Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Lake House Retreat

He is Risen

Hi all,

I have just returned from the "Lake House Retreat" which is a joint Circuits 18 & 19 pastors' retreat. Our theme this year was "Resolving Everyday Conflicts" and our presenter was Rev. David Panning. It was exceptionally good and I will be using the same material this summer at Lamb of God. I thought I'd share a few photographs I took.

He is Risen Indeed! Alleluia!
Pastor John Rickert

Friday, April 25, 2014

Worship for Easter 2

Friday after the Resurrection of our Lord
April 25, 2014

He is Risen. He is Risen Indeed! Alleluia!

Well, my Worship Notes are returning. As is often the case, I have to trim some activities during the days leading up to the Resurrection of our Lord, and these notes are typically one of those activities. However, if you want to get a sense of what happened, you can always listen the the sermons given throughout the week by going to the sermon page. It can be found on the right-hand side of this blog's page.

This coming Sunday is the Second Sunday of Easter. The Easter season actually has seven Sundays. Don’t forget to read the lead article in the May newsletter for some ideas about how you can continue the celebration of Easter throughout the Easter season.

For our liturgy Sunday we will use Divine Service, first setting (page 151). All the festive features that were removed for Lent will return. This includes the canticles “This is the Feast” and “Thank the Lord.” Our hymns will also reflect the joy of the season. Our opening hymn will be “All You Works of God, Bless the Lord” (LSB 930). The sermon hymn will be “At the Name of Jesus” (LSB 512). Our closing hymn will be “Sent Forth by God’s Blessing” (LSB 643). Our distribution hymns will be “Jesus Christ Is Risen Today) (LSB 457), “He’s Risen, He’s Risen” (LSB 480) and “Jesus Lives! The Victory’s Won” (LSB 490). As you can tell from the fact that we have distribution hymns, we will celebrate the Lord’s Supper Sunday. You may prepare by re-reading what the Small Catechism has to say about this blessed Sacrament.

The assigned lections for Sunday are Acts 5:29–42; 1 Peter 1:3–9; and John 20:19–31. The sermon is titled “Walking the Walk.” The text is Acts 5:29.

In our prayers this week we will include the Lutheran Malaria Initiative. We have been making wonderful progress against this disease in sub-Saharan Africa, but much more remains to do.

After our worship service Sunday, our Church Council will meet.

Sunday evening, beginning at 6:30, our book club, LitWits, will meet. They will be discussing the book An American Plague: The True and Terrifying Story of the Yellow Fever Epidemic of 1793 by Jim Murphy. You can read a bit more about the book in a post I made earlier this week.

Below is a video of First Baptist Church choir and congregation of Ashville singing our opening hymn, “All You Works of God, Bless the Lord.” They even have a small orchestra. What they might not know is that the words are taken from the Apocrypha.

Our Sunday morning Bible hour begins at 9:00 am. We continue with Colossians.

Below is the summary of the lessons provided by the LCMS.

Christ Jesus Breathes His Spirit and His Life into Us
by the Ministry of the Gospel
The crucified and risen Lord Jesus establishes the ministry of the Gospel in order to bestow His life-giving Holy Spirit and His peace upon the Church. To those who are called and ordained to this office, and to those whom they serve in His name, He grants the Holy Absolution of all sins. By the fruits of His cross, He replaces fear and doubt with peace and joy, and thus gives “repentance to Israel and forgiveness of sins” (Acts 5:31). Through the preaching of His sent ones, He calls us to believe that He “is the Christ, the Son of God,” so that by such faith we “may have life in his name” (John 20:31). In His resurrection, we have the “living hope” to which we have been “born again” and by which we are guarded “for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time” (1 Peter 1:3, 5). Until then, “though you have not seen him, you love him,” and by the mercies of God “you believe in him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory” (1 Peter 1:8).

Sunday’s Lessons

Acts 5:29-42
29        But Peter and the apostles answered, “We must obey God rather than men. 30The God of our fathers raised Jesus, whom you killed by hanging him on a tree. 31God exalted him at his right hand as Leader and Savior, to give repentance to Israel and forgiveness of sins. 32And we are witnesses to these things, and so is the Holy Spirit, whom God has given to those who obey him.”
33        When they heard this, they were enraged and wanted to kill them. 34But a Pharisee in the council named Gamaliel, a teacher of the law held in honor by all the people, stood up and gave orders to put the men outside for a little while. 35And he said to them, “Men of Israel, take care what you are about to do with these men. 36For before these days Theudas rose up, claiming to be somebody, and a number of men, about four hundred, joined him. He was killed, and all who followed him were dispersed and came to nothing. 37After him Judas the Galilean rose up in the days of the census and drew away some of the people after him. He too perished, and all who followed him were scattered. 38So in the present case I tell you, keep away from these men and let them alone, for if this plan or this undertaking is of man, it will fail; 39but if it is of God, you will not be able to overthrow them. You might even be found opposing God!” So they took his advice, 40and when they had called in the apostles, they beat them and charged them not to speak in the name of Jesus, and let them go. 41Then they left the presence of the council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer dishonor for the name. 42And every day, in the temple and from house to house, they did not cease teaching and preaching that the Christ is Jesus.

1 Peter 1:3-9
3         Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, 4to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, 5who by God's power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. 6In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, 7so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ. 8Though you have not seen him, you love him. Though you do not now see him, you believe in him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory, 9obtaining the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls.

John 20:19-31
19        On the evening of that day, the first day of the week, the doors being locked where the disciples were for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said to them, “Peace be with you.” 20When he had said this, he showed them his hands and his side. Then the disciples were glad when they saw the Lord. 21Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, even so I am sending you.” 22And when he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit. 23If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you withhold forgiveness from any, it is withheld.”
24        Now Thomas, one of the Twelve, called the Twin, was not with them when Jesus came. 25So the other disciples told him, “We have seen the Lord.” But he said to them, “Unless I see in his hands the mark of the nails, and place my finger into the mark of the nails, and place my hand into his side, I will never believe.”
26        Eight days later, his disciples were inside again, and Thomas was with them. Although the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you.” 27Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here, and see my hands; and put out your hand, and place it in my side. Do not disbelieve, but believe.” 28Thomas answered him, “My Lord and my God!” 29Jesus said to him, “Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”
30        Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book; 31but these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.

Just two more quick notes
The May newsletter has been posted on this blog. Just go the “newsletter” page, which can be found in a link on the right-hand side of this page.

As you probably know, the Portals of Prayer have arrived. Copies have been placed in your mailboxes. Extra copies are available for you to give away.

Well, I pray we will see you Sunday morning.

Easter Blessings in Christ,
Pastor John Rickert

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

An American Plague: The True and Terrifying Story of the Yellow Fever Epidemic of 1793

An American Plague: The True and Terrifying Story of the Yellow Fever ...It is 1793, and there’s an invisible killer roaming the streets of Philadelphia. The city’s residents are fleeing in fear. This killer has a name—yellow fever—but everything else about it is a mystery. Its cause is unknown, and there is no cure. LitWits next book, An American Plague: The True and Terrifying Story of the Yellow Fever Epidemic of 1793, is a powerful and dramatic account of this epidemic by award-winning author Jim Murphy. He traces the devastating course of the epidemic. The medical beliefs and practices of the time and the conditions that helped the disease to spread through the city that was then the nation’s capital are vividly detailed. So, too, is the heroic role that free black Philadelphians played in saving their city. The efforts and intrigues of politicians and doctors—among them George Washington and Benjamin Rush—are also part of the narrative, and the search for the fever’s causes and cure provides a suspenseful counterpoint to this riveting true story of a city under siege. 

Our book club, LitWits, is reading An American Plague and will meet Sunday, April 27, to discuss it. The club will gather at Samantha Park’s home and enjoy some fabulous refreshments along with fabulous conversation. We meet at 6:30 pm. Anyone who has read the book is welcome.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Music for the Easter Season

The Lord be with you

Lutheran Public Radio is broadcasting, 24/7, sacred Easter music throughout the 50 days of Easter. The link is under the links on the left-hand side of the blog.

Blessings in Christ,

Alone, But Not Alone

Below is the trailer for a movie that is coming out in a few months. The trailer looks good, but I can't comment pro or con about the movie because I haven't seen it. I thought you might like to see the trailer as well, and maybe you will be interested in seeing the movie.

Blessings in Christ,

The Brave German Woman

Below is a YouTube video of a newscast about a German Woman who is standing up for Jesus in a country that is being seduced by Islam.

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Holy Week Schedule

Holy Week marks the most important time of the year for Christians. It is when Jesus paid the ultimate price for our salvation. Scripture teaches that the Son of God, born of the virgin Mary, laid down his life that we might receive life eternal. It is, therefore, no surprise that the week is marked with many special services to commemorate the many significant events of the week.

I have become more and more aware of the general lack of knowledge about the basic events that transpired during this week among the general population in America (or, for that matter, the events in the rest of Jesus’ life as well). Without this knowledge, one is unable to make significant spiritual connections. Therefore, this year, I will be telling the story of each day for my messages. This will be a good opportunity for you to invite friends for whom such names like “Palm Sunday,” “Maundy Thursday,” “Good Friday” and “Easter Sunday” bring no specific biblical stories to their mind. Because of this approach, the messages will be long on story and short on application. It will give you a chance to continue the discussion with friends and visitors after the service, as you unpack one or two of the important aspects of the story.

April 13, Palm Sunday (AKA Sunday of the Passion)
Bible Study: 9:00 am
Communion Worship service: 10:30 am

April 17, Maundy Thursday
Communion Worship service: 12:15 pm
Communion Worship service: 7:00 pm
Choir Practice: 8:15 pm

April 18, Good Friday
Prayer Vigil: Noon to 3:00 pm
Tenebrae Worship service: 7:00 pm

April 19, Holy Saturday
Stations of the Cross service: Noon
Great Easter Vigil (Joint service at Good Shepherd, Greenville): 8:00 pm

April 20, Easter Sunday
Breakfast: 9:00 am
Communion Service: 10:30 am

The Holy Saturday services are an exception to the “telling the story of the day” plan for Holy Week. The “Stations of the Cross” service is outside and uses our stations which are posted there. The events depicted begin with Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane and ends with his burial in the Garden Tomb. Times of silence are observed at each station for individual mediation and prayer. This service will be slightly altered from what we did the past two years. There will be a very short meditation given at the end, followed by the Litany. The service will be about an hour. A pamphlet with the homilies that introduced our Stations was put in the mailboxes of our members at the beginning of Lent. A few extra are available for visitors.

The “Great Easter Vigil” is a joint worship service. Congregations participating are Abiding Savior (Anderson), Immanuel (Simpsonville), Good Shepherd (Greenville) and Lamb of God. The service is held at Good Shepherd as they are the most centrally located of the congregations. They are located at 1601 North Pleasantburg Drive, 29609. This is traditionally the first Easter service and so ends with the return of the Halleluiahs. It is also the traditional time for baptisms. I do not know if we will have any baptisms as of yet. The service is filled with readings from the Old Testament that foreshadow Easter, including this coming Sunday’s Old Testament lesson. There is no sermon, but time is provided after each reading for individual prayer and meditation. The service incorporates movement from outside to inside, candles, and more.
The Good Friday Prayer Vigil is also an exception to the “telling the story of the day” theme. This is time set aside for personal prayer and meditation. Material is provided for those who desire it, to guide them in their prayers and meditation. Music is provided via the “magic” of the Clavinova. No one is expected to remain the entire time. The time frame corresponds to the hours of darkness as Jesus hung on the cross.

May the Lord be with you as you prepare for this most holy time of the year.

Pastor John Rickert

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Worship Notes for Lent V - 2014

Thursday after Lent IV
April 3, 2014

The Lord be with you

This coming Sunday is the Fifth Sunday in Lent. During the Lenten season certain elements are changed or removed from our service, to return on Easter and the Easter season. For our liturgy this coming Sunday we will be using the Service of Prayer and Preaching (page 260) for our liturgy. The changes include substituting the “First Song of Isaiah (aka Confitebor tibi, Domine) (LSB 927) for the New Testament Canticle and using the Lenten versicles on pages 260 and 263. (This is a non-communion service.)

The assigned lections for Sunday are Ezekiel 37:1-14, Romans 8:1-11 and John 11:1-53. The Psalm is Psalm 130. The antiphon is verse 7. The Gospel lesson is again rather long as it is again an entire chapter. Last week I used the entire Gospel lesson for my text so we skipped reading it at the normal time. This week I’m using the Old Testament lesson and so the Gospel will return to its regular local.

The text for the sermon is Ezekiel 37:5. The sermon is titled “Death and Life.” The opening hymn is “O Christ, Who Shared Our Mortal Life,” LSB 552, verses 1, 9-10, and 4. This is one of those hymns that have various verses that are inserted between verse one and three. Verses 5-6 are about the raising of Jairus’ Daughter. Verses 7-8 are about the raising of the Widow’s Son. Verses 9-10 are about the raising of Lazarus, which is our Gospel lesson. Our sermon hymn is “O Holy Spirit, Enter In,” LSB 913. Our closing hymn is “Onward, Christian Soldiers” LSB 662.

The coming Sunday is also the The Commemoration of Lucas Cranach and Albrecht Dürer, Artists. The only real impact this commemoration will have in the service will be in our prayers when we thank God for the witness of these two men as well as all the artists, past and present, who have blessed us all through their work by presenting our faith in so many wondrous ways.

Below is a video of the Lutheran Warbler singing “Onward, Christian Soldiers.”  

Our Sunday morning Bible hour begins at 9:00 am. We continue with Colossians.

Below is the summary of the lessons provided by the LCMS.

By His Word of the Gospel,
Jesus Christ Is the Resurrection and the Life
The illness and death of Lazarus happened “that the Son of God may be glorified through it” (John 11:4). This is accomplished on the cross (John 17:1). Jesusmiracle of raising Lazarus prompted His arrest and crucifixion, whereby He would die “for the nation” and gather “into one the children of God who are scattered abroad” (John 11:51–52). As He called Lazarus from the tomb and commanded others to “unbind him, and let him go” (John 11:44), Jesus also calls us and releases us from the bondage of sin and death. We would not “submit to Gods law,” nor could we “please God” (Rom. 8:7–8), but “he condemned sin” in His own flesh so “that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us” (Rom. 8:3–4). Now through the Gospel, “the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells” in us (Rom. 8:11). His Word breathes His Spirit into our mortal flesh, animating us with His own life. As His ministers preach according to His divine command, the Lord Jesus calls us from the grave into the good land that He gives us (Ezek. 37:12, 14).

Sunday’s Lessons

Ezekiel 37:1-14
37:1      The hand of the Lord was upon me, and he brought me out in the Spirit of the Lord and set me down in the middle of the valley; it was full of bones. 2And he led me around among them, and behold, there were very many on the surface of the valley, and behold, they were very dry. 3And he said to me, “Son of man, can these bones live?” And I answered, “O Lord God, you know.” 4Then he said to me, “Prophesy over these bones, and say to them, O dry bones, hear the word of the Lord. 5Thus says the Lord God to these bones: Behold, I will cause breath to enter you, and you shall live. 6And I will lay sinews upon you, and will cause flesh to come upon you, and cover you with skin, and put breath in you, and you shall live, and you shall know that I am the Lord.”
7         So I prophesied as I was commanded. And as I prophesied, there was a sound, and behold, a rattling, and the bones came together, bone to its bone. 8And I looked, and behold, there were sinews on them, and flesh had come upon them, and skin had covered them. But there was no breath in them. 9Then he said to me, “Prophesy to the breath; prophesy, son of man, and say to the breath, Thus says the Lord God: Come from the four winds, O breath, and breathe on these slain, that they may live.” 10So I prophesied as he commanded me, and the breath came into them, and they lived and stood on their feet, an exceedingly great army.
11        Then he said to me, “Son of man, these bones are the whole house of Israel. Behold, they say, ‘Our bones are dried up, and our hope is lost; we are indeed cut off.’ 12Therefore prophesy, and say to them, Thus says the Lord God: Behold, I will open your graves and raise you from your graves, O my people. And I will bring you into the land of Israel. 13And you shall know that I am the Lord, when I open your graves, and raise you from your graves, O my people. 14And I will put my Spirit within you, and you shall live, and I will place you in your own land. Then you shall know that I am the Lord; I have spoken, and I will do it, declares the Lord.”

Romans 8:1-11
8:1       There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. 2For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death. 3For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do. By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh, 4in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit. 5For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit. 6For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace. 7For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God's law; indeed, it cannot. 8Those who are in the flesh cannot please God.
9         You, however, are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if in fact the Spirit of God dwells in you. Anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him. 10But if Christ is in you, although the body is dead because of sin, the Spirit is life because of righteousness. 11If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit who dwells in you.

John 11:1-53
11:1      Now a certain man was ill, Lazarus of Bethany, the village of Mary and her sister Martha. 2It was Mary who anointed the Lord with ointment and wiped his feet with her hair, whose brother Lazarus was ill. 3So the sisters sent to him, saying, “Lord, he whom you love is ill.” 4But when Jesus heard it he said, “This illness does not lead to death. It is for the glory of God, so that the Son of God may be glorified through it.”
5         Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus. 6So, when he heard that Lazarus was ill, he stayed two days longer in the place where he was. 7Then after this he said to the disciples, “Let us go to Judea again.” 8The disciples said to him, “Rabbi, the Jews were just now seeking to stone you, and are you going there again?” 9Jesus answered, “Are there not twelve hours in the day? If anyone walks in the day, he does not stumble, because he sees the light of this world. 10But if anyone walks in the night, he stumbles, because the light is not in him.” 11After saying these things, he said to them, “Our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep, but I go to awaken him.” 12The disciples said to him, “Lord, if he has fallen asleep, he will recover.” 13Now Jesus had spoken of his death, but they thought that he meant taking rest in sleep. 14Then Jesus told them plainly, “Lazarus has died, 15and for your sake I am glad that I was not there, so that you may believe. But let us go to him.” 16So Thomas, called the Twin, said to his fellow disciples, “Let us also go, that we may die with him.”
17        Now when Jesus came, he found that Lazarus had already been in the tomb four days. 18Bethany was near Jerusalem, about two miles off, 19and many of the Jews had come to Martha and Mary to console them concerning their brother. 20So when Martha heard that Jesus was coming, she went and met him, but Mary remained seated in the house. 21Martha said to Jesus, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died. 22But even now I know that whatever you ask from God, God will give you.” 23Jesus said to her, “Your brother will rise again.” 24Martha said to him, “I know that he will rise again in the resurrection on the last day.” 25Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, 26and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die. Do you believe this?” 27She said to him, “Yes, Lord; I believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God, who is coming into the world.”
28        When she had said this, she went and called her sister Mary, saying in private, “The Teacher is here and is calling for you.” 29And when she heard it, she rose quickly and went to him. 30Now Jesus had not yet come into the village, but was still in the place where Martha had met him. 31When the Jews who were with her in the house, consoling her, saw Mary rise quickly and go out, they followed her, supposing that she was going to the tomb to weep there. 32Now when Mary came to where Jesus was and saw him, she fell at his feet, saying to him, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.” 33When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who had come with her also weeping, he was deeply moved in his spirit and greatly troubled. 34And he said, “Where have you laid him?” They said to him, “Lord, come and see.” 35Jesus wept. 36So the Jews said, “See how he loved him!” 37But some of them said, “Could not he who opened the eyes of the blind man also have kept this man from dying?”
38        Then Jesus, deeply moved again, came to the tomb. It was a cave, and a stone lay against it. 39Jesus said, “Take away the stone.” Martha, the sister of the dead man, said to him, “Lord, by this time there will be an odor, for he has been dead four days.” 40Jesus said to her, “Did I not tell you that if you believed you would see the glory of God?” 41So they took away the stone. And Jesus lifted up his eyes and said, “Father, I thank you that you have heard me. 42I knew that you always hear me, but I said this on account of the people standing around, that they may believe that you sent me.” 43When he had said these things, he cried out with a loud voice, “Lazarus, come out.” 44The man who had died came out, his hands and feet bound with linen strips, and his face wrapped with a cloth. Jesus said to them, “Unbind him, and let him go.”
45        Many of the Jews therefore, who had come with Mary and had seen what he did, believed in him, 46but some of them went to the Pharisees and told them what Jesus had done. 47So the chief priests and the Pharisees gathered the council and said, “What are we to do? For this man performs many signs. 48If we let him go on like this, everyone will believe in him, and the Romans will come and take away both our place and our nation.” 49But one of them, Caiaphas, who was high priest that year, said to them, “You know nothing at all. 50Nor do you understand that it is better for you that one man should die for the people, not that the whole nation should perish.” 51He did not say this of his own accord, but being high priest that year he prophesied that Jesus would die for the nation, 52and not for the nation only, but also to gather into one the children of God who are scattered abroad. 53So from that day on they made plans to put him to death.

Just two quick notes
Portals of Prayer have arrived. Copies have been placed in your mailboxes. Extra copies are available for you to give away.

The next Church Council meeting has been postponed one week. This is no big surprise as our regular meeting time is the third Sunday of the month, but that also happens to be Easter Sunday.

The Lutheran Warbler’s videos are often used in my worship notes to give you a preview of one of Sunday’s hymns (like today). She now has a Lenten CD available. If interested, just watch the video below.

Well, I pray we will see you Sunday morning.

Blessings in Christ,
Pastor John Rickert