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!
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 24, 2016
Scripture Readings and Sermon - Lent Midweek Three - February 24, 2016 - Text: Luke 4:16-22a; 2 Timothy 3:10-17
This year during the season of Lent and all the way through Easter morning we are looking at the various parts of our Divine Worship Service and seeing how the various parts of our service 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 are not necessarily be presented in the order of our service but are being 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 moved on in the Divine Service to the Introit, the Kyrie and the Hymn of Praise. We were reminded how these parts of the service flowed out of the ceremonial laws of Leviticus wherein the penitent sinner would bring a sacrifice, lay hands on the sacrifice, slaughter the animal, shedding its blood which was splashed on the altar and in so doing the penitent would recognize that the price for sin was death, that blood had to be shed. We noted that these sacrifices really and truly did nothing to bring or earn forgiveness but simply pointed to the one promised Messiah who would be the once and for all sacrifice on the cross for us, Jesus. We were reminded that our liturgy flows out of and follows the ceremonial law of Leviticus in a fulfilled manner, in that the law in Leviticus pointed forward to Jesus, and our liturgy points us back to Jesus as well. Finally, we were again reminded that our worship, our liturgy is divine service, that is it is first and foremost God service, God coming to us to give us the gifts and blessing He has to give and our response to those gifts. This week we move on to another of the means of grace that holds prominence in our divine service.
Two readings from Scripture will help make our point this evening. First, Luke’s account of Jesus during Sabbath worship in His home town, “16And he came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up. And as was his custom, he went to the synagogue on the Sabbath day, and he stood up to read. 17And the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was given to him. He unrolled the scroll and found the place where it was written, 18“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed, 19to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.” 20And he rolled up the scroll and gave it back to the attendant and sat down. And the eyes of all in the synagogue were fixed on him. 21And he began to say to them, “Today this Scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.” 22And all spoke well of him and marveled at the gracious words that were coming from his mouth” (Luke 4:16-22).
Second, Paul’s second letter to Timothy regarding the importance of the Word of God, “10You, however, have followed my teaching, my conduct, my aim in life, my faith, my patience, my love, my steadfastness, 11my persecutions and sufferings that happened to me at Antioch, at Iconium, and at Lystra—which persecutions I endured; yet from them all the Lord rescued me. 12Indeed, all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted, 13while evil people and impostors will go on from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived. 14But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed, knowing from whom you learned it 15and how from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. 16All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, 17that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work” (2 Tim. 3:10-17).
Now for a question, “How does God give us the gifts and blessings He has to give?” Or, “Through what means does God gives us the gifts He has to give?” So, if I want to give you some ice cream, I do not simply ask you to hold out your hand. I put the ice cream in a bowl and serve you the ice cream using the means or instrument of the bowl. The bowl is that thing which delivers the ice cream to you. God gives us His gifts, faith, forgiveness of sins, strengthening of faith, life, eternal life and salvation. How does God give these gifts to us. He could give them to us directly, that is He could appear to us and impart His gifts to us, but that is not His usual way of giving His gifts, at least not in our world today. Today God uses means or instruments through which He gives us His gifts and those instruments or means are what we call the means of grace. The means of grace, the means through which the Lord comes to us today are His Word, the Bible, Confession and absolution, as well as His Sacraments, Holy Baptism and the Lord’s Supper. Through these means our Lord bestows on us and gives us the gifts He has to give.
In our liturgy in our divine service we notice that our service is permeated with the means of grace, that is our service is filled to the full with the means of grace. As we have heard, our service begins with a remind of our baptism and our faith in God; Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Our service then moves on to the place wherein we confess our sins and hear God’s Word of absolution that our sins are forgiven. We moved on and spoke, sang, chanted back to God the very word He has given us to speak to Him through the introit, the Kyrie and the hymn of praise. This evening we are reminder of the importance of the means of Grace of God’s Holy Word. Just as Jesus read from the Bible, just as Paul outlined to Timothy, it is the Word of God that is so important for without the Word of God there would be no need for a service indeed there would truly be no divine service, because it is through the Word of God that the Divine speaks to us.
And so we are reminded that God’s Word is a word with power. Unlike any other book by human writing, a science book, a social studies book, an English or Math book, God’s Word is a book with power. Certainly these other books, written by fallible humans can be and are often times good books used to learn good lessons, but they do not have any power. As a matter of fact, more often than not these man written books must be rewritten in order to “keep up with the times.” Whereas God’s Word is a book that is infallible and never needs to be rewritten. God’s Word never contradicts itself but only complements itself. Indeed, if we ever think there is a contradiction then the problem is not with God and His Word but with us and our own misunderstanding.
We are reminded that God’s Word is a word with power and so it gives and does what it says. When God’s word says we are given faith, then we know we have faith because it has been given to us. When God’s Word says our sins are forgiven, then we know our sins are forgiven because His forgiveness has been proclaim, bestowed and given to us. Indeed, as Jesus read the Word and announced that these words have been fulfilled, so that same Word is read today and the same pronouncement is made, that His Word is fulfilled for us and in us. And as Paul tells young pastor Timothy so He tells us, these are the “sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus.”
God’s Word is a word with power to give the gifts He has to give and to do what He says it will do. God’s Word is true, perfect and holy because it is His Word. And so we are reminded that God’s Word points to Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith. Indeed, all of Scripture and all of time point to Jesus. Ever since the Garden of Eden and the fall into sin and God’s promise of a Savior, a Messiah, a Christ, all of the Old Testament pointed to Jesus. Today, we look back and we have our New Testament which points to Jesus. Even our calendar, B.C. and A.D. point us to Jesus, the center of time and eternity. And so rightly our divine worship, our liturgy, our reading of His Holy Word all point us to focus on Jesus who had done everything necessary for salvation for us and gives it all to us and we are done to and given to and so we say, to God be the glory, for Jesus’ sake. Amen.