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
Nunc Dimittis - Easter Morning - March 27, 2016 - Text: Luke 2:29-32
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. This morning we conclude our series by stepping back a bit to the Nunc Dimittis.
On Good Friday we moved back to 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 rose we completed our service as we addressed the final blessing of the service, the Benediction and in particular, the Aaronic Benediction as it is called. This morning we move back a bit in the service to those words we say and sing following our participation in the Lord’s Supper, that is the Nunc Dimittis, or the Now Dismiss, the song of Simeon after seeing the baby Jesus, the Christ, the Messiah, the Savior of the World.
The Nunc Dimittis or now dismiss is the song of Simeon. Perhaps you remember the historic account. Jesus was circumcised on the eighth day after His birth then on the fortieth day after His birth Mary was able to go to the temple in order to offer the sacrifice for redeeming the first born son, the sacrifice of a lamb, or in the case of Mary and Joseph if a lamb could not be afforded two Turtle Doves or two young pigeons could be offered.
Before Mary and Joseph came to Jerusalem, in a dream the Lord had told the priest, Simeon that he would not die until he had seen the Lord’s anointed, that is the Messiah which means anointed one, the one promised by God in the Garden of Eden and reiterated throughout Israelite history, the one who would save the world. Also we are told that Simeon was led by the Holy Spirit to enter the temple at the same time that Mary and Joseph entered the temple, not a coincidence, but the unseen hand of God bringing this event to fruition. As Simeon sees the child he takes Him in his arms and speaks the words of which we are quite familiar, the words which we sing following our dinning at the Lord’s Table and seeing our Lord, His body and blood in the bread and wine at His Holy Supper. Simeon says, “29Lord, now you are letting your servant depart in peace, according to your word; 30for my eyes have seen your salvation 31that you have prepared in the presence of all peoples, 32a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and for glory to your people Israel” (Luke 2:29-32).
In our Divine Service, we have heard the word of the Lord and have followed through from God’s promise to His fulfillment in sending our Messiah, our Christ, our Savior, Jesus. We have been reminded of our Baptism. We have confessed our sins, placing them on Jesus, the spotless lamb of God who came to take away the sins of the world, and heard the most beautiful words in the world, that is that God has pronounce that our sins are forgiven. We have entered into His presence singing, chanting, speaking back to Him the very words that He has given us to say.
We have seen the Lord’s life in His Holy Word. In our liturgy, in the readings from the Old Testament, the Epistles and the Gospel we have witnessed Jesus perfect conception, His perfect life, His fulfillment of all God’s laws as well as all His prophecies. He have heard His Word proclaimed and as it has been proclaimed, so it is, that is His Word gives what it says and does what it says. We have confessed our faith in Jesus, even in God; Father, Son and Holy Spirit. We have offered our prayers and will offer our offerings, giving back to the Lord from what He has first given to us as an acknowledgment of gifts received.
As we prepare for His Holy Supper we are reminded of Jesus perfect suffering, suffering eternal spiritual death for us, hell for us in our place. We are reminded of Jesus perfect death once for all. And we are reminded of Jesus perfect resurrection so that death and the grave no longer have any power over Him, nor us.
As we prepared to come to His Holy Supper we prepare ourselves to come and taste His body and blood so that as we participate in this most sacred act, this Passover sacrifice fulfilled in Christ we are reminded that as we eat the bread we partake of the sacrifice of His body on the cross so that His sacrifice becomes ours as He becomes a part of us. And as we partake of the wine we partake of the blood of the lamb poured out on us to mark us as redeemed by Christ the crucified so that the angel of eternal spiritual death has no power over us.
Indeed, as we come to His table to partake of this Holy Sacrament, this Holy Mystery we marvel at how our Lord can give to us, through these simple ordinary means of bread and wine all the gifts and blessings He has to give. We might marvel at the love our great God has for us. So that as we partake, His life, suffering, death and resurrection have been made ours.
And then, following our being fed at His Holy table, having seen the Lord in His Holy Meal, having tasted that the Lord is good, we are then ready to be dismissed, that is we are, as Simeon was, ready to die and go to heaven to be with the Lord forever. That is the meaning, that is what we speak when we speak the Nunc Dimittis, the now dismiss. We have witnessed our Lord, His life, His suffering, His death, His resurrection, His giving us all the gifts and blessings He has to give. We have witnessed how our Divine Service points to and lays out all of history, all of Scripture that points to Jesus.
I pray that as we have followed through the Divine Service over the past seven weeks that you have come to appreciate our liturgy even more. I pray that you have come to see that our liturgy is not really an adiaphora, that is something that is neither commanded nor forbidden, rather that it is the Word of God, given to us by God in such a way that it not only declares to us the Biblical account of history and its fulfillment in Jesus, but also that it gives and bestows the gifts it speaks to us. Indeed, as we believe and confess so we worship and as we worship so we believe and confess, these go hand in hand. We know we believe, teach and confess what our sister congregations believe, teach and confess when there is likeness in how what is believed is acted out especially in the Divine Service. To say that another way, we should be able to tell if we are in a sister Lutheran congregation simply by their worship. I have seen clips of congregations in other parts of the world where they speak a different language, but I can know that it is a sister Lutheran congregation simply by hearing. Thus, if we all do believe, teach and confess the same doctrine of God, then we should probably look a lot alike in how we practice what it is we believe. And the liturgy we have, which has been passed down from generation to generation is a liturgy that has its roots back since the time of the apostles, and even before, even to the giving of the first ceremonial laws given to the children of Israel by God Himself in Leviticus, with the filled liturgy what we have today.
Our Divine Service and liturgy are not contemporary, that is with time, or said another way, they are not a fad, something here today and gone tomorrow. Our Divine Service and liturgy transcends time so that it is for all times. Our Divine Service and liturgy transcends generations, cultures, and forms because it is its own unique form. So, every Sunday morning we give up our favorite style and take part in what has been given and passed down through many generations and many cultures. And most certainly we find much unity in this uniting of our hearts and voices together.
Our God is a God of love and good order. He created all things perfect and humanity has since that time continued to mess up what God has given and yet, even though He knew that all this would happen He still created us. And now His desire is to continue to love us and to give to us all the gifts and blessings He has to give, through the very means He has given to give us those gifts and blessings. Our Divine Service is our expression of our confession of faith as well as the place where we are given the gifts of God. The more we know about our liturgy and Divine Service, its origins and history, its unique way of pointing us to Jesus, the more we rejoice and give thanks to God for this great and wonderful gift. As we celebrate the resurrection of our Lord on this Easter Sunday, we celebrate the fulfillment of all that God has promised. We celebrate how all of history and all of Holy Scripture, even how our liturgy points to this time and we give thanks. We worship a living God who gives us all the good gifts and blessings He has to give because of His great love for us. To Him be the glory, for Jesus’ sake. Amen.
He is risen! He is risen, indeed! Alleluia!