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).


  • 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

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