Friday after the Third Sunday of the Resurrection of Our Lord
April 19, 2013
He is Risen!
This coming Sunday is the Fourth Sunday of the Resurrection of Our Lord (Easter 4), April 21. It is also the Commemoration of Anselm of Canterbury, Theologian. We will be using the Service of Prayer and Preaching for our liturgy, which begins on page 260 of the hymnal. This is a non-communion service. There will be three hymns: “Christ is Arisen,” LSB 459; “I Walk in Danger All the Way,” LSB 716; and “O Sons and Daughters of the King,” LSB 470. Our appointed lessons are: Acts 20:17-35; Revelation 7:9-17; and John 10:23-30. The appointed Psalm is Psalm 23.
In our prayers we will continue to remember those trapped in slavery today, those who have been misled by our cultures advocacy of abortion and sexual immorality, the Lutheran Malaria Initiative, and our sister congregations in the SED (this Sunday: Trinity, Tryon, NC; Hope, Wake Forest, NC; St. Paul, West End, NC; Messiah, Wilimington, NC; Island, Hilton Head Island, SC). We also continue to remember believers around the world. This Sunday we remember the Consistory of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Lithuania and their bishop, Rev. Mindaugas Sabutis, the persecuted believers in Jordan, and the African Immigrant Mission of North America.
For the next month we will be remembering Matt and Kim Myers, our missionaries to Macau. Macau is one of the two “special administrative regions” of Mainland China. Once a Portuguese colony, since 1999 it has been a semi-automatous part of China. The Myers wright, “Please pray for our strength to teach well, encourage our team, and to share the Gospel. Pray that the Lord of the harvest will open the hearts and minds of the people in Macau—that they might follow and trust Him. Please pray for our relationship with our national co-workers, that they will be encouraged by our presence and that we will successfully work together to further God's kingdom. Please also prayerfully consider how you might be involved, through visits, service, and financial support of our work.”
Because Sunday is the Commemoration of Anselm of Canterbury, Theologian, in our prayers we will thank the Lord for his witness. While his contributions will not be accented beyond that prayer in the service, you may wish to follow this link to a post I put up last year about him: Anselm of Canterbury.
Below is a video of the congregation at Martin Luther Chapel singing our sermon hymn, “I Walk in Danger All the Way.” I expect we will sing it at a faster pace. (God bless Karen.) However this congregation is blessed with a beautiful pipe organ.
Preview of Lessons
Paul is traveling to Jerusalem where he knows, thanks to the Holy Spirit, that he will be arrested. (As this is still very early in the life of the Church, Rome still had no official position concerning Christians. Therefore Paul had reason to be hopeful about the outcome of any trial before Roman officials.) While he was docked in Miletus, the pastors from Ephesus came to him. Paul describes the content of his message as “profitable,” about “repentance toward God and of faith in our Lord Jesus Christ,” and about “the gospel of the grace of God.” This message is the message of the “kingdom,” indeed it establishes and maintains God’s kingdom. So Paul preached a Law and Gospel message. He then warns the pastors gathered that there will be dangers ahead for them and their congregations. Once Paul is removed false messages will be foist upon them from both within and without. Therefore these pastors are to remain alert to the danger. They are called to protect the content of what Paul has preached, and through that, protect the flock.
John sees a vision of heaven in which all the residents are praising the Father and the Son for our salvation. Then one of “the elders” asks John a question, asking John to identify those wearing white robes. John is unable to answer. The elder tells him that they are the believers who have died in the faith. Some take the phrase “coming out of the great tribulation” to mean that at some point in time (typically still to come or the persecutions of the Roman Empire) where Christians will face the “great tribulation.” That is to say, the “great tribulation” is a certain discreet period of time between Jesus’ first and second comings. This is a misunderstanding of the text. First, John is seeing the current state of heaven, so this “great tribulation” must have already begun. Indeed John was in exile because of persecution of the Church. However, second, the words “coming out” are, in the Greek, an ongoing process. That is to say, this “coming out” had already begun and would continue. To put this another way, the “great tribulation” had already begun in the days of John and they will continue until Christ returns. Those who are “coming out” are those who have died in the Faith and gone to be with the saints in glory. In this reading one should also note that Jesus receives the same honor and glory as the Father. Washing ones robes in the blood of the Lamb is another way of saying having faith in Jesus and his atoning death.
Jesus has a confrontation with “the Jews” in this lesson. In John’s Gospel “the Jews” are the Jewish leadership, not the average man on the street. This is one of those places where Jesus teaches that he is God in the flesh but, of course, the Jewish leadership does not believe him. However the Lord’s sheep hear him and follow him. Christ keeps them safe. By “safe” I mean they do not lose their faith no matter what and receive eternal life. All who “hear” Jesus are kept safe by his word, for it is through that word that Christ “calls, gathers, enlightens, and sanctifies” all believers.
The Good Shepherd Cares for His Sheep (Summary from LC-MS)
Jesus Christ, the Son of God, came from the Father and became flesh among us in order to rescue us, His sheep. He laid down His life for us and took it up again in order to give us eternal life. By the preaching of His Gospel, He calls His sheep to Himself and keeps them with Him forever. As they hear His voice and follow Him, “they will never perish” (John 10:28), for “no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand” (John 10:29). In the same way, faithful pastors (literally, “shepherds”) “care for the church of God, which he obtained with his own blood” (Acts 20:28), “testifying both to Jews and to Greeks of repentance toward God and of faith in our Lord Jesus Christ” (Acts 20:21). Therefore, with all the company of heaven, the Good Shepherd gathers his flock in worship, as they cry: “Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!” (Rev. 7:10).
- The funeral for Fran Hall will be graveside tomorrow, at Greenlawn. The time will be 3:30. Visitation begins at 1:00 at the Greenlawn Chapel.
- The Church Council will meet Sunday, following the worship service.
- LitWits, our book club, will meet Sunday evening at the Kimsey’s. The book we will discuss it “The Great Divide: The Failure of Islam and the Triumph of the West” by Alvin J. Schmidt.
- I will be out of town on Circuit Counselor business Monday and Tuesday of next week.
Well, I pray we will see you Sunday.
Blessings in Christ,
Pastor John Rickert