Thursday, April 30, 2015

Worship Notes for Easter 5, 2015

Thursday after the Fourth Sunday of Easter
April 30, 2015

He is Risen.

I posted no worship notes for this past Sunday. That was because exactly what would happen was up in the air right to the last minute. You see, I was in Beaufort attending the Chartering Service of our one-time mission, Faith Lutheran. (Pictures of the service have been posted on this blog.) We got a late start in seeking to find a pastor to fill our pulpit, and in the end that effort was not successful. However, when I left on Friday, it wasn’t clear yet if our efforts would pan out or not. So I developed two worship plans. Plan A assumed we would have an ordained pastor and we would celebrate the Lord’s Supper. Plan B assumed that two of our lay leaders (Tim Kuether and Wayne Maab) would lead the service and we would use the Service of Prayer and Preaching for our liturgy. In the end, it was option B we used. I wrote a sermon before I left (just in case we used plan B). Tim did the liturgy and Wayne read the sermon. Based on all the reports I’ve received, these two deserve both a “thank you” for doing this and recognition for a job well done.

Because I record my sermons on a small digital recorder that I take into the pulpit, Sunday’s message wasn’t recorded. However, I will be back in the pulpit this coming Sunday along with my trusty recorder, so the message will appear on the sermon page next week.

Speaking of next Sunday, it will be the Fifth Sunday of Easter. The appointed lessons are Psalm 150 (antiphon verse 6), Acts 8:26-40, 1 John 4:1-21 and John 15:1-8. We will use Matins for our liturgy (LSB 219). The sermon text will be 1 John 4:11 and titled “What Kind of Love is This?”

In Matins we sing only three hymns. One of the hymns we will be singing is “Jesus Christ, My Sure Defense” (LSB 742). While not in the Easter section of the hymnal, it is certainly an appropriate hymn for the Easter season. However it is kind of long with eight verses. So Sunday we will divide it in two and sing verses one through four as our opening hymn and verses five through eight for our closing hymn. Our sermon hymn will be “What Wondrous Love Is This?” (LSB 543).

Below is a video of our sermon hymn, “Jesus Christ, My Sure Defense” (LSB 742). It is sung by the Lutheran Quartet and uses the words found in The Lutheran Hymnal. The only difference from it and Lutheran Services Book is that the newer hymnal has updated some of the words.

What follows is a synopsis of Sunday’s lessons, provided by the synod, then the lessons. Following that are some additional notes of interest.

Jesus Christ Is the True Vine Who Bears Much Fruit in Us
God is Love,” and He has manifested Himself to us by sending “His only Son into the world, so that we might live through Him” (1 John 4:9, 16). By the ministry of the Gospel, “He has given us of His Spirit,” so that we also believe and confess “that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh.” In this way we “abide in Him and He in us,” and we “love one another” (1 John 4:2, 7, 13). Such divine love is exemplified in Philip’s preaching of “the good news about Jesus” to the Ethiopian eunuch. And when “they came to some water,” the eunuch was baptized into the very Gospel that Philip had preached (Acts 8:35–38). That Ethiopian was thereby grafted into “the true Vine,” Jesus Christ (John 15:1), just as we are. Already we are clean because of the Word that Christ has spoken to us and by the washing of water with His Word. We now abide in Him by faith in His forgiveness. As He abides in us, both body and soul, with His own Body and His Blood, He “bears much fruit” in us (John 15:3–5).

Psalm 150
1           Praise the Lord!
            Praise God in his sanctuary;
                        praise him in his mighty heavens!
2           Praise him for his mighty deeds;
                        praise him according to his excellent greatness!

3           Praise him with trumpet sound;
                        praise him with lute and harp!
4           Praise him with tambourine and dance;
                        praise him with strings and pipe!
5           Praise him with sounding cymbals;
                        praise him with loud clashing cymbals!
6           Let everything that has breath praise the Lord!
            Praise the Lord!

Acts 8:26-40
26          Now an angel of the Lord said to Philip, “Rise and go toward the south to the road that goes down from Jerusalem to Gaza.” This is a desert place. 27And he rose and went. And there was an Ethiopian, a eunuch, a court official of Candace, queen of the Ethiopians, who was in charge of all her treasure. He had come to Jerusalem to worship 28and was returning, seated in his chariot, and he was reading the prophet Isaiah. 29And the Spirit said to Philip, “Go over and join this chariot.” 30So Philip ran to him and heard him reading Isaiah the prophet and asked, “Do you understand what you are reading?” 31And he said, “How can I, unless someone guides me?” And he invited Philip to come up and sit with him. 32Now the passage of the Scripture that he was reading was this:

            “Like a sheep he was led to the slaughter
                        and like a lamb before its shearer is silent,
                        so he opens not his mouth.
33          In his humiliation justice was denied him.
                        Who can describe his generation?
            For his life is taken away from the earth.”

34          And the eunuch said to Philip, “About whom, I ask you, does the prophet say this, about himself or about someone else?” 35Then Philip opened his mouth, and beginning with this Scripture he told him the good news about Jesus. 36And as they were going along the road they came to some water, and the eunuch said, “See, here is water! What prevents me from being baptized?”a 38And he commanded the chariot to stop, and they both went down into the water, Philip and the eunuch, and he baptized him. 39And when they came up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord carried Philip away, and the eunuch saw him no more, and went on his way rejoicing. 40But Philip found himself at Azotus, and as he passed through he preached the gospel to all the towns until he came to Caesarea.

aSome late, but no early, manuscripts add 37And Philip said, “If you believe with all your heart, you may.” And he replied, “I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.”

1 John 4:1-21
4:1         Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, for many false prophets have gone out into the world. 2By this you know the Spirit of God: every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God, 3and every spirit that does not confess Jesus is not from God. This is the spirit of the antichrist, which you heard was coming and now is in the world already. 4Little children, you are from God and have overcome them, for he who is in you is greater than he who is in the world. 5They are from the world; therefore they speak from the world, and the world listens to them. 6We are from God. Whoever knows God listens to us; whoever is not from God does not listen to us. By this we know the Spirit of truth and the spirit of error.
7           Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. 8Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love. 9In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him. 10In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. 11Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. 12No one has ever seen God; if we love one another, God abides in us and his love is perfected in us.
13          By this we know that we abide in him and he in us, because he has given us of his Spirit. 14And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent his Son to be the Savior of the world. 15Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him, and he in God. 16So we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him. 17By this is love perfected with us, so that we may have confidence for the day of judgment, because as he is so also are we in this world. 18There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love. 19We love because he first loved us. 20If anyone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen. 21And this commandment we have from him: whoever loves God must also love his brother.

John 15:1-8
15:1        “I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser. 2Every branch in me that does not bear fruit he takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit. 3Already you are clean because of the word that I have spoken to you. 4Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. 5I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. 6If anyone does not abide in me he is thrown away like a branch and withers; and the branches are gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned. 7If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. 8By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples.

Some Additional Notes

  • Sunday, at 5:00 pm, Bethlehem Lutheran in Aiken will have a “Call Service” which Pastor Rickert will lead as the Circuit Visitor. This should be his last duty as the Circuit Visitor. At the upcoming District Convention, Rev. Ted Crandall will be installed as our new Circuit Visitor.  

  • Sunday, at 4:00 pm, Immanuel Lutheran in Simpsonville will be installing Rev. Jeff VanOsdol as their pastor. Members from Lamb of God are invited to join in the celebration. Pastor will be unable to attend as he will be in Aiken.

  • Our Sunday morning Bible hour begins at 9:00 am. We continue our examination of the biblical teachings concerning Vocation.

  • Walking our neighborhoods and meeting our neighbors officially began this past Sunday.  Please remember to record how far you walked on the chart in the hallway. We are seeking to walk, collectively 2,015 miles in 2015.

  • Remember, we have pledged to pray for our neighbors. You can get a list of your 100 your closest neighbors from If you have no internet access, speak with Rachel Swain or Kitty Rickert and they will sign you up and get you a list.

  • In an earlier post this week you can find pictures from the Chartering service of Faith Lutheran in Beaufort.

Blessings in Christ,
Pastor Rickert

Jehovah's Witnesses talk to Pastor Drosendahl

Rev. John C. Drosendahl, a pastor in North Carolina, posted the following on his facebook wall. I thought it was great and so I'm posting it here.

Jehovah's Witnesses came to my house one day, saw my cross on the wall, and taking offense, informed me that Jesus didn't die on that, but on a "torture stake". I told them I was familiar with the meaning of the Koine Greek word "stauron", showing it to them from one of their own interlinear bibles. Then I explained to them it was an "hendiadys"--one word standing for 2 things. Looking dumbfounded, I explained that if I say "husband" it implies that he has a wife. If I say "pass the pepper", instinctively, they'll probably pass the salt too. 

Then I further explained that, while indeed "stauron" was technically the term for the upright piece of the cross, it was never used by the Romans apart from the cross-piece that always went with it. I even showed them how this Greek word was written in a caligraphic "cross shape" in early bible manuscripts. (If you have an old Beck Bible, this is the Greek word on the cover, explained on one of the first pages.)

They told me they didn't believe in such a thing as an "hendiadys". So I asked them if they wanted some water. They said, "sure", so I took a pitcher of water and poured it directly on one of their faces. They were shocked. I explained to them that since they didn't ask for a "glass" along with the water (not believing in such a thing as an "hendiadys"), I assumed they wanted the water without one. No Jehovah's Witness has ever returned to my house.

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Faith in the News

This is the article that appeared in The Island News about the Chartering Service for Faith Lutheran I attended this past Sunday. Faith is no longer our mission, but a sister congregation. Praise God.

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Faith Lutheran CHURCH

This past Sunday I was blessed by the Lord to be present as Faith Lutheran Mission became Faith Lutheran Church. Lamb of God was used by the Lord as a key element in the support and furthering of this our one-time mission and now a sister congregation. Pastor Crandall is still our deployed mission developer, but I doubt that will last long. The new congregation will go through the call process and, I expect, will extend a call to Pastor Crandall. If he accepts the call, as I expect he will, we will transfer him and his family to the new congregation. Below are some photos from the charting service.

Friday, April 17, 2015

Worship Notes for Easter 3, 2015

Friday after the Second Sunday of Easter
April 17, 2015

He is Risen.

This coming Sunday is the Third Sunday of Easter (Easter 3). For our liturgy we will be using Matins, which uses the appointed Psalm for the day instead of the Introit. Our appointed lessons for Sunday are: Acts 3:11–21; 1 John 3:1–7; Luke 24:36–49; Psalm 4 (antiphon verse 7). The sermon text will be 1 John 3:2. The sermon is titled “Being Like Jesus.” Our opening hymn will be “Jesus Christ Is Risen Today” (LSB 457). Our sermon hymn will be “I Want to Walk as a child of the Light” (LSB 411). Our closing hymn will be “He’s Risen, He’s Risen” (LSB 480). Our opening and closing hymns reflect the Easter season while the sermon hymn reflects the lesson from 1 John.

Below is a video of our sermon hymn, “I Want to Walk as a child of the Light” (LSB 411). You will notice that the copywirte for the hymn is 1970 and 1975, which makes it Contemporary Christian Music.

What follows is a synopsis of Sunday’s lessons, provided by the synod, then the lessons. Following that are some additional notes of interest.

The Preaching of Repentance and Forgiveness of Sins Makes Us Pure
The risen Lord Jesus taught His disciples “that the Christ should suffer and on the third day rise from the dead” and “that repentance and forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed in his name to all nations” (Luke 24:46–47). Therefore, St. Peter preaches repentance and forgiveness to the people of Jerusalem. As he proclaims that Jesus fulfilled all that “God foretold by the mouth of all the prophets” (Acts 3:18), he also convicts the people of their sin, because they “delivered over and denied” this Lord Jesus and “killed the Author of life.” Yet God “glorified his servant Jesus” and raised Him from the dead (Acts 3:13–15). St. Peter calls the people to repent, so that their “sins may be blotted out, that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord” (Acts 3:19–20). Through this forgiveness of sins and by faith in this forgiveness, the Father shows His love for us in order that “we should be called children of God; and so we are” (1 John 3:1). Thus, we hope in Him and are made pure even “as he is pure,” because “he appeared in order to take away sins, and in him there is no sin” (1 John 3:3, 5).

Acts 3:11–21
11          While [the healed man] clung to Peter and John, all the people, utterly astounded, ran together to them in the portico called Solomon's. 12And when Peter saw it he addressed the people: “Men of Israel, why do you wonder at this, or why do you stare at us, as though by our own power or piety we have made him walk? 13The God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, the God of our fathers, glorified his servant Jesus, whom you delivered over and denied in the presence of Pilate, when he had decided to release him. 14But you denied the Holy and Righteous One, and asked for a murderer to be granted to you, 15and you killed the Author of life, whom God raised from the dead. To this we are witnesses. 16And his name—by faith in his name—has made this man strong whom you see and know, and the faith that is through Jesus has given the man this perfect health in the presence of you all.
17          “And now, brothers, I know that you acted in ignorance, as did also your rulers. 18But what God foretold by the mouth of all the prophets, that his Christ would suffer, he thus fulfilled. 19Repent therefore, and turn back, that your sins may be blotted out, 20that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord, and that he may send the Christ appointed for you, Jesus, 21whom heaven must receive until the time for restoring all the things about which God spoke by the mouth of his holy prophets long ago.

1 John 3:1–7
3:1         See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are. The reason why the world does not know us is that it did not know him. 2Beloved, we are God's children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when he appears we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is. 3And everyone who thus hopes in him purifies himself as he is pure.
4           Everyone who makes a practice of sinning also practices lawlessness; sin is lawlessness. 5You know that he appeared in order to take away sins, and in him there is no sin. 6No one who abides in him keeps on sinning; no one who keeps on sinning has either seen him or known him. 7Little children, let no one deceive you. Whoever practices righteousness is righteous, as he is righteous.

Luke 24:36–49
36          As they were talking about these things, Jesus himself stood among them, and said to them, “Peace to you!” 37But they were startled and frightened and thought they saw a spirit. 38And he said to them, “Why are you troubled, and why do doubts arise in your hearts? 39See my hands and my feet, that it is I myself. Touch me, and see. For a spirit does not have flesh and bones as you see that I have.” 40And when he had said this, he showed them his hands and his feet. 41And while they still disbelieved for joy and were marveling, he said to them, “Have you anything here to eat?” 42They gave him a piece of broiled fish, 43and he took it and ate before them.
44          Then he said to them, “These are my words that I spoke to you while I was still with you, that everything written about me in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled.” 45Then he opened their minds to understand the Scriptures, 46and said to them, “Thus it is written, that the Christ should suffer and on the third day rise from the dead, 47and that repentance and forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem. 48You are witnesses of these things. 49And behold, I am sending the promise of my Father upon you. But stay in the city until you are clothed with power from on high.”

Some Additional Notes

  • LitWits will meet Sunday at 6:30 pm.

  • The Church Council will meet Sunday after the worship service.

  • Our Sunday morning Bible hour begins at 9:00 am.

  • Walking our neighborhoods and meeting our neighbors officially began this past Sunday.  I know the weather has not been great this week, but if you have had a chance to begin, remember to record how far you walked on the chart in the hallway.

  • Remember, we have pledged to pray for our neighbors. You can get a list of your 100 your closest neighbors from If you have no internet access, speak with Rachel Swain or Kitty Rickert and they will sign you up and get you a list.

Blessings in Christ,
Pastor Rickert

Friday, April 10, 2015

Christ the Lord Is Risen Today, LSB 469

Christ the Lord Is Risen Today
Luke 24:4–7; 1 Corinthians 15:55–57; 1 Peter 1:18–21; Rev 5:9–13
(Lutheran Service Book 469)
Text: Charles Wesley (1707-88) alt.

“Christ the Lord is ris’n today!”
Charles Wesley
Saints on earth and angels say;
Raise your joys and triumphs high;
Sing, ye heav’ns, and earth, reply.

Love’s redeeming work is done,
Fought the fight, the battle won;
Lo! Our Sun’s eclipse is o’er;
Lo! He sets in blood no more.

Vain the stone, the watch, the seal;
Christ hath burst the gates of hell.
Death in vain forbids His rise;
Christ has opened paradise.

Lives again our glorious King!
Where, O death, is now thy sting?
Once He died our souls to save;
Where thy victory, O grave?

Soar we now where Christ has led;
Foll’wing our exalted Head.
Made like Him, like Him we rise;
Ours the cross, the grave, the skies.

Hail the Lord of earth and heav’n!
Praise to Thee by both be giv’n!
Thee we greet triumphant now:
Hail, the resurrection, Thou!

Charles Wesley, along with his older brother John, are considered the co-founders of the Methodist Church. Both were poets, but Charles far exceeded his brother in sheer volume of hymns, writing over 6,000. Many, like “Christ the Lord is ris’n today!” are still sung today. This particular hymn was based on an earlier Latin Poem. You will notice that ours has been altered. I know of no modern hymnal that doesn’t have to give this notice as Wesley’s original hymn had 11 verses.  Also, the language has been updated a bit.

John and Charles came under the influence of a Moravian called Peter Bohler, who emphasized the truth of Scripture and the need for a personal experience of the work of the Holy Spirit. John had been doubting his salvation. He has a breakthrough in assurance of his salvation on Wednesday, May 24, 1738. Here are Wesley's words: "In the evening I went very unwillingly to a society in Aldersgate Street, London, where someone was reading Luther's preface to the Epistle to the Romans. About a quarter before nine, while he was describing the change which God works in the heart of a person through faith in Christ, I felt my heart strangely warmed. I felt I did trust in Christ, Christ alone, for salvation; and an assurance was given me that he had taken away my sins, even mine, and saved me from the law of sin and death." This hymn was written about a year after this experience.

Quite obviously, this is an Easter hymn. Our verse one is an ascription of praise, which comes from people and angels. This is a most appropriate response. It is like the praise given in Revelation 5:9. The reason for the praise is the resurrection of Jesus.

In verse two some of the meaning of the resurrection (and therefore some of the reason for our praise) comes through. We sing “Love’s redeeming work is done.” The word “Love” is actually referring to Jesus. It reminds me of the Christina Rossetti (1830-1894) hymn “Love Came Down at Christmas” (LW 46). “Love” is used because love was the motivating factor for the work of Christ, which was our salvation (John 3:16-17). Concerning this work of Christ, Peter wrote:

18knowing that you were ransomed from the futile ways inherited from your forefathers, not with perishable things such as silver or gold, 19but with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without blemish or spot. 20He was foreknown before the foundation of the world but was made manifest in the last times for the sake of you 21who through him are believers in God, who raised him from the dead and gave him glory, so that your faith and hope are in God. (1 Peter 1:18-21)

Peter tells us that, before the world began, God in His unfathomable way, chose to redeem the world through his Son, granting that redemption to all who are brought to faith in Jesus. The Son paid the ransom owed the Father because of our sin with His own precious blood. The Father affirmed the ransom payment with Christ’s resurrection. Satan’s power over humanity has been broken.

The opening words of verse three refer to the experience of the women as they came to the tomb on the first Easter morning. Luke 24:4-7 reads:

4While they were perplexed about this, behold, two men stood by them in dazzling apparel. 5And as they were frightened and bowed their faces to the ground, the men said to them, “Why do you seek the living among the dead? 6He is not here, but has risen. Remember how he told you, while he was still in Galilee, 7that the Son of Man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men and be crucified and on the third day rise.” (Luke 24:4-7)

What they were perplexed about was that the stone they expected to be blocking their way into the grave had been rolled away. The ladies had come to honor their Lord with burial spices. The stone was a typical way to close a grave, which was actually a cave. The “seal” had been placed by the authorities, along with a guard, to prevent tampering (Matthew 27:62-66). They feared the disciples would steal the body of Jesus. These preventive measures were in vain, not because the body was stolen, but because Christ had risen from the grave. Two angels appeared to the ladies and told them “He is not here, but has risen.” Death could not hold Jesus (Acts 2:24).

The resurrection of Jesus should not have come as a surprise. Jesus had told them he would rise (Luke 18:31-33, etc.). It had also been foretold throughout the Old Testament (Luke 24:26-27). The angel reminded the ladies of this. When Jesus says something, He means it. We should respond in confidence by believing His written word to this day. We are not to add to it, or take away from it, but receive it whole and seek to understand it by the guidance of the Holy Spirit working through that same word (Deuteronomy 4:2; Revelation 22:18-19; Ephesians 6:17).

In our verse four, we sing:

Lives again our glorious King!
Where, O death, is now thy sting?
Once He died our souls to save;
Where thy victory, O grave?

Wesley is referring to 1 Corinthians 15:55–57.

55          “O death, where is your victory?
            O death, where is your sting?”

56          The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. 57But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.

God’s Law demands punishment for those who transgress it (sin). The wages of sin is death, both physical and eternal (Romans 6:23a). In 1 Corinthians Paul speaks of how death has been conquered through the victory of Easter. Jesus defeated it and Satan with His own death and glorious resurrection. His victory is every believer’s victory. This is the joy of Easter. This is the Good News we share.

In Revelation 5:9-13 we get a peek into heaven. The precise event is the reception of Jesus at his Ascension. We read:

9And they sang a new song, saying,

            “Worthy are you to take the scroll
                        and to open its seals,
            for you were slain, and by your blood you ransomed people for God
                        from every tribe and language and people and nation,
10          and you have made them a kingdom and priests to our God,
                        and they shall reign on the earth.”

11Then I looked, and I heard around the throne and the living creatures and the elders the voice of many angels, numbering myriads of myriads and thousands of thousands, 12saying with a loud voice,

            “Worthy is the Lamb who was slain,
            to receive power and wealth and wisdom and might
            and honor and glory and blessing!”

13And I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and in the sea, and all that is in them, saying,

            “To him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb
            be blessing and honor and glory and might forever and ever!”

The praise of Jesus for his redeeming work resounds in glory. So when we “Soar we now where Christ has led; Foll’wing our exalted Head.” We will participate in the praise of Jesus that we began while here on earth. Both creatures from heaven and earth join in the glorious song. Through God’s grace we will be included with those redeemed in that heavenly song.