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Over the years I have written several "book" or "booklets" and many, many, many newsletter and bulletin articles. Because the book market seeks writings to meet specific needs at specific times, my material has never been accepted. I have a tendency to write what is on my mind and so I am left with self publishing. So, with the encouragement from my wife and others, I am beginning this blog in order to put my "ramblings" "out there"! I hope you enjoy!

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Please note that while my intentions are to use good grammar, because of the way in which some of the material presented here is presented (orally) the grammar and syntax might not always be the best English. Also note that good theology is not always presented in the best English so there may be times when the proper grammar rules are purposely broken.

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Introit, Kyrie, and Hymn of Praise - Lent Midweek Two - February 17, 2016 - Text: Mark 10:47; Luke 2:14; John 1:29

This year during the season of Lent and all the way through Easter morning we will look at the various parts of our Divine Worship Service and see how the various parts reflect God’s working in our lives; God’s giving His gifts to us, our being given to and our response of faith. The parts of the service will not necessarily be presented in the order of our service but will be presented in an order which will prayerfully give consideration to the day of Lent on which it is presented, as per example, the Lord’s Supper will be presented on Maundy Thursday, the evening in which our Lord gave us His Holy Supper.
 
Last week we began, appropriately enough with the invocation. We were reminded that the invocation reminds us of our baptism and initiation into the Church and the Christian faith, that we worship a God who is Father, Son, and Holy Spirit; Creator, Redeemer, and Sanctifier, and we invoke or invite Him to be in worship giving us the good gifts and blessings He has to give through the means He has given to give us those gifts, the means of grace. This week we move on in the Divine Service to the Introit, the Kyrie and the Hymn of Praise.
 
The Introit or the entrance hymn follows the confession of our sins and our hearing God’s word of absolution, that is that our sins are forgiven, which part of the service we will appropriately take up on Good Friday. Immediately following our confession and absolution, that is immediately after our sins have been forgiven and we now stand before God in a state of forgiveness, we are prepared to enter into God’s presence, thus the introit or entrance hymn. If you have never noticed, next Sunday you will, but the introit if pretty much a part of or parts of one or more psalms with an antiphon that introduces and concludes the introit. Certainly it is appropriate that the introit is chanted or sang, but can be spoken. The introit points us to the Sunday of the Church year and focuses our attention on the gifts of God of which we are about to be given.
 
After the introit we sing the Kyrie or the Kyrie Elison which is Latin for “Lord have mercy.” The Kyrie is the plea of blind Bartimaus to Jesus for healing and reflects our cry to Jesus for spiritual healing as well. As noted in our hymnal the Kyrie is a quote from Mark, “And when he heard that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to cry out and say, ‘Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!’” (Mark 10:47). And so we cry out in our plea to our Savior and triune God with the three-fold, “Lord have mercy, Christ have mercy, Lord have mercy.” We speak words calling for mercy because we know that our Lord and God is a merciful and gracious God who is full of compassion. Indeed, it is the Gospel message of forgiveness that moves in us and stirs in us to cry out knowing with all confidence that our plea will be heard and answered.
 
Following the Kyrie we sing a hymn of praise. On special occasions we sing the hymn of praise “This is the Feast” which comes from Rev. 5:12-13; 19:5-9, “Worthy is the Lamb who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and might and honor and glory and blessing!” And I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and in the sea, and all that is in them, saying, “To him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb be blessing and honor and glory and might forever and ever!” (Rev. 5:12b-13).  “And from the throne came a voice saying, “Praise our God, all you his servants,  you who fear him, small and great.” Then I heard what seemed to be the voice of a great multitude, like the roar of many waters and like the sound of mighty peals of thunder, crying out, “Hallelujah! For the Lord our God the Almighty reigns. Let us rejoice and exult and give him the glory, for the marriage of the Lamb has come, and his Bride has made herself ready; it was granted her to clothe herself with fine linen, bright and pure”—for the fine linen is the righteous deeds of the saints. And the angel said to me, “Write this: Blessed are those who are invited to the marriage supper of the Lamb.” And he said to me, “These are the true words of God” (Rev. 19:5-8). In the Hymn of Praise This Is the Feast we sing of our ultimate dining at the Lord’s Heavenly Banqueting Table, singing praise to the Lamb of God who has taken away the sin of the world and more especially our sins.
 
On the not so special occasions, every other Sunday, which we might contend are special occasions as well we sing words spoken by the angels at Jesus’ birth and spoken by John the Baptist in reference to Jesus. The words of the angels, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!” (Luke 2:14). And the words of John, “The next day he saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, ‘Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!’” (John 1:29). In the hymn of praise we Praise God for giving us a glimpse of His glory in Jesus. How fitting, we have invited God to be a part of our service, and actually to be the main giver in our service, which is what Divine Service means, that is it is God’s service, first and foremost to us. So, we have invited God to our service of Him giving His gifts to us and at the same time were reminded of our Baptism. We have confessed our sins and heard His Word of absolution so that now we can with confidence enter into His presence robed with His forgiveness so we have no fear in approaching His altar. We have approached His altar singing His words of praise. We have cried out our plea for mercy and now we rejoice in His glory.
 
In Leviticus, when God gave the ceremonial laws to His people, those laws which governed the sacrifices which were demanded as price for sins, the purpose of the ceremonial laws was to point out that the price for sin was death, that price having been set in the Garden of Eden, that blood had to be shed. The ceremonial laws specified what sacrifices were to be made according to the sins one had committed as well as the sins of the community as a whole. The person or family or at times the whole community would offer sacrifices for sins. The sacrifice was brought. The person or family would lay their hands on the sacrifice, transferring their sin to the lamb. The lamb was then slaughtered, killed, its blood shed to pay the price for the sins of those offering it. This shedding of blood truly did nothing as far as paying the price for sin, rather it merely pointed to the one ultimate sacrifice of Jesus on the cross. And yet, all throughout the Old Testament and up to the point of Jesus, these sacrifices were demanded because the price for sin is death and all people needed the reminder of what their sins cost. It was only as the sacrifice was offered and sins were declared forgiven that one would then be able to enter into God’s presence in the temple. And one would enter into God’s presence in the temple with songs and hymns of praise. Thus we see how our liturgy follows this pattern set by God in Leviticus, that of confession, absolution, sins forgiven and entrance into God’s presence.
 
Our entrance hymn celebrates the fulfillment of what was given by God in Leviticus. Certainly their worship pointed forward to Jesus and now our worship points back to Jesus. Just as they worshiped God in faith, looking to and believing that God would send a Savior, we worship in faith as well looking back and seeing that Jesus is our Savior. So our entrance hymn celebrates God’s victory in Jesus over sin, death and the devil. Our hymn of praise celebrated the glory of Jesus’ life, death and resurrection, as well as His ascension wherein He has returned to heaven and is again ruling in all His glory.
 
What a great gift we have in our liturgy, in our divine service, the gift of God pointing us to Jesus and the forgiveness He has won for us, paid for and given to us, through our words, psalms, prayers, hymns and His Holy Word. Our liturgy helps us to focus, not on ourselves, not on things not promised or given by God, but on Him, on Jesus, on His means of grace, on the gifts He has to give. Yet, not only does our liturgy help us to focus on these things, because it is God’s Word, it is efficacious, that is it through the word of God we are given the gifts God has to give. And so we celebrate, we rejoice and give thanks to God for faith, forgiveness and life, saying, to Him be the glory for Jesus’ sake. Amen.

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