Thursday after The Epiphany of our Lord
Commemoration of Basil the Great of Caesarea, Gregory of Nazainzus, and Gregory of Nyssa, Pastors and Confessors
January 10, 2013
The Lord be with you
Well, I’m back from my vacation. For those who come to these notes regularly, I apologize for not posting much for the past few weeks. In the week leading up to Christmas I was just to busy with all the worship services. In the two weeks after Christmas, I was on vacation. But I’m back now, and so are these notes.
This coming Sunday is the First Sunday after Epiphany. Epiphany is always January 6 and so typically is not a Sunday. The first Sunday after Epiphany is also the Baptism of our Lord. The readings in the three year cycle we use retains this historic theme, we just read it from a different Gospel each year. In the old one-year series the story was read from Luke. It just so happens that we are in the third year of the three-year cycle, and our Gospel lesson for Sunday is from Luke, so we will hear the historic lesson this Sunday. The appointed lessons are: Isaiah 43:1-7; Romans 6:1-11; Luke 3:15-22.
We will be celebrating the Lord’s Supper. For our liturgy, we will be using Divine Service 1, which begins on page 151. Our opening hymn will be “God Himself Is Present” (LSB 907). Our sermon hymn will be “To Jordan Came the Christ, Our Lord” (LSB 407, verses 1-4, 7). Our closing hymn will be “Forth in the Peace of Christ We Go” (LSB 920). Our distribution hymns will be “Baptized into Your Name Most Holy” (LSB 590), “Your Table I Approach” (LSB 628) and “All Christians Who Have Been Baptized” (LSB 596).
The sermon is titled “More Than Meets the Eye.” The text is Romans 6:4. No surprise, on a Sunday when we remember the baptism of our Lord, the sermon will accent baptism.
In our prayers we will continue to remember those who have been mislead by our cultures advocacy of sexual immorality and abortion, asking for healing in the lives damaged by these sins. We also regularly remember those who are trapped in modern-day slavery (often now called Human Trafficking). We will continue to remember the families and friends of the Sandy Hook murders. St. Paul’s Lutheran, and ELCA church down in Newberry, is burning as I write this. We will remember them in our prayers. We will also remember the China Evangelical Lutheran Church and their president, Rev. Andrew Miao. The CELC is a partner church with us. We will remember our missionaries Tony and Constance Booker, who are in the Czech Republic. We will remember our sister congregations: Greenwood, Greenwood, SC; Emmanuel, Rock Hill, SC; Eternal Shepherd, Seneca, SC; Emmanuel, Ashville, NC; Island, Hilton Head, SC. Island Lutheran is where Kitty and I worshiped one of the Sundays we were on vacation.
The adult Sunday school class is almost finished with the four-part study The Intersection of Church and State. We will finish it this Sunday, or the next at the latest. Our next topic has already been picked by the class. We will be looking at a report of the Commission on Theology and Church Relations of the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod that came out April 2010. It is titled “together with all creatures: Caring for God’s Living Earth.” Personally, I’m looking forward to the discussions. I’m sure they will be lively.
Preview of Lessons
This is a wonderful reading from Isaiah and helps us understand why he has received the nickname, the Fifth Evangelist. The lesson is pure gospel. If you are having a bad day, read it. Through Isaiah the Lord reminds us that he has created us, redeemed us, called us by name, are precious in his eyes, called us by name, and so much more. There are baptismal overtones with the references to passing through the waters and through the rivers. You may wonder about this as Christian baptism would not be established for about 700 years (give or take a decade or two). However this section of Isaiah, like much of his book, is poetry. Isaiah is not speaking literally but symbolically. Two of the most common things water points to in the Bible, when used symbolically, are troubles and baptism. It is something like the flood: Troubles as the world is deluged, but also baptism as the Lord rescued Noah and his family through the flood (1 Peter 3:20-21).
This reading is all about the power of baptism in our lives. In theological circles baptism is approached basically in two ways. One way treats it basically as a symbolic event and not much more. The other way treats it as a miracle of God. The “miracle of God” group does not deny that baptism has symbolic elements; it simply does not view baptism as only a symbol. As you read this lesson ask yourself, does Paul say baptism symbolizes our union with the death of Jesus or does he say this union takes place in baptism? Is baptism just a symbol of being buried with him or does Paul say that in our baptism we actually are joined with Jesus in that burial? In verse 11 Paul tells us to “consider [ourselves] dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus.” Is this some abstract idea or is it based on our baptism, according to Paul?
Luke picks up some highlight in the ministry of John the Baptist. John preaches about baptism and the coming Messiah. The people wondered if he was the Messiah, which John denies. Herod had John arrested. The reading reaches its apex with the baptism of Jesus and a revelation of the Trinity. The Holy Spirit appears in the form of a dove. The Father speaks from heaven. Jesus, of course, is identified by the Father as his beloved Son.
We have scheduled a Health Fair for Saturday, April 13. It will begin at 1:00 pm and last until 4:00 pm. Jill, our parish nurse, has told us that such Health Fairs need a theme, sort of a title. The committee has come up with several options. This Sunday there will be a ballot in the bulletin with those options on it. We are asking for your opinion. What theme do you prefer? The theme with the most votes, even if it isn’t over 50%, will be the one we use. The options are: “Total Health,” “Every Day Health,” “Health Expo,” “Spring forward for Health,” and “A Health Life.” If it helps in your decision making, we are talking about having boots featuring dental care, blood pressure, chiropractic care, Medicare information, nursing homes, fire safety (fire department), personal safety (police), counseling, the YMCA, and more. All is very preliminary right now so some of these options may well change, but you get the general idea.
Junior Confirmation will resume this coming Wednesday. We begin at 6:30 pm.
Women’s Bible Fellowship will resume. The next meeting will be Thursday, January 17. Please note the change from Wednesday to Thursday. This change is because the ladies have asked me to lead the studies, and I just can’t make Wednesdays at this time. The ladies have decided to return to the church for their Bible studies. They have been rotating from home to home, but by meeting at our church building it is hoped that it will be easier for new people to find the study and join in. The ladies will meet at 6:30 pm for fellowship. I have been asked to arrive late and begin the study at 7:15. Apparently the ladies feel they don’t want a man listening in on everything they may want to say. The study the ladies selected is: The Bible on Trial: Beyond A Reasonable Doubt. This is a four-session video-based study. I am assured that the ladies typically do not finished a session in one evening. So, while this study is designed to take a month, it may take longer.
Below is a video of the hymn “All Christians Who Have Been Baptized.” The congregation singing is Memorial Evangelical Lutheran in Houston, TX.
Well, I pray I’ll see you Sunday.
Blessings in Christ,
Pastor John Rickert