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.
Sunday, March 27, 2016
Benediction - Easter Sunrise - March 27, 2016 - Text: Numbers 6:24-26
We great each other this morning with the usual custom of Christian throughout time. He is risen! He is risen, indeed! Alleluia!
This year during the season of Lent and all the way through Easter morning we have been looking 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. There are yet two parts of the service we have yet to discuss and we will discuss them out of order. In our late service we will discuss the Nunc Dimittis and in this service we will discuss the conclusion of the service with the benediction.
On Good Friday we moved back the beginning of our service, as you recall our service usually begins with an invocation followed by our confession of sins and God’s Word of absolution on us, that is His forgiving our sins. In following our divine service it was fitting that on Good Friday, the day in which we commemorate the death of our Savior for our sins, that we were reminded of our sin and the very reason Jesus was born, lived, suffered and died, because of our sins. Thus it was fitting that we are reminded of this means of grace of Confession and Absolution.
This morning as the Sun rises we actually go to the end of our service and the final blessing, the Benediction. Again, in our regular morning service we will address the Nunc Dimittis, or the now dismiss, Simeon’s song.
The Benediction is the final blessing of the service. Just as the Lord’s name was put on us, just as we invoked or invited the Lord to be with us, just as we were reminded of our Baptism and entrance into the Holy Christian Church at the beginning of the service with the invocation, “In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,” now here at the end of the service we have the three-fold blessing of Aaron, Moses’ brother, being pronounced on us, “24The Lord bless you and keep you; 25the Lord make his face to shine upon you and be gracious to you; 26the Lord lift up his countenance upon you and give you peace” (Numbers 6:245-26). Notice the three-fold use of God’s name, Yahweh, Lord. The final blessing is the Lord’s gifts to us, His blessings and keeping us in His care and protection, His face shining on us, watching over us and being gracious to us and His looking on us in order to give us peace.
So, as we have been following along in our divine worship service, all along we have been given the gifts of God. At the invocation we were reminded of our baptism and the fact that God’s name has been put on us so that He has claimed us and we are His. We were also reminded that in Baptism He has given us faith, forgiveness and eternal life so that our names are written in the book of life and heaven is ours.
We have confessed our sins, all our sins, our sins of thought, word and deed, our sins of omission and commission, even those sins of which we are unaware. We have placed those sins at the altar, on Jesus and have, through the word of the Pastor, heard His word of forgiveness. This forgiveness being poured out on us enabled us to move boldly into His presence through the introit.
We have heard the word of the Lord both through the words of the liturgy as well as through the Scripture readings, usually an Old Testament reading, an Epistle reading and the Gospel reading. We have heard the word of the Lord through the hymns we sing and through the preaching of that very Word of God.
We have seen the Lord’s life through the Word and we prepared ourselves to see His life in His Holy Supper. Indeed in the Lord’s Supper we witness Jesus’ perfect life, that is that there was no sin in Him. He was conceived and born in perfection. He lived His life in perfection. He fulfilled all God’s commands, perfectly. He fulfilled all God’s promises, perfectly.
In the Lord’s Supper we have witnessed Jesus perfect suffering. Having lived the perfect life Jesus then took all our sins upon Himself. He who had no sin became sin for us. And He suffered. He suffered the death penalty, the price for sin, “the wages of sin is death,” He suffered hell for us in our place.
And in the Lord’s Supper we have witnessed Jesus perfect death. All the sins of all people, of all places, of all times, were paid for by Jesus suffering and death on the cross. And Jesus died. Yes, our God, in Jesus died. He died like you and I will die. When He died His body was placed in the ground and His soul separated from His body whereupon He went to proclaim victory over death and the devil. And yet, we know the rest of the story, we know how the story ends. And please forgiven me, but this is not just a story, for our Lord and His story are events that are ground in history, thus they are indeed provable facts. Jesus did not stay dead, but He rose from the dead victorious over sin, death and the devil. Other world religious leaders have grave sites, not so with Jesus, there is no grave, nor burial place for Him, because He rose from the dead. And His resurrection was witnessed by many people for forty days following His resurrection.
As we have witnessed Jesus perfect resurrection, we now come to His table wherein we taste His body and blood in His holy sacrament. As we pointed out, just as the one bringing the sacrifice partook of that sacrifice, so we who have put Jesus on the cross, come to partake of His body and His blood in His Holy Supper. Our participation is that we come and are given His body to eat and His blood to drink so that His perfect life becomes our perfect life. His perfect death becomes our perfect death. And His perfect resurrection and eternal life become our perfect resurrection and eternal life.
Following our partaking of our Lord’s body and blood in His Holy meal, we are moved to sing the song of Simeon, the song he sang after seeing and blessing the baby Jesus. Simeon had been promised that he would not die until he had seen the Lord’s anointed so when he did see Jesus, he was indeed ready to die, but more on that in the late service.
In the divine worship service we follow the life of our Lord. In the liturgy of the Divine Service we see what we believe as we act out what we believe. In the liturgy of the Divine Service we learn what we profess and we confess what we believe. In the liturgy of the Divine Service we speak back to God the very words He has given us to say and so we know they are the best words because they are His Words. In the liturgy of the Divine Service our Lord takes our law words and makes them His Gospel Words. And so, in the liturgy of the Divine Service we are given the gifts that He has to give through the very means He has given to give us His gifts, the means of grace, Holy Baptism, Confession and Absolution, the Word, and the Lord’s Supper. In the liturgy of the Divine Service God gives and we respond with hymns and songs, and offerings and prayers. There is no confusion of Law and Gospel. There is no confusion of justification and sanctification. There is no pointing to ourselves. There is always and only pointing to Jesus. We sin, He forgives. We struggle, He gives strength.
This morning as we celebrate our Lord’s fulfillment of all His promises, as we celebrate Jesus’ resurrection from the grave, as we celebrate sins forgiven, we celebrate with all joy and confidence of our eternal salvation. And as we reach the end of the service and as we are getting ready to go out into the world, into our various vocations we are given our Lords’ blessing so that we are able to go out into the world and live a life pleasing to Him. To Him be the glory, for Jesus’ sake. Amen.
He is risen! He is risen, indeed! Alleluia!