Friday, September 30, 2011
Tuesday, September 27, 2011
Saturday, September 24, 2011
Proper 21 (25 Sept—1 Oct)
Almighty God, You exalted Your Son to the place of all honor and authority. Enlighten our minds by Your Holy Spirit that, confessing Jesus as Lord, we may be led into all truth; through the same Jesus Christ, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.
Questioning God – Do all things without grumbling or questioning - Philippians 2:1-4, 14-18
Paul, in appealing for unity, presents Jesus as the model of humanity and obedience. Paul pleads for unity in the congregation at Philippi. He uses Jesus as an example of humility. In this pericope, Paul shows the dual reality of the humanity and divinity of Jesus. His deity is indicated by the words, “in the form of God” and “equality with God.” His humanity is expressed in the phrases, “emptied himself,” “the likeness of men,” “in human form,” “obedient unto death.” This humility and obedience led to Christ’s exaltation. It is God’s will that every tongue confess him as Lord. In the light of this, Christians are to work out their salvation as God works in them.
It is quite self-evident that almost every church needs to be united in harmony and peace. An exceptional church does not have cliques and power structures competing with each other. The average pastor is constantly walking on eggs in trying to keep all parties happy and cooperative. Even Paul had the problem of a split church in Philippi. What can be done to have a united church? Paul writes the prescription. To have a united church -
1. Have the same mind — v. 2. Make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and purpose. Twice Paul uses the word in this verse to express the need for unity in the congregation. Like all congregations, there can be divisions among the members, cliques, and a party spirit. One of the dreads of the ministry is a divided or split congregation. What is the solution? It is for the members to have one mind and one spirit. They are to think alike and feel alike. What shall that one mind and one spirit be? It is the mind and spirit of Christ. Thus, the closer church members live to Christ, the closer they will be to each other in harmony and unity.
2. Have the same love — v. 2….having the same love, being one in spirit and purpose. Paul finds life on earth in Christ and anticipation of death as gain. Know the difference between an optimist and a pessimist? The optimist believes we’re living in the best of all possible worlds! The pessimist is afraid that he is right! Is this as good as life gets? According to Paul, life gets even better!
We live our lives in this world to serve the needs of people. This is how we serve Christ on this earth. When our work on earth is done, we gain even a greater relationship with Christ. In Christ, we are winners in this life and in the life, which is to come.
3. Have the same humility — vv. 3-5. Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others. Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus… What is the solution to lack of church unity? Paul urges his people to have the mind of Christ. His mind was one of humility demonstrated in his taking the form of a servant and dying on a cross. Humility is expressed by considering others better than yourself and being concerned more about others than yourself. Arrogance and pride divide and cause trouble while humility draws together into a unity.
Have this attitude among yourselves, which was in Christ. Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death— even death on a cross!
4. Have Christ at the center – Paul’s letter is peppered with joy. It is amazing because Paul wrote this letter when he was in jail for preaching the Gospel. How can one be so happy under such extreme circumstances? Your happiness does not depend on external circumstances or possessions. Joy is a matter of one’s spirit and attitude. Paul was happy because he had the privilege of suffering for the gospel, and because he had Christ.
Vv. 6-111 Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow ,in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
Friday, September 23, 2011
Sunday, September 18, 2011
Lutheran Service Book Concordia Publishing House, St. Louis MO © 2006
Saturday, September 17, 2011
Proper 20 (18–24 September)
Lord God, heavenly Father, since we cannot stand before You relying on anything we have done, help us trust in Your abiding grace and live according to Your Word; through Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.
Trusting in the Lord’s abiding grace & living according to His goodness - Be not envious of the Lord’s generosity.
Jesus teaches what the kingdom is like. The parable does not deal with labor relations or with hours and wages. It teaches that people in the kingdom do not work for rewards. Regardless of how long we have served, the wage is the same — the privilege of serving God. We are reminded that God can do as He pleases with what is His. His generosity is seen by giving the same pay to those who worked the last time. The last who come to the kingdom receive the same as those who enter first.
Some people are never satisfied. They are not even satisfied with God’s gifts, wages, or rewards. It depends on how you look at it. From the world’s viewpoint, God’s giving the same pay regardless of hours worked is most unjust. From the Christian viewpoint, God’s wages are more generous. Because of who we are and the wrong we have done, we rightfully should get nothing but condemnation. God gives his grace to all regardless how long or how well they worked for him. Those who began to work at the beginning of the day have no reason to complain. They had the joy and the privilege of being in the kingdom and of working for God. Christians do not serve for wages. You cannot pay a person for being or doing good. His only reward is being in God’s kingdom and doing God’s will. What is your reaction to God’s generosity?
1. Grumble — the world’s view of God’s generosity — vv. 8-15 “When evening came, the owner of the vineyard said to his foreman, 'Call the workers and pay them their wages, beginning with the last ones hired and going on to the first.'”
"The workers who were hired about the eleventh hour came and each received a denarius. So, when those came who were hired first, they expected to receive more. But each one of them also received a denarius. When they received it, they began to grumble against the landowner. 'These men who were hired last worked only one hour,' they said, 'and you have made them equal to us who have borne the burden of the work and the heat of the day.'
"But he answered one of them, 'Friend, I am not being unfair to you. Didn't you agree to work for a denarius? Take your pay and go. I want to give the man who was hired last the same as I gave you. Don't I have the right to do what I want with my own money? Or are you envious because I am generous?'
A. Paying the same wage to those who worked twelve hours, or one hour, is unfair. When the wages are handed out, those who worked one hour received the same pay as those who worked twelve hours. The twelve-hour men protested, complained, and grumbled. And they were justified in doing so! It was a case of rank injustice! It was unfair to those who worked all day.
B. This is the world’s protest, but the kingdom of God is different from the world. God does not use the same methods or measures for reward.
C. God’s pay scale contradicts our notion of rewards. The enemies of Jesus’ day, the Pharisees, grumbled about Christ’s gracious offer to sinners. Even Peter thought he and the other disciples should have received more than those who had not left their homes, their families and jobs to follow the Savior.
Yet God deals fairly with us. God is a real equal opportunity employer. Whatever we give up, we receive back a hundred -fold, and finally we receive eternal life. As Jesus says in Matthew 19:29 “ And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or fields for My sake will receive a hundred times as much and will inherit eternal life.”
Transition: There are those who grumble. There are those who are grateful.
2. Then, there are those who are grateful — God’s view of man’s needs — vv. 13-15.
A. God lives up to his promise to pay — v. 13. But he answered one of them, 'Friend, I am not being unfair to you. Didn't you agree to work for a denarius? Yet, isn’t it wonderful that even those of us who worked only one hour also receive a denarius? There is a lesson to be learned here. The work itself is already a reward in and of itself! Just to be a Christian is a privilege. It is not a wearisome duty but a happy service, no matter how long God allows us to serve. Thus, we can say that there is no richer, fuller life than that of a disciple of Christ. The wage question in the kingdom of God need not trouble us. In the kingdom, there is no unemployment, and the wage level is uniformly high.
B. God has a right to do what he pleases with his own — v. 15 Don't have the right to do what I want with my own money?. How does God justify the apparent injustice in the payment of wages? God claims He is God, and can do what he pleases with his own. This, too, is different for today’s employer. He cannot pay what he wants or hire those he wants to work for him. Laws limit him. God deals differently from the world.
C. God is generous to all — v. 15. Or are you envious because I am generous?' His grace (payment) is not determined by wages or hours worked. God is so generous that he gives the denarius of grace (salvation) to everyone regardless of length of service or quantity of work performed. God goes beyond justice to give his peace to all who come, whenever they come.
How does God justify the apparent injustice in the payment of wages? God claims he is God, and can do what he pleases with his own. This, too, is different for today’s employer. He cannot pay what he wants or hire those he wants to work for him. Laws limit him. God deals differently from the world.
His grace (payment) is not determined by wages or hours worked. God is so generous that he gives the denarius of grace (salvation) to everyone regardless of length of service or quantity of work performed. God goes beyond justice to give his peace to all who come, whenever they come.
We learn important lessons about God and about grace. None of us deserves the benefits of the kingdom. Others have worked longer and harder than we have. Some have suffered incredible persecution, but the reward of the heavenly banquet is offered to all without regard to our work(s) or the price we have paid to be part of the kingdom.
Friday, September 16, 2011
Tuesday, September 13, 2011
Sunday, September 11, 2011
Lutheran Worship Concordia Publishing House, St. Louis MO © 1980 pg. 83
Saturday, September 10, 2011
Proper 19 (11–17 September)
O God, our refuge and strength, the author of all godliness, hear the devout prayers of Your Church, especially in times of persecution, and grant that what we ask in faith we may obtain; through Jesus Christ, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.
Jesus just finished teaching how a church offender should be treated. This prompts Peter to ask how often one should forgive. Matthew adds a parable on forgiveness. Note the contrast in the debts: ten million versus ten dollars. Also, see the contrast in the mercy shown by the king versus the servant who was forgiven the huge debt. The contrast is relevant to the enormity of our sin against God in comparison to the sin committed against us. It is also plain to see that we can expect no more mercy from God than we give to our fellow men. The parable teaches that we are not to seek vengeance, but rather, to forgive. Unless we forgive, God will take back his forgiveness of us until we forgive. This is not an easy saying.
Why should I forgive? This is the question in many minds. The guilty person may not apologize, confess, or ask for forgiveness. Do we Christians forgive because the offender is worthy or deserving of forgiveness? Do we forgive because it is expected of us? A Christian does not forgive but for one reason — for Jesus’ sake. We forgive because of our relationship with God in Christ. Jesus spells this out. Why should I should forgive you?
1. Because Jesus ordered it — vv. 21-22. Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, “Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother when he sins against me? Up to seven times?” Jesus answered, “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times.
This passage deals not with the world, but with the church. The “brother” is a fellow Christian. This verse is related to last Sunday’s Gospel, which said, “If your brother sins against you.” It is assumed that the procedure was followed in 18:15-20, the brother realizes he has sinned. Again, “brother” indicates that Christians are sinners and stand in the need of forgiveness. The church, as is often said, is not a museum of saints, but a hospital of hopefully repenting sinners.
When faced with the option of forgiving or not forgiving there can be one answer – you forgive. My forgiveness does not hinge on my desire, my feelings, or even my wiliness to forgive. My forgiveness finds its basis on what Jesus has said to me. When someone sins against you – you, yes you are the one who must forgive.
The Greek word for “forgive” is “exaleiphein,” meaning, literally “to erase or wipe out.” Because Christians are imperfect human beings, the church is in need of forgiveness. Without it, members would live in friction, tension, disharmony, and disruption. Forgiveness is the oil that makes human relations move smoothly: Is the trouble with the church today the lack of forgiveness resulting in cliques and divisions?
2. Because God forgave me — vv. 23-27. Therefore, the kingdom of heaven is like a king who wanted to settle accounts with his servants. As he began the settlement, a man who owed him ten thousand talents was brought to him. Since he was not able to pay, the master ordered that he, his wife, his children, and all that he had be sold to repay the debt. “The servant fell on his knees before him. ‘Be patient with me,’ he begged, ‘and I will pay back everything.’ The servant’s master took pity on him, canceled the debt and let him go.
The King forgave His servant was unable to pay the debt. The debt was so huge that he could never bet back into the good graces of the King. The King forgave because the servant could not. The King forgave because He was good. That is what Jesus has done for you. God forgave not because you were good, not because you were deserving. He forgave because He loves you.
As God has shown mercy – were return mercy to others. That’s how forgiveness works. Out of His grace, Christ has made us new creatures. As Christ forgave so now you follow in the same tone when we deal with others.
3. Because God will judge if I do not forgive — vv. 28-35. But when that servant went out, he found one of his fellow servants who owed him a hundred denarii. He grabbed him and began to choke him. ‘Pay back what you owe me!’ he demanded. “His fellow servant fell to his knees and begged him, ‘Be patient with me, and I will pay you back.’ “But he refused. Instead, he went off and had the man thrown into prison until he could pay the debt. When the other servants saw what had happened, they were greatly distressed, went, and told their master everything that had happened. “Then the master called the servant in. ‘You wicked servant,’ he said, ‘I canceled all that debt of yours because you begged me to. Shouldn’t you have had mercy on your fellow servant just as I had on you?’ In anger, his master turned him over to the jailers to be tortured, until he should pay back all he owed. “This is how my heavenly Father will treat each of you unless you forgive your brother from your heart.”
Let not the sun go down on your anger. Refusal to forgive turns into rage and self-hate. It turns inward into depression. It can consume. It can destroy. These warnings serve us well to heed and consider. When we harbor and unforgiving spirit toward anyone judgment will befall us. When someone sins – forgive! Don’t dwell on the hurt and the hurt. Forgive as God in Christ has forgiven you.
This Sunday we begin another program year of education within our Friedheim family. On this day, especially we remember those whose lives have been sacrificed in a war on terror. The greatest lesson we could teach our youth comes from the lips of our Savior – forgive.
The point the Savior makes is simple. The difficulty comes when we are called to act. That time will come; later today, tomorrow, in a few days, before the end of this week we will be called to forgive. It might become difficult to forgive and you might even be tempted not to forgive, or to hesitate because of pride, or simply because of the rush that we feel when we see how much power gives us! This is true, the most powerful person on the face of the earth is the person who has the opportunity to forgive and will not.
Will seize the opportunity or will it be squandered? When the times comes, to do as the Savior has taught, forgive as He has commanded. Ask Him to help you. Remember His grace offered to you. May Jesus help each of us to forgive from the heart as the Master Teacher has taught us.
Friday, September 9, 2011
Thursday, September 8, 2011
Monday, September 5, 2011
The Lord be with you.
Let us pray.
O God, the author of peace and lover of concord, whose heart is glad when all your children live together in unity; we lift to you the grief of our hearts, hoping that you will not only comfort those hearts, but change them; that we may be the people you have created, and called us to be; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
Woodcut by Julius Schnoor von Carolsfeld, © WELS
Artwork © by Ed Rojas © Higher Things© Higher Things
Litany from http://www.textweek.com/
Sunday, September 4, 2011
Monday, 5 September 2011—Psalm 143:1–2; Antiphon, Psalm 143:9—Psalm 143 is the last of the seven penitential psalms. It is, like many of David’s other psalms, a plea to the LORD to rescue him from his enemies. David does not appeal to his own goodness or righteousness, however, but explicitly confesses that no one living is righteous before you. Therefore, he must beg the mercy of the LORD: In your faithfulness answer me, in your righteousness! This is how we, too, must approach the LORD when we ask Him to rescue us from earthly and spiritual enemies—acknowledging, as we do in the catechism, that we daily sin much and surely deserve nothing but punishment, and acknowledging that He delivers us purely out of fatherly, divine goodness and mercy, without any merit or worthiness in me.
Tuesday, 6 September 2011—Psalm 103:1–12—What a beautiful psalm of comfort! David praises the LORD for all His benefits to us: He forgives all our iniquity, heals all our diseases, redeems our life from the pit, and more. Why? Because the LORD is merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love.
Friday, 9 September 2011—Matthew 18:21–35—When we hear this parable, our first reaction is probably the same as the king’s: indignation and fury against the servant who was unmerciful, especially after he had been forgiven a far greater debt. We must ask ourselves: Are we like the unmerciful servant? God has forgiven all our sins at great cost—the life of His own Son. We ought to examine ourselves: Is there anyone against whom we hold a grudge, refusing to forgive because we have been wronged? If so, we are like the unmerciful servant. Rather, we ought to remember the Lord’s Prayer, where we plead, forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us. That is, we beg God’s forgiveness, and then pledge that we too will sincerely forgive and gladly do good to those who sin against us.
Saturday, September 3, 2011
Proper 18 (4–10 Sept)
O God, from whom all good proceeds, grant to us, Your humble servants, Your holy inspiration, t h at we may set our minds on the things that are right and, by Your merciful guiding, accomplish them; through Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.
A Christian’s responsibility toward an erring brother – In love we seek to gain a brother. Matthew 18:1-20
Jesus gives a procedure for settling disputes among His followers. Jesus is teaching his disciples, the church. Since Christians are sinful, personal relations may be ruptured. If so, Jesus gives a threefold procedure to settle the differences. Moreover, Jesus gives the power of the keys to forgive or not to forgive to the community. The power of the gathering is demonstrated in prayer, which will be answered if the church agrees on the petition. When several gather in Jesus’ name, he promises to be with them. In these three cases, the church’s importance to faith and life is demonstrated.
Why can’t I be a Christian without joining the church? Many are asking this question today. Believing they can be a Christian outside the church, a percentage of the American population refuses to join the church. A study conducted last year of what is called the “Millennial Generation” indicated that only one in four is unaffiliated with any religion. “Far more than the share of older adults when they were ages 18 to 29.” Two out of three rarely or never visit a church, synagogue, mosque or temple, according to a survey conducted by Life Way TM Christian Resources. More of our twenty year olds are content to be spiritual without becoming religious. They are comfortable finding their own morality without attending a worship service. [see note]
What is the advantage of belonging to a group of Christians? Is the benefit great enough to justify joining? Some today see the church as a mere commodity - something we are asked to invest in. Is it something we put into because we get something out of it in return? So why go? We come, because we live in anticipation of what is to come. We come, not to be active, but to be passive. We come, not to be entertained, but to be quiet, to listen to the voice of the Shepherd. We come, not to see “what we can get out of the service,” but to receive from the Lord’s hand His gifts.
We come because we become a part of something greater then ourselves. We come to be a part of the life and rhythm of the church. Our participation is anything but haphazard. Church is not similar to going the grocery store – something that we can check off our list, a task we find ourselves forced to do during the week.
We go because we are called to be part of a family, a community of faith. Why can’t I be a good Christian on my own? We gather because of who we are. We come to a worship service and then, in service, we worship Christ. Consider the value of Christians getting together as church.
1. The church has been given the power of the keys — v. 18. I tell you the truth, whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.
The power of the keys is the authority given by Christ Himself that promises effectiveness in this ministry of reconciling us to each other. In the Catechism Luther asks the question, “What is the Office of the Keys?” [And, in this instance, the New English Version is probably a better or at least a clearer translation…] The Office of the Keys is that special authority which Christ has given to His church on earth to forgive the sins of repentant sinners, but to withhold forgiveness from the unrepentant as long as they do not repent. We go because we are called to be part of a family, a community of faith. Where is this written? The Lord Jesus breathed on His disciples and said, Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive anyone his sins, they are forgiven; if you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven. [John 20:22-23]
A. God alone forgive sins. But He works through His people. He does this to warn the straying and to comfort those who are penitent.
B. It is God’s Word that really does both the judging and the comforting in Christ.
Transition: What’s the value of Christians getting together in a church? We assemble to become a house of prayer.
2. When the church prays, prayers are answered Again, I tell you that if two of you on earth agree about anything you ask for, it will be done for you by my Father in heaven. — v. 19.
What is the Introduction to the Lord’s Prayer? “Our Father, who art in heaven”. What does this mean? God would by these words, tenderly invite us to believe that He is our true Father and that we are His true children, so that with all boldness and confidence we may ask Him as dear children as their dear Father.
A. We need to be a people of prayer. Without daily prayer, growth in God would be minimal at best. We can only be our strongest when we are seeking the Lord. May we here at Friedheim be remembered as being a house of prayer! Not just a church where we come to talk to God, where we come to a worship service but rather a place where we glory in His Name. Where in service, we praise His glorious name.
B. In prayer, we uphold one another. In our petitions, we are taking our needs, burdens, joys and sorrows to the throne room of grace. And, we’re thankful as the Savior answers each petition!
Transition: As we gather to speak to our Lord He sakes back to us through His Word. That is why worship, by definition is more then things we do for God. Worship is passive. God is the one who is giving and we do nothing but receive the gifts He chooses to give us. He speaks to us specifically where He chooses to make Himself known in His Word and in His means of grace.
3. When the church assembles, Christ is present — v. 20. For where two or three come together in my name, there am I with them.”
We must be fully aware of just who this ‘brother’ is about whom we are to be concerned.
A. We are not alone in this work. Christ is at the center of all that we do. He is the unseen, yet present guest in every conversation. We do not go it alone. Christ is present with and among us. Common faith in Christ links us together like mountain climbers who are time together in one cause. John would remind us in his first Epistle – We know that we have passed from death to life, because we love our brothers. Anyone who does love remains in death. [1 John 3:14]
B. The church confirms the forgiveness of your sins. Based on our repentance and faith, the church assures us that God for Jesus’ sake has forgiven our sins. This confirms and assures us that our prayer for forgiveness has been answered.
C. The church is a channel for forgiveness. Through the church’s Word and sacraments, the Holy Spirit effects forgiveness of sins. God the Spirit forgives through the sacramental ministry of the church.
Who is “you”? “You” may be an individual Christian or “you” may be the group of Christians (church). It is worthy to note that this passage does not deal with the one who sinned but with the victim of sin. He who is sinned against is to take the initiative to get the matter settled. One would think the guilty one ought to settle accounts, but the sinner may not consider himself to be in the wrong. The victim is to show the sinner what harm he has done and an understanding needs to be reached that the Christian fellowship may not be disrupted by personal tensions.