Thursday after Pentecost 14
September 6, 2012
The Lord be with you
This coming Sunday is the 15th Sunday after Pentecost. On our calendar, there is no specific saint or event commemorated. However, on our secular calendar, it is Grandparent’s Day. So, we will remember the blessings God gives us through grandparents Sunday. Our assigned readings are: Isaiah 35:4-7a; James 2:1-10, 14-18; and Mark 7:24-37. For our liturgy we will be using the third setting of the Divine Service, beginning on page 184 of the hymnal. This is a Communion Service. You may pray Psalm 132 in preparing to receive the Sacrament.
The opening hymn Sunday will be “Christ the Eternal Lord” (LSB 829). The sermon hymn will be “Take My Life and Let It Be” (LSB 783). The closing hymn will be “I Am Jesus’ Little Lamb” (LSB 740). The distribution hymns will be “In Christ There Is No East or West” (LSB 653), “Alleluia! Sing to Jesus” (LSB 821), and “Christ Is Our Cornerstone” (LSB 912). Our sermon will be titled “What Would Jesus Do?” and the text is Mark 7:29.
We will continue to lift up other Christian denominations and their leaders in our public prayers. This Sunday we will remember the Southern Baptist Convention and their president, Rev. Bryant Wright. We continue to pray for our LC-MS missionaries around the world. This week we remember Ginger Taff-Lagergren, who is in South Africa. She specifically asks us to petition the Lord to use her to spread His love and that she would be a help to others with challenges in their day-to-day lives. We ask the Lord to protect Ginger and keep her in good health, so that she may serve to her fullest capacity. Finally, we also thank the Lord that Ginger has answered His call to serve in South Africa.
We will remember the persecuted believers in the Sudan. Christianity reached this area of Africa in the first century (it was called Nubia then), becoming the dominant, and then official religion. Arab Moslems began attacking Nubia in the 640s ad, but success was slow. It took eight centuries to completely conquer the area, and the last of the indigenous church wasn’t destroyed until the 19th century, when they were either martyred by the Moslem government, or forced to convert. At the same time, European missionaries began to arrive and the Church rebooted. Currently at least 16% of the north is Christian and over 50% in the south. However, the government is still firmly Moslem, and it is one of the most deadly countries in the world to be a Christian. This is one of the governments that have brought back crucifixion, and anyone who leaves Islam and becomes a Christian is subject to crucifixion. We specially remember the leaders of the Church in Sudan.
We will also remember, in our prayers, our sister SED congregations: Faith, Baltimore, MD; Holy Nativity, Baltimore, MD; Immanuel, Baltimore, MD; Living Water, Baltimore, MD; Mt. Olive, Irmo, 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. We will remember our Cub Scout Pack as they begin a new year and the Lutheran Malaria Initiative’s effort to end malaria in Africa by 2015.
Below is a video of “I Am Jesus’ Little Lamb,” our closing hymn.
Our adult Bible class meets at 9:00 Sunday morning. We are currently in Matthew 26. Jesus has just been arrested and is being taken to trial.
Preview of the Lessons
Isaiah 35:4-7a: This is a wonderful Gospel passage. The opening words set the tone, and so it is important to understand them. Isaiah writes, “Say to those who have an anxious heart, ‘Be strong; fear not! Behold, your God will come with vengeance, with the recompense of God. He will come and save you.’” The vengeance and recompense spoken of happens on the cross of Jesus. On that cross Jesus bore the full punishment for our sins. Therefore our anxious hearts are quieted with the peace that comes from above. God, in Christ, has come and saved us. The metaphorical language in verses 6 and 7 leads us to also think of verse 5 in a metaphorical fashion. Therefore, while God is certainly capable of healing those who are literally, physically blind, an understanding much closer to the text would be being healed from the blindness of sin, the lameness of sin, and so on. We are now able to hear the good news of the Gospel of God’s love in Christ Jesus. One might also wish to see overtones of the Second Coming and the final manifestation of this healing at the general resurrection of the dead, but that would be the second point. The first point is that, in Christ, our relationship with the Father has been healed.
James 2:1-10, 14-18: This is a favorite passage of those who contend that we must do something to contribute to our salvation because of verse 17, which reads, “So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.” Notice, though, that James does not say faith and words save. He is simply saying that a living faith makes a difference in how a person lives. James also points out the upside down approach to life that the world has. It exalts the rich and powerful and distains the poor and weak. But it is the poor and weak that are rich and strong in faith. Indeed, the poor and weak are simply better positioned to reflect Jesus (2 Corinthians 8:9). James and Paul are not at odds with each other. Both believe that we are saved by grace through faith. Both teach that that faith makes a difference in how we live.
Mark 7:24-37: Jesus has entered into what some have called his year of popularity. His reputation is growing by leaps and bounds. In this lesson we have two healings, one of a demon possessed girl and the other of a deaf man. He is in an area were “good” Jews didn’t go, as it was a Gentile region. This reminds us of how Jesus broke down barriers. In light of that, the healing of the demon possessed girl is startling. Jesus, at first, denies the mother’s request on the grounds that she wasn’t Jewish. The woman continues to plead, and Jesus, in recognition of her faith, grants her request. A great deal of ink has been spilled on this passage, seeking to explain our Lord’s words. The simple fact is that the only “explanation” we have is what he said. This, though, can be a real source of insight. How often does it seem that the Lord turns a deaf ear to us? Maybe we can think of some reason, maybe we can’t. The woman’s consistent recognition that her only hope for help was in Jesus should encourage us in such situations. Cling to Jesus, even when it seems futile. Isn’t that what the writer of Hebrews tells us? “Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen” (Hebrews 11:1).
- “Scouting for Scouts” was tonight. As many of you know, our Cub Scout pack fell below the minimum number to be a pack (5) this past year. We continued, by the grace of God, as a satellite unit of Pack 53 (thank you Scott). Well, though the turnout wasn’t all that strong, our recruitment efforts were successful among the boys that did come out. Four boys signed up from Houston, two from Cliffton-Glendale, and (in all probability) one from Jessie Boyd. Add to this our returning cubs, and we are well above the minimum number of boys to re-charter. Thank you for your prayers. Now, you can say a prayer of thanks.
- Portals of Prayer for October – December are in your mailboxes. 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 Fats restaurant (http://www.superpages.com/bp/Boiling-Springs-SC/FATZ-Cafe-L0006431720.htm) 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 Fats 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