Monday, July 6, 2015

Commemoration of Isaiah

Isaiah, mighty seer in days of old,
The Lord of all in spirit did behold
High on a lofty throne, in splendor bright.
With robes that filled the temple courts with light.
Above the throne were flaming seraphim;
Six wings had they, these messengers of Him.
With two they veiled their faces as was right,
With two they humbly hid their feet from sight.
And with the other two aloft they soared;
One to the other called and praised the Lord:
"Holy is God, the Lord of Sabaoth!
Holy is God the Lord of Sabaoth!
Holy is God the Lord of  Sabaoth!
His glory fills the heavens and the earth!"
The beams and lintels trembled at the cry,
And clouds of smoke en-wrapped the throne on high.


Isaiah, Mighty Seer in Days of Old - Lutheran Service Book #960 © 2006 Concordia Publishing House, St. Louis

Sunday, July 5, 2015

Time in the Word Pentecost 7 - Proper 10


Preparation for next week – Sent to Serve



The theme for the Seventh Sunday after Pentecost (Proper 10) is sent to serve. Christians are people who are sent by God to serve Him and His people. Jesus sent His disciples to preach and heal. John the Baptist is beaded for his refusal to stand down to wicked King Herod. Faithfulness to God was far more important than obeying the dictates of a mad king. As John dies innocently, so must the Christ. Amos claimed that the Lord chose him as a shepherd to go to Israel to preach in the Old Testament lesson. In the Epistle lesson, we gain the impression that we are destined to be God’s people through Christ and appointed to glorify Him. We are a people with a mission and on a mission given to us by God. Occasionally we might be opposed. This need not be our chief concern. One thing is needed and that is faithfulness.

Collect for Pentecost 7Grant, Lord, that the course of this world may be so governed by Your direction that Your Church may rejoice in serving You in godly peace and quietness;

Prayer in time of affliction and distress: Almighty and most merciful God, in this earthly life we endure sufferings and death before we enter into eternal glory. Grant us grace at all times to subject ourselves to Your holy will and to continue steadfast in the true faith to the end of our lives that we may know the peace and joy of the blessed hope of the resurrection of the dead and of the glory of the world to come; through Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen

Absolution is neither a response to a suitably worthy confession, nor the acceptance of a reasonable apology. To absolve means not only to loosen, to free, to acquit; it also means to dispose of, to complete, and to finish. When God pardons, He does not say He understands your weakness or makes allowances for your errors. Rather, He disposes of; He finishes with, the whole of your dead life and raises you up with a new one. He does not so much deal with your failures as does He drop them down the back hole of Jesus’ death. He forgets your sins in the darkness of the tomb. He remembers your iniquities no more in the forgetfulness of Jesus’ death. He finds you in the desert of death, not the garden of improvement. And in the power of Jesus resurrection, He puts you on His shoulders, rejoicing, and brings you home. – Robert Farrar Capon, Parables of Grace, pg. 39

Collect for Proper 10 – Lord, You granted Your prophets strength to resist the temptations of the devil and courage to proclaim repentance. Give us pure hearts and minds to follow Your Son faithfully even into suffering and death; through the same Jesus Christ, our Lord, who lives, and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, One God, now and forever.
  
Monday, 06 July 2015Psalm 143:1-2, 8a; Antiphon, Psalm 143:1— O Lord hear my prayer listen to my cry for mercy in your faithfulness and righteousness come to my relief. In each of our readings for this coming week the righteous find themselves confronted by evil forces. There are those who would want the Christian to cease and desist. Thus, we must pray to the Lord for deliverance from all our enemies. Psalm 143 is such a prayer. As we make our appeals known to God, not only will He hear us but also He will act, in His own time to rescue and defend us.

Tuesday, 07 July 2015Psalm 85(1-7) 8-13; key verse v.7— Show us Your unfailing love, O Lord, and grant us Your salvation. This is how God chooses to act on behalf of His people. He has every right to punish, condemn and destroy. In love, He will offer forgiveness, life, and salvation. How could He? The cross of Calvary shows us how deep and profound the Father’s love is for His people.

Wednesday, 08 July 2015Amos 7:7-15—Amaziah orders Amos to stop preaching and go home to Judah. Amos, a herdsman from Tekoa, is sent by the lord to Israel to preach. It is at the time of King Jeroboam that Amos preached at Bethel, the site of the royal sanctuary. Amaziah is the high priests who warms the king of Amos’ treason and who commands Amos to go back to Judah to preach there.  Amos replies that he is not a professional prophet, just a layman, who was called by God to preach to Israel. He is not preaching for a living, but in obedience to God’s call.

Amos was preaching in the holy place of Bethel, the royal seat and place of worship. Amaziah tells Amos to go home to the South to preach, for the temple is the “king’s sanctuary.”  Since Amos’ message was against the king and nation, Amos had no right to speak there; it was the king’s chapel and not God’s house. If it is the king’s then speak in support of the king’s policies and practices. If it is God’s house, God speaks in His house through His called spokesperson. It was a matter of civil religion v. true religion.

It was a religious service head in a “White House” where you would expect sermons supporting the nation. The high priest of Israel accuses Amos of treason. His preaching does not support the nation. The king is to be killed and the people are to go into captivity. This spells the end of the nation. This is a hard message. Amaziah reports this to the king. The truth often hurts. It does not always approve what we do.

Thursday, 09 July 2015Ephesians 1:3-14— God’s chose and destined us to be His children through Christ. For the next few weeks, the Epistle lesson will come from St. Paul’s letter to the Ephesians. This lesson is difficult to relate to the other two lessons. The central theme of the letter to the Ephesians is the church. This lesson is on praise to God who in Christ has poured out His love for us, who calls us to be His children, redeemed us through the blood of Christ, and revealed His will to us. He has given us His Spirit who is a guarantee of our salvation and eternal life.

Friday, 10 July 2015Mark 6:14-29 —Mad king Herod had John the Baptist killed to honor an oath, to save face in front of his dinner guests, to quiet a man who firmly told him that his illicit affair with his sister-in-law was sinful and shameful and to honor Herodias’ request.  Verse 20 is the key verse. Although Herod knew he was doing wrong, his conscious bothered him, and John’s words condemned him Herod was still drawn to listen to John. When we are overcome by the fear of confronting someone, we can be comforted in the fact that the Law does convict. God through the preaching of the Law prepares us to hear, understand and savor the Gospel. John the forerunner of Christ will preach, baptize and die all like Christ. First he must die. With the death of John now, the cross becomes the focus of Christ’s destiny. 



Saturday, 11 July 2015— Luke 10:2 - Sunday’s hymn of the day, Spread the Reign of God the Lord (LSB 830). Who will work for the Lord and His cause? There is plenty of work to be done. May we pray the Lord would use each of us to be doing His will in our daily vocations. The opportunity to serve Him is rewarding enough. As we can find work to be done may we do it joyfully and willingly.

Sources:
Prayers from Lutheran Service Book © 2006 and Lutheran Worship © 1980 Concordia Publishing House and from Lutheran Worship © 1980 Concordia Publishing House.
Schnorr von Carolsfeld woodcut used with permission from WELS

Lectionary Preaching Workbook Series B – John Brokhoff © 1981 CSS Publishing, Lima, OH

Saturday, July 4, 2015

Independence Day



Prayer for our countryAlmighty God, You have given us this good land as our heritage. Grant that we remember Your generosity and constantly do Your will. Bless our land with honest industry, truthful education, and an honorable way of life. Save us from violence, discord, and confusion, from pride and arrogance, and from every evil course of action. Make us who come from many nations with many different languages a untied people. Defend our liberties, and give those whom we have entrusted with the authority of government the spirit of wisdom that they may be justice and peace in our land. When times are prosperous, let our hearts be thankful. In troubled times do not let our trust in You fail; through Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen

Friday, July 3, 2015

Pentecost 6- Proper 9

Proper 9
July 5, 2015
Mark 6:1-6
The Scandal of Christ

Grant, Lord that the course of this world may be so governed by Your direction that Your Church may rejoice in serving You in godly peace and quietness. Give us eyes to recognize You, ears to receive Your Word, and hearts to believe its promises. By Your grave, bring us to the fullness of Your glory…

He came to His own and His own did not receive Him.” – (John 1:11) Two very different astonishments stand, side by side. Jesus’ teachings amaze His hometown neighbors. Yet their closed- minded, obstructed hardness, leaves Jesus amazed.

We see similar contrasts today. People experience so much goodness from God and yet remain unfaithful and unbelieving. But Jesus did not retaliate. Or write people off. Even when they scornfully dismissed Him. He took the world’s rejection. And through His sacrificial death, reconciled the world to God.

In Jesus’ hometown of Nazareth. The people take offense at Him. The religious community had already written Him off. Now, His friends and relative – the people from His own hometown will reject Him too.

These people were astonished at His teaching and His words. They could not explain His greatness. They referred to Him, as they knew Him - a carpenter…The son of Mary along with his brothers and sisters.  Unable to explain Him, they took offense. They were scandalized by Him. A prophet is without honor among His own people.

That was then. This is now. What sort of reception does Jesus receive today? Those who can’t figure Jesus out. Who are unable to get the explanation they want take offense of Jesus and His word. It was a sad day for the people of Nazareth. It remains a sad day whenever someone rejects the Savior and His message of grace.

Did Jesus fail? From our text, one might assume so – there is a reason why – the people refused to believe in Him. “A prophet is not without honor even from his own country.”       

In Jesus’ hometown. In Nazareth. The people take offense at Jesus and His work. How so?

Jesus failed to gain the people’s understand Vv. 2-3 - “When the Sabbath came, he began to teach in the synagogue, and many who heard him were amazed. “Where did this man get these things?” they asked. “What’s this wisdom that has been given him that he even does miracles! Isn’t this the carpenter? Isn’t this Mary’s son and the brother of James, Joseph, Judas and Simon? Aren’t his sisters here with us?” And they took offense at him.”  Mark 6:2 -3

The people took offense at Jesus. His mere presence created a scandal.  His own people were not proud of His teaching and healing. Jesus was not the local body who made good. They were jealous of His power. His wisdom. His success. He was a simple carpenter. Where did He get this wisdom? His mother, brothers, and sisters all lived there. “Who does He think He is?” they asked. They were so offended. They could not believe Him. Was He a prophet sent from God? Surely not!

Transition: Jesus failed to gain the people’s understanding. He failed to win the people’s faith.  

He failed to win the people’s faith in Him V.6 - “And he was amazed at their lack of faith.” Mark 6:6

It was not that Jesus could not do any mighty work.  To the contrary.  He had the blessing of His Father. Faith is the receptive agent, which receives these gifts. Without faith, God’s grace would do us no good.

Thus, the hymn writer would remind us;
  
Today Your mercy calls us
To wash away our sin.
However great our trespass,
Whatever we have been,
However long from mercy
Our hearts have turned away,
Your precious blood can wash us
And make us clean today.[1]

Nothing in my hand I bring,
Simply to Thy cross I cling;
Naked come to Thee for dress;
Helpless, look to Thee for grace;
Foul, I to the fountain fly,
Wash me, Savior, or I die![2]

Nazareth was a defeat for Jesus. There was no other place where Jesus was rejected except at the cross outside the Holy City. Of all places, Jesus could have expected acceptance was among His closest friends and family. It may have discouraged Jesus to giving up His teaching and preaching. How does He take this failure? “He went one teaching.” He went on with His work to other places; working as hard as ever.

Transition:   Jesus failed to gain the people’s understanding. He failed to win the people. He failed to do them good.   

Failed to do them good – V.5 - “He could not do any miracles there, except lay his hands on a few sick people and heal them.” Mark 6:5

Notice the cold irony and tragedy. He was rejected by “His own country.” His very own country – Nazareth – rejected Him. Nazareth. Where He had grown up. Nazareth. 

Where He worked as a carpenter. Nazareth. Where His relatives and family lived. Such a tragedy! His home folks rejected Him. He could not do any miracles there, except to lay His hands on a few sick people to heal them.

He came to His own, and His own received Him not!”  His immediate family called Him crazy. His hometown rejected Him. Leaders if His religion pronounced Him “possessed” of the devil. His nation cried out, “Crucify Him!”

Yet in this rejection, He offers you a great exchange – your sins for His righteousness. Because a people rejected Him, the Father offered His grace to any who would receive Him by faith. That’s why we call the leniency of God a gift. God’s mercy.  His underserved kindness.  His compassion and grace.

How shall you react to Jesus? He comes to you this day. Does He receive the same cold shoulder? What is your reaction? To this Jesus? Spurn Him not – rather trust in Him. Receive His gifts. With great rejoicing and thanksgiving.

Words –1,035
Passive Sentences -3%
Readability – 79.2%
Reading Level – 4.1





[1] Today Your Mercy Calls Us, Lutheran Service Book © 2006, Concordia Publishing House, St. Louis
[2] Rock of Ages, cleft for me, Lutheran Service Book © 2006, Concordia Publishing House, St. Louis

Monday, June 29, 2015

Peter & Paul, Apostles

Merciful and eternal God, Your holy apostles Peter and Paul received grace and strength to lay down their lives for the sake of Your Son. Strengthen us by Your Holy Spirit that we may confess Your truth and at all times be ready to lay down our lives for Him who laid down His life for us, even Jesus Christ, our lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. 



Sunday, June 28, 2015

Time in the Word - Pentecost 6 - Proper 9


Pentecost 6– Proper 9
June 29 –July 4, 2115



The theme for the Sixth Sunday after Pentecost (Proper 9) will focus upon the word of the minister (prophet). His work of proclamation is very difficult due to the unreceptive attitude of the people to whom he is sent to preach. Even Jesus in the Gospel lesson didn’t do a good work in His hometown because the people do not believe in Him. Ezekiel is called (Old Testament lesson) to preach to a people whom God describes as “impudent and stubborn.” Paul, (in the Epistle lesson) prays to have a thorn removed that he might be more effective in his ministry, but the request is denied. We are blessed with pastor and people work in harmony and peace. Yet we live in a broken world. May we pray the Spirit’s help to always be open and receptive to the preaching of God’s holy Word. 

Collect for Pentecost 6Grant, Lord, that the course of this world may be so governed by Your direction that Your Church may rejoice in serving You in godly peace and quietness; through Jesus Christ, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, One God, now and forever. Amen

Collect for Proper 9 – O God, Your almighty power is made known chiefly in showing mercy. Grant us the fullness of Your grace that we may be called to repentance and made partakers of Your heavenly treasures; through Your Son, Jesus Christ, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, One God, now and forever. Amen

Collect for the Feast of St Peter and Paul, Apostles (29 June): Merciful and eternal God, Your holy apostles Peter and Paul received grace and strength to lay down their lives for the sake of Your Son. Strengthen us by Your Holy Spirit that we may confess Your truth and at all times be ready to lay down our lives for Him who laid down His life for us, even Jesus Christ, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.

Prayer in time of affliction and distress: Almighty and most merciful God, in this earthly life we endure sufferings and death before we enter into eternal glory. Grant us grace at all times to subject ourselves to Your holy will and to continue steadfast in the true faith to the end of our lives that we may know the peace and joy of the blessed hope of the resurrection of the dead and of the glory of the world to come; through Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen.

Prayer for our countryAlmighty God, You have given us this good land as our heritage. Grant that we remember Your generosity and constantly do Your will. Bless our land with honest industry, truthful education, and an honorable way of life. Save us from violence, discord, and confusion, from pride and arrogance, and from every evil course of action. Make us who come from many nations with many different languages a untied people. Defend our liberties, and give those whom we have entrusted with the authority of government the spirit of wisdom that they may be justice and peace in our land. When times are prosperous, let our hearts be thankful. In troubled times do not let our trust in You fail; through Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen


Monday, 29 June 2015—Psalm 132:13-16; Antiphon, Psalm 34:8— David reminds us to “taste and see that the Lord is good” The circumstances surrounding each of our lessons for next week might suggest that all is not well. Yet the Psalmist reminds us that our Lord’s care for His people goes beyond circumstance. He is our Lord in good times and in stressful times. He is with us when we are successful in life and when there are objects “in our road”. Despite obstacles to ministry, the Lord’s church moves forward. As we see the Lord active in His church and in the individual lives of His people, we can join with the Psalmist and say, “taste and see that the Lord is good!”

Tuesday, 30 June  2015—Psalm 123—This Psalm of David is a prayer of God’s humble people for Him to show mercy and so foil the contempt of the proud. There are many obstacles to ministry in this world. This earth is fallen. Yet despite obstacles, the Lord has not left His church to ruin nor has He turned His back on us. To the contrary, this psalm speaks of God’s control of the universe, His church and His people. Fare thee well child of God the Lord remains constant regardless of the contempt and ridicule the world might bring upon us.

Wednesday, 1 July 2015—Ezekiel 2:1-5— Obstacles to ministry may occur with the rebelliousness of God’s people. Ezekiel receives the Spirit and is sent to preach to a rebellious people. In this passage, Ezekiel is commissioned to go to the exiles in Babylon to preach God’s Word. To do this he is empowered by the Spirit. The Lord warns him that the people may not listen to his preaching because they are a rebellious people. It is not important whether his preaching is accepted. At least, they will hear God’s Word and know a prophet was with them. Application to our day? How do you want people to respond to you? Would you rather be accepted or respected? What’s the difference? Which of the two is more difficult and why?

Thursday, 2 July 2015—2 Corinthians 12:1-10— Obstacles to ministry may occur with the handicap of the preacher.  Paul is promised grace to bear his thorn in the flesh. Paul is fed up with his opponents who cast doubt on his apostleship and boast about their work and religious experiences. This lesson is a part of the “terrible letter” (chapters 10-12) in which Paul makes a heated defense of his apostleship. If his opponents can boast of their accomplishments, he can, too.

This passage is part of his boasting. Paul claims he, too, has had an abundance of revelations, but to keep him humble God gave him a thorn in the flesh. Repeatedly he prayed to have it removed, but God assured him His grace was enough to bear it. Now Paul boasts of his weaknesses, handicaps, and sufferings, for through weakness the power of Christ comes upon him. Americans love winners. There is an aversion in our day to weakness, pain, and suffering. Where are you weak? When has God said “no” to your prayers only to say, “My grace is sufficient”?  What life lessons can we gain through suffering, setback and loss?  

Friday, 3 July 2015—Mark 6:1–13—The rejection by one’s own people. Obstacles to ministry may occur with rejection. Jesus’ hometown of Nazareth takes offense at Him and His work.  Earlier Jesus was rejected by His family and religious leaders. Now He is rejected by the people (friends and relatives) of His hometown, Nazareth.


They were astonished at His teaching and mighty works. They could not explain His greatness; they referred to Him as a carpenter and as the son of Mary along with brothers and sisters. Unable to explain Him, they took offense or were scandalized by Him. Jesus reacted by saying that a prophet was without honor among His own people. He was unable to do mighty works because of the people’s unbelief. Therefore, Jesus left with His disciples to teach in other towns. This week we celebrated our country’s independence. God has blessed America in that given our representative form of democracy and our rights to practice our faith as outlines in the constitution the Gospel has had free reign. Not all however is well within our country. Many would want to stifle the Gospel. We have no guarantee that America will last forever. The Lord could allow the Gospel to flourish in another place. Many of our Lutheran forefathers (and others) came to America to escape religious persecution happening in Europe. If the church in America received the same reception as did the Savior in His hometown would many simply stop coming?  How do some today practice their faith because it is convenient?      

Saturday, 4 July 2015— Luke 1:78-79 The first stanza of Sunday’s hymn of the day, O Christ, Our True and Only Light (LSB 839), asks the Savior to enlighten those who sit in night. There are many today missing from the Father’s table because they sit in ignorance. They know nothing of the saving work of Jesus Christ. While there are obstacles to ministry, there are tremendous opportunities to witness in the midst of our nation’s heartland. As the Lord gives us opportunity may we “gossip the Gospel” that souls may be won and the kingdom expanded.

Sources:
Prayers from Lutheran Service Book © 2006 Concordia Publishing House and from Lutheran Worship © 1980 Concordia Publishing House, St. Louis
Lectionary Preaching Workbook Series B – John Brokhoff © 1981 CSS Publishing, Lima, OH


Irenaeus



Almighty God You upheld Your servant Irenaeus, giving him strength to confess the truth against every blast of vain doctrine. By Your mercy, keep us steadfast in the true faith, that in constancy we may walk in peace on the way that leads to eternal life; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.