Thursday, September 19, 2013

Worship Notes for Pentecost 18 - 2013

Thursday after Pentecost 17
September 19, 2013

The Lord be with you

This coming Sunday is the 18th Sunday after Pentecost. It is also the first day of Fall. And it is the Commemoration of Jonah. Some deny that the book of Jonah is historical simply because it is unlikely that any large fish would swallow a man whole, only for him to escape three days later. Others point to the documentation that shows men have indeed been swallowed whole by a large fish, only to escape later. Such arguments reduce the book to just a few verses. They also ignore the reality that the God of heaven and earth is not bound by probability tables. The book reads as an historical account. Jesus speaks of Jonah as an historical figure. These two facts are enough for me. Focusing on the fish’s role misdirects our attention. You might say the book is about a reluctant prophet or evangelist. You might say the book is about how human priorities are not God’s priorities. You might say the book presents Jonah as a type of Christ. All these things would be more to the point of the book. Jonah is commissioned by God to bring God’s Word to a Gentile nation. The Father sends the Son to bring God’s saving Word to a sinful humanity. In bringing his message Jonah is swallowed by a great fish (buried), only to be “resurrected” three days later. Jesus’ message is confirmed and empowered by his death and resurrection. The people of Nineveh repented, came to faith through the word preached by Jonah, and received salvation. In like manner, those who hear the word of Christ and believe in the promises made concerning him in that word, receive life and salvation. Of course, types are never as great as their fulfillment. Jonah was a reluctant prophet while Jesus willingly came. Jonah could be self-centered while Jesus was selfless. So we can see Jesus, not only in how Jonah was like our Lord, but also in how he was different from Jesus.

We will be receiving the Lord’s Supper Sunday. To prepare you may reread Luther’s treatment of the Sacrament of the Altar in the Small Catechism, page 326 of the hymnal. For our liturgy we will use Divine Service 3, page 184 in the hymnal. Our opening hymn will be “O Savior, Precious Savior” (LSB 527). Our sermon hymn will be “Oh, for a Thousand Tongues to Sing” (LSB 528). Our closing hymn will be “O Jesus So Sweet, O Jesus So Mild” (LSB 546). Our distribution hymns will be “Come, Let Us Eat” (LSB 626), “Christ, the Word of God Incarnate” (LSB 540), and “Drawn to the Cross, Which Thou Hast Blessed” (LSB 560). The appointed lessons are Amos 8:4-7; 1 Timothy 2:1-15; Luke 16:1-15. The text for Sunday’s sermon will be 1 Timothy 2:4. The sermon is titled “Access.”

Don’t forget that our “Opening Worship Moments” actually will begin a little before 10:30. During these moments we receive prayer requests and greet each other in the name of the Lord. This way we are singing our opening hymn at 10:30.

In our prayers, we will remember The Episcopal Church of the United States of America and their Presiding Bishop, The Most Rev. Dr. Katharine Jefferts Schori. We will remember the persecuted believers in Syria. We will remember Ginger Taff-Lagergren, our missionary in South Africa. She asks that we pray, that God would use her to spread His love and that she would be a help to others with challenges in their day-to-day life, also that the Lord protect her and keep her in good health, so that she may serve to her fullest capacity. Finally, to thank the Lord that she has answered His call to serve in South Africa! We will continue to remember the churches in our denomination. This week we lift up before our Lord Trinity, Chestertown, MD; Our Shepherd, Columbia, MD; St. Paul’s, Crofton, MD; Trinity, Cumberland, MD; and Mt. Olive, Irmo, SC. 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 will remember the modern slave trade and ask God to bless all efforts pleasing in his sight to end this sinful practice. We will remember the Lutheran Malaria Initiative as we seek to end Malaria in sub-Saharan Africa. We will remember those threatened by the floods in Colorado.

Below is a video of our opening hymn, “O Savior, Precious Savior.” It is sung by St. Andrew’s Evangelical Lutheran Church.

We continue in the Gospel of Luke in our Sunday morning Bible study. All are welcome. Bible study begins at 9:00 am.  

Preview of Lessons
Amos 8:4-7
Through Amos, God condemns those who economically oppress others. This is part of an extended vision concerning the Latter Days and God’s judgment of humanities sin. Whether we do it through government programs, or through some charitable institution like Lutheran World Relief, or through individual involvement, as Christians we know that we are indeed our brother’s keeper.

1 Timothy 2:1-15
Sunday’s message will be based on this reading, so I’m not going to say a lot. Something I probably will not mention in the sermon is the subtle rebuke of Caesar worship. We are to pray for all who are in high positions, not to them. To bring that forward to today, the government is not the source of all good, but God is. We pray for our president, governors, etc., but not to them. There is only one mediator between god and men, and it ain’t the president … it is Jesus. As Christians, we remember that all we say and do does indeed reflect our faith and that others are watching (that is all the “braided hair” stuff). Paul’s comments about the fall into sin is interesting. He says Eve was deceived, but man wasn’t. However, Adam also sinned. In other words, Adam chose Eve over God. Perhaps that is why our sin-nature is identified as our “Old Adam” and not our “Old Eve.” Verse 15 is difficult, but probably should be understood as a reference to the birth of Jesus.

Luke 16:1-15
This parable has confused many. It has been called the parable of the unjust steward. The “hero” in the story is the rich man. He is the image of God. The steward is us. He waists his owners resources. Soon, the steward will lose his position. The steward proceeds to reduce the debt others owe the master. The master commends the steward for acting shrewdly. Today this doesn’t make much sense because of the difference in our cultures. What the steward did made the rich man look good in the eyes of the neighbors. Now the rich man could either repudiate the actions of the steward, and look heartless, or endorse his actions, and look like it was his own generosity. The steward is wise as he relied on his belief that the master desired to be known as merciful. The true riches are, of courses, spiritual riches, God’s word and sacraments. Christ goes on to point out that money makes a very poor god. In this section he echoes the sentiment of our Old Testament reading.

Lesson Synopsis (from the LC-MS)
The Lord Is Rich in His Grace and Mercy
Because God our Savior desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth (1 Tim. 2:4), He urges that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people (1 Tim. 2:1). Christians should so pray without anger or quarreling, but adorn themselves in respectable apparel, with modesty and self-control (1 Tim. 2:8, 9). For the Lord does not forget the poor of the land (Amos 8:4). He remembers them according to the foolishness of the cross. For what is exalted among men is an abomination in the sight of God (Luke 16:15). Though we try to justify ourselves before men, God knows our sinful hearts and calls us to repentance (Luke 16:15). Though we are not strong enough to dig and are ashamed to beg (Luke 16:3), He justifies us by His grace and welcomes us into His eternal dwellings (Luke 16:9). More shrewd than even the sons of this world (Luke 16:8), He requires His stewards of the Gospel to bestow forgiveness freely.


  • Church council has been moved to this Sunday.

Well, I pray we will see you Sunday.

Blessings in Christ,
Pastor John Rickert

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