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.

  • 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

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