Friday after the Fourth Sunday of the Resurrection of Our Lord
April 26, 2013
He is Risen!
This coming Sunday is the Fifth Sunday of the Resurrection of Our Lord (Easter 5), April 28. We will be using the third setting of the morning service (Divine Service 3) for our liturgy, which begins on page 184 of the hymnal. This is a communion service. As always, reviewing what Luther’s Small Catechism has to say about this sacrament is an excellent way to prepare.
We are, as noted above, still in the Easter Season. Our hymns, therefore, will continue to accent this central event of history. Four of our six hymns will come from the Easter section of the hymnal. They are our opening hymn (“Alleluia! Jesus Is Risen” LSB 474), two of our distribution hymns (“Alleluia, Alleluia! Hearts to Heaven” LSB 477; “The Day of Resurrection” LSB 478) and our Closing Hymn (“He’s Risen, He’s Risen” LSB 480). The other Distribution Hymn is from the Communion section of the hymnal (“Let All Mortal Flesh Keep Silence” LSB 621). The Sermon Hymn reflects the sermon’s theme (“In Christ There Is No East or West” LSB 653). The video below is the “Lutheran Warbler” playing and singing “Let All Mortal Flesh Keep Silence.”
The first lesson for Sunday is Acts 11:1-18. The second lesson is from Revelation 21:1-7. We are given an option for the Gospel lesson, either John 16:12-22 or John 13:31-35. I have selected the second option, from which I have drawn the text for the sermon (John 13:35). The sermon is titled “A Misunderstood Love.”
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: Our Redeemer, Wilson, NC [the congregation Pastor served before coming to Lamb of God]; St. John’s & St. Mark, Winston-Salem, NC; Bethany, Alexandria, VA; Good Shepherd, Greenville, SC). We also continue to remember believers around the world. This Sunday we remember the Portuguese Evangelical Lutheran Church and their President, Rev. Jonas Roberto Flor, the persecuted believers in Kuwait, and the African Immigrant Mission of North America.
For the second week we will remember 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 write, “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.”
Preview of Lessons
Like us, the people of the first century were sinners. The impact of the Gospel had to break through walls of self-centered sin. This is part of a story where some of the walls came tumbling down. First Christ has to break them down in Peter’s life, then in the lives of others. In this particular case, the wall was ethnic prejudice. The Christians come to realize that Gentiles can become Christians, even if they don’t become Jews first. A key verse is the last one, “When they heard these things they fell silent. And they glorified God, saying, ‘Then to the Gentiles also God has granted repentance that leads to life.’” Notice that repentance and faith are featured elements. Salvation is not open to those who do not repent and come to faith. Some might use this passage to argue for including all in the church, no matter what. The Christian Faith is a specific faith. A Christian life is a specific life. There is much in our world that is contrary to the will of God. We are not called to compromise the Word of God simply to avoid persecution or build numbers in our organization. On the other hand, ANYONE who repents and believes is welcome; even if they continue to struggle with sin (actually struggling with sin describes us all). If one reads the rest of the book of Acts and Paul’s letters, it becomes clear that the “Gentle” question continued to trouble the church but that didn’t break them apart.
This is a description of post-Second Coming time for the saved. As always, with Revelation, we must remember Revelation 1:1, where we are told that the book is given in symbols (even though most English translations obscure this point). Therefore, in the post-Second Coming reality, we don’t actually expect to find a spring of water from which we drink to receive eternal life, and if someone doesn’t get to it quickly enough they might die, or that people will actually be shedding tears of sorrow that God will be zipping around wiping off people’s cheeks. The point here is that we will be living with God in a state of joy for all eternity. “The one who conquers” is the one who dies in the Christian Faith. Being God’s “son” means one who inherits, not a gender change for women, no more than being adorned as a bride means there is a gender change for men.
This is the Gospel lesson we will not be using. Normally I would not comment on it, but verses 12-14 have been used so often throughout the centuries by false teachers that I want to say something. This passage does not support “continuing revelation.” Instead, it supports the letters of the Apostles as being the Word of God, of equal importance as the rest of the Bible (in their case, the Old Testament). If someone should have a new revelation it is compared to these sure standards. If they drift, even in one point, then they are deceivers and nothing they say can be trusted. Sure, false prophets can speak something very much like the truth (Acts 16:16-18), but we are not to trust them. In the end, they will draw anyone they can away from Jesus! The test here is Trinitarian. We find God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. The Spirit brings people to Jesus. Jesus brings people to the Father. The Father points back to Jesus, who gives believers the Spirit. The joy spoken of is not the type we have when someone tells a good joke, but an abiding joy found even in the midst of trials as one knows they are in God’s hands.
In this reading we again see the relationship between the Father and the Son expounded on. The Father is glorified in the Son. Those who bypass the Son, bypass the Father. Jesus says, “now” is the Son of Man glorified. That “now” is indeed the life of Jesus, specifically His crucifixion. To fallen human reason the cross of Christ does not seem like the moment of God’s great glory. However, if we view if from God’s perspective, and realize that at that moment Jesus is winning our victory over sin, death, and the devil, it becomes easier to see it as the moment of glory that God knows it is. Christ promises those who believe an eternal life with Him. Christ gives us a command to love one another, but as this is the focus of the sermon I’ll say nothing about it here.
Jesus Turns Sorrow into Joy (Summary from LC-MS)
On earth “you will be sorrowful, but your sorrow will turn into joy” (John 16:20). Already the Spirit grants you peace and joy through the forgiveness of your sins. For by the cross of Christ, “God has granted repentance that leads to life” (Acts 11:18). His Gospel is “a message by which you will be saved, you and all your household” (Acts 11:14). He gives freely “from the spring of the water of life” (Rev. 21:6), “and death shall be no more” (Rev. 21:4). He dwells with His people, adorning His Church as a bride for her husband, “making all things new” (Rev. 21:5). Therefore, as the Son of Man is glorified by His cross, “and God is glorified in Him” (John 13:31), so He is glorified in us by our “love for one another” (John 13:35), which His Spirit works in us by His grace.
- God willing, the May newsletter will be posted soon (Kitty is in Texas, so things might be slower this month).
- This coming week I will be leading the circuit 18/19 pastor’s “Lake House” retreat at Lake Keowee. That means I will be out of town Monday-Wednesday. I will be back in town for Catechism class, Wednesday evening.
Well, I pray we will see you Sunday.
Blessings in Christ,
Pastor John Rickert