Wednesday, September 30, 2020

October

 



Reformation is the main focus of many congregations across Christendom as the month of October comes upon us. To capture the true nature and spirit of the Reformation we may first ask is it even relevant?

Consider the context. 1300, centuries of prosperity and growth came to an end due to a series of plagues and famines which reduced the population by half. Along with these calamities came social unrest, peasant uprisings and endemic warfare.

Martin Luther was a son of his times. Like many others, he wrestled with profound “angst” and uncertainty regarding the state of his soul. The key question for him was, “How do I find a merciful God?” His search for consolation and hope drove him into the arms of Scripture. It was through his study of Scripture that he found the answer to his uncertainty in the words of the Apostle Paul, who claimed, “For we maintain that a person is justified by faith apart from the works of the law.” (Romans 3:28) 1 Luther placed his focus on the implications that the cross offers to us. 

There is now forgiveness of sins, life, and salvation! In Jesus Christ, all sin is forgiven - period!  That is the battle cry of the Reformation. That's what our Lutheran faith is all about. As the catechism so clearly reminds us, "where there is the forgiveness of sins, there is also life and salvation."  These are the gifts and blessings which have been offered to us through Jesus Christ through His innocent suffering and death. Because of a cross and an empty tomb, we are a free and forgiven people.

What is the reality of this forgiveness, freedom, and life?  "That I might be His own and live before Him in His kingdom and serve Him in righteousness, innocence and blessedness."  Jesus is risen from the dead.  When Christ died, death died.  When He died, sin's sting and power died. When Jesus died and rose again, Satan's grip was weakened.  Jesus now lives throughout all eternity to bless me, to guide me, to forgive me, and to direct my life.

What is your response to all this?  "To thank and praise, to serve and obey Him."  The Father has given you these and so many other precious gifts.  You response is to serve Him all the days of your life.  Bask in His forgiveness.  Serve Him with vigor and virtue. You have been born to be a blessing.  Bless God by being a blessing to others!

[1] https://www.biblica.com/articles/reformation-still-relevant-today/

September 30, 2020– Wednesday prior to Proper 22



Isaiah 5:1-7 God’s people receive judgment for evil fruit.  Confidence in violence and bloodshed leads to judgment. In the Old Testament reading, God’s judgment upon His people is shown for their failure to produce proper fruit.


The prophet sings a love song to God regarding God’s vineyard, his people. God is his “beloved.” God loves His people. Proof of this love is that God’s vineyard, His possession, is His people. Out of love, God accepts and owns His people. And look what God has done for His people! He has placed a vineyard on a fertile hill. He dug the ground, cleared away the stones, and planted it with the best vines. Then He built a watchtower and a wine vat.

God is love and He deals lovingly with His people: claiming them as His own, and providing for them by giving them the best of everything to be fruitful.

Israel’s injustice is particularized. The “bloodshed” refers to abusive practices that bleed the poor to death. The “cry” refers to their anguished response. These actions are “wild grapes” (detailed in 5:8, 11-12, 18-24). Notably, these texts link abuse of the neighbor to the neglect of God’s word and deed (see 5:12, 24).

This text may be profitably linked to New Testament texts that use agricultural images. An example: Jesus’ discourse regarding the vine and its branches, with expectations to bear fruit, and removing and burning those who do not (John 15:1-17).

See also the parable of the wicked tenants the Gospel lesson for this coming Sunday (Matthew 21:33-44).

O God, whose almighty power is made known chiefly in showing mercy and pity, grant us the fullness of Your grace that we may be partakers of Your heavenly treasures.[1]


[1] Lutheran Service Book, © 2006 Concordia Publishing House, St. Louis

Tuesday, September 29, 2020

September 29, 2020 – Tuesday prior to Proper 22



Psalm 80:7-19 – This week’s Psalm has as the key verse, verse 7. The vineyard of the Lord of hosts is Israel, and the men of Judah are the plant He cherished. “For the vineyard of the LORD of hosts is the house of Israel, and the men of Judah are his pleasant planting; and he looked for justice, but behold, bloodshed; for righteousness, but behold, an outcry! “  -Isaiah 5:7. After making a lament over the Lord’s severe punishment of His people the Psalmist looks to the Lord who will vindicate His own as He restores and makes His face shine upon them that they might be saved.

This coming week a major theme woven throughout the reading is the point that God’s people constitute a vineyard. The Gospel and Old Testament lessons complement each other in the use of a vineyard as a metaphor for God’s people. In both, the vineyard is at fault; in the Gospel, the tenants refuse to render fruit; in the Old Testament, the fruit is wild.

The image of God as gardener (vinedresser) and the people as the garden or vineyard is found in many places in the Bible, including two of the other lectionary texts for this coming Sunday. Isaiah 5:1-7 (often called “the song of the vineyard”) describes God’s relationship with Israel and Judah. This is reinterpreted in Matthew 21:36-46 (also Mark 12:1-12 and Luke 20:9-19) in the parable of the wicked tenants in the vineyard.

Repeatedly, the Psalmist calls on God to “restore” and “save” (verses 2, 3, 7, 19) to “turn again” (verse 14) and “give us life” (verse 18). The Psalm opens with a plea to God, the “Shepherd of Israel” (verses 1-3) to restore the people. It names God’s anger as the problem, resulting in the suffering of the people (verses 4-6). There follows a plea for restoration (verses 7).

Prayer for Psalm 80: Lord God, you so tend the vine you planted that now it extends its branches even to the farthest shore. Keep us in your Son as branches on the vine, that rooted firmly in your love, we may testify before the whole world to your great power working everywhere; through Jesus Christ our Lord.[1]

Source:



[1] For All the Saints, A Prayer Book for and by the Church, © 1995 American Lutheran Publicity Bureau, Delhi, NY

Morning Prayer Reading 26 - Jacob in Egypt




Jacob in Egypt  
Genesis 45-47  
(Selective Verses)



23 To his father he sent as follows: ten donkeys loaded with the good things of Egypt, and ten female donkeys loaded with grain, bread, and provision for his father on the journey. 24 Then he sent his brothers away, and as they departed, he said to them, “Do not quarrel on the way.”

25 So they went up out of Egypt and came to the land of Canaan to their father Jacob. 26 And they told him, “Joseph is still alive, and he is ruler over all the land of Egypt.” And his heart became numb, for he did not believe them. 27 But when they told him all the words of Joseph, which he had said to them, and when he saw the wagons that Joseph had sent to carry him, the spirit of their father Jacob revived. 28 And Israel said, “It is enough; Joseph my son is still alive. I will go and see him before I die.

46 So Israel took his journey with all that he had and came to Beersheba, and offered sacrifices to the God of his father Isaac. All the persons of the house of Jacob who came into Egypt were seventy.


28 He had sent Judah ahead of him to Joseph to show the way before him in Goshen, and they came into the land of Goshen. 29 Then Joseph prepared his chariot and went up to meet Israel his father in Goshen. He presented himself to him and fell on his neck and wept on his neck a good while. 30 Israel said to Joseph, “Now let me die, since I have seen your face and know that you are still alive.” 

11 Then Joseph settled his father and his brothers and gave them a possession in the land of Egypt, in the best of the land, in the land of Rameses, as Pharaoh had commanded. 12 And Joseph provided his father, his brothers, and all his father's household with food, according to the number of their dependents.


English Standard Version (ESV)
The Holy Bible, English Standard Version. ESV® Text Edition: 2016. Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.

Illustration from a woodcut by Baron Julius Schnoor von Carolsfeld, 1794-1872, a distinguished German artist known especially for his book, Das Buch der Bücher in Bilden (The Book of Books in Pictures). © WELS used by permission for personal and congregational use. 

Monday, September 28, 2020

September 28 - Monday prior to Proper 22




Psalm 118:22-24 - Antiphon, verse 1:“O Give thanks to the Lord for He is good; for His steadfast love endures forever.” – This is a call to praise the Lord.

This Psalm was originally attributed to the ordination of David as king of Israel. David was the king that was rejected by men, but David instituted a time of peace and prosperity that Israel had not known before. This was a time of celebration, but this Psalm also points to another King that was rejected and has now become the capstone, or the stone that becomes the reference for the rest of the building. Jesus Christ was rejected by men, but now Jesus offers us peace and prosperity in ways that we could never create for ourselves. God has done something marvelous, and in doing so, allows us to say, “This is the day the LORD has made, I will rejoice and be glad in it.”[1]

Psalm 118:22 became one of the passages most frequently quoted by the early Christian teachers to describe the temporary humiliation and subsequent rejection of Jesus the crucified and risen Messiah. Observe how the Apostle Peter used this verse in Acts 4:8-12.

"Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, said to them, 'Rulers and elders of the people, if we are on trial today for a benefit done to a sick man, as to how this man has been made well, let it be known to all of you, and to all the people of Israel, that by the name of Jesus Christ the Nazarene, whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead—by this name this man stands here before you in good health. He is the STONE WHICH WAS REJECTED by you, THE BUILDERS, but WHICH BECAME THE VERY CORNER stone. And there is salvation in no one else; for there is no other name under heaven that has been given among men, by which we must be saved.'"

David offers a song of thanksgiving for deliverance and victory. The people rejoice over what the Lord has done. Thereafter, the king speaks his final word of praise (see verse 28). We praise and exalt the Lord because He is mighty to save. This is why He is good – His mercy, His steadfast love endures forever.

Prayer for Psalm 118: Lord God, your Son, rejected by the builders, has become the cornerstone of the Church. Shed rays of your glory up your Church, that it may be seen as the gat of salvation open to all nations. Let cries of joy and exultation ring out from its courts to celebrate the wonder of Christ’s resurrection now and forever. [2]



[2] For All the Saints, A Prayer Book for and By the Church © 1995 American Lutheran Publicity Bureau, Delhi, NY

Morning Prayer Reading 25 - Joseph Makes Himself Known


Joseph Makes Himself Known 
Genesis 44 & 45 
(Selective Verses)



44 Then he commanded the steward of his house, “Fill the men's sacks with food, as much as they can carry, and put each man's money in the mouth of his sack, 2 and put my cup, the silver cup, in the mouth of the sack of the youngest, with his money for the grain.” And he did as Joseph told him.

3 As soon as the morning was light, the men were sent away with their donkeys. 4 They had gone only a short distance from the city. Now Joseph said to his steward, “Up, follow after the men, and when you overtake them, say to them, ‘Why have you repaid evil for good?

6 When he overtook them, he spoke to them these words. 12 And he searched, beginning with the eldest and ending with the youngest. And the cup was found in Benjamin's sack. 13 Then they tore their clothes, and every man loaded his donkey, and they returned to the city.

14 When Judah and his brothers came to Joseph's house, he was still there. They fell before him to the ground. 15 Joseph said to them, “What deed is this that you have done? Do you not know that a man like me can indeed practice divination?

18 Then Judah went up to him and said, “Oh, my lord, please let your servant speak a word in my lord's ears, and let not your anger burn against your servant, for you are like Pharaoh himself.   30Now therefore,  please let your servant remain instead of the boy as a servant to my lord, and let the boy go back with his brothers."

 45 Then Joseph could not control himself before all those who stood by him. He cried, “Make everyone go out from me.” So no one stayed with him when Joseph made himself known to his brothers.

5 "And now do not be distressed or angry with yourselves because you sold me here, for God sent me before you to preserve life. 6 For the famine has been in the land these two years, and there are yet five years in which there will be neither plowing nor harvest. 7 And God sent me before you to preserve for you a remnant on earth, and to keep alive for you many survivors. 8 So it was not you who sent me here, but God. He has made me a father to Pharaoh, and lord of all his house and ruler over all the land of Egypt. 9 Hurry and go up to my father and say to him, ‘Thus says your son Joseph, God has made me lord of all Egypt. Come down to me; do not tarry." 14 Then he fell upon his brother Benjamin's neck and wept, and Benjamin wept upon his neck. 15 And he kissed all his brothers and wept upon them. After that his brothers talked with him.

English Standard Version (ESV)
The Holy Bible, English Standard Version. ESV® Text Edition: 2016. Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.

Illustration from a woodcut by Baron Julius Schnoor von Carolsfeld, 1794-1872, a distinguished German artist known especially for his book, Das Buch der Bücher in Bilden (The Book of Books in Pictures). © WELS used by permission for personal and congregational use. 

Sunday, September 27, 2020

Proper 22 Series A




Proper 22 Series A
Isaiah 5:1–7
Philippians 3:4b–14
Matthew 21:33–46

The True Vine Redeems the Vineyard of the Lord of Hosts

The vineyard of the Lord of hosts is the house of Israel” (Isaiah 5:7), which He planted “on a very fertile hill” (Isaiah 5:1). He did everything for His vineyard, not only clearing it of stones and planting it with “choice vines,” but also building the “watchtower” of His prophets and hewing out the “wine vat” of His priesthood in its midst (Isaiah 5:2). But when “he looked for it to yield grapes,” there were only “wild grapes” of bloodshed and unrighteousness (Isaiah 5:2, 7).

The Lord Jesus likewise described the unfaithfulness of those who were called to care for His vineyard (Matthew 21:33–35). But in this He also describes His cross and Passion (Matthew 21:38–39), by which He has redeemed the vineyard for Himself. He is the true Vine, planted by death into the ground, and in His resurrection He brings forth “the fruits in their seasons” (Matthew 21:41). Among those good grapes of the true Vine is the apostle Paul. Once a zealous persecutor of the Church, he “suffered the loss of all things” in order to “gain Christ and be found in him,” to “know him and the power of his resurrection” (Philippians 3:8–10).

Lord Jesus, you have endured the doubts and foolish questions of every generation. Forgive us for trying to be judge over You and grant us the confident faith to acknowledge You as Lord.”

The Parable of the Tenants

A Clear Parable

Rev. Dr. Daniel J Brege

“Hear another parable. There was a master of a house who planted a vineyard…” (Matthew 21:33)                                                                        

More often than not the parables of Jesus require significant wrestling to grasp and apply.  Clearly this Sunday’s parable of the wicked vineyard tenants is not such a parable.  In fact at the moment this parable proceeded from the mouth of Jesus, most of it almost certainly rang clear in the ears of the Jewish rabbis.  Consider the following Old Testament quotes that are linked to this parable.

(v 33): There was a master of a house who planted a vineyard and put a fence around it and dug a winepress in it and built a tower and leased it to tenants.  Israel is God’s vineyard:   For the vineyard of the Lord of hosts is the house of Israel (Isaiah 5:7; see all of Isaiah 5:1-7; also e.g. Psalm 80:8).  Jerusalem is the heart of this vineyard.

(vv 34-35): When the season for fruit drew near, he sent his servants to the tenants to get his fruit. And the tenants took his servants and beat one, killed another, and stoned another.   E.J. Young wrote a book entitled, My Servants, the Prophets.  Jeremiah and others were such servants: God says:  …listen to the words of my servants the prophets whom I send to you urgently, though you have not listened…And when Jeremiah had finished speaking all that the   Lord had commanded him to speak to all the people, then the priests and the prophets and all the people laid hold of him, saying, “You shall die!” (Jeremiah 26:5,8; also e.g. 2 Chron. 24:20,21)

(vv 36-37): Again he sent other servants, more than the first. And they did the same to them. Finally he sent his son to them, saying, ‘They will respect my son.’   There are intimations of the Son of God throughout the Old Testament, but at least two texts speak directly of God’s Son: I will tell of the decree: The Lord said to me, “You are my Son…”       (Psalm 2:7).  Who has established all the ends of the earth? What is His name, and what is His Son’s name, If you know? (Proverbs 30:4).  A son is an heir; the Son of God is heir of all!

(vv 38-39): But when the tenants saw the son, they said to themselves, ‘This is the heir. Come, let us kill him and have his inheritance.’ And they took him and threw him out of the vineyard and killed him. By oppression and judgment he was taken away; and as for his generation, who considered that he was cut off out of the land of the living, stricken for the transgression of my people? (Isaiah 53:8).  This part of the parable was likely only understood after God’s Son was  murdered “outside the vineyard”…on Golgotha.

(vv 40-41): When therefore the owner of the vineyard comes, what will he do to those tenants?” They said to him, “He will put those wretches to a miserable death and let out the vineyard to other tenants who will give him the fruits in their seasons.” God’s judgment upon unbelieving Israel is clearly attested throughout their history.  Jesus here predicts the event that certainly fulfills this parable’s prediction of “a miserable death”:  (Of Jerusalem): For the days will come upon you, when your enemies will set up a barricade around you and surround you and hem you in on every side and tear you down to the ground, you and your children within you (Luke 19:43).

How amazing that God works the greatest evil into good!  The Jewish rejection of the Christ—ultimately by crucifixion—means reconciliation for the world!  Praise God for The Vine who sprang from the earth in resurrection, and for the Spirit who grafts us into Him; enabling us to produce fruit to God’s glory.


Matthew 21:33
Ἄλλην παραβολὴν ἀκούσατε. [a]Ἄνθρωπος ἦν οἰκοδεσπότης ὅστις ἐφύτευσεν ἀμπελῶνα καὶ φραγμὸν αὐτῷ περιέθηκεν καὶ ὤρυξεν ἐν αὐτῷ ληνὸν καὶ ᾠκοδόμησεν πύργον, καὶ ἐξέδετο αὐτὸν γεωργοῖς, καὶ ἀπεδήμησεν
Hear another parable. There was a master of a house who planted a vineyard and put a fence around it and dug a wine press in it and built a tower and leased it to tenants, and went into another country. 

παραβολὴν - a parable - 

Matthew 21:34 
 ὅτε δὲ ἤγγισεν ὁ καιρὸς τῶν καρπῶν, ἀπέστειλεν τοὺς δούλους αὐτοῦ πρὸς τοὺς γεωργοὺς λαβεῖν τοὺς καρποὺς αὐτοῦ.
When the season for fruit drew near, he sent his servants[a] to the tenants to get his fruit.

- δούλους "earth workers" Or bond servants; also verses 35, 36 expected 

Matthew 21:35 
καὶ λαβόντες οἱ γεωργοὶ τοὺς δούλους αὐτοῦ ὃν μὲν ἔδειραν, ὃν δὲ ἀπέκτειναν, ὃν δὲ ἐλιθοβόλησαν.
And the tenants took his servants and beat one, killed another, and stoned another.

- They skinned, stoned, killed, escalated quickly not expected... Jesus is speaking to the elders. 

Unbelief is never passive. The devil is a destroying demon.

Matthew 21:36 
πάλιν ἀπέστειλεν ἄλλους δούλους πλείονας τῶν πρώτων, καὶ ἐποίησαν αὐτοῖς ὡσαύτως
Again he sent other servants, more than the first. And they did the same to them.

- Even more unexpected...they kill more that are sent!

Matthew 21:37 
ὕστερον δὲ ἀπέστειλεν πρὸς αὐτοὺς τὸν υἱὸν αὐτοῦ λέγων• Ἐντραπήσονται τὸν υἱόν μου.
Finally he sent his son to them, saying, ‘They will respect my son.’

- Lastly, he sent his Son, he really wants the fruit. He would stop at nothing. One of the few parables where the Father is the subject, not the Son.

Matthew 21:38 
οἱ δὲ γεωργοὶ ἰδόντες τὸν υἱὸν εἶπον ἐν ἑαυτοῖς• Οὗτός ἐστιν ὁ κληρονόμος• δεῦτε ἀποκτείνωμεν αὐτὸν καὶ [b]σχῶμεν τὴν κληρονομίαν αὐτοῦ• 
But when the tenants saw the son, they said to themselves, ‘This is the heir. Come, let us kill him and have his inheritance.’

- We will kill the son and take the fruit. Inheritance comes only as gift. Kill the son to receive the merits does not work except in God's economy. 

Matthew 21:39 
καὶ λαβόντες αὐτὸν ἐξέβαλον ἔξω τοῦ ἀμπελῶνος καὶ ἀπέκτειναν.
And they took him and threw him out of the vineyard and killed him.

- they cast him outside and killed him. Notice the details. Note the double emphasis.  

Matthew 21:40 
ὅταν οὖν ἔλθῃ ὁ κύριος τοῦ ἀμπελῶνος, τί ποιήσει τοῖς γεωργοῖς ἐκείνοις
When therefore the owner of the vineyard comes, what will he do to those tenants?”

- When the master comes what will he do to those Tenants? Answer is understood w/o speaking.

Matthew 21:41 
 λέγουσιν αὐτῷ• Κακοὺς κακῶς ἀπολέσει αὐτούς, καὶ τὸν ἀμπελῶνα ἐκδώσεται ἄλλοις γεωργοῖς, οἵτινες ἀποδώσουσιν αὐτῷ τοὺς καρποὺς ἐν τοῖς καιροῖς αὐτῶν.
They said to him, “He will put those wretches to a miserable death and let out the vineyard to other tenants who will give him the fruits in their seasons.”

-Those bad, bad ones will receive a wretched death and He will give the vineyard to those who will give Him the fruit. Whom answers the question? The Pharisees or the crowd? 

-KJV "He will wickedly destroy" same response as David and Nathan.

Matthew 21:42
Λέγει αὐτοῖς ὁ Ἰησοῦς• Οὐδέποτε ἀνέγνωτε ἐν ταῖς γραφαῖς• Λίθον ὃν ἀπεδοκίμασαν οἱ οἰκοδομοῦντες οὗτος ἐγενήθη εἰς κεφαλὴν γωνίας• παρὰ κυρίου ἐγένετο αὕτη, καὶ ἔστιν θαυμαστὴ ἐν ὀφθαλμοῖς ἡμῶν
Jesus said to them, “Have you never read in the Scriptures:“‘The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone;[b] this was the Lord's doing, and it is marvelous in our eyes’?- 

“CORNERSTONE” Greek ἐγενήθη ‘the head of the corner’

- Jesus answered, have you never read in the Scriptures the stone the builders rejected has become the head of the corner from the Lord this is, wondrous in our eyes. ps. 118:22 this is not about their answer but their unbelief. 

Matthew 21:43
διὰ τοῦτο λέγω ὑμῖν ὅτι ἀρθήσεται ἀφ’ ὑμῶν ἡ βασιλεία τοῦ θεοῦ καὶ δοθήσεται ἔθνει ποιοῦντι τοὺς καρποὺς αὐτῆς.  
Therefore I tell you, the kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a people producing its fruits.

- The kingdom of God Will be taken from you and given to a people Jews/Gentiles who will produce its fruit. 

Matthew 21:44
Καὶ ὁ πεσὼν ἐπὶ τὸν λίθον τοῦτον συνθλασθήσεται• ἐφ’ ὃν δ’ ἂν πέσῃ λικμήσει αὐτόν
And the one who falls on this stone will be broken to pieces; and when it falls on anyone, it will crush him.”

-Some manuscripts omit verse 44

-The one felling upon this stone will be destroyed but upon whom it falls it will crush to powder him. You cannot do it you must be crushed killed to self. 

Matthew 21:45
Καὶ ἀκούσαντες οἱ ἀρχιερεῖς καὶ οἱ Φαρισαῖοι τὰς παραβολὰς αὐτοῦ ἔγνωσαν ὅτι περὶ αὐτῶν λέγει
When the chief priests and the Pharisees heard his parables, they perceived that he was speaking about them.

-The chief priests and Pharisees knew that concerning them He tells.

Matthew 21:46 
καὶ ζητοῦντες αὐτὸν κρατῆσαι ἐφοβήθησαν τοὺς ὄχλους, [d]ἐπεὶ εἰς προφήτην αὐτὸν εἶχον.
And although they were seeking to arrest him, they feared the crowds, because they held him to be a prophet.

-And seeking him to seize they feared the crowds for a prophet him they had. They are living out the parable. 

The Holy Bible, English Standard Version. ESV® Text Edition: 2016. Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.
Scripture quotations marked SBLGNT are from the The Greek New Testament: SBL Edition. Copyright © 2010 by Society of Biblical Literature and Logos Bible Software

Time in the Word - Proper 22



A Study for Proper 22
September 28 – October 03, 2020

The Vineyard of God’s People


In the Lessons for this week, we look at evil confidences, which cannot stand under the light of God’s Holy Law. God’s people constitute a vineyard. The Gospel and Old Testament lessons complement each other in the use of a vineyard as a metaphor for God’s people. In both, the vineyard is at fault; in the Gospel, the tenants refuse to render fruit; in the Old Testament, the fruit is wild. In the Epistle lesson, the wild fruit are those who are “enemies of the cross of Christ” and serve as an example of the right kind of fruit Christians produce. Because God’s vineyard is His people, He has the right to ask for proper returns from the vineyard. Both the Old Testament lesson and the Gospel pronounce judgment upon the vineyard for failing to produce the fruit of acknowledging Christ as Lord and the fruit of justice. 

Collects for Proper 22Gracious God, You gave Your Son into the hands of sinful men, who killed Him. Forgive us when we reject Your unfailing love, and grant us the fullness of Your salvation; through Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one god, now and forever

O God, whose almighty power is made known chiefly in showing mercy and pity, grant us the fullness of Your grace that we may be partakers of Your heavenly treasures.

A prayer before we study the WordAlmighty 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.

Monday,  September 28, 2002Psalm 118:22-24 - Antiphon, verse 1:“O Give thanks to the Lord for He is good; for His steadfast love endures forever.” – This is a call to praise the Lord. David offers a song of thanksgiving for deliverance and victory. The people rejoice over what the Lord has done. Thereafter, the king speaks his final word of praise (see verse 28). We praise and exalt the Lord because He is mighty to save. This is why He is good – His mercy, His steadfast love endures forever.

Tuesday, September 29, 2020Psalm 80:7-19 – This week’s Psalm has as the key verse, verse 7. The vineyard of the Lord of hosts is Israel, and the men of Judah are the plant He cherished (Isaiah 5:7). After making a lament over the Lord’s severe punishment of His people the Psalmist looks to the Lord who will vindicate His own as He restores and makes His face shine upon them that they might be saved. 

Wednesday, September 30, 2020Isaiah 5:1-7 God’s people receive judgment for evil fruit.  Confidence in violence and bloodshed leads to judgment. In the Old Testament reading, God’s judgment upon His people is shown for their failure to produce proper fruit. The prophet sings a love song to God regarding God’s vineyard, his people. God is his “beloved.” God loves His people. Proof of this love is that God’s vineyard, His possession, is His people. Out of love, God accepts and owns His people. And look what God has done for His people! He has placed a vineyard on a fertile hill. He dug the ground, cleared away the stones, and planted it with the best vines. Then He built a watchtower and a wine vat. God is love and He deals lovingly with His people: claiming them as His own, and providing for them by giving them the best of everything to be fruitful.

Thursday, October 01, 2020 – Philippians 3:4b-14 – God’s people strive to be examples worthy of Christ. Confidence in the flesh cannot stand. Forgetting the past, Paul presses on toward the goal of Christ and lives as an example for others. Paul defends himself as a Christian of the first order through the mercies of God. Yet, he does not think he has it “made,” but keeps striving for complete devotion to Christ by becoming one in the sufferings, death, and resurrection of Christ. Because he imitates Christ, he is able to ask his people to imitate him in both faith and life. 

Though we are in the world, we belong to the kingdom of heaven. When Christ returns, He will transform our earthly bodies to spiritual bodies.

Paul uses this phrase “I press on” twice in this passage. It must have been important to him in getting across his plan. He is not idly waiting for perfection to come to him. He is not neutral. He is urgent, pursuing, and energetic in getting to his goal. To become like Christ is a process over a lifetime — ever striving to be like Christ in every area of life. At the same time, Paul would say that God was in him pressing on, working in him. A Christian dare not be content with his life. He is ever seeking to improve it.

Friday, October 02, 2020Matthew 21:33-46 – God’s people refuse to return God His due. Confidence in one’s own faith will fail. This is another parable of the kingdom. It is an allegorized parable. The vineyard is Israel. The tenants are the religious leaders. The servants are the prophets. The son is Jesus. The murder was the cross. Jesus is saying that time after time God has sought to redeem his people through the prophets, but each effort was in vain. In desperation, He sent His Son whom they crucified. This is in accord with the psalmist who says the rejected stone became the cornerstone. The outcome of it is that the religious leaders of Israel will lose the kingdom, which will be given to those who produce the fruit of righteousness. Because of their rejection of Christ, the Jews lost, but the Gentiles gained the kingdom.

The owner has a right to receive fruit from the tenants. People owe something to God. Time after time God comes for His due until finally He makes the ultimate appeal in His Son, Jesus. Rebellious tenants kill the Son in hope of taking over the vineyard. Here can be seen the patience of God, trying repeatedly to get the tenants to respond; here can also be seen the greed of people. 

Saturday, October 03, 2020Matthew 25:1-13 - Our reading is the inspiration for the hymn, “Rejoice, Rejoice Believers.” The believer rejoices only in Christ. The days are getting shorter, soon the harvest will commence. We pray for the safety of all who work to bring food to our table. We also anticipate a harvest of souls. 

As God’s vineyard will be harvested at the end of days so look to Christ the lord of the harvest, the one in whom the believer rejoices.  


Morning Prayer readings for the coming week:

Monday, Sept. 28 Joseph reveals himself
Tuesday, Sept. 29 Jacob in Egypt
Wednesday, Sept.30 Chapel
Thursday, Oct. 01 .Birth of Moses
Friday, Oct.02 Call of Moses

Catechism Review: The Close of the Commandments 

A brief explanation of our image for this week. The artist remarks,"The Master sends servants to gather fruit. One is beaten; another killed. Christ indicates in Matthew 5:12 that this was the fate of the prophets and could be ours, too. On the left, under the blazing sun, a prophet of old holds a scroll of The Word and is beaten. On the right, under a conspicuous crescent moon, one of the faithful is martyred at the edge of a scimitar. I don’t think I could be more visually-pointed. Chaff burns outside the vineyard, and flames lick at the heals of the wicked.

Outside of the vineyard, too, the Savior hangs on a cursed tree, but its base crushes death and Satan. Blood and Water issue from the side of the Savior and into the vineyard. His blood pours into a winepress that the Master dug, which, in turn, fills a Chalice. Water from the Lord’s side pours into an eight-sided well, into which a tomb has been dug. The tomb was used, but is now empty.

Christ is the vine and we are the branches [John 15:5], and the faithful follow the Lord’s example by working in the vineyard. Here Christ is pruning vines [John 15:2]; there He is grafting in new plants [Romans 11]; yet again He is outside urging more workers into the vineyard [Matthew 20]. This narrative view was a common device in sacred art when capturing a single moment in time would not suffice.

As was often the case of Renaissance sacred art, some of the workers may be recognizable. Martin Luther works beside LCMS President, Rev. Dr. Harrison. Outside, Luther, Katharina von Bora Luther, Philip Melanchthon, Lucas Cranach the Elder, and J.S. Bach are summoned by Christ and the Kingdom’s work. Lastly and least of all, I tag along.

The gate to which we head is decidedly small. I mistakenly drew it that way, but left it, believing that Someone else was guiding my hand. Christ is the narrow gate; He is the Alpha and Omega; He is the capstone; He is the cornerstone. Christ is all.

This vision of the Kingdom is appropriate for such an anniversary. It reminds us of the work that has been handed to us by the Master of the House – work that not only needs to be done during this landmark year, but every year henceforth."

Sources:
Lutheran Service Book Concordia Publishing House, St. Louis MO © 2006
Lutheran Worship Concordia Publishing House, St. Louis MO © 1980 pg. 83
Lectionary Preaching Workbook Series A by John Brokhoff © 1980 CSS Publishing Lima OH pg. 253
"The Kingdom of God is like a Vineyard" copyright © Ed Rojas Higher Things 

Saturday, September 26, 2020

Proper 21 Series A

 

Matthew 21:23-27 (28-32)

God of love, You know our frailties and failings. Give us Your grace to overcome them; keep us from these things that harm us; and guide us in the way of salvation.

Jesus gives yet another parable. This time. Two sons. The meaning of this story is crystal clear. The first son stands for the tax collectors and sinners. Their lifestyle looked like a blunt refusal to have anything to do with religion or God. And yet when Jesus came they listened to him and changed their way of life to fit to His message and meet his demands.


The second son stands for the priests, scribes, and Pharisees. They had only one profession in their lives that they would serve God and obey his commandments; and yet when the Son of God came they completely ignored Him and in the end they crucified Him.

There is a difference in the way the two sons responded to their father's request. The first son answers with almost despicable bluntness. On the other hand, the second son says all things with great respect and politeness. He even adds "sir" at the end of every sentence. But neither the verbal courtesy, nor the politeness could take the place of deeds. It is true that only through deeds we can prove that we really love someone.

1. The lost son — is the one who said, “I go, sir” — v. 30.

A.    He had respect and piety — He was very polite and respectful of his father. He was reverent. He addressed him as “Sir.” This son said he would go to work in the vineyard as the father expected. He gave the right answer and showed the proper reverence. He was saying yes but living no. He offered to work then refused to go.

He was not as good as his word. This son represents “religious people” who know the right things to say in worship and prayer and in life.

They consent to God’s laws and make promises to obey, but do nothing. In this American culture there are many who desire, “rigor without submission.

They gave confession without execution.  They have orthodoxy without obedience.[2] Like this young man they offer only hollow promises.

Jesus says these people do not get into the kingdom. They failed to repent. The Savior points out that a superficial and artificial connection with God does not count. How so? They fail in two respects.

B. They give only lip service. — He said emphatically: “I go.” These are the obedient ones. Who refuse to follow. They will not comply. They have their own agenda and plan. They see no need for Christ. Or they approach Him on their own terms.

C.     Yet it is the Spirit who draws us to the waiting arms of the Father. It is the Lord Jesus, who bore the burden of the cross wiping clean the note which read “This! You owe!” Now it declares, “Paid in full!”

 Says, St. Paul, “Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, 6 who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, 7 but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. 8 And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.” – Philippians 2:5-8 “For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” – 2 Corinthians 5:21  

Transition: The way of righteousness is that Jesus calls us; sinful sons to enter the kingdom through repentance and reliance in Christ. This involves sorrow over our sins and faith that the Father has forgiven our sins and declared us righteous because of the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. By the power of the Holy Spirit He gives us a God given resolve to be righteous in our everyday life.

2. The second son —He’s the other son. The boy who at first responds negatively. At first he spurned his father.  v. 29. He turned in repentance and He obeyed the word of his father.

A. He repented —here is a case of repentance in action. There was an “about face” in his life. This son refused to go to work in his father’s vineyard. Then he changed his mind and went to work.

This about-face, this change of mind from disobedience, from no to yes, from going in the wrong direction to turning in the right direction is the face; the expression of repentance. When the religious leaders heard the Baptist’s call to repentance, they did not heed it, while the sinners responded in contrition and faith. It was shocking to the professional religious leaders that Jesus claimed the sinners and not the religious ones were in the kingdom. The other son is a sinner –yet saved by grace.

B. He repented –He turned from his sinful ways. He came to the understanding that he was in need of a change in his life. He turned from his evil ways. The way of righteousness is that Jesus calls us sinful sons to enter the kingdom through repentance.

This involves sorrow over our sins; and faith that the Father has in fact forgiven our sins and declared us righteous for Jesus’ sake. Christ alone is our peace. He Himself bore of infirmities.

As Peter has taught, “When they heaped abuse on Him, He did not retaliate; when He suffered, He made no threats, but entrusted Himself to Him who judges justly. 24He Himself bore our sins in His body on the tree, so that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. “By His stripes you are healed.” 25For “you were like sheep going astray,” but now you have returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls. – 1 Peter 2:23-25

C. He Obeyed — “He went.” He was the disobedient boy the defiant son, the insubordinate one the one who now obeys.

1. They turn from evil to good which moved Joseph. “But Joseph replied, “Do not be afraid. Am I in the place of God? As for you, what you intended against me for evil, God intended for good, in order to accomplish a day like this— to preserve the lives of many people. Therefore do not be afraid. I will provide for you and your little ones.” So Joseph reassured his brothers and spoke kindly to them.” – Genesis 50:19 -21

2. They respond to Christ in faith. Not by making yourself better, or by trying hard to get it right. To be a Christian, you simply turn to the Lord in pure, surrendering, all-or-nothing faith. We are all sinners in need of grace, that Jesus died for us, and that He rose again so that we can be made new. Life must be all about Jesus. He is Lord. He sows His Word in fertile soil, and it’s by His grace that we believe and bear fruit.

Notice that there is action to the young man’s resolve. By the power of the Holy Spirit there is a God pleasing resolve to be righteous. It is Jesus Christ who has changed us. It is His Holy Spirit which works in us to will and to do the Father’s good and gracious will.

"Which of the two did the will of his father?" They said, "The latter." Jesus said to them, "Truly I say to you that the tax-gatherers and harlots will get into the kingdom of God before you.” -Matthew 21:31

The good news is that we don’t have to find the help, the guidance, the support and strength; they have found us—in the person and work of Jesus the Christ. He who has entered the kingdom through repentance loves not just in word but in deed and in truth; his faith is not dead, without works, but alive and bearing fruit.

WORDS -1,525

PASSIVE SENTENCES – 0%

READABILITY –77%

READING LEVEL – 5.6



[1] Zion Friedheim Lutheran Church

[2] BOBO’s in Paradise The New Upper Class and How They Got There, David Brooks © 2001, Simon & Schuster - The thesis is that during the late 1970s a new establishment arose that represented a fusion between the bourgeois world of capitalist enterprise and the hippie values of the bohemian counterculture. He refers to these individuals as bobos, a portmanteau word for "bourgeois bohemians". 

“This bobo reconciliation I talk about is really a product of the information age, what they're creating, because in this economy, ideas and information are as important to creating wealth as natural resources and finance capital. So the people who thrive are the ones who can take ideas and emotions and turn them into products. So they really do have one foot in the world of Bohemia, which are ideas, emotions, creativity, and one foot in the world of the bourgeoisie, which is the world of the marketplace. And that's what's reconciled this 150-year-old culture war between the Bohemians and the bourgeoisie.


September 26, 2020 – Saturday prior to Proper 21


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.

The reflection below was written by The Rev. Dr. Mark Birkholz pastor of Faith Evangelical Lutheran Church, Oak Lawn, Ill.

Luther’s Reformation hymn, “Lord, Keep Us Steadfast in Your Word” (LSB 655) is one of his best known compositions.  When it was published in 1542, it appeared with the subtitle, “A Children’s Hymn, to be Sung Against the Two Archenemies of Christ and His Holy Church, the Pope and Turk.” 
What was going on for Luther to write such a hymn?

Luther and the Reformers’ theological conflict with the various popes is well-known.  The political conflict between the Holy Roman Empire, to which the Reformers and their princes belonged, and the Turkish Ottoman Empire was also a significant factor during the time of the Reformation.

In Luther’s day the Turks controlled not only much of the Middle East and North Africa, they also held land in southeastern Europe (modern day Greece, Bulgaria, Romania, and the Balkans).  In the early 1500’s there were a series of battles in Austria and Hungary between the Turks and the Holy Roman Empire.  The siege of Vienna in the autumn of 1529 led to the decision of Emperor Charles V to call the Diet of Augsburg to unite the Holy Roman Empire against threat of Turkish invasion.

In 1541 there were two additional battles between the Holy Roman Empire and the Ottoman Turks, which led Luther to pen this hymn.  The army of the Holy Roman Empire was defeated at Budapest in August, and the imperial fleet was largely destroyed near Algiers in October.

Luther felt like he was surrounded by enemies—both the forces of the pope and the Turk.  He wrote an appeal for the people to pray against the Turks (Vermahnung zum Gebet wider den Türken, LW 43:213-42), and he wrote “Lord, Keep Us Steadfast in Your Word” to encourage them in the face of their enemies. 

The second line of the hymn originally read, “Restrain the murderous Pope and Turk” (Und steur des Papst und Türken Mord).  The translation was later revised to “Curb those who by deceit or sword,” to include all the enemies of the church.

This hymn is written in a threefold, Trinitarian format.  This first verse is an appeal to God the Father to preserve us by His Word, rather than by the force of arms.  God never promises us victory in battle over our enemies.  Pearl Harbor and the 9/11 attacks are reminders that there will be times when our enemies may triumph over us as a nation.  Luther does not lead his people to pray for the imperial armies or for victory in battle, but for God to sustain His people by His Word, come what may.[1]

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.[2]





[2] Lutheran Service Book © 2006 Concordia Publishing House, St. Louis

Friday, September 25, 2020

September 25, 2020 – Friday prior to Proper 21




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.

Notice that there is action to the young man’s resolve. By the power of the Holy Spirit there is a God pleasing resolve to be righteous. It is Jesus Christ who has changed us. It is His Holy Spirit which works in us to will and to do the Father’s good and gracious will.

"Which of the two did the will of his father?" They said, "The latter." Jesus said to them, "Truly I say to you that the tax-gatherers and harlots will get into the kingdom of God before you.” Matthew 21:31

He who has entered the kingdom through repentance loves not just in word but in deed and in truth; his faith is not dead, without works, but alive and bearing fruit. God grant this for each of us.

God of love. You know our frailties and failings. Give us Your grace to overcome them; keep us from these things that harm us; and guide us in the way of salvation.[1]



[1] Lutheran Service Book © 2006 Concordia Publishing House, St. Louis