Thursday, May 23, 2013

Feast of the Holy Trinity - 2013



Thursday after Pentecost
May 23, 2013

The Lord be with you

This coming Sunday, the first Sunday after Pentecost, we celebrate with much of Christendom the Holy Trinity. While we, along with all believers, recognize and celebrate the Triune God every Sunday, the Western Church sought a special day dedicated to lifting up this reality. Various days in the year were used in various areas. Finally, in 1334, Pope John XXII selected the first Sunday after Pentecost, apparently first done in Li├Ęge, Belgium, under Bishop Stephen (reigned 902–920). Falling between the first and second halves of the Church Year, this date accents the central place the Trinity has in Christian teaching. This is the Sunday we get to use the Athanasian Creed. In my opinion, the Athanasian Creed is the best short treatment of the Trinity.

When we speak of the Trinity, we are speaking of a great mystery, one we would know nothing about if God himself had not revealed it in the Bible. Even with that self-revelation by God, people have difficulty with this truth because it is contrary to all we know in nature. However, that should not be surprising as God is incomprehensible. Therefore, non-Christian religions have no doctrine that parallels the Trinity. They may oppose murder, they may think of God as creator, but they do not know God as Triune. For that, you must depend on God’s self-revelation in the Bible.

Our readings from our lectionary for Sunday are: Proverbs 8:1-4, 22-31; Acts 2:14a, 22-36; and John 8:48-59.The text for the sermon is Acts 2:32-33. The sermon is titled “We Worship One God in Trinity.” This will be a Communion service. You may prepare to receive the Lord’s Body and Blood by reading again the section on “The Sacrament of the Altar” from Luther’s Small Catechism.

For our liturgy we will be using the Divine Service, setting 3 (page 184). Because it will be the Feast of the Holy Trinity, we will use the Athanasian Creed (page 319). Our opening hymn will be “Father Most Holy” (LSB 504). Our sermon hymn will be “Triune God, Be Thou Our Stay” (LSB 505). There are two ways to sing this hymn. The first way is as a single verse. The second way is with three verses. The verses are in italics if you are singing the second way. We will be using the second approach. Our closing hymn will be “Holy, Holy, Holy” (LSB 507). Our distribution hymns will be “Be Present at Our Table, Lord” (LSB 775), “Glory Be to God the Father” (LSB 506), and “Jesus Christ, Our Blessed Savior” (LSB 627).

Below is a video of our sermon hymn, “Father Most Holy.” It is one of those hymns we learned when we were learning a new hymn each month. It is being sung by the “LutheranWarbler.”


This coming Sunday will be Memorial Day in the USA. This will be reflected in our prayers as we use the “Collect for Armed Forces of our Nation.” There is an excellent video produced by the LCMS titled “Those Who Serve.” I’ll post it on this blog a little closer to Memorial Day.

Also, in our prayers, we will remember the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Argentina and their President, Rev. Edgardo Elseser. We will remember the persecuted believers in Lebanon. We will remember our missionary in Hong Kong, Megan Birney. She asks we “pray that the Lord would pave the way and open hearts to the ministries of LCMS World Mission, Church of All Nations, and The Lutheran Church—Hong Kong Synod. Ask that the Lord would grant her discernment and wisdom as she serves in this leadership role. Please pray that God will continue to bless the ministry in Hong Kong and that nothing would hinder the work of the Holy Spirit!” As I mentioned in last Sunday’s sermon, it is estimated that China and India now have the largest populations of Christians in the world. That doesn’t mean the Christians are in the majority, just that there are more Christians in those counties than elsewhere. This is due, in part, to the fact that these two countries simply have the largest populations in the world. We will continue to remember the churches in our denomination. This week we lift up before our Lord Immanuel, Charlottesville, VA; Grace, Chester, VA; Christ the King, Danville, VA; Living Savior, Fairfax Station, VA; and Holy Trinity, Columbia, SC.

Naturally we will continue to remember all those who have be misled by our cultures advocacy of sexual immorality and abortion. We ask, not only that the Lord turn our country around, but also that he bring healing to the lives damaged by our current culture. We also remember the modern slave trade and ask God to bless all efforts pleasing in his sight to end this sinful practice.

Our Sunday morning Bible study has gotten about half way through the Bible study developed by the Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Services about slavery. We will finish it and also consider where we want to go next.

Preview of Lessons

Proverbs 8:1-4, 22-31
This passage has long been recognized as relating to Jesus. In English, we might be surprised with the pronoun “she.” However Hebrew is an inflected language. Different words have “gender.” As is common in inflected languages, most concepts are “feminine.” “Wisdom” is a feminine word so all pronouns used with it are feminine. This is not a reference to “maleness” or “femaleness.” So, just because the Hebrew uses the feminine pronoun does not mean “wisdom” is a female. Here “the Lord” is the Father. “Wisdom” is the Son. The eternal relationship is seen all over. The Father “possessed” the Son at the beginning. Through the Son all things are created (he is the “master workman”). The language about Jesus having been brought forth before all of creation was created is summed up in the Nicene Creed with the words “begotten of His Father before all worlds.” It is also very special to see in this passage how much joy the creation, and humanity, bring God. Notice also that God calls to us (v 4). He did then. He does now. He calls through his word.

Acts 2:14a, 22-36
Last week we began the story of Pentecost. This reading continues the story. The third part of the story, the rest of Acts 2, is not included in our lectionary this year. This reading includes a large portion of what Peter says. He is emphatic, our righteous is insufficient. We need to repent and believe in Jesus, the Jesus who was crucified and rose from the grave. Many of those who heard Peter’s sermon would not have been present for the crucifixion of Jesus. Nonetheless Peter says, “you crucified and killed” him. We are all guilty of the crucifixion of Jesus, for he died for our sins. Notice how important the Old Testament is to the New Testament Church. It should be equally important to us. Notice how Peter includes our Lord’s descent into Hell (31) in his summary of the Gospel. This is a message often overlooked today, but was important in Peter’s Pentecost sermon. The grave, Hell, and the devil were crushed by our Lord. That Jesus ascended and is now at the “right hand” of the Father indicates his Kingomd has come. Jesus rules now. Notice the eyewitness nature of the report Peter gives. It wasn’t just him. “We” are witnesses of these things. How many eye witnesses do you need to verify a report? Well they have over 500 (1 Corinthians 15:1-8)! The word “Israel” should be understood in light of Romans 9-11. The Trinitarian references in the text are rich, which is why I’ve selected Acts 2:32-33 for the sermon text. I’ll save my comments on that aspect of the text for Sunday.

John 8:48-59
This passage begins with the words “The Jews.” Of course Jesus, his apostles, and all the followers of Jesus were Jews. But none of these people are accusing Jesus of being a Samaritan and being demon possessed. This is just one of the many examples of how John typically uses the term “Jew.” It basically refers to the leadership of the Jewish people who rejected Jesus. Not all of the leadership rejected Jesus (Nicodemus and Joseph of Arimathea come quickly to mind [John 19:38-40]). These Jewish leaders would not be included in John’s “the Jews.” So, for John, a Jew himself, “Jews” always has an adversarial tone. We are not to think of it in an ethnic way but in terms of religious rejection of Jesus. Those Jews who receive Jesus are part of Israel, as all believers are (Romans 9-11). In spite of what they hear and see, the “Jews” reject Jesus and say all sorts of vile things about him. It is the same today. No matter what they see and hear, those who reject Jesus say all sorts of vile things about him and his Church. Such hardness of the heart can be pierced only by the Holy Spirit. The power of Christ’s word, our Lord’s eternal nature, his unity with the Father, eternal life in Jesus, are all in this reading. So naturally, the “Jews” try to kill Jesus. The reason they wish to kill him is because they understand Jesus is claiming to be God, one with the Father.

The Triune God Reveals Himself in Christ Jesus
(Summary from LC-MS)
The divine Word of the Father is also the holy Wisdom who “was beside him, like a master workman,” who “was daily his delight, rejoicing before him always” (Prov. 8:30). This Word became flesh and suffered death, in order to bestow life by the preaching of His Gospel “to the children of man” (Prov. 8:4). He honors the Father, and the Father glorifies Him by raising Him from the dead, so that all who keep His Word “will never see death” (John 8:51). Long ago, “father Abraham rejoiced” in the day of Christ, for “he saw it and was glad” (John 8:56). Though Christ was “crucified and killed by the hands of lawless men,” “God raised him up, loosing the pangs of death” (Acts 2:23, 24). As He “received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit” (Acts 2:33), so it is by and through the Son that God the Father pours out the Holy Spirit upon His Church.

Tidbits

  • Memorial Day is Monday. Banks and such will be closed. The following prayer, which will be used Sunday, would be a good one to use Monday also as you gather with others: “Lord God of hosts, stretch forth Your almighty arm to strengthen and protect those who serve in the armed forces of our country. Support them in times of war, and in times of peace keep them from all evil, giving them courage and loyalty. Grant that in all these things they may serve with integrity and with honor; through Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen.”
  • The June newsletter will be posted within days. In it will be some important information about the upcoming election of the president of the LC-MS. Each congregation and their pastor will cast a vote (this is a change). Information about the candidates will be in the newsletter.
Well, I pray we will see you Sunday.

Blessings in Christ,
Pastor John Rickert

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