Friday after Ash Wednesday
February 15, 2013
The Lord be with you
This coming Sunday is the First Sunday in Lent, the season of preparation for Easter. The season lasts “40” days. I put 40 in quotes because the Sundays are not counted (that is why they are called “Sunday in Lent” not “Sundays of Lent”). What this means for those of us who give up something for Lent, Sundays, which are “feast days” are not part of our Lenten fast. We are able to “feast” by breaking the fast.
Ash Wednesday was this past week. There were 8 people at the “noon” service and 19 at the evening service. As we celebrated the Lord’s Supper and performed the imposition of ash, the services were longer than our “standard” Lenten services. Starting this coming week the times will be more like a half an hour for the noon service and forty-five minutes for the evening service. The soups Kitty made were great, but next week the Swain’s are cooking. Can they make us forget what Kitty made? Only time will tell.
As we are in the Lenten season, “Hallelujahs,” and other such “joyful” parts of the liturgy are removed. (This practice is more obvious with the “cathedral” services in which we celebrate the Lord’s Supper.) They will return with Easter. This Sunday we will be using Matins for our liturgy (page 219). We will use the Lent options for the verse on page 219, the Lent Responsory on page 222 and the Te Deum for our canticle (page 223). We will change things up a bit with the Psalm. Instead of Pastor serving as the Cantor, the choir will. We will use Psalm 91. The antiphon will be verse 1.
The appointed lessons for Sunday are Deuteronomy 26:1-11, Romans 10:8b-13 and Luke 4:1-13. The text for the sermon is Luke 4 :1. The sermon is titled “Wilderness.” Our opening hymn will be “Rise, My Soul, to Watch and Pray” (LSB 663). Our Sermon hymn will be “O Lord, throughout These forty Days” (LSB 418). Our closing hymn will be “Come unto Me, Ye Weary” (LSB 684).
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 Comoros (a cluster of Islands between Madagascar and Africa). We will pray for the Gutnius Lutheran Church (in Papua New Guinea (Gutnius means “good news”)) and their head bishop, Rev. David P. Piso. We will remember missionaries Jack and Cathy Carlos, who are working with the Maninka people in Guinea West. 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: Immanuel, St. John, and St. Peter’s (all in Conover, NC), and Incarnate Word in Florence, SC.
I have been unable to locate a video of one of our worship hymns. However, if you go to the joyful noise link on the side of this blog, you can find then rendered with simple melody lines.
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. Class begins at 9:00 am. Everyone is welcome to join in the discussion.
Preview of Lessons
The book of Deuteronomy contains Moses final messages to the Israelites. In this portion Moses reminds the people to be thankful to the Lord who has brought them into this wonderful land. However, it is important to note that the reason for the thanksgiving is not simply a rich harvest. Moses starts with the beginning of God’s blessings to this particular human family, which means Abraham who lived over 500 years earlier. The reason for thanksgiving continues through the Exodus, another event that was only a history lesson for the vast majority of the people present. These events that form the heart and major motivation for thanksgiving were “salvation” events, events that redeemed the people and formed them into a nation. So Abraham is called from being a “wandering Aramean,” not based on any merit on his part but on the call and purpose of God. The Israelites were rescued from Egypt, not by brilliant battle strategies on their part but by the almighty hand of God. The Promised Land is also a gift as are the fruits of the land. For all this it is, as Luther put it, “my duty to thank and praise, serve and obey Him.” Those who think they can manipulate God, make deals (God, if you do “A” then I’ll thank and praise, serve and obey you), and so on, fail to grasp that the goodness of God surrounds us all, and that the greatest goodness is our salvation. We are born in his debt. Needless to say, this lesson could be used for a sermon on giving. If so, one should remember the primary focus is the goodness of God and that our gifts are a recognition of what God has already granted.
This is a portion of Paul’s lengthy discussion of the salvation of both Jews and Gentiles. At this point, Paul is explaining how the Jews, who pursued righteousness, could fail to attain it when Gentiles, who did not seek righteousness, were justified. The reason is that the Jews did not pursue righteousness through faith, but rather a righteousness based on the law and therefore by works. The reason they did not pursue the righteousness of faith is that they stumbled over Jesus (9:30-33). In this reading Paul explains the significance of Jesus being the “end of the law” (10:4). That is that righteousness before God is not achieved through works but by grace through faith in Jesus. Note two things in this reading. First is that what we believe comes for in our speech. If you believe in Jesus you will speak of Jesus (verse 8). Second is that Paul refers to Jesus being raised from the dead (verse 9). It might seem odd that he doesn’t reference Good Friday (through the resurrection certainly could not have happened if Jesus hadn’t died first). There are at least two reasons for the reference to the resurrection instead of Jesus’ crucifixion. First, it fits better with the discussion of Jesus as Lord. Second, it goes better with the idea that Jesus is the end of the Law.
This is the account of Jesus as he is tempted in the wilderness for 40 days at the beginning of his public ministry. It is the traditional event shared from the Gospels on the first Sunday in Lent and also the source of inspiration for the 40 day fast (coupled with other significant 40’s in the Bible). Throughout the 40 days Jesus is tempted by the devil, with a few representative temptations recorded in the Gospels. A few things one might note is how the devil twists scripture. In verses 9 and 10 Satan quotes the Psalm we will be using Sunday, but he omits verse 1 which sets the stage for the whole Psalm, thus twisting the meaning. Satan tempts Jesus to misuse his power, to take shortcuts, and so forth. He offers gifts he can’t give (oh how often do people seek various goals today, thinking they will give satisfaction, joy, contentment, etc., only to be disappointed). Satan attacks where he thinks we are weak. It is worth noting that Jesus was lead into the wilderness by the Holy Spirit. Simply because we are facing trials does not mean we are outside of the will of God. Indeed, at times, we face trials because we are in the will of God. Think of Pastor Saeed Abedini, unjustly sentenced to 8 years in prison in Iran, because he is a Christian pastor. His trials are precisely because he is faithful.
Lectionary Synopsis (from Synod)
Jesus Christ Is Our Champion Against the Devil
Jesus Christ, our Champion against the devil, endures and overcomes “every temptation” (Luke 4:13) on our behalf. He worships the Lord His God, and serves Him only by trusting the Word of His Father: “You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased” (Luke 3:22). Jesus’ victory is now ours through His gracious Word, which is not far away but near us – in our mouth and in our heart, in the proclamation of repentance and faith. For “with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved” (Rom. 10:10). Our confession of Christ includes the prayer of faith, which is not disappointed; “for everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved” (Rom. 10:13). The Lord is not oblivious to “our affliction, our toil, and our oppression” (Deut. 26:7), but has mercy upon us. He has brought us out of bondage through the “signs and wonders” of Holy Baptism, “with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm” (Deut. 26:8), and now He leads us by His Spirit even in the wilderness.
The Church Council will meet after the worship service in the library.
LitWits will meet at Pastor’s home, 6:30 pm. The book to be discussed is The Constantine Codex.
Information for the March newsletter is due Sunday.
The deadline for the “early” registration for the LWML Joy Event is 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