In the Lessons for this week, we deal with sin and an appeal to turn to God for mercy. The Gospel lesson tells of two sons, one of whom repented and entered the Kingdom even though at first he disobeyed the Father. Through Ezekiel, God appeals to sinners to repent lest they die, for His will is for everyone to live. In the Epistle lesson, Paul deals with the problem of disunity in the Philippian congregation resulting from selfishness and arrogance, and appeals for unity by adopting the humble mind of Christ. The suggested Psalm deals with the theme by asking God not to remember the sins of our youth and appealing to God’s mercy and steadfast love.
Collect for Proper 21 – 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;
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.
O God, You are the Strength of all who put their trust in You. Mercifully accept our prayer, and because through the weakness of our mortal nature we can do no good thing without Your help, grant us the help of Your grace that, keeping Your commandments, we may please You in both will and deed.
For Home and Family – Visit, we implore You, O Lord, the homes in which Your people dwell, and keep far from them all harm and danger. Grant us to dwell together in peace under the protection of Your holy angels, and may Your blessing be with us forever, through Jesus Christ, our Lord.
A prayer before we study the Word – Almighty God, our heavenly Father, without Your help our labor is useless, and without Your light our search is in vain. Invigorate the study of Your holy Word that, by due diligence and right discernment, we may establish ourselves and others in Your holy faith.
For Schools – Almighty God, our heavenly Father, since You have committed the care and nurture of children to Your people, graciously enlighten those who teach and those who are committed to their instruction that they may know the truth and trust in You all the days of their lives; through Jesus Christ, our Lord.
Monday, September 25, 2017 – Psalm 147:1-5, Antiphon, verse 6 – “The Lord lifts up the humble He casts the wicked to the ground.” Those who acknowledge that they are without resources in and of themselves, the Lord lifts up while others who trust in themselves will be cast down. This is the definition of faith.
Tuesday, September 26, 2017 – Psalm 25:1-10 – The Psalm appointed for next week has as the key verse, verse 6, “Be mindful of thy mercy, O Lord, and of thy steadfast love, for they have been from of old.” The Psalmist asks the Lord to remember the Lord’s long-standing mercy and love but not to remember his long-standing sin.
Wednesday, September 27, 2017 – Ezekiel 18:1-4, 25-32 – God wants all to repent and live. In Sunday’s first reading, God appeals to Israel to repent and live. Turn from evil to good and you shall live. With that we can agree, but the rub comes in making the turn. What will create a desire to change? Where does one get the power to break away from sin to walk in righteousness? The answer is in “a new heart and a new spirit.” But how does one get a new heart? This takes us to Jesus who said, “You must be born new.” Thus, one does not straighten out his life and then come to Jesus. He comes to Jesus as he is in sin and gets a new spirit. He then follows a new way of life.
Thursday, September 28, 2017 –Philippians 2:1-4, 14-18 – Turn from conceit to humility for unity. Paul in the Epistle lesson appeals for unity in the Philippian congregation. 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 lesson 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.
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.
Friday, September 29, 2017 – Matthew 21:23-27 – The sinner who repents enters the Kingdom of God. The Gospel lesson tells of two sons, one of whom repented and entered the Kingdom even though at first he disobeyed the Father. In the Parable of the Two Sons we learn a valuable lesson concerning sin and an appeal to turn to God for mercy. With this parable, Jesus confronts the religious leaders of His time (priests, scribes, Pharisees, Sadducees) who condemn Jesus for His association with sinners (publicans, prostitutes, and so on). This one son who says, “I go” but does not, represents the religious leaders. The other son who says, “I will not go” but later changes his mind and obeys, represents the sinners. Moreover, Jesus points out that when the religious leaders saw sinners repenting upon hearing John the Baptist, they still did not repent. Consequently, the sinners will enter the kingdom before the leaders will.
Here is a case of repentance in action. One son refused to go to work in his father’s vineyard. Then he changed his mind and went to work. This about-face, change of mind from disobedience, from no to yes, from going in the wrong direction to turning in the right direction is the meaning of repentance. When the religious leaders heard the Baptist’s call to repentance, they did not heed it, while the sinners of the day did. It was shocking to the professional religious leaders that Jesus claimed the sinners and not the religious ones were in the kingdom.
Saturday, September 30, 2017 – John 8:31 – This passage is the inspiration for the hymn, “Lord Keep Us Steadfast in Your Word.” Faith clings to the Lord and His teaching. We are called to be faithful; faithful to the Lord, to His Word, to each other.
Lutheran Service Book Concordia Publishing House, St. Louis MO © 2006.
Lutheran Worship Concordia Publishing House, St. Louis MO © 1980, page 83.
Lectionary Preaching Workbook Series A by John Brokhoff © 1980 CSS Publishing Lima OH, page 253.
Image © Ed Riojas Higher Things