Thursday after Easter 7
Commemoration of Emperor Constantine, Christian Ruler, and Helena, Mother of Constantine
May 21, 2015
The Lord be with you.
This coming Sunday marks the 50th day after Easter. It is the day we celebrate as the Feast of Pentecost. On the first Pentecost the Holy Spirit descended on the disciples with the sound of a mighty rushing wind, with the appearance of flames, and with the gift of foreign languages. The day is often called the “birthday of the Church” for on that day about 3,000 people were brought to faith in Christ (Acts 2).
While Pentecost will be the main focus of the day, there are two other celebrations we shall recall. First is really a national holiday instead of a Church holiday; Memorial Day. This day is still marked in many places in our country with parades, civic gatherings, speeches, visits to graveyards and even fireworks. For others it has been downgraded to just a long weekend. Memorial Day now falls on the fourth Monday of May (which is not always the last Monday in May). The day honors the memory of our military personal who have died protecting our nation. The day will be remembered in our prayers and in the sermon. There are also two Memorial Day Prayers in the Additional Notes section of this post that you may desire to use in your Memorial Day celebration Monday.
The third celebration is the Commemoration of Esther. Her story is told in the Old Testament book that bears her name. She is a true heroin, whose actions saved the Jews from certain extermination. If you have never read the book, it is a great read. There is also a movie about her story titled “One Night With the King.” While it certainly adds much that is not in the Bible, it remains true to the biblical text in that it doesn’t change anything the Bible has. One small lesson from Esther might be that, while some in government can be far from the will of God, there are also some who are quite faithful. We must be careful, to this very day, of making sweeping generalizations about “politicians” or “Columbia” or “Washington.” We will thank the Lord for the witness of Esther in our prayers.
We will be using a special Pentecost Day liturgy this Sunday. It is all printed in the bulletin, except the hymns for which we will use the hymnal. This will be a Communion service. So, with the Communion hymns and hymns being used as portions of the liturgy, there are quite a few hymns to be listed. For our Offertory we will use “Create in Me” (LSB 956). For our Sanctus we will use “Holy, Holy, Holy” (LSB 507, vs 1-2). For the Agnus Dei we will use “Lamb of God, Pure and Holy” (LSB 434). Our opening hymn will be "Holy Spirit, Light Devine" (LSB 496). Our sermon hymn will be “Lift High the Cross” (LSB 837). Our closing hymn will be "Go, My Children, with My Blessing" (LSB 922). Our distribution hymns will be "Come, Holy Ghost, God and Lord" (LSB 497), "Draw Near and Take the Body of the Lord" (LSB 637), and "Creator Spirit, by Whose Aid" (LSB 500).
Sunday’s Scripture readings (which are printed in the bulletin) will be Ezekiel 37:1-14, Acts 2:1-21 and John 15:26-27; 16:4b-15. The sermon text will be John 15:26. The sermon will be titled “The Holy Spirit’s Memorial Day.”
Below is a video of our sermon hymn, “Lift High the Cross” (LSB 837). It is being sung at St. Matthew's Lutheran Church in Wauwatosa, WI. They were celebrating Christ the King Sunday and Pastor Gary Erickson's retirement on Sunday, November 20, 2011.
What follows is a synopsis of Sunday’s lessons, provided by the synod, then the lessons.
The Holy Spirit Brings the Dead to Life by the Righteousness of Christ
In returning to His Father by way of the Cross and Resurrection, Christ Jesus sends “the Helper” to His Church, that is, “the Spirit of truth, who proceeds from the Father.” The Spirit testifies of Christ and glorifies Him, by taking what is His and declaring it to the world in the preaching of repentance for the forgiveness of sins (John 15:26; 16:7, 14). He convicts the world of sin by the word of the Law; He forgives sins and justifies sinners by the Word of the Gospel; and He bestows the faith which says “Amen” to this righteousness of God (John 16:8–11). Therefore, the Lord pours out His Spirit on the Apostles, that by their preaching, the Spirit should be given to His entire church. As the multitudes are gathered from all the nations by “this sound,” that is, by the preaching of “the mighty works of God” in Christ Jesus, so does God the Father pour out the Spirit of His Son “on all flesh” (Acts 2:6, 11, 16). The Lord God breathes upon the slain, and so shall they live; for so the Lord has spoken, and He shall do it (Ezek. 37:5–14).
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.”
2:1 When the day of Pentecost arrived, they were all together in one place. 2And suddenly there came from heaven a sound like a mighty rushing wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting. 3And divided tongues as of fire appeared to them and rested on each one of them. 4And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit gave them utterance.
5 Now there were dwelling in Jerusalem Jews, devout men from every nation under heaven. 6And at this sound the multitude came together, and they were bewildered, because each one was hearing them speak in his own language. 7And they were amazed and astonished, saying, “Are not all these who are speaking Galileans? 8And how is it that we hear, each of us in his own native language? 9Parthians and Medes and Elamites and residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, 10Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya belonging to Cyrene, and visitors from Rome, 11both Jews and proselytes, Cretans and Arabians—we hear them telling in our own tongues the mighty works of God.” 12And all were amazed and perplexed, saying to one another, “What does this mean?” 13But others mocking said, “They are filled with new wine.”
14 But Peter, standing with the eleven, lifted up his voice and addressed them: “Men of Judea and all who dwell in Jerusalem, let this be known to you, and give ear to my words. 15For these people are not drunk, as you suppose, since it is only the third hour of the day. 16But this is what was uttered through the prophet Joel:
17 “‘And in the last days it shall be, God declares,
that I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh,
and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy,
and your young men shall see visions,
and your old men shall dream dreams;
18 even on my male servants and female servants
in those days I will pour out my Spirit, and they shall prophesy.
19 And I will show wonders in the heavens above
and signs on the earth below,
blood, and fire, and vapor of smoke;
20 the sun shall be turned to darkness
and the moon to blood,
before the day of the Lord comes, the great and magnificent day.
21 And it shall come to pass that everyone who calls upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.’
John 15:26-27; 16:4b-15
15:26 “But when the Helper comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth, who proceeds from the Father, he will bear witness about me. 27And you also will bear witness, because you have been with me from the beginning. …
16:4b “I did not say these things to you from the beginning, because I was with you. 5But now I am going to him who sent me, and none of you asks me, ‘Where are you going?’ 6But because I have said these things to you, sorrow has filled your heart. 7Nevertheless, I tell you the truth: it is to your advantage that I go away, for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you. But if I go, I will send him to you. 8And when he comes, he will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment: 9concerning sin, because they do not believe in me; 10concerning righteousness, because I go to the Father, and you will see me no longer; 11concerning judgment, because the ruler of this world is judged.
12 “I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. 13When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth, for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come. 14He will glorify me, for he will take what is mine and declare it to you. 15All that the Father has is mine; therefore I said that he will take what is mine and declare it to you.
Some Additional Notes
- Information for the June newsletter is due Sunday
- The Board of Evangelism meeting has been moved to this coming Sunday.
- 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 is off and walking. Remember to record your miles each week on the bulletin board in the hallway. Our collective goal - 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 pray4everyhome.com. If you have no internet access, speak with Rachel Swain or Kitty Rickert and they will sign you up and get you a list.
- Here are two Memorial Day prayers. You may wish to use one of them Monday.
Almighty God, you are our strength and our shield. We give you thanks for the men and women of our armed forces, past and present, and especially for those who have died while serving. May their sacrifices serve the cause of peace, and may our nation be ever grateful for their service. With your wisdom and strength guide our military's leaders, and give to all people a desire for justice and peace. We pray in the name of Jesus Christ, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.
Heavenly Father, as our nation pauses today to remember those in the military who have given their lives for freedoms we enjoy, we pray you would have us all look to you for strength, comfort and guidance. Be with all who serve in our Armed Forces. Bless them and their families. Grant your loving protection. Let peace prevail among all the nations, O God. Especially let your mercy rest upon our land, even as we acknowledge with thanksgiving your past goodness on this country. If it is your will, preserve the lives of the men and women in uniform as they defend our citizenry. Most of all, we pray that you would turn the hearts of all – military and civilian – to your holy Word where we find the true peace for our sinful souls that surpasses all understanding. Keep us repentant of sin. Move us to know, take hold and treasure your saving grace. In the name of Jesus, our Savior and Your beloved Son, who alone gives this peace and hope for eternity, we pray. Amen.
Blessings in Christ,