Thursday, November 20, 2014

Worship Notes for the Last Sunday of the Church Year, 2014

Thursday in the week of Pentecost 23
November 20, 2014

The Lord be with you

This coming Sunday will be the Last Sunday of the Church Year. Because the last three Sundays in the Church Year focus on issues relating to the End Times in the appointed scripture lessons, some churches call this Sunday the Last Sunday of the End Times. Another popular name is Christ the King Sunday. No matter what you call this coming Sunday, the following Sunday (November 30) will be the first Sunday in Advent.

For our liturgy Sunday we will use the first setting of the Divine Service (page 151). This is a communion service. The appointed readings are: Ezekiel 34:11–16, 20–24; 1 Corinthians 15:20–28; Matthew 25:31–46.

Our opening hymn will be “Rejoice, Rejoice, Believers” (LSB 515). The sermon hymn will be “The Day Is Surely Drawing Near” (LSB 508). Our closing hymn will be “Forth in the Peace of Christ We Go” (LSB 920). Our distribution hymns will be “At the Name of Jesus” (LSB 512), “Lord Jesus Christ, You Have Prepared” (LSB 522) and “Built on the Rock” (LSB 645).

Yesterday I posted a Bible study inspired by our opening hymn, “Rejoice, Rejoice, Believers.”

The sermon will be titled “Christ our Firstfruit.” The sermon text will be 1 Corinthians 15:20.

Below is a recording of the chancel choir at Grace Lutheran Church in San Diego singing our opening hymn, “Rejoice, Rejoice, Believers.” This is the hymn that I used for the Bible study I posted yesterday. Because I grew up in San Diego, I happen to know that Grace Lutheran is the “mother” church of the LC-MS congregations in San Diego. I have a nephew who is an Elder there.

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. We will watch the next video in the series and begin a new section in our booklet.

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.” Our Sunday morning 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.

By the Cross of Christ We Enter the Kingdom of Our God and Father
When the crucified and risen Lord Jesus comes to judge the living and the dead, “he will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats” (Matt. 25:32). “To those on his right,” who have been crucified and raised with Him through repentance and faith in His Gospel, He will grant the blessed Kingdom of His Father (Matt. 25:34). Having been justified by His grace, they live unto righteousness in Him (Matt. 25:35–40). But “those on his left,” who trust in themselves and despise their neighbor, will depart “into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels” (Matt. 25:41). Until that day, the Lord searches for His sheep “as a shepherd seeks out his flock” (Ezek. 34:11–12). Through His preaching of repentance, He disciplines the proud sheep and goats, “the fat and the strong,” but through the preaching of forgiveness He rescues the lost, binds up the injured, strengthens the weak and feeds “the lean sheep” (Ezek. 34:16, 20). In this way, He destroys the power of death in the children of Adam by His cross, so that “in Christ shall all be made alive” by His resurrection (1 Cor. 15:20–26).

Ezekiel 34:11-16, 20-24
11          “For thus says the Lord God: Behold, I, I myself will search for my sheep and will seek them out. 12As a shepherd seeks out his flock when he is among his sheep that have been scattered, so will I seek out my sheep, and I will rescue them from all places where they have been scattered on a day of clouds and thick darkness. 13And I will bring them out from the peoples and gather them from the countries, and will bring them into their own land. And I will feed them on the mountains of Israel, by the ravines, and in all the inhabited places of the country. 14I will feed them with good pasture, and on the mountain heights of Israel shall be their grazing land. There they shall lie down in good grazing land, and on rich pasture they shall feed on the mountains of Israel. 15I myself will be the shepherd of my sheep, and I myself will make them lie down, declares the Lord God. 16I will seek the lost, and I will bring back the strayed, and I will bind up the injured, and I will strengthen the weak, and the fat and the strong I will destroy. I will feed them in justice. 
20          “Therefore, thus says the Lord God to them: Behold, I, I myself will judge between the fat sheep and the lean sheep. 21Because you push with side and shoulder, and thrust at all the weak with your horns, till you have scattered them abroad, 22I will rescue my flock; they shall no longer be a prey. And I will judge between sheep and sheep. 23And I will set up over them one shepherd, my servant David, and he shall feed them: he shall feed them and be their shepherd. 24And I, the Lord, will be their God, and my servant David shall be prince among them. I am the Lord; I have spoken.
1 Corinthians 15:20–28
20          But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. 21For as by a man came death, by a man has come also the resurrection of the dead. 22For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive. 23But each in his own order: Christ the firstfruits, then at his coming those who belong to Christ. 24Then comes the end, when he delivers the kingdom to God the Father after destroying every rule and every authority and power. 25For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet. 26The last enemy to be destroyed is death. 27For “God has put all things in subjection under his feet.” But when it says, “all things are put in subjection,” it is plain that he is excepted who put all things in subjection under him. 28When all things are subjected to him, then the Son himself will also be subjected to him who put all things in subjection under him, that God may be all in all.

Matthew 25:31–46
31          “When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on his glorious throne. 32Before him will be gathered all the nations, and he will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. 33And he will place the sheep on his right, but the goats on the left. 34Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. 35For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, 36I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.’ 37Then the righteous will answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? 38And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? 39And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’ 40And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’
41          “Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. 42For I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me no drink, 43I was a stranger and you did not welcome me, naked and you did not clothe me, sick and in prison and you did not visit me.’ 44Then they also will answer, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to you?’ 45Then he will answer them, saying, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me.’ 46And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.”

A Couple of Quick Notes:

  • Information for the December newsletter is due Sunday.  
  • Women’s Bible Fellowship will meet Monday, November 24, at 10:00 am.
  • We will have a Thanksgiving Eve worship service Wednesday, November 26. The service will begin at 7:00 pm.
  • The first Choir practice for our seasonal choir will follow the Thanksgiving Eve service. All who have a song in their hearts are encouraged to join.

Well, I pray we will see you Sunday morning.

Blessings in Christ,
Pastor John Rickert

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