Thursday after Pentecost 9
August 2, 2012
The Lord be with you
This coming Sunday is the 10th Sunday after Pentecost. The assigned lessons are: Exodus 16:2-15, Ephesians 4:1-16, and John 6:22-35. For our liturgy we will be using the Service of Prayer and Preaching, which begins on page 260. This is one of the services where we use the appointed Psalm for the Day instead of the Introit of the Day. That Psalm is Psalm 145, and the antiphon is verse 15. This is a non-communion service.
Our opening hymn is “The Gifts Christ Freely Gives” (LSB 602). This is the hymn we are learning this month. Our sermon hymn is “What Is the World to Me” (LSB 730). Our closing hymn is “My Soul, Now Praise Your Maker” (LSB 820). Our sermon text is John 6:26. The sermon is titled “The Attractive Belly.”
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 Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, and their Bishop, Mark S. Hanson. For many this may be an even bigger surprise than last week, when we remembered the Roman Catholic Church and the Pope. While we certainly have many significant differences with the ELCA, nonetheless we are called to pray for them and ask God to guide them into the way of truth. There are, indeed, many faithful Christians in the ELCA. We will also remember our missionary, Emily Goddard, who serves in South Africa. We will remember the persecuted believers in Pakistan. Christianity is the largest religious minority in Pakistan, numbering almost 3,000,000. Tradition holds that St. Thomas first brought the Christian Faith to the area. We do know for sure that, by the time of the establishment of the Second Persian Empire (226 ad), there were bishops of the Church of the East in northwest India, Afghanistan and Baluchistan (including parts of Iran, Afghanistan, and Pakistan), with laymen and clergy alike engaging in missionary activity. However, the Church today is mainly the results of missionaries from the 18th and 19th centuries. Blasphemy laws (the country is mostly Islamic) are used to persecute Christians and other religious minorities, like Asia Bibi, a mother currently in jail for three years for blasphemy. Christians are also murdered, like the family that was murder in Okara. Another example is the nine Christian nurses who were poisoned at a government hospital. Young girls are kidnapped and forced to “convert.” This problems could go on and on. In general, the Pakistani Moslems are growing more and more intolerant of minority religions, especially Christianity. We will also remember our sister SED congregations: Trinity, Richmond, VA; Good Shepherd, Roanoke, VA; Grace Ethiopian, Springfield, VA; Prince of Peace, Springfield, VA; and Good Shepherd, 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.
I could not find any videos for any of our hymns this coming Sunday. That seems odd to me as both our sermon hymn and our closing hymn have been around for centuries. The first verse of our sermon hymn is:
What is the world to me
With all its vaunted pleasures
When You, and You alone,
Lord Jesus, are my treasure!
You only dearest Lord,
My soul’s delight shall be;
You are my peach, my rest.
What is the world to me!
Our adult Bible class meets at 9:00 Sunday morning. We are currently in Matthew 24, a chapter that has been misused by many as they distort what the Bible teaches concerning the “Last Days.”
Preview of the Lessons
Exodus 16:2-15: This is part of the account when God determines to give the Hebrews manna. It begins with the people grumbling against Moses and Aaron, saying it would have been better if they had stayed in Egypt and died there. At least then they would have had plenty to eat. Quickly forgotten were the miseries of slavery. Now I expect none of the Hebrews thought of themselves as grumbling against God, just Moses and Aaron. However, Moses tells them that by opposing God’s appointed leaders, who are faithfully fulfilling their calling, they are really complaining against God. A sober reminder for all of us who are prone to complaining. God promises quail and manna. The people see “the glory of the Lord.” This is interesting as the “glory of the Lord” seems to be a manifestation of the Lord, but distinct from the Lord to whom Moses is speaking. What this reflects is that the one God is more complex that the number one would imply. We know today, thanks to the New Testament, that the one God is also three Persons, the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. When the manna appeared, the people didn’t know what it was, so they asked “What is it?” Moses told them, “It is the bread that the Lord has given you to eat.” So the people called it “What is it,” which in Hebrew is “manna.” In part because Moses called the manna “the bread the Lord has given you to eat,” in part because the whole image is a meal image, and, of course, because of what our Lord says in our Gospel lesson, many have seen in this story overtones of the Lords’ Supper.
Ephesians 4:1-16: This is another exceptionally rich passage from Paul. The overall theme is unity. This implies that there was some trouble in this area. It seems the Hebrews of the OT were not the only ones with “grumbling” issues. Paul teaches that, as we are all part of the same body, we should manifest that unity in our lives. The Triune nature of God is also present in this reading. We have the Holy Spirit in verses 3 and 4, Jesus in verses 5 and 7, and God the Father in verse 6. The ascension of Christ into heaven and his descent into hell are referred to in verses 8-10. This forms the foundation for Jesus as the dispenser of God’s gifts to his people. The gifts spoken of are the leaders of the Church. Often we think of God’s gifts only in inanimate terms, job, home, food, etc., or in personal terms (my faith, my talents, etc.) Here, clearly, some of God’s most precious gifts are the church’s leaders, those who faithfully share the Word of God with us. This also ties into our OT lesson, where the gifts God gave included Moses and Aaron. Notice the importance of humility, gentleness, and patience. These traits are quite counter-cultural in America today. They run directly against sinful human pride. We are to bear with one another in Christian love. Sometimes we feel, “I’m right therefore I can be obnoxious.” That is not how Paul sees things. Finally (and I could keep writing for some time on this text), Paul is very plain about how many times we are to be baptized (verse 5), which is once. One baptism is a proclamation of one Lord and one faith. To be baptized more than once is to say your first baptism was not a baptism into the one Lord Jesus and the one Christian Faith.
John 6:22-35: In a three-year lectionary, like we use at Lamb of God, the Gospel lessons for the first year (A) are mainly drawn from Matthew, for the second year (B) mainly from Mark, and for the third year (C) mainly from Luke. These three Gospels were written relatively early in the life of the Church, as it was spreading beyond the Jerusalem context. While each has its own distinctive character and accent, nonetheless they tend to cover the same events. John’s Gospel was written decades later, near the end of his life. While his congregation had Matthew, Mark, and Luke, John would often share words of Jesus, or things that he did, which were not in the other Gospels. His Ephesians congregation, seeing he was getting old, encouraged him to write down this information before he died. This he did and it is the Gospel of John. Now John covered much of what the other Gospels did (but certainly not all), and also included much that they didn’t. In a three-year lectionary John’s Gospel is used to supplement each of the first series (A, B, C) with this additional information. That is what we have in Sunday’s Gospel lesson. This reading is part of our Lord’s “Bread of Life” discourse, found only in John’s Gospel, but occurring right after last week’s Gospel lesson from Mark, when Jesus fed thousands.
The people follow Jesus because he had fed them (26). In this verse Jesus says the people followed him, not because they saw a “sign” but because they had eaten their full. Jesus intended the feeding to be a “sign” but the people only saw bread. A sign, in John’s Gospel, always points to Jesus as the fulfillment of the OT promise. If you don’t see that, then you don’t see the real meaning of his work. These people didn’t see the real meaning behind the miracles of Jesus. As is so often the case with people, they were so earthly minded that they couldn’t see the reality right in front of them. The people bring up the manna given the Hebrews in our Old Testament lesson. Jesus reminds them that this gift wasn’t from Moses but from Jesus’ Father (thus identifying himself as the only-begotten Son of the Father). Jesus identifies himself as the “bread of life.” Those who “eat” this bread receive life from God, that is, eternal life.
We will be reading from this “bread of life” discourse for three weeks in a row, so we will get the full message. There are those who feel very strongly that this message from Jesus has nothing to do with the Lord’s Supper. “Eating” the “flesh” of Jesus and “drinking” his “blood” (53) are, they believe, metaphors for believing in Jesus. Others feel just as strongly that John is referring to the Lord’s Supper. If this isn’t about the Lord’s Supper, then John has no teaching concerning this sacrament, which would be very odd considering how important it was in the life of the Apostolic Church. So pay special attention to the Gospel lessons for the next three weeks and see what you think.
- The LWML has a meeting scheduled for Sunday after the worship service.
- The Elders will meet Monday
- Our Lutheran Malaria Initiative group will meet Wednesday.
- Tomorrow, on this blog, will be a post about the New Testament saints, Joanna, Mary, and Salome.
Well, I pray I’ll see you Sunday.
Blessings in Christ,
Pastor John Rickert