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.
- 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