was unable to find an exact match to the words we have.


Our adult Bible class meets at 9:00 Sunday morning. We are currently in Matthew 26 (Maundy Thursday).

Preview of the Lessons

Isaiah 29:11-19:         In short, this passage is about when the traditions of men become more important than the word of God. Even though such a person reads the Book of books, it is “sealed” to them, for they lack understanding. Such a person thinks they can make God whatever they want. God, though, will not let his Word remained sealed. Not only does he send his Son, our Lord Jesus, to reveal his truth, but he calls others to faith.

Ephesians 5: 22-33:   We continue our reading through Ephesians, picking up where last week’s reading left off. Paul is continuing in the “how then shall we live” vein of thought, turning his attention towards marriage. It has long impressed me that Paul has far more to say to husbands than to wives. It can be summed up with the words, ‘husbands love your wives like Christ loves the Church.’ What blessed marriages we would have if husbands took this directive to heart! Another thing that has long impressed me is that the directives to wives are directed to wives and the directives to husbands are directed towards husbands. In other words, husbands are not commanded to make their wives “good wives” and wives are not directed to make their husbands “good husbands.” Stick to your own job. Imagine how much frustration would be avoided if we left the changing of our spouse up to God and focused on ourselves and how we can be the best spouse we can be (not on how “wounded” we are because we are married to such a looser).

Mark 7:1-13:  With this reading we return to the Gospel of Mark. Our reading for Sunday dovetails very nicely with our Old Testament lesson. The “wonderful thing” Isaiah foretold is happening with Jesus. The substitution of traditions for the Word of God has reached an apex. As Isaiah saw, the official sacrifices were being made, but the hearts of the priests were far from God. Traditions of men had become more important that the word of God and those traditions were considered to have the weight of the will of God. As humanity loves its “traditions,” we all must be on guard against such tendencies.

Tidbits

  • The “Spiritual Life” survey is due Sunday. Place it in the Elders' box in the narthex.
  • LitWits has been rescheduled to this coming Sunday evening. We will meet at Jim and Joy’s home. The book we will be discussing is the devotional classic, The Confessions of Saint Augustine.  To start our discussion we will consider the question, “Why do you think the Confessions have remained a devotional classic for over 1500 years. Everyone is also asked to have a quote or two to share with the group.
Well, I pray I’ll see you Sunday.

Blessings in Christ,
Pastor John Rickert

Monday, August 20, 2012

Samuel - 2012


Commemoration of Samuel
Monday, August 20, 2012

The Lord be with you

Today is the Commemoration of Samuel on the LC-MS liturgical calendar. Apparently those who framed our calendar took the date from the Eastern Orthodox, who remember Samuel on this day as well. He is commemorated as one of the Holy Forefathers in the Calendar of Saints of the Armenian Apostolic Church on July 30. In the Coptic Orthodox Church, the commemoration of the departure of Samuel the Prophet is celebrated on 9 Paoni. (Paoni, also known as Baona, is the tenth month of the Coptic calendar. It lies between June 8 and July 7 on our calendar.)
"The Prophet Samuel" by Claude Vignon (1593-1670)

Samuel was the last of the Old Testament Judges and the first of the Old Testament Prophets (after Moses). He lived during the eleventh century bc. The child of Elkanah, an Ephraimite, and his wife Hannah, Samuel was from early on consecrated by his parents for sacred service and trained in the house of the Lord at Shiloh by Eli the priest. His story begins before he was born. His mother, Hannah, was barren and childless. The family had traveled to Shiloh to worship. There she prayed for a child and promised the Lord that she would dedicate the child to his service if her petition was granted. Eli saw her praying, apparently mumbling to herself, and thought she was drunk. When he spoke to her he quickly realized the reality of the situation and blessed Hannah with the assurance that God had heard her prayer. Sure enough, Hannah became pregnant and Samuel was born. After the boy was weaned, Hannah brought him to Shiloh where he grew up, becoming Eli’s aid and heir apparent. (The story is in 1 Samuel 1.)

Many have seen the parallels between the birth of Samuel and the birth of Jesus. Hannah was childless and Mary, being a virgin, was childless. Both births were brought about by Divine intervention. Both boys grew up to be powerful in the Kingdom of God. All prophets were “types” of the Messiah, and Jesus was the Messiah. Of course, the miracles in reference to the birth of Jesus were all greater than the miracles relating to the birth of Samuel, but that is always the case with types and antitypes. So we see in Samuel, both in his birth and in the rest of his life, pointers to the Great Prophet, the Great Judge, the One who not only spoke the word of God but is the Word of God in the flesh, our Lord Jesus Christ.

Samuel’s authority as a prophet was established by God (1 Samuel 3:20). All the paintings that depict Samuel as a small child of five or six are sweet, but not accurate. He was probably twelve or thirteen. Shoot, children weren’t weaned until some time between three and five years-old. Samuel anointed Saul to be Israel’s first king (1 Samuel 10:1). Later, as a result of Saul’s disobedience to God, Samuel repudiated Saul’s leadership and then anointed David to be king in place of Saul (1 Samuel 16:13). Samuel’s loyalty to God, his spiritual insight, and his ability to inspire others made him one of Israel’s great leaders.

Prayer: Almighty God, in Your mercy You gave Samuel courage to call Israel to repentance and to renew their dedication to the Lord. Call us to repentance as Nathan called David to repentance, so by the blood of Jesus, the Son of David, we may receive the forgiveness of all our sins; through Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen.

Blessings in Christ,
Pastor John Rickert

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Bernard of Clairvaux, Hymnwriter and Theologian - 2012


Sunday, August 19
12th Sunday after Pentecost (Proper 15)
Commemoration of Bernard of Clairvaux, Hymnwriter and Theologian

The Lord be with you,

On August 19, in the LC-MS, we remember Bernard of Clairvaux (1090-1153). Most liturgical calendars that include him, set aside August 20 for him as that is the day he died. However, on our calendar, August 20 is reserved for the judge/prophet Samuel.

Bernard was a leader in Christian Europe in the first half of the twelfth century. He is honored in his native France and around the world. Born into a noble family in Burgundy, at age twenty-two Bernard left the affluence of his heritage and entered the recently founded Benedictine monastery and motherhouse of the Citeaux Order. After two years, he was sent to start a new monastic house at Clairvaux. He undertook the work as the new abbot with twelve others. His work there was blessed in many ways. The monastery at Clairvaux grew in mission and service, eventually establishing some sixty-eight daughter houses. He was key in forming the Knights Templar, which soon became the ideal of Medieval Christian nobility. Bernard is remembered not only for his charity and political abilities (he was critical in healing a split in the Roman Church, which had two popes for a while, which required meeting with the kings of England, France, Germany, and others) but especially for his preaching and hymn composition. The hymn texts “O Jesus, King Most Wonderful,” “O Sacred Head, Now Wounded,” “Jesus, The Very Thought of Thee,” and “Light of the Anxious Heart,” are part of the heritage of the faith left by Saint Bernard. He is remembered also for his tireless attacks on the luxury of the clergy, the persecution of the Jews, and the abuses of the Roman curia.

Bernard’s theology is characterized by a desire to deepen the inner experience of prayer and contemplation. He was instrumental in re-emphasizing the importance of Lectio Divina and contemplation on Scripture within the Cistercian order. (Lectio Divina is Latin for “divine reading,” “spiritual reading,” or “holy reading” and represents a method of prayer and scriptural reading intended to promote communion with God and to provide special spiritual insights. The practice dates back to the 200s.) Bernard had observed that when the practice was neglected monasticism suffered. He considered Lectio Divina, and contemplation guided by the Holy Spirit, the keys to nourishing Christian spirituality. I should point out that this method is most profitably employed by those with a rich Christian corporate worship life. He was also responsible for the exaltation of the Virgin Mary in Christian theology. Prior to him, Mary held a very minor role.

Prayer: O God, enkindled with the fire of Your love, Your servant Bernard of Clairvaux became a burning and shining light in Your Church. By Your mercy, grant that we also may be aflame with the spirit of love and discipline and may ever walk in Your presence as children of light; through Jesus Christ, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.

Other appropriate prayers include:
  • For the strengthening of the Church everywhere
  • For the clergy, that they may live what they preach
  • For a stronger prayer life
  • For a deeper understanding of the connection between our life as a Christian and the life, death, resurrection, ascension, ruling, and returning Christ.
  • For a thankful heart for Mary, and all the saints, and their role in salvation history.
Blessings in Christ,
Pastor John Rickert

Below is a video of “O Sacred Head, Now Wounded,” with the words.

Friday, August 17, 2012



Commemoration of Johann Gerhard, Theologian
Friday, August 17, 2012

The Lord be with you

Johann Gerhard (1582-1637) was a great Lutheran theologian in the tradition of Martin Luther (1483-1546) and Martin Chemnitz (1522-86) and the most influential of the seventeenth-century dogmaticians. His monumental Loci Theologica (twenty-three large volumes) is still considered by many to be a definitive statement of Lutheran orthodoxy. Gerhard was born in Quedlinburg, Germany. At the age of fifteen he was stricken with a life-threatening illness. This experience, along with guidance from his pastor, Johann Arndt, marked a turning point in his life. He devoted the rest of his life to theology. He became a professor at the University of Jena and served many years as the superintendent of Heldburg. Gerhard was a man of deep evangelical piety and love for Jesus. He wrote numerous books on exegesis, theology, devotional literature, history, and polemics. His sermons continue to be widely published and read. Gerhard, alone with his co-workers Johann Major and Johann Himmel, were sometimes call the “Trias Johannea” (three Johns), as their work was so well respected and influential.

An excellent, short, summary of his life can be found at: http://www.studiumexcitare.com/content/71. The only question mark I have about this article is the quote “Gerhard is the third (Luther, Chemnitz, Gerhard) in that series of Lutheran theologians in which there is no fourth.” However the great theologian Abraham Calov (1612-1686), commemorated November 9, would, in my opinion, be in the same class as Gerhard, and be considered the “fourth” by most.

Prayer: Most High God, we owe You great thanks that in the sacred mystery of the Supper You feed us with the body and blood of Your Son. May we approach this heavenly meal with true faith, firmly convinced that the body we eat and the one given into death for us and that the blood we drink is the blood shed for our sins; through Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen.

Blessings in Christ,
Pastor John Rickert

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Worship for Pentecost 12 - 2012


Commemoration of Isaac
Thursday after Pentecost 11
August 16, 2012

The Lord be with you

This coming Sunday, on the LC-MS liturgical calendar, is the Commemoration of Bernard of Clairvaux, Hymnwriter and Theologian. It is also the 12th Sunday after Pentecost. As mentioned before in these notes, the LC-MS lectionary does not provide special lections for commemorations, so we will be using the readings assigned for the 12th Sunday after Pentecost. I will be providing a post about Bernard, on the blog, this coming Sunday.

The assigned lessons are: Proverbs 9:1-10, Ephesians 5:6-21 and John 6:51-69. For our liturgy we will be using Matins (beginning on page 219 of the hymnal). This is one of the Prayer Hours developed in monasteries over the centuries. While we use it on Sunday mornings, it was originally intended for use throughout the week as the morning prayer service. Because of this history, the service developed without a place for the Lord’s Supper. It focuses more on the book of Psalms, so we do not use the Introit during Matins but the appointed Psalm for the day. Sunday that will be Psalm 34:12-22 and the antiphon will be verse 11.

The sermon text will be Proverbs 9:1 and is titled “Two Ladies.” Our opening hymn will be “The Gifts Christ Freely Gives” (LSB 602). This is the hymn we are learning this month. The sermon hymn will be “Drawn to the Cross, Which Thou Hast Blessed” (LSB 560). The closing hymn will be “Lord, Dismiss Us with Your Blessing” (LSB 924).

We will continue to lift up other Christian denominations in our public prayers. This Sunday we will remember the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of Alexandria and all Africa and their leader, Pope and Patriarch Theodoros II. We also pray for our LC-MS missionaries around the world. This week we remember Andy and Stephanie Jones, who are in Germany. We have been asked to specifically to ask the Holy Spirit to help them adjust to their new roles and cultural surroundings; to pray that the Lord would protect them and bless them as Stephanie travels frequently and Andy educates and supports the Trinity youth and congregation in Frankfurt; and to pray that the Lord would use them to communicate with passion the stories of our Eurasia missionaries and partner churches.

We will remember the persecuted believers in Saudi Arabia, the largest country on the Arabian Peninsula and the homeland of Islam. Saudi Arabia allows Christians to enter the country as foreign workers for temporary work (there are maybe 1.2 million of them), but does not allow them to practice their faith openly. Often these foreign Christians are arrested and forced to “convert” to Islam. It is said that the Saudi jails are full of Christians. Any media attention to something Moslems might take offense at often produces an outbreak of “pogrom-like” crackdowns by the Saudi police on Christians. Because of that, Christians generally only worship in secret within private homes. Items and articles belonging to religions other than Islam are prohibited, including Bibles, crucifixes, statues, carvings, items with religious symbols, and others. The Committee for the Propagation of Virtue and the Prevention of Vice (i.e., the religious police) prohibits the practice of any religion other than Islam. Conversion of a Muslim to another religion is a crime punishable by death if the accused does not recant. The Government does not permit non-Muslim clergy to enter the country for the purpose of conducting religious services. The small number of Saudi Arabian Christians meet in internet chat rooms and private meetings. Christians and other non-Muslims are prohibited from entering the cities of Mecca and Medina, Islam’s holiest cities.

We will also remember, in our prayers, our sister SED congregations: Bethany-Trinity, Waynesboro, VA; King of Glory, Williamsburg, VA; Our Savior, Winchester, VA; Grace, Woodbridge, VA; and Incarnate Word, Florence, SC. We will continue to remember those who have been misled by our cultures acceptance of abortion and advocacy of 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 video of our opening hymn, “Drawn to the Cross, Which Thou Hast Blessed.” You might recognize it as “Christ Crucified, I Come,” which are the final words in each of the four stanzas. This video is of the St. Lorenz Evangelical Lutheran Church in Frankenmuth, MI, but, instead of the congregation appearing in the video, the words of the hymn are included. There is about a minute and 40 second introduction.


Our adult Bible class meets at 9:00 Sunday morning. We are currently in Matthew 26.

Preview of the Lessons

Proverbs 9:1-10:        “Wisdom” is the primary theme in Proverbs. The main Hebrew word translated “wisdom” is Hokmah, which is a feminine noun (as abstract nouns are in Hebrew). Hokmah occurs 32 times in Proverbs. Its meaning is determined by context and standard lexicons list five or six different meanings. No matter what the context, Hokmah always carries a practical aspect, since it supplies a spiritual “know-how” that springs from a reverent “fear of the Lord” (1:7; 9:10). In other words, it is not simply a philosophical system. The Bible also has numerous synonyms for Hokmah, most of which can be found in the first chapter of Proverbs and reappear elsewhere in the book. Our reading Sunday describes “wisdom” with a metaphor. “She” is a woman. The sermon is titled “Two Ladies.” You may wonder where the second “lady” comes from. She can be found in verses 9:13-18. Her name is translated “Folly” in the esv, and “Stupidity” in the net. Though “Stupidity” isn’t featured in our reading, she is clearly present, especially in verses 7-9. This reading is even more powerful as Proverbs 8 introduces Christ as the “Wisdom” of God, a thought Paul picks up on in 1 Corinthians 2:24 and elsewhere. For more on these two “ladies,” you will just have to come and worship with us Sunday.

Ephesians 5: 6-21:     We continue our reading through Ephesians. This reading ties in well with our reading from Proverbs. Paul warns his readers, “Let no one deceive you with empty words.” Instead we are to “Walk as children of light.” To use the metaphor from Proverbs, don’t be fool by “Stupidity.” Listen to “Wisdom” and follow her instruction. The “know-how” accent of biblical wisdom also comes through in Paul’s words. Paul is not just advocating for some philosophical belief system, but living in harmony with the revealed will of God. This line of thinking reveals one of the real weaknesses in the “I don’t have to go to Church to be a Christian” line of thinking. It is the advice of “Stupidity” who encourages us to live as “sons of disobedience”.

John 6: 51-69:            This reading picks-up with the conclusion of Jesus’ “Bread of Life” sermon. Many of the people listening to Jesus were having trouble with his message and in the end turn away from the Lord. Jesus asks the twelve if they too would abandon him. Peter responds for the group with rock-solid words, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life, and we have believed, and have come to know, that you are the Holy One of God.” Amen to that! The first group followed the lady “Stupidity” while the twelve followed the lady “Wisdom.” Yes, the words of Jesus are challenging, and Christians have struggled with them over the centuries, but they are the words of our Lord. As we grapple with them, we always remember, they are the words of eternal life.

Tidbits
  • If you weren’t in the worship service last week, you probably didn’t get a copy of the “Spiritual Life” survey we handed out. Additional copies will be available this Sunday. The results from this survey will help guide us over then next year. Every regular attendee is asked to fill one out and place the completed survey into the Elders box in the narthex no later than Sunday, August 26. A copy was also e-mailed to everyone on our e-mail list last week.
  • The Junior Confirmation Class with parents will have a short meeting after Sunday’s worship service to set day and time for this years class.  
  • LitWits will meet Sunday evening. The book we will be discussing is the devotional classic, The Confessions of Saint Augustine.  
  • Information for the September newsletter is due this Sunday.
  • Earlier today, on this blog, I place a post concerning Isaac. Tomorrow there will be a post concerning Johann Gerhard. On Sunday there will be a post about Bernard of Clarivaux.   
Well, I pray I’ll see you Sunday.

Blessings in Christ,
Pastor John Rickert

Commemoration of Isaac - 2012


Commemoration of Isaac
Thursday, August 16, 2012

The Lord be with you

Sacrifice of Isaac, Rembrandt
Today is set aside to remember the patriarch Isaac, the long promised and awaited son of Abraham and Sarah. He was born when his father was one hundred years old and his mother was ninety-one years old. The announcement of his birth brought both joy and laughter to his aged parents (thus the name Isaac, which means “laughter’). As a young man, Isaac accompanied his father to Mount Moriah, where Abraham, in obedience to God’s command, prepared to sacrifice him as a burnt offering. But God intervened, sparing Isaac’s life by providing a ram as a substitute offering (Genesis 22:1-14), thus pointing to the substitutionary sacrifice of Christ for the sins of the world. Isaac was given in marriage to Rebekah (Genesis 24:67), and they had twin sons, Esau and Jacob (Genesis 25:19-26). In his old age, Isaac, blind and feeble, wanted to give his blessing and chief inheritance to his favorite – and eldest – son Esau. But through deception Rebekah helped Jacob receive his father’s blessing instead, resulting in years of family enmity. Isaac died at the age of 180 and was buried in the family burial cave of Machpelah by his sons, who by then had become reconciled (Genesis 35:28-29).

Prayer: Almighty God, heavenly Father, through the patriarch Isaac You preserved the seed of the Messiah and brought forth the new creation. Continue to preserve the Church as the Israel of God as she manifests the glory of Your holy name by continuing to worship Your Son, the child of Mary; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

(Treasury of Daily Prayer, CPH, 628-9)

Blessings in Christ,
Pastor John Rickert

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

St. Mary, Mother of Our Lord - 2012


Festival of St. Mary, Mother of Our Lord
Wednesday, August 15, 2012

The Lord be with you


Today we celebrate the Festival of St. Mary, Mother of Our Lord. She is mentioned repeatedly in the Gospels and the Book of Acts, with nearly a dozen specific incidents in her life being recorded: her betrothal to Joseph (Matthew 1:18); the annunciation by the angel Gabriel that she was to be the mother of the Messiah (Luke 26-38); her visitation to Elizabeth, the mother of John the Baptizer (Luke 1:39-45); the nativity of our Lord (Matthew 1:24-25; Luke 2:1-12); the visits of the shepherds (Luke 2:8-20) and Wise Men (Matthew 2:1-12); the presentation of the infant Jesus in the temple (Luke 2:22-38); the flight into Egypt (Matthew 2:13-15); the Passover visit to Jerusalem when Jesus was twelve (Luke 2:41-51); the wedding at Cana in Galilee (John 2:1-11); her presence at the crucifixion, when her Son commended her to the care of His disciple John (John 19:25-27); and her gathering with the apostles in the Upper Room after the ascension, waiting for the promised Holy Spirit (Acts 1:14). Thus she is specifically referred to as being present at most of the important events in her Son’s life. She is especially remembered and honored for her unconditional obedience to the will of God (“Let it be to me according to Your word” [Luke 1:38]); for her loyalty to her Son even when she did not understand Him (“Do whatever He tells you” [John 2:1-11]); and above all for the highest honor that heaven bestowed on her of being the mother of our Lord (“Blessed are you among women” [Luke 1:42]). According to tradition, Mary went with the apostle John to Ephesus, where she died. (Some traditions say she lived and died in Jerusalem and “a tomb of the Virgin” is in the Kidron Valley.) This feast celebrates her life in general and, specifically, her blessed death.

In the person of the Virgin Mary, the Church has long seen an image of itself. This is probably the idea behind Revelation 12:1-6, where the woman can be understood as both the Virgin Mary and the Church. Not only is Mary seen as representing the Church because the Church bears Christ in the world, but also she is a model of what each Christian ought to be: prayerful, humble, joyfully submissive to the will and word of God, devoted to her Son and loyal to him even when she did not understand him.

The earliest feasts celebrating Mary’s death were observed in Palestine from the fifth century, possibly at Antioch in the fourth century. The date of August 15, ordered by the emperor Maurice (582-603), probably originated with the dedication of a church in her honor. By the sixth century the observance of the date of August 15 was widespread in the East, and the feast day gradually became known as the Feast of the Dormition, the “Falling Asleep,” or passing from this life, of the Virgin. In the seventh century this feast day was observed in Rome, and from there it spread throughout the West. By the ninth century the feast had been transformed from remembering the death of Mary to the Feast of the Assumption (referring to the reception of Mary’s body and soul into heaven in anticipation of the general resurrection of the bodies of all the dead on the Last Day.) This idea first appeared in late fourth century New Testament apocrypha writings and was made official Roman Catholic dogma in 1950.

In Roman Catholic and Easter Orthodox circles, it is believed that Mary was “ever Virgin.” That is to say, she remained a virgin her entire earthly life. Most Protestants (but not all) consider this to be either an “open question” or that Mary and Joseph had a normal married life after the birth of Jesus. Most Protestants will probably be surprised to learn that the concept of the perpetual virginity of Mary reaches back to the second century. The Church was teaching (and still does teach) that Mary was a virgin when Jesus was born. This was one of the proofs that Jesus was the Son of the Father. The opponents of the Church laughed at that. Virgins don’t have babies. Clearly, they asserted, Mary either fooled around or was raped. Therefore Jesus wasn’t the Son of the Father, just an illegitimate child. The defenders of the Church countered that the attackers were wrong because Mary had remained a virgin her whole life. In other words, the teaching about the perpetual virginity of Mary wasn’t about her at all. It was about Jesus and who he is. I am one who considers this an “open question.” Accept it or not, as you are persuaded. Just remember, no matter where you come down on this question, the central issue is always Jesus, the eternal Son of God.

Prayer: Almighty God, You chose the virgin Mary to be the mother of Your only Son. Grant that we, who are redeemed by His blood, may share with her in the glory of Your eternal kingdom; through Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.

Other appropriate prayers include:
  • For the poor and the forgotten
  • For a deeper understanding of the mystery of the incarnation
  • For the gift of glad obedience to the word of God
  • For faithfulness to Christ

Blessings in Christ,
Pastor John Rickert

Friday, August 10, 2012

Lawrence, Deacon and Martyr - 2012



Commemoration of Lawrence, Deacon and Martyr
Friday, August 10, 2012

The Lord be with you

Lawrence with the "Treasures of the Church"
Today we remember Lawrence, who was the chief deacon of the Church at Rome, being in charge of administering the church budget, particularly with regard to the care of the poor, and a martyr. The year 258 was not a safe year to be a pastor of the Church. The emperor Valerian began a persecution aimed chiefly at the clergy and the laity of the upper classes. All Church property was confiscated and meetings of Christians were forbidden. On August 7, Roman troops broke into a worship service and murdered the bishop of Rome, Sixtus II, and most of his clergy. Laurence, who was present, was the only one of the leadership who was arrested instead of killed.

The emperor (prefect) knew that Lawrence was the treasurer, and believed the church had a large store of money and other valuables (how else could they give so much to the care of the poor, lame, etc.). He offered Lawrence his freedom in exchange for the “treasures of the church.” Lawrence told the prefect he would need three days to gather the “treasures of the church,” which Lawrence was granted. In those three days he transferred his responsibilities to his successor and then gathered as many of the sick, the aged, and the poor, the widows and orphans of the church as he could. On the third day he appeared before the prefect with these outcasts of society. Pointing to them, Lawrence said these were the “treasures of the church.”

According to tradition, the prefect was so enraged that he ordered Lawrence to be roasted alive, slowly, on a gridiron. Tradition says he bore his death with great calmness, even joking with his tormentors saying, “I’m done on this side. You can turn me over.”  

His martyrdom left a deep impression on the young Church. Almost immediately, the date of his death, August 10, became a permanent fixture on the early commemorative calendar of the Church.

Prayer: Almighty God, You called Lawrence to be a deacon in Your Church to serve Your saints with deeds of love, and You gave him the crown of martyrdom. Give us the same charity of heart that we may fulfill Your love by defending and supporting the poor, that by loving them we may love You with all our hearts; through Jesus Christ, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.

Other appropriate prayers include:
  • For those who maintain and care for the property of the church
  • For those who serve the poor and needy
  • For a recognition of the true treasure of the church
  • For courage and good humor to get us through times of frustration, misunderstanding, or persecution
  • For the persecuted Christians in the world
  • For the leaders of the Church, that they may bear a good witness for the Lord

Blessings in Christ,
Pastor John Rickert

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Worship for Pentecost 11 - 2012


Thursday after Pentecost 10
August 9, 2012

The Lord be with you

This coming Sunday is the 11th Sunday after Pentecost. The assigned lessons are: 1 Kings 19:1-8, Ephesians 4:17-5:2, and John 6:35-51. For our liturgy we will be using Setting 3 of the Divine Service which begins on page 184 of the hymnal. This is a Communion service. To prepare you may wish to read Psalm 51. The sermon text is John 6:51 and is titled “Junk Food of Good Food.” Our opening hymn is “With the Lord Begin Your Task” (LSB 869). The sermon hymn is “O Word of God Incarnate” (LSB 523). Our closing hymn is “Praise to You and Adoration” (LSB 692). Our distribution hymns are “The Gifts Christ Freely Gives” (LSB 602), “Eat This Bread” (LSB 638), and “Built on the Rock” (LSB 645).

We will continue to lift up other Christian denominations in our public prayers. This Sunday we will remember the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America and their leader, Archbishop Demetrios. We also pray for our LC-MS missionaries around the world. This week we remember Andy and Stephanie Jones, who are in Germany. We have been asked to specifically to ask the Holy Spirit to help them adjust to their new roles and cultural surroundings; to pray that the Lord would protect them and bless them as Stephanie travels frequently and Andy educates and supports the Trinity youth and congregation in Frankfurt; and to pray that the Lord would use them to communicate with passion the stories of our Eurasia missionaries and partner churches. We will remember the persecuted believers in Qatar, a tiny Moslem country on the Arabian Peninsula. There are about 120,000 Christians in Qatar, about 8.5% of the population. Until 2008 their worship services were all underground. However they are now allowed to build churches and worship, and there are at least 14 such public worship homes in Qatar. It is against the law for Christians to share their faith with Moslems, but television, radio, and the internet are used extensively by Christians and seem to be having a powerful effect. Compared to other Moslem controlled countries, Qatar is a model of toleration. Still, the believers need our prayer support. We will also remember our sister SED congregations: Living Hope, Stafford, VA; Concordia, Triangle, VA; Hope, Virginia Beach, VA; Prince of Peace, Virginia Beach, VA; and Holy Trinity, Columbia, 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 video of the Lutheran Warbler playing and singing our opening hymn, “With the Lord Begin Your Task”


Our adult Bible class meets at 9:00 Sunday morning. We are currently in Matthew 25.

Preview of the Lessons

1 Kings 19:1-8:           Elijah was a prophet to the Northern Kingdom of Israel. While he left us no writings (like Isaiah, Jeremiah, and others), his story is recorded in 1 & 2 Kings. This particular story comes on the heals of his showdown with the 450 prophets of Baal on Mount Carmel. God won the contest and the false prophets of Baal were executed (1 Kings 18:16-46). There had been a drought in Israel for years (1 Kings 17:1) brought on by God because the people had gone after Baal. Baal was the idol believed to be in charge of rain. In the contest, some three years into the drought, Baal was unable to bring lightning down (something a rain god surely should be able to do) to light the sacrifice. God, on the other had, did just that, as well as send rain. This is where our reading picks-up. Jezebel, the queen, was enraged. In stead of rejecting the idol, she determined to have Elijah murdered. Upon hearing this, Elijah becomes despondent and flees. He actually prays to God and asks to die. God sends an angel to strengthen him and then sends him on to Mount Horeb (another name for Mt. Sinai), where he will hear the “still small voice” of God (9-18) and, in essence, is re-commissioned. When the angel meets and strengthens Elijah, he does this by giving Elijah a “cake baked on a stone.” This has been seen by many over they centuries as foreshadowing the Lord’s Supper, by which we are strengthened for our trip through this life. One lesson we can learn from this story is that, no matter how bleak things may seem, the Lord is with us. Another lesson to learn is that true believers can experience depression. During these dark times it is vital we do not turn from our Lord.

Ephesians 4:17-5:2:   This reading picks up where our reading from Ephesians ended last week. Once again it is very rich. The big message is to not compromise with the world but to live our Christian Faith. Examples of worldly actions and thinking given are sexual immorality, lying, greed, theft, corrupting talk, bitterness, holding on to anger, malice, slander, and so on. In stead, we are to speak the truth in love, be kind, tenderhearted, forgiving, and in general, “be imitators of God, as beloved children. And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.” As we see in our Old Testament lesson, such a life does not guaranteed the “world” will welcome us with open arms. Sometimes it is quite the opposite. We are not called to do this by our own power or will, but by the grace of God. When Paul says we were “sealed” by the Holy Spirit, he is referring to our baptism and its ongoing benefit for us. When he says, “we are members one of another,” he is referring to our life together as the Body of Christ, the Church. When he says you are “to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness” he is referring to “Word and Sacrament” ministry. When he says our conversation should be “only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear” he is talking, no only about sermons and Bible study, but about our daily conversations. Yes, God’s grace is in the words of each of us as we speak (or at least it should be).

John 6:22-35: This reading picks-up where last week’s reading ended. We are still in Jesus’ “Bread of Life” discourse. The people are still focused on their bellies. Jesus begins to introduce the Lord’s Supper overtones with his reference to “thirst.” This is an advancement over simply “eating.” However the focus is still on believing in Jesus. As we apply this to the Lord’s Supper, we see how important faith in Christ is for the proper reception of the Sacrament. Jesus describes himself as the one who has come down from heaven. He thus identifies his divine origins. When Jesus says, “No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him. And I will raise him up on the last day” he is teaching the same as St. Paul, that we are saved by grace and not by our good works. Everything about coming to Jesus is a gift from God. We take no credit. As this reading ends, Jesus says, “I am the living bread that came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever. And the bread that I will give for the life of the world is my flesh. I am the living bread that came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever. And the bread that I will give for the life of the world is my flesh.” With these words he is making his Lord’s Supper allusion even stronger. We see that the Lord’s Supper is not just a memorial meal (though it is that also), but one in which we receive the real body of the Lord in a miraculous way. However, Jesus has not instituted Communion at this time. Only after he has done so will believers look back at this sermon of our Lord’s and see the connections to the sacred meal.

Tidbits
  • A “Spiritual Life” survey will be handed out Sunday. The results from this survey will help guide us over then next year. Every regular attendee is asked to fill one out and place the completed survey into the Elders box in the narthex no later than Sunday, August 26. A copy will also be e-mailed to everyone on our e-mail list as well.

  • The board of Evangelism will meet Sunday after the worship service.

  • Our Lutheran Malaria Initiative group rescheduled their meeting for this coming Wednesday.

  • Our Greek club will meet for translating Monday at Panera’s, 8:30 am.

  • Tomorrow, on this blog, will be a post about Lawrence, Deacon and Martyr, who is commemorated on our calendar every August 10.  

Well, I pray I’ll see you Sunday.

Blessings in Christ,
Pastor John Rickert