Festival of St. James of Jerusalem, Bother of Jesus and Martyr
Thursday after Pentecost 19
October 23, 2014
The Lord be with you
This coming Sunday will be recognized by us, and by most churches in our denomination, as Reformation Sunday. Of course, Reformation Day is October 31 and some of our sister congregations will have a special service on that day. Most, though, will transfer the holiday to this coming Sunday. In the past, most of our churches observed the Reformation on the 31st. It has only taken one generation for the shift to the last Sunday in October. Maybe one year the LC-MS congregations here in the Upstate will get together and have a joint Reformation service on the 31st. Personally, I think it would be great.
We will use a special Reformation liturgy for our service Sunday. Portions are drawn from Divine III and portions are drawn from the Lutheran Confessions. The appointed lessons are Revelation 14:6–7, Romans 3:19–28, and Matthew 11:12–19. We will celebrate the Lord’s Supper. The opening hymn will be “Thy Strong Word” (LSB 578). The sermon hymn will be “A Mighty Fortress” (LSB 657). The closing hymn will be “Sent Forth by God’s Blessing” (LSB 643). Our distribution hymns will be “O Lord, We Praise Thee” (LSB 617), “Lord, Keep Us Steadfast in Your Word” (LSB 655), and “Thine the Amen, Thine the Praise” (LSB 680).
Below is a video of the Lutheran Warbler playing and singing “A Mighty Fortress is Our God.” This hymn is actually in our hymnal twice (LSB 656/657). They are two different translations of the German original. They are also two different arrangements. The one the Lutheran Warbler recorded is the historic tune Martin Luther composed when he wrote the hymn (LSB 656). The other is a rework of the original, done by Bach (LSB 657). As we will be using the Bach arrangement on Sunday, I decided to post the original today. If you have a hymnal, you can compare the translations as well as the tunes. I posted a Bible study earlier this week based on this hymn.
Our Sunday morning Bible hour begins at 9:00 am. We will continue our consideration of the biblical themes of Witness, Mercy and Life Together. The study of God’s word is a key way to keep the Third Commandment which Luther explains as meaning, “We should fear and love God so that we do not despise preaching and His Word, but hold it sacred and gladly hear and learn it.” Bible study is a great opportunity to “gladly hear and learn” God’s word.
What follows is a summary of Sunday’s lessons provided by the LC-MS and then the actual lessons. You might have noticed that the Psalm/Introit are never part of the summary.
The Son of God Has Set Us Free from Sin and Death by His Grace
“Wisdom is justified by her deeds” (Matt. 11:19), and the true wisdom of God, Christ Jesus, the incarnate Son, justifies us by His deeds. He prepares His way by the preaching of repentance, but He has suffered the violence of the Law and voluntarily handed Himself over to violent men, in order that we may eat and drink with Him in His Kingdom and “remain in the house forever” (John 8:35). He is “a friend of tax collectors and sinners” (Matt. 11:18–19), and He has rescued us by His grace from the slavery of sin and death. By the proclamation of His eternal Gospel “to those who dwell on earth, to every nation and tribe and language and people” (Rev. 14:6), “the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law” (Rom. 3:21), “that he might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus” (Rom. 3:26). And by the hearing of that Gospel of Christ Jesus, “whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith” (Rom. 3:25), “you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free” (John 8:31–32).
6Then I saw another angel flying directly overhead, with an eternal gospel to proclaim to those who dwell on earth, to every nation and tribe and language and people. 7And he said with a loud voice, “Fear God and give him glory, because the hour of his judgment has come, and worship him who made heaven and earth, the sea and the springs of water.”
19 Now we know that whatever the law says it speaks to those who are under the law, so that every mouth may be stopped, and the whole world may be held accountable to God. 20For by works of the law no human being will be justified in his sight, since through the law comes knowledge of sin.
21 But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law, although the Law and the Prophets bear witness to it—22the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction: 23for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, 25whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God's righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins. 26It was to show his righteousness at the present time, so that he might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.
27 Then what becomes of our boasting? It is excluded. By what kind of law? By a law of works? No, but by the law of faith. 28For we hold that one is justified by faith apart from works of the law.
12 From the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven has suffered violence, and the violent take it by force. 13For all the Prophets and the Law prophesied until John, 14and if you are willing to accept it, he is Elijah who is to come. 15He who has ears to hear, let him hear.
16 “But to what shall I compare this generation? It is like children sitting in the marketplaces and calling to their playmates,
17 “‘We played the flute for you, and you did not dance;
we sang a dirge, and you did not mourn.’
18 For John came neither eating nor drinking, and they say, ‘He has a demon.’ 19The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and they say, ‘Look at him! A glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!’ Yet wisdom is justified by her deeds.”
A Couple of Quick Notes:
- Aside from the Bible study, I also put on this blog a post titled “Not In My Lifetime” earlier this week. It is inspired, a bit, by the announcement made by Pope Francis earlier this week.
- The November newsletter should be posted before Sunday and available in print on Sunday.
- Today is the Festival of St. James of Jerusalem, Bother of Jesus and Martyr. If you want to know a bit more, click on the name of the festival for a link to an article I did back in 2012.
Blessings in Christ,
Pastor John Rickert