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.
- 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