October 31, 2013
The Lord be with you
Today is Reformation Day. Yes, many celebrate it as Halloween but we celebrate it as Reformation Day. That is because, on October 31, 1515, Martin Luther nailed his now famous 95 Theses to the castle church door in Wittenberg. This act sparked the Reformation. We celebrated this historic event this past Sunday.
Tomorrow (November 1) is All Saints’ Day. We also celebrate this Festival, transferring it to the first Sunday in November. That means this coming Sunday will be All Saints Sunday. We will have a special liturgy, which will be mostly spoken. However we will chant the Psalm (Psalm 149, antiphon verse 4), and substitute a hymn for the hymn of praise and the offertory. A portion of this service will be for commemorating the faithful departed. Sunday’s hymns will be:
Opening – “For All the Saints” LSB 677
Praise – “Praise to the Lord, the Almighty” LSB 790
Sermon – “O Blessed Spring” LSB 595
Offertory: “Take My Life and Let It Be” LSB 784:1, 4, 6
Closing – Saints, See the Cloud of Witnesses” LSB 667
Below is a video of our sermon hymn, "O Blessed Spring."
The assigned readings for Sunday are: Revelation 7:2-17, 1 John 3:1-3, and Matthew 5:1-12. The sermon text is Revelation 7:2-3. The sermon is titled “Sealed for Good.”
We continue to study the Gospel of Luke in our Sunday morning Bible study. All are welcome. Bible study begins at 9:00 am.
Preview of Lessons
This is a vision of heaven. It contains the much twisted reference to 144,000 people who have been sealed. The book of Revelation is given to us in symbols, which includes its numbers. 144,000 equals 12 X 12 X 10 X 10 X10. Twelve is a common number God uses to represent the people of God. So, for example, there were “twelve” tribes of Israel. Really? Most lists don’t include Levi or Joseph in the Old Testament. Instead of Joseph we have his two boys listed. Levi is the ancestor of the priests and didn’t get a geographic area bequeathed to his descendants. Sometimes Benjamin is not listed but is covered when the tribe of Judah is included. Other variations exist, but the number twelve is retained for referring to the people of God. So we also have twelve apostles, because the people of God are being reconstituted in the New Testament as the people of God. Ten is a number that God often uses to indicate something is complete. So, for example, we have the Ten Commandments, even though, if you read the text, you'll notice far more than ten commandments. What this 144,000 refers to is the complete collection of God’s people. It is even further accented by the visual image 144,000 makes. If you stacked 144,000 little boxes in a cube, it would make a perfect cube. Visually the number also represents completeness. So John describes this group as “a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, and from all tribes and peoples and languages”. This multitude has entered heaven and received the blessing of being in the presence of God and drinking from the river of life. This is a blessed life, the life we look forward to, the life those who have departed and gone to be with the Lord currently enjoy.
1 John 3:1-3
John speak of our hope as believers, a hope that is fulfilled at the Second Coming. Verse 3 is key, “And everyone who thus hopes in him purifies himself as he is pure.” We do not make ourselves “pure.” It is granted to us by grace when we hope in Jesus, that is, believe in him and the promises attached to him. These are those who are part of the multitude John sees.
This reading from the Sermon on the Mount is called the Beatitudes. Like the other two readings, it is a standard for All Saints’ Day/Sunday. The basic reasoning is that it describes how saints live while they are on this earth. Of course we know that this passage condemns us as not fulfilling our Lord’s expectations. So, while we strive to live in a way that is pleasing to the Lord, and we read passages like this with great care seeking to let them shape our thinking, our actions, our heart, nonetheless it is passages like 1 John 3:3 to which we look when we want assurance of our salvation.
Lesson Synopsis (from the LC-MS)
Saints Are Blessed in the Eternal Presence of Christ
“A great multitude … from all tribes and peoples and languages” cry out, “Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne” (Rev. 7:9–10). Faith-filled saints from every place and time with unified voices eternally magnify the Lamb of God. As His beloved children, we, too, “shall see him as he is” (1 John 3:2). Joined with the throng of angels and a myriad of saints, we shall “serve him day and night in his temple” (Rev. 7:15). In our earthly tension vacillating between saint and sinner, faith and doubt, sacred and profane, we earnestly seek Jesus to calm our fears, comfort our spirits and forgive our sins. The Holy Spirit, through faith in Christ propels us forward, fortifying us in Word and Sacrament, to our eternal home. In the midst of our constant struggle as believers, we need to be blessed. And so we are. The poor in spirit, the meek, the hungry, the thirsty, the merciful, the pure and the persecuted are all blessed, and we will most certainly inherit the kingdom of heaven (Matt. 5:1–12).
- · DAYLIGHT SAVINGS TIME ends
- · You get an extra hour of sleep if you remember to turn your alarm clock back an hour before you go to bed Saturday.
Blessings in Christ,