Thursday, February 28, 2013

Worship for Lent 3 - 2013



Thursday in the week of Lent 2
February 28, 2013

The Lord be with you

This coming Sunday is the Third Sunday in Lent. With March we begin the second quarter of the year and we are making a switch in our Sunday worship pattern. For the first quarter we rotated between Matins and Divine Service 1. We will rotate between Prayer and Preaching and Divine Service 3 for the second quarter. That means that we will be using the Service for Prayer and Preaching (page 260) for our liturgy Sunday.  Because it is Lent, we will use the Lent otions for our versicles and responsory. We will also substitute the First Song of Isaiah (LSB 927 for the New Testament Canticle. The Latin name for this canticle (and therefore the traditional name) is Confitebor tibi, Domine, which are just the first three words in Latin. This is chanted like a Psalm.

The appointed lessons are: Ezekiel 33:7-20, 1 Corinthians 10:1-13, and Luke 13:1-9. The appointed Psalm is Psalm 85, antiphon verse 8. Our opening hymn will be “Today Your Mercy Calls Us” (LSB 519). Our sermon hymn will be “Not All the Blood of Beasts” (LSB 431). Our closing hymn will be “Chief of Sinners Though I Be” (LSB 611). The choir will be singing a very special arrangement of “My Faith Looks Up to Thee.”  

The text for the sermon will be Luke 13:5. The sermon will be titled “A Christian Walk.” Okay, so it isn’t all that exciting a title. Maybe I should have titled it “Walk Like a Christ-t-ian” like “Walk Like an Egyptian” or, for those of us who are a little older, “Walk Like a Man.”

In our prayers Sunday we will continue to remember American citizen and Christian Pastor, Saeed Abedini, unjustly sentenced to 8 years in prison in Iran. We will remember the persecuted believers in Egypt, where they have brought crucifixion back for Christians. We will pray for the Lanka Lutheran Church in Sri Lanka and their president, Rev. Govindan Nadaraja. We will remember missionaries Anthony and Jamie DiLiberto, who work in Peru. Anthony writes, “Please pray that as the team and I reach out to Peruvians with the Good News of the Gospel, we would ‘resolve to know nothing but Christ and Him crucified’ for the free forgiveness of our sins (1 Cor. 2:2) as we proclaim the Good News that God has mercifully reconciled the world to Himself through the death and resurrection of His Son, Jesus (2 Cor. 5:18-20). Please pray for me as I search for ways our mission team and new members of the church can be merciful, just as our Father in heaven is merciful (Luke 6:36). May every single human care activity we’re involved with point people to Christ, whose death on the cross was the ultimate manifestation of God’s mercy for all of humankind.” 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 remember our sister congregations: Peace, Franklin, NC; Peace, Goldsboro, NC; Cross of Christ & Ebenezer, Greensboro, NC; Mt. Olive, Irmo, SC

Below is a video of our final hymn Sunday, “Chief of Sinners Though I Be.” It is played and sung by the Lutheran Warbler.  


Our adult Sunday school class will continue the study “together with all creatures: caring for God’s living earth.” As a bonus, a listing of all the animals found in the Bible will be available.

Preview of Lessons

Ezekiel 33:7-20
What a powerful passage with a warning and encouragement for all walks of life. Verses 7-9 are for the Church, specially the ministers. Of course, in this reading God is speaking to Ezekiel.  But what is said to him is good for the Church and her ministers from every age to hear, using the principle found in places like 1 Corinthians 10:11 and 2 Timothy 3:16. In these verses the Church/ministers are warned that they will be held accountable and that our work has eternal consequences. We are called to proclaim God’s Word, not our own fictions or pop-psychology or current cultural trends. Needless to say, this is often not well received, but to those who do receive it they are called out of the darkness of sin and into the marvelous light of God’s grace in Christ Jesus.

Verses 10 through 20 turn to those to whom the word is proclaimed. It is not as simple as saying “the laity” for Ezekiel addressed both the laity and the ordained. First we should note that, even though Ezekiel has corrective words for the ordained and the temple in general, he never calls the people to separate from corporate worship. To do so would be to increase sin, not remove oneself from it, for it would be encouraging people to break the commandment “Remember the Sabbath Day by keeping it holy.” To sum up these verses I might just quote the first of Martin Luther’s famous 95 Theses: “When our Lord and Master Jesus Christ said, ‘Repent’ (Mt 4:17), he willed  the entire life of believers to be one of repentance.” Oddly enough, fallen human nature rejects this as unfair. God has a different take. It is how we receive eternal life.

1 Corinthians 10:1-13
It is possible to misconstrue God’s grace, twisting it to mean that God doesn’t care how we live. He does. Paul reviews the gracious working of God with the Children of Israel during their exodus and wilderness wandering. “Nevertheless, with most of them God was not pleased.” As Ezekiel found out, fallen humanity simply doesn’t like God’s way. Those Israelites, though, should be an example for us. God’s grace is great, so don’t reject it. Live in it for by it we are able to battle temptation. The Devil is not an original thinker. There is nothing new in the way we are tempted. In Jesus, we are able to stand up to the wiles of Satan, the world, and even our sinful nature. Notice how escaping temptation often means enduring it (verse 13). God doesn’t mean we will never be tempted, but that we will be able to stand in the face of temptation. We will certainly need to repent and receive forgiveness, but in doing so we find life eternal and a fresh start in the eyes of God here on earth.

Luke 13:1-9
There are always those who equate earthly prosperity with being in God’s favor and earthly calamity with being out of favor with God. Some from the crowd came to Jesus with this view and he told them they were wrong. If a hurricane slams into your coast, or an earthquake destroys your downtown, or a lightening bold fries your car, you are not, automatically, out of favor with God. In the same fashion, if your stocks go through the roof, or you discover oil on your property, or you win the Super Bowl, you are not automatically in favor with God. The fruit which is evidence of God’s favor has nothing to do with temporal success or failure. As you might correctly guess from our first two lessons, the fruit of a repentant life is what God is looking for.

Lesson Synopsis from the Synod
Jesus Calls You to Repentance
Unless you repent, you will all likewise perish (Luke 13:3, 5). By this warning, the Lord would turn us away from wickedness and bring us to life in Himself. For He is patient with us, that we not be cut down in our sin but live and bear fruit in Him. As He lives, the Lord has no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but that the wicked turn from his way and live (Ezek. 33:11). So the Scriptures have been written down for our instruction, on whom the end of the ages has come (1 Cor. 10:11), that we should not desire evil but trust in Christ. He alone is faithful, the Rock who feeds us with His spiritual food and pours out His spiritual drink (1 Cor. 10:3–4).

Tidbits

  • Daylight Savings Time begins Sunday (Spring forward.) Set your clocks forward one hour before going to bed (we lose an hour of sleep).
  • As most of our members surly know, our heater is broken, and I mean broken. We will need a new one. We have a number of space heaters, which will make the place okay, but certainly not warm. You might want to dress warmer than usual, but do so in layers so you can take off a layer or two as the place warms up.  
  • Our Stations of the Cross have been posted. They will remain up throughout Lent.
  • Each Wednesday throughout Lent we will have two worship services (12:15 and 7:00 PM). The evening service is preceded by a soup supper (6:15 PM). All are welcome.
  • Choir practice follows the Wednesday evening Lent service.
Well, I pray I’ll see you Sunday.

Blessings in Christ,
Pastor John Rickert

Monday, February 25, 2013

The Exclusive God Is All-Inclusive



“The Exclusive God Is All-Inclusive”

February 13th marked the beginning of the Christian season of Lent.  Lent is intended to lead us to repent before celebrating Easter, because without fully understanding our great need for forgiveness, we cannot fully understand how great a price God paid for us on the cross. 

This 40-day period between Ash Wednesday and Easter Sunday can provide us all with a time to reflect on our instinct of self-preservation, our basic self-centeredness, about the wrong we have done and the good we have left undone – reflections about how my own personal actions made it necessary for Jesus Christ to die on the cross to pay for the sins of the world, including my own. 

If we lose sight of the forgiveness that is ours through the cross of Christ, we can despair in our sorrow over our sins.  How we long for Sunday, when we celebrate the fact that Jesus did not stay dead – and neither will we!  We normally gather to hear God’s Word and respond in praise on Sundays, because Jesus rose from the dead on a Sunday, “the Lord’s Day.” 

Interestingly, if you count carefully all the days from Ash Wednesday to Easter Sunday, you will count more than 40, yet Lent is still just 40 days long.  This is true because Sundays don’t count as part of Lent.  Sundays may be in Lent, but there are no Sundays of Lent. 

On Sundays we always celebrate the Resurrection, even during the penitential season of Lent.  It’s just that important:  Because He lives, we too shall live!  Some say Sundays are “little Easters.”  It is perhaps more true to say that Easter is a big Sunday.  He is risen! 

So, Lent helps us prepare to celebrate Easter with greater joy by allowing us an extended period of repentance.  Properly speaking, repentance has two parts.  One, we are sorry for our sins and turn from them.  Two (and this is by far the more important part), we turn to the Savior of the world, Jesus Christ, trusting in what He has done for us on the cross when he took away the sins of the world – even mine, even yours! 

“He is the payment for our sins, and not only for our sins, but also for the sins of the whole world.”  (1 John 2) 

See how inclusive Jesus is!  He did not exclude anyone, but paid for the sins of the entire world – every man, woman, and child who has ever lived – even those who haven’t yet been born!  Imagine love this great:  God the Son, Jesus Christ, gave his life to pay for even the sins you haven’t yet committed!  “Greater love has no one than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.”  (John 15) 

How could the life of just one man pay for the sins of all people?  Well, the answer to that question explains why Christmas is the other huge Christian festival, probably more familiar to the world than Easter.  The reason Jesus could pay for all of us is because Jesus is God – God the Son, “the word made flesh”. 

In order to live a perfect life for you, die a perfect death on Good Friday for you, and conquer death on Easter Sunday for you, God came down at Christmastime for you.  That’s why we sing with joy, “Veiled in flesh the Godhead see, hail the incarnate Deity! Hark! The herald angels sing, ‘Glory to the newborn King!’”  As God the Son, the life of Jesus is infinitely more valuable than the life of even an angel, so He could pay for the sins of the whole world, including you and me. 

As totally inclusive as God is about grace, He is also totally exclusive when it comes to other gods.  The very first of His Ten Commandments says, “You shall have no other gods before me.”  (Exodus 20)

God has revealed Himself by many names, but there is only one God.  His many names include Yahweh, Sovereign God, God Almighty, and the Holy Trinity, which is a name for the one true God that summarizes “the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit.”  (Matthew 28)  His Word reminds us that the Word was God and the Word was made flesh.  (John 1)  God the Son, who was God at Creation and even from eternity, became man when He was conceived of the Holy Spirit and born of the Virgin Mary.  “In many and various ways God spoke to his people of old through the prophets, but now in these last days, he has spoken to us by a Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he created the world.”  (Hebrews 1) 

Some who tell you plainly that they certainly do not worship Jesus as the Messiah or the Word made flesh will also tell you that they worship the same God Christians worship.  How can this possibly be?  Adherents to many other faiths vow that they certainly do not worship Jesus, yet Christians do worship Jesus as the Son of God and God the Son.  How can we possibly be worshipping the same God, unless they also worship Jesus? 

That we are all worshipping the same Father, even if we differ on the role that Jesus plays, contradicts what the Bible tells us about this same Jesus:  “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” (John 14)  God’s Word also reminds us that “If you knew me, you would know my Father also.” (John 8)  “Whoever does not honor the Son does not honor the Father who sent him.” (John 5)  These and other claims got Jesus charged with claiming he was God, blasphemy, which was a capital offence, punishable by crucifixion for you. 

This exclusive claim by God (to tolerate no other gods) is not a message welcomed in the politically correct climate of interfaith services.  Try to imagine the public outrage if a Christian were to read at an interfaith service these words about Jesus from the Holy Bible:  “And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.” (Acts 4:12)  In the public squares of America today, we are expected to be silent about any exclusive claims God has made. 

Obviously, for a Christian to participate in interfaith services, he or she would have to avoid mention of some elements of our faith, such as the Incarnation, which is no small thing.  In “mixed company” speakers are expected not to violate a “sacred” worldly belief:  Either we are all worshipping the same God, or your God is no more worthy of worship than any other. 

But the only Savior who was inclusive enough to pay for the sins of the world was also exclusive enough to tell us to have no other gods.  “You shall have no other gods…” 

And you need no other gods!  God the Father sent His Son to save you!  May God the Holy Spirit inspire you during this season of Lent to realize more fully your need to be saved this season of Lent!  May God grant you faith to know that Jesus already saved you on the cross! 

Rev. Ted L. Crandall
Faith Evangelical Lutheran Church
1812 Boundary Street
Beaufort, South Carolina


Friday, February 22, 2013

Worship for the Commemoration of St. Matthias, Apostle - 2013



Friday in the week of Lent 1
February 22, 2013

The Lord be with you

This coming Sunday is the Commemoration of St. Matthias, Apostle. It is also the Second Sunday in Lent. We will be using the assigned readings for the commemoration.

We will be using the first setting of the morning service, which begins on page 151. This is a communion service. As we are in the Lenten season, “Hallelujahs,” and other such “joyful” parts of the liturgy are removed. They will return with Easter. We also omit the Hymn of Praise (Gloria in Excelsis/This is the Feast). We will use the Lent option for the verse (page 157), the Nicene Creed (because we will celebrate the Lord’s Supper), and the Nunc Dimittis (page 165) for our post-communion canticle. (The Nunc Dimittis is used throughout Lent because Thank the Lord has alleluias in it.)

The appointed lessons for the Commemoration of St. Matthias, Apostle, are: Isaiah 66:1-2, Acts 1:15-26, and Matthew 11:25-30. Our opening hymn will be “Jesus, Refuge of the Weary” (LSB 423). Our sermon hymn will be “By All Your Saints in Warfare” (LSB 517:1, 13, 3). Our closing hymn will be “Sent Forth by God’s Blessing” (LSB 643). Our distribution hymns will be “Thy Body, Given for Me, O Savior” (LSB 619), “Christ, the Life of All the Living” (LSB 420), and “O Jesus, Blessed Lord, to Thee” (LSB 632).

The choir has been practicing a beautiful piece titled “Peace I Leave with You.” It is built on one of the many benedictions found in our Scriptures. Instead of singing it in one of the typical places, it will be used as our benediction Sunday.

In our prayers Sunday we will continue to remember American citizen and Christian Pastor, Saeed Abedini, unjustly sentenced to 8 years in prison in Iran. We will remember the persecuted believers in Cuba. We will pray for the Lutheran Church in the Philippines (LCP) and their president, Rev. James D. CerdeƱola. We will remember missionaries Anthony and Jamie DiLiberto, who work in Peru. Anthony writes, “Please pray that as the team and I reach out to Peruvians with the Good News of the Gospel, we would ‘resolve to know nothing but Christ and Him crucified’ for the free forgiveness of our sins (1 Cor. 2:2) as we proclaim the Good News that God has mercifully reconciled the world to Himself through the death and resurrection of His Son, Jesus (2 Cor. 5:18-20). Please pray for me as I search for ways our mission team and new members of the church can be merciful, just as our Father in heaven is merciful (Luke 6:36). May every single human care activity we’re involved with point people to Christ, whose death on the cross was the ultimate manifestation of God’s mercy for all of humankind.” 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 remember our sister congregations: Lake Norman, Denver, NC; Grace, Durham, NC; Our Redeemer, Fayetteville, NC; Resurrection, Franklin, NC; Grace, Summerville, SC


Below is a video of our first hymn Sunday, “Jesus Refuge of the Weary.” As I currently do not have sound on my computer (what a hassle updating our systems), I can’t confirm by listening that it is the same as in our hymnal. However, because it is of the “Lutheran Warbler,” and because the title references our hymnal, I feel confident it is the hymn we will be singing Sunday.


Our adult Sunday school class will continue the study “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. The study begins at 9:00 am. Everyone is welcome to join in the discussion.

Preview of Lessons

Isaiah 66:1-2
Mankind is capable of all kinds of remarkable things. There is nothing new about this (Genesis 11:4). In every age people produce “wonders” at which we marvel. Sometimes we might even think that God should (or does) stand in awe of our accomplishments, specially if those accomplishments are done in his name. But what impressed people and what impressed God are two very different things. These two short verses remind us just how upside-down we are compared to the Divine.

Acts 1:15-26
As we are celebrating the commemoration of Matthias, it isn’t surprising that this is the account of him being selected to replace Judas. The events occurred after the Ascension of Jesus and before the first Pentecost, a space of ten days. The qualifications for being selected an apostle are given and only two men are found that fill the bill. Those qualifications included being an eye-witness to the ministry of Jesus, so Matthias was present at most of the major events in the life of Jesus, including the Ascension. It has been pointed out by some that Matthias is not mentioned again after this story. Others notice that St. Paul becomes an Apostle (bringing the number of “the Twelve” to thirteen). These facts have been used to disparage the selection of Matthias. However, when we consider passages like our Old Testament lesson, such detractions seem to be just more of our upside-down thinking. One might also point out that the Bible has little, or nothing, to say about the post-Pentecost ministry of many of the apostles.

Matthew 11:25-30
In this reading Jesus is praying. In this prayer we again see humanities upside-down view of reality when compared to God. Jesus reveals the Father to “little children” instead of the “wise and understanding.” Jesus is, naturally, not speaking of the wisdom and knowledge referred to in places like Proverbs 1:7 and 9:10. He is talking of that “wisdom” and “knowledge” that makes us overly proud and actually hampers our recognition of Jesus. Such “wisdom” and “knowledge” is often praised by humanity, though it can easily hamper eternal salvation! It is also very important to notice that no one can know the Father without knowing Jesus. This is not my contention, but the contention of Jesus. Therefore, all those who think there is salvation outside of Jesus, or that different faiths all worship the same God, are mistaken. While this is not “politically correct” it is correct in God’s eyes.

Tidbits

  • The Church Council was going to meet last week, however, because the service was canceled, the meeting has been rescheduled for this coming Sunday, following the worship service, in the library.

  • Due to anticipated icy roads, last Sunday’s worship service was canceled. Of course the roads were not as bad as the weathermen predicted, but there was no way of knowing that Saturday afternoon when we had to make the decision. Because the service was canceled, we received no offerings. As our members know, we are very tight in reference to making our budgeted needs. The bills do not stop because of the weather. So we need everyone to “make up” their offerings from last week. Thank you for supporting the Lord’s work at Lamb of God with your generous giving.

  • The March newsletter should be ready Sunday.

  • Our Stations of the Cross have been posted. They will remain up throughout Lent.

  • Each Wednesday throughout Lent we will have two worship services (12:15 and 7:00 PM). The evening service is preceded by a soup supper (6:15 PM). All are welcome.

  • Choir practice follows the Wednesday evening Lent service.

Well, I pray I’ll see you Sunday.

Blessings in Christ,
Pastor John Rickert

Missionaries in Peru

The Lord be with you,

At Lamb of God we remember our missionaries around the world, remembering them by name in four week periords. Sunday we begin remembering Anthony and Jamie DiLiberto. Below is some information about them and their work in Peru.

Blessings in Christ,
Pastor


Anthony and Jamie DiLiberto,
Serving the Lord in Peru

Bio

Anthony and Jamie (Endorf) DiLiberto
Anthony and Jamie (Endorf) DiLiberto serve as LCMS missionaries in Peru. Anthony is the Peru mission

team’s mercy outreach specialist. He facilitates the Peruvian Lutheran Mission’s mercy work at the Mighty Fortress Mercy Center, where members of the emerging Peruvian Lutheran church body reach out with the love of Christ to children and teens forced to live and work on the streets of Lima. Both Anthony and Jamie help with the church-planting ministry of the LCMS team in Peru, helping teach adult and children’s Bible classes and participating in regular outreach and worship events as needed. Anthony began serving in Peru in the fall of 2008, coordinating short-term mission teams and service projects, and Jamie began serving in Peru in September of 2010 as the short-term team coordinator. They were married on July 14, 2012.

Anthony is from southern California, where his home congregation is Mt. Calvary Lutheran Church in Diamond Bar, Calif. He earned his bachelor’s degree in Christian Education Leadership with a minor in Spanish as well as his certification as a Director of Christian Education at Concordia University, Irvine, Calif.
Jamie grew up on a farm near Tobias, Neb. She graduated from Concordia University Nebraska with a bachelor’s degree in secondary education, a Lutheran teacher’s degree and concentrations in English and Spanish. Jamie taught Spanish at Metro East Lutheran High School in Edwardsville, Ill., prior to moving to the mission field. She is a member of Good Shepherd Lutheran Church in Collinsville, Ill.

Prayers

Anthony and Jamie write, “Please pray that as we reach out with the team to Peruvians with the Good News of the Gospel, we would ‘resolve to know nothing but Christ and Him crucified’ for the free forgiveness of our sins (1 Cor. 2:2). Please pray for the mercy work and church planting in Peru. May every single human care activity we’re involved with point people to Christ, whose death on the cross was the ultimate manifestation of God’s mercy for all of humankind.”

This link will take you to the LCMS page for the DiLibertos, which has links to their blogs, newsletters, etc. 

Blessings in Christ,
Pastor