Thursday, June 13, 2013

Worship for Pentecost 4 - 2013

Thursday after Pentecost 3
June 13, 2013

The Lord be with you

This coming Sunday is the Fourth Sunday after Pentecost. It is also the third Sunday in June. It is our current custom to use one of the services based on, or inspired by, the ancient “Canonical Hours” (aka “Prayer Offices). Communion is not traditionally offered in these services, and we maintain that tradition. This Sunday we will be using Matins, which begins on page 219 of the hymnal. Such services use the appointed Psalm of the Day (as opposed to the Introit). This Sunday that is Psalm 32:1-7. The antiphon is verse 5. The assigned lessons are 2 Samuel 11:26-12:10, 13-14; Galatians 2:15-21; 3:10-14; and Luke 7:36-8:3. The sermon is titled: “Are You Cursed or Blessed?” The text for the message is Galatians 3:13-14.

Our opening hymn and sermon hymn for Sunday were both written by Matthew Loy sometime before 1880. They are companion hymns, the first one focusing on the Law and the second on the Gospel. They are “The Law of God Is Good and Wise” (LSB 579), and “The Gospel Shows the Father’s Grace” (LSB 580). Our closing hymn is “Guide Me, O Thou Great Redeemer” (LSB 918). For those whose memory reaches back to The Lutheran Hymnal, you will recognize this hymn as “Guide Me, O Thou Great Jehovah” with some modifications in the words. The only reason I can think of for changing the word “Jehovah” to “Redeemer” is that the word “Jehovah” does not appear anywhere in the original biblical manuscripts, but was a faulty translation of the name of God that made it into the King James translation of the Bible in one place. Why go with a faulty translation when you can use a name actually used in the Bible? The hymn is bases on the Exodus of the Israelites from Egypt. The parallel thought of Jesus as the greater Deliverer underscores the words. The video below is from the most recent royal wedding over in England, where they sang our closing hymn, “Guide Me O Thou Great Redeemer.”

In our prayers, we will remember the Lutheran Church of Guatemala and their President, Rev. Ignacio Juan Chan cux. We will remember the persecuted believers in the Maldives. We will remember our missionary in Hong Kong, Megan Birney. We will continue to remember the churches in our denomination. This week we lift up before our Lord Peace, King George, VA; Our Savior, Lynchburg, VA; Hope, Manassas, VA; St. Paul, Mechanicsville, VA; and Mt. Olive, Irmo, SC. We will have a special prayer for Rev. Tim Sandeno, who recently accepted a call to a new congregation and Good Shepherd in Charleston, which will soon begin the call process. We will continue to remember all those who have been 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. Finally, as this coming Sunday is Father’s Day, we will remember all fathers in our prayers.

In our Sunday morning Bible study we have begun studying the Gospel of Luke using the “book” method. This approach asks us to read through the book, without comment, until the end. Comments are then focused of the overall message, with an effort to sum up the entire book with a title (which can be kind of long). So we began reading Luke last week, but only got through chapter eight. So, for this Sunday, everyone is asked to reread chapters one through eight before Sunday. In class Sunday, we will pick up with chapter nine and continue our read straight through Luke. Our goal is to get the big picture. We will then read through the book a second time, only stopping at natural divisions of contents, giving those natural divisions titles like we gave the entire book. Again the titles will reflect the big picture of the section. We will then move to chapters and follow that by paragraphs. Bible study (reading) begins at 9:00 am.  

Preview of Lessons
2 Samuel 11:26-12:10, 13-14
This reading is about one of the low points in the life of King David. He committed adultery with Bathsheba and then had her husband murdered, the trusted (and trusting) Uriah. After the appointed time of mourning for her husband, Bathsheba married David. This indicates that David had ample time to repent, but didn’t. The Prophet Nathan was given the unenviable task of confronting the king. Through a story, Nathan brings David’s sin forward in a way he could not deny. Nathan lowers the boom. David repents and receives absolution. Several things jump out as I read this portion of Scripture. One, our sin can, and does, have consequences beyond ourselves. The child of David and Bathsheba dies. This child committed no sin. When we sin, we may very well hurt those we care for very deeply. On the other hand, we may hurt people we don’t even know. At any rate, sin hurts others. Second, sometimes the Pastor has to step in with the “Law.” It is not pleasant for any involved, but if Nathan had not acted, David would have remained a smug and secure sinner, going through the motions of faith only. Next, I again noticed that David’s sin was to despise the word of the Lord. You might think Nathan would say his sin was adultery and murder, which (of course) it was. But the identification of such actions as sin is found in the Bible. When one breaks the law of God revealed in the Scriptures, one is despising the Scriptures. So our film industry, that promotes adultery, every time someone apes the morality of the “media,” every time someone supports the murder of unborn children, they are despising the Scriptures. This would be true of any sin. The ways of a man’s heart are counter to God’s will, as we learned in our first Vespers service. Something not in this text, but often brought up by those who despise the Bible, is that David is called a man after God’s heart (1 Samuel 13:14; Psalm 89:250; Acts 7:46; 13:22). Yet the Bible portrays him as a flawed believer. The assumption of the critics is that “a man after God’s heart” means a man who is either sinless, or at least close to sinless. They also define “sinless” in their own terms, so activities God sends David on are considered deeply morally flawed. That God’s morality and fallen, sinful, unbelieving human “morality” are at variance need not bother us here. However, David clearly breaks God’s Law here. Does “a man after God’s heart” mean a “non-sinner?” It does not! No more that “a man after God’s heart” means one that conforms to the “morality” of fallen, sinful, unbelieving men. What it does mean is what we see displayed by David in 12:13. David truly repented and received absolution. If you desire to be “a man after God’s heart,” then repentance and absolution is the way to go.

Galatians 2:15-21; 3:10-14
We continue to read through Galatians and Paul continues to underscore how important the distinction between “Law” and “Gospel” (to use Lutheran nomenclature) is. While the meaning of the reading is well rendered in the English Standard Version, the actual words of St. Paul are not rendered in a one to one way. For example, “a person” in verse 16 is anthropos (“man” in a generic way), while “no one” in the same verse is pasa sarks, which means “all flesh”. “Flesh” takes on a theological or ethical sense, and is equated to humanity. Paul argues that the works of the Law do not save, not for Gentiles and not for Jews. We are saved just like David was and the sinful woman in our Gospel lesson. We repent and believe in Jesus. As this reading is the foundation for the sermon, I’ll say no more.

Luke 7:36-8:3
This lesson ties into the Old Testament lesson in that both feature people who have many sins, both sinners repent, both sinners receive forgiveness. Also, the point is made in a story in both readings. In this lesson, it is a woman. This woman shows up at a dinner a Pharisee name Simon was giving for Jesus, who would be the honored guest. Homes were built back then in such a fashion that such meals would be in a covered, outside porch area. Low walls separated “inside” from outside. There might have been some lattice work also separating “outside” and “inside.” This allowed people who were not invited to observe and hear everything that was going on. In a culture with no television, no movies, no “gaming” systems, etc., watching a visiting “celebrity” and hearing what he had to say in such a social setting, was common. The points that Jesus makes to Simon, that his feet were not washed, he received no kiss, Jesus was not anointed when he arrived, were all common courtesy for visitors to one’s home.  In other words, Simon snubbed Jesus even while inviting him to dinner. The thoughts of Simon, which Jesus knows, reveal his heart. The actions of the woman reveal her heart, just as surely as the actions of Simon reveal his heart. Notice that Jesus is especially carefully to not give the impression that the woman’s actions merited her forgiveness. He tells her, “Your faith has saved you; go in peace.” The reading ends with Jesus going to the various villages, bringing this message of forgiveness. It is worth noting the enumeration of women at the end of the text. Indeed, the whole lesson can be viewed as a “woman’s reading.” Not only does Jesus not shrink from the service of the sinful woman (something any “good” rabbi would have done for her touch would have rendered the rabbi “unclean”) but he actually commends her and lifts her up as a positive example of faith for Simon, and us. Chuza, the husband of one of the ladies Luke refers to, has been identified in the archeological record, giving non-biblical support to the Gospels. In general, the Gospels, the book of Acts, and Paul’s epistles, reveal women serving in vital roles in the Apostolic Church. While this certainly doesn’t undercut the important roles men filled, it does underscore that the early Church seemed to have valued the service of both men and women without confusing the two genders.

The Righteous Shall Live by Faith
(Summary from LC-MS)
It is not by works of the Law that we are justified, for “the righteous shall live by faith” in Christ (Gal. 3:11). He “redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us” (Gal. 3:13) through His death on the tree of the cross. Though we have “despised the word of the LORD” (2 Sam 12:9), He has pity on us and calls us to repentance. He lays hold of us in mercy and grants us peace. He takes our sin upon Himself, so that we shall not die but live (2 Sam 12:13). And so we worship Him — like that woman who anointed His feet, washing them with her tears and drying them with her hair. We love Him much because our “sins, which are many, are forgiven” (Luke 7:47).


  • Our second summer Vespers service will be this coming Wednesday (June 19), and begins at 7:00 pm. The sermon series is titled “Breaking the Rules”. The focus is on seven “Christian” rules which are really not Christian at all, but infiltrate our thinking. Therefore it can be quite challenging, as we will examine beliefs we might hold dear, but are contrary to the Word of God. The sermon is titled “Building Your Bridge to Heaven.”

  • Just a reminder, we are all on “Walkabout.” So, get out into your neighborhoods and start walking about. When you see someone, say hello. If you don’t know them, introduce yourself. It is that simple.

  • Church Council will meet Sunday, following the worship service.

  • As mentioned above, Sunday is Father’s Day.

Well, I pray we will see you Sunday.

Blessings in Christ,
Pastor John Rickert

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