Thursday, January 24, 2013

Worship for Epiphany 3 - 2013

Thursday after Epiphany 2
Commemoration of St. Timothy, Pastor and Confessor
January 24, 2013

The Lord be with you
Icon of St. John Chrysostom

This coming Sunday is the Third Sunday after Epiphany. It is also the commemoration of John Chrysostom, Preacher. While we will thank the Lord for his witness in our prayers, he will not be featured in our worship in any other fashion. Therefore, a quick word about him is in place at this time. “Chrysostom” is actually a nickname for John, given by those who heard him preach, it means “golden-mouth.” He was a dominant force in the fourth-century Christian Church. Born in Antioch around 347 ad, he learned the Christian Faith from his mother, Anthusa. After serving in numerous “lower” offices, John was ordained a presbyter and given preaching responsibilities. His simple and direct messages found an audience well beyond his home town. In 398 he was made patriarch of Constantinople but his determination to reform the church, court and city brought him into conflict with the authorities. Eventually he was exiled. He continued writing until his death in 407. His final words were “Glory be to God for all things! Amen.” His life can remind us that following Jesus does not automatically mean an easy or prosperous life, even in a “Christian” setting. Following Christ has a price. A price believers are willing to pay.

This coming Sunday we will be using the first setting of the Divine Service (page 151) for our liturgy. We will be celebrating the Lord’s Supper. If you desire to attend the sacrament, you may prepare by reviewing the “Christian Questions with Their Answers” found in Luther’s Small Catechism. The appointed lessons are Nehemiah 8:1-3, 5-6, 8-10; 1 Corinthians 12:12-31a; and Luke 4:16-30. Our opening hymn will be “Once He Came in Blessing” (LSB 333). Our sermon hymn will be “Holy Spirit, Ever Dwelling” (LSB 650). Our closing hymn will be “Let Us Ever Walk with Jesus” (LSB 685). Our distribution hymns will be: “By All Your Saints in Warfare” (LSB 517:1, 4, 3), “Eat This Bread” (LSB 638), and “I Want to Walk as a Child of the Light” (LSB 411). The second distribution hymn was chosen because of John Chrysostom. Verse four of “By All Your Saints in Warfare” is the GP verse.

 “It’s Not About Me” is the sermon title. The text is 1 Corinthians 12:13.

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 and those who are trapped in modern-day slavery (often now called Human Trafficking). We will also remember The India Evangelical Lutheran Church and their president, Rev. J. Samuel. We will remember missionaries Jack and Cathy Carlos, who are working the Maninka people in Guinea West Africa. We will remember the Christians in Chiapas, Mexico, where the Church us persecuted. We will remember our sister congregations: Abundant Life, All Saints, Ascension, Chapel for the Deaf, all Charlotte, NC; and Risen Christ, Myrtle Beach, SC

Our adult Sunday school class has begun studying the CTCR report “together with all creatures: caring for God’s living earth.” This is an excellent and biblical examination of ecological issues. Quite obviously, this will have real implications about how we live on the earth. Class begins at 9:00 am. Everyone is welcome to join in the discussion.

Preview of Lessons

Nehemiah 8:1-3, 5-6, 8-10
The book of Nehemiah takes place around 440 bc (give or take a decade). The Jewish people had abandoned the way of the Lord and been deported as a consequence. The books of Nehemiah and Ezra tell about their return from captivity, specially about the rebuilding of the temple (Ezra) and the city walls (Nehemiah). Upon returning home the people wanted to do what was right, but didn’t know exactly what that was. In this reading the people gather in a large worship service. The word of God was central to this service. Verse 8 lets us know that either sermons based on the text were also delivered or that the Hebrew lessons were at least translated into Aramaic. Many believe this is background for the Jewish Targums. The peoples’ response to the Law was sorrow. However Nehemiah and Ezra tell them they should rejoice, for God keeps his promises. Here we have a good Law/Gospel contrast. As long as we are focused on ourselves, the Law of God brings remorse and sorrow for our failures. At least this is the case if you have any real spiritual awareness. It is the Gospel that brings joy. God keeps his promises, even though we are sinners. Our sin cannot stop God. The greatest promise he has kept is his entering human history to restore us through his suffering, death, and resurrection. We look forward to the ultimate fulfillment of that when Jesus returns and ushers in the final age with the new heavens and the new earth. Other themes one might draw from this lesson is the importance of corporate worship in our lives and the importance of the word of God in guiding our lives. Without the Bible we are bound to wander from the truth.

1 Corinthians 12:12-31a
This reading picks up where last week’s reading ended. Paul continues to respond to a troubled and divided congregation which, ironically, was not lacking in any gift (1:7). As the sermon will be based off of this reading, I’ll write no more.

Luke 4:16-30
Jesus returns to his hometown of Nazareth, where he is invited to speak in the Synagogue. This was very early in his ministry. He is handed the scroll of Isaiah and reads from what we would call Isaiah 61. Jesus then tells the congregation that he is the fulfillment of Isaiah’s prophecy. The response is drastic and negative as his hometown neighbors seek to kill Jesus. Verse 22 is a translation issue. The esv (and many other translations) renders it, “And all the people spoke well of him and marveled at the gracious words that were coming from his mouth.” After this apparently positive evaluation everyone immediately become hostile towards Jesus. The word translated “spoke well of” is more literally translated “testified of/concerning”. Translators tend to think that anyone who is speaking about or testifying concerning Jesus, is being positive, which is why the translations say “spoke well of.” The key word is translated “marveled.” It is often positive and often associated with God. In this context, with the negative response the people are having, I think the better translation would be “remarkable.” So a translation that doesn’t have such a jarring change in the people might be, “And all the people spoke of him and remarked at the gracious words that were coming from his mouth.” In other words, the evaluation in verse 22 is far more neutral that it appears in our translations. This ties into our Old Testament lesson as we again see people gathering for corporate worship and the word of God as a key element of that service, including a “sermon.” It is also instructive that we find Jesus in a corporate worship service. This is common for Jesus. For those who are followers of Jesus, we also find corporate worship as a natural expression of our faith.


Our February newsletter will be available Sunday.

Junior Confirmation continues to meet on Wednesdays, beginning at 6:30 pm.

Below is a video of our sermon hymn, “Holy Spirit, Ever Dwelling.”

Well, I pray I’ll see you Sunday.

Blessings in Christ,
Pastor John Rickert

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