Lutheran Worship and Resources



Traditional Lutheran worship services, using The Lutheran Hymnal and the KJV.

Norma Boeckler, Artist-in-Residence

The Lutheran Library Publishing Ministry

Bethany Lutheran Worship on
Ustream - Sunday, 10 AM Central.


Thanksgiving Eve - 7 PM Central Time.

Saved worship files and Greek lessons are at the live worship link.

email: greg.jackson.edlp@gmail.com,
which works asgregjacksonedlp@gmail.com too.

Luther's Sermons, Lenker Series
Book of Concord Selections
Martin Chemnitz Press Books

Norma A. Boeckler Author's Page

Pastor Gregory L. Jackson's Author's Page

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Second Sunday after Christmas



Word and Sacrament, by Norma Boeckler


The Second Sunday after Christmas

Pastor Gregory L. Jackson

http://www.ustream.tv/channel/bethany-lutheran-worship

Bethany Lutheran Worship, 8 AM Phoenix Time

The Hymn # 131
The Confession of Sins
The Absolution
The Introit p. 16
The Gloria Patri
The Kyrie p. 17
The Gloria in Excelsis
The Salutation and Collect p. 19
The Epistle and Gradual 1 Peter 4:12-19
The Gospel Matthew 2:1-23
Glory be to Thee, O Lord!
Praise be to Thee, O Christ!
The Nicene Creed p. 22
The Sermon Hymn # 128

The Star and the True Light

The Hymn #305
The Preface p. 24
The Sanctus p. 26
The Lord's Prayer p. 27
The Words of Institution
The Agnus Dei p. 28
The Nunc Dimittis p. 29
The Benediction p. 31
The Hymn #127

KJV 1 Peter 4:12 Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you: 13 But rejoice, inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ's sufferings; that, when his glory shall be revealed, ye may be glad also with exceeding joy. 14 If ye be reproached for the name of Christ, happy are ye; for the spirit of glory and of God resteth upon you: on their part he is evil spoken of, but on your part he is glorified. 15 But let none of you suffer as a murderer, or as a thief, or as an evildoer, or as a busybody in other men's matters. 16 Yet if any man suffer as a Christian, let him not be ashamed; but let him glorify God on this behalf. 17 For the time is come that judgment must begin at the house of God: and if it first begin at us, what shall the end be of them that obey not the gospel of God? 18 And if the righteous scarcely be saved, where shall the ungodly and the sinner appear? 19 Wherefore let them that suffer according to the will of God commit the keeping of their souls to him in well doing, as unto a faithful Creator.

KJV Matthew 2:1 Now when Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judaea in the days of Herod the king, behold, there came wise men from the east to Jerusalem, 2 Saying, Where is he that is born King of the Jews? for we have seen his star in the east, and are come to worship him. 3 When Herod the king had heard these things, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him. 4 And when he had gathered all the chief priests and scribes of the people together, he demanded of them where Christ should be born. 5 And they said unto him, In Bethlehem of Judaea: for thus it is written by the prophet, 6 And thou Bethlehem, in the land of Juda, art not the least among the princes of Juda: for out of thee shall come a Governor, that shall rule my people Israel. 7 Then Herod, when he had privily called the wise men, enquired of them diligently what time the star appeared. 8 And he sent them to Bethlehem, and said, Go and search diligently for the young child; and when ye have found him, bring me word again, that I may come and worship him also. 9 When they had heard the king, they departed; and, lo, the star, which they saw in the east, went before them, till it came and stood over where the young child was. 10 When they saw the star, they rejoiced with exceeding great joy. 11 And when they were come into the house, they saw the young child with Mary his mother, and fell down, and worshipped him: and when they had opened their treasures, they presented unto him gifts; gold, and frankincense, and myrrh. 12 And being warned of God in a dream that they should not return to Herod, they departed into their own country another way.

13 And when they were departed, behold, the angel of the Lord appeareth to Joseph in a dream, saying, Arise, and take the young child and his mother, and flee into Egypt, and be thou there until I bring thee word: for Herod will seek the young child to destroy him. 14 When he arose, he took the young child and his mother by night, and departed into Egypt: 15 And was there until the death of Herod: that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet, saying, Out of Egypt have I called my son. 16 Then Herod, when he saw that he was mocked of the wise men, was exceeding wroth, and sent forth, and slew all the children that were in Bethlehem, and in all the coasts thereof, from two years old and under, according to the time which he had diligently enquired of the wise men. 17 Then was fulfilled that which was spoken by Jeremy the prophet, saying, 18 In Rama was there a voice heard, lamentation, and weeping, and great mourning, Rachel weeping for her children, and would not be comforted, because they are not. 19 But when Herod was dead, behold, an angel of the Lord appeareth in a dream to Joseph in Egypt, 20 Saying, Arise, and take the young child and his mother, and go into the land of Israel: for they are dead which sought the young child's life. 21 And he arose, and took the young child and his mother, and came into the land of Israel. 22 But when he heard that Archelaus did reign in Judaea in the room of his father Herod, he was afraid to go thither: notwithstanding, being warned of God in a dream, he turned aside into the parts of Galilee: 23 And he came and dwelt in a city called Nazareth: that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophets, He shall be called a Nazarene.

Veit Dietrich Collect
Lord God, heavenly Father, who hast given us the light of Thy holy word, the guiding star, which leadeth us to the Christ-child: Send, we beseech Thee, Thy Holy Spirit into our hearts, that we may receive this light and make use of it unto our salvation, and that we, like the wise men, when they were seeking the star, may not be afraid because of any hardship or peril, but put all our trust in Thine only-begotten Son, Jesus Christ, our Lord, as our only Savior; devote our earthly possessions to the advancement of Thy kingdom, and in all things serve Him, Thine only-begotten Son, Jesus Christ, our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with Thee and the Holy Ghost, one true God, world without end. Amen.

[Note – a friend asked about why the holidays were being changed, renamed, etc. The Vatican decides and all the Lutherans go along with Rome. Eastern Orthodoxy is a bit independent. I combined the Gospel for this Sunday and for the Day of Epiphany, which has always been January 6th. The three-year reading cycle is from Rome, too.]

The Star and the True Light

The Day of Epiphany begins the series of lessons showing how Christ was revealed to the world, first through the Wise Men.

Skepticism and Ecumenism
The Star of Bethlehem was once considered the most obvious myth of Christmas. The scoffers scoffed by saying that it was a pious invention. Tracking down a good candidate for the Star hurt the reputation of Kepler among scientists. Later, they realized he was right. When I was checking over the common acceptance of the Star, I found a website when the author was very grouchy about the popularity of planetarium shows about the Star.

The widespread rejection of the Christian faith, especially among nominal Christian leaders, is a good example of mounting evidence (about a host of historical, Biblical issues) having no effect on scoffers. If anything, the evidence hardens their hearts against the Word even more.

From a believer’s perspective, the Star is another example of God working through all the elements of the universe to fulfill the Old Testament prophecies. All the nations of the world and all the stars and planets are subject to His will. I do not look at astronomical calculations as proof of the Bible being true. I am glad they have caught up in some areas. The facts do not convert – the Gospel does.

Someone could certainly claim that the Star was not a miracle at all, that the planets do merge in the sky every so often, and comets go wandering by. Stars explode to make a bright but temporary supernova. We know there were several candidates in the sky, each one of them there in time for the birth of Christ.

The birth of Christ was the greatest miracle of all time, God becoming flesh, the divine and human united in One Person, Jesus.

Rejection of miracles in the Bible is really a rejection of Christ, who is the central miracle of the Scriptures. Those who believe the Gospel is true also know that the secondary revelations of the Word are also trustworthy.

In any given era, the scoffers attack at the weak points. In the last 50 years, the theme has been, “Why can’t we all just get along? Why can’t we drop these doctrinal distinctions?” They call this the Ecumenical Movement, which has a history and certain important figures.

First came the attack on the text of the New Testament, in the 19th century. Now a committee votes on every verse of the New Testament, but that came about from Tischendorf, Wescott and Hort turning the New Testament into their personal sandbox. They invented rules and decided which rules applied to each verse. A shorter passage was better than a longer one. Why? They decided. I know that some people tell longer stories over a period of time and finally shorten them. Others embroider stories until they become more and more ornate. President Johnson was famous for that, as he retold his story about earning a Silver Star, which was a fable. Either way, how does length decide faithfulness to the truth? Nevermind, scholars fell in love with determining the text, rejecting what the Greek church had always preserved.

Evolution took hold in Christianity at about the same time. Evolution allowed people to doubt the Creation while believing in Christ – so they thought. No intellectual wanted to defend Creation by the Word when everyone was lionizing Darwin.

Now we have the Ecumenical Movement in the form of Church Growth, the Emerging or the Emergent Church. The Willow Creek Association includes all denominations (for a price), including ELCA, WELS, and Missouri. They have to believe the same things to belong. I noticed a bevy of ELCA Willow Creek congregations in Minnesota, all of them talking about “Core Values,” in a vague way, but carefully hiding their affiliation. On some websites I could not tell at all. Maybe they were ELCA, or maybe they were the offshoot from ELCA, which also ordains women.

The best way to step away from the Bible in a stealthy and furtive manner is to drop confessions of faith and doctrinal statements. They can be watered down, if necessary. But to say, “We confess this truth and reject that falsehood,” – unacceptable for the ecumenists. Those who reject the confessions soon jettison the Scriptures as well.

"The modern radical spirit which would sweep away the Formula of Concord as a Confession of the Church, will not, in the end, be curbed, until it has swept away the Augsburg Confession, and the ancient Confessions of the Church--yea, not until it has crossed the borders of Scripture itself, and swept out of the Word whatsoever is not in accord with its own critical mode of thinking. The far-sighted rationalist theologian and Dresden court preacher, Ammon, grasped the logic of a mere spirit of progress, when he said: 'Experience teaches us that those who reject a Creed, will speedily reject the Scriptures themselves.'"
Theodore E. Schmauk and C. Theodore Benze, The Confessional Principle and the Confessions, as Embodying the Evangelical Confession of the Christian Church, Philadelphia: General Council Publication Board, 1911, p. 685. Trinity

The best definition of an ecumenist (or unionist) is – Someone who loves every denomination except his own. The Lutheran Church Growth people always mock Lutheran doctrine and worship.

It’s hard to say whether doctrinal indifference or ecumenism come first. One is the cause of the other. Historically, all union efforts have ended in fewer people hearing the Word, fewer members, and a complete loss of the articles of faith. The United Church of Christ is a product of many different union movements. They are dying fast and completely apostate in doctrine, accepting all religions as equal.

The Star of Bethlehem
The Star is important for many reasons. We can see that God willed that great intellectual leaders from the East should see the Messiah and report back to their people. The Word spread miraculously because God provided for that in the earliest days. Among Jews it was in the prophecies of the Old Testament and the Seder Meal.

Matthew 2:4 And when he had gathered all the chief priests and scribes of the people together, he demanded of them where Christ should be born. 5 And they said unto him, In Bethlehem of Judaea: for thus it is written by the prophet, 6 And thou Bethlehem, in the land of Juda, art not the least among the princes of Juda: for out of thee shall come a Governor, that shall rule my people Israel.

The Wise Men saw the Word Incarnate and returned home to teach about Him. Jesus revealed Himself in the Temple when He was still a young boy. Jewish scholars saw their Scriptures fulfilled as Jesus spoke. Certainly the Word Incarnate was effective in the Temple.

The Wise Men’s treacherous journey is testimony to longing for a Savior in those days of darkness. Ancient religions were too gross or bloodthirsty to discuss the details. Nothing was too degraded for them. People had fallen away from the truth as the earth repopulated after the Flood. Then too, religious leaders found it easy to terrorize their followers or to give them exactly what they wanted. The world was in darkness.

Darkness and Light
The greater the darkness, the more a tiny of light will shine forth. The Star promised a greater light to come. The followers of Satan, various religions, all want to borrow light as a symbol of their teaching.

Followers of the occult use light, the rainbow, and anything else they can borrow to make their falsehood look good.
Nevertheless, the Bible portrays Christ as the one true Light of the Word.

KJV John 8:12 Then spake Jesus again unto them, saying, I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life.

KJV John 12:46 I am come a light into the world, that whosoever believeth on me should not abide in darkness.

God’s wisdom is shown in that He:
1. Revealed His Son to the lowly shepherds first, then to Wise Men from the East.
2. Kept the Wise Men safe and sent Jesus into Egypt, fulfilling the prophecy.
3. Established Jesus as the Messiah among His own people, then spread the Gospel to all nations.
4. Announced His Son’s birth so that the entire world would take notice of the Star of Bethlehem, a phenomenon noted in the Chinese records.

Notice that the Wise Men worshiped Jesus, not the Holy Family, not Jesus and Mary, when they found Him. The Bible is sparse in details and those details are telling. There is no mention of venerating Mary. She is indeed honored above all women in history, but the Bible did not elevate her to Jesus’ status and even beyond (as the one who pleaded for mercy, commanding her Son).

Some would like to downplay the Wise Men, who are found only in Matthew. But the passage about them and the Star in Matthew is very significant. In a very small book like Matthew, the space given to the Star and the Wise Men means that the Holy Spirit wants us to learn a lesson. God led them to Jesus through the Star. How did they know? There are various explanations for it. Some say that the pseudo-science of astrology made them think that a King was coming to Israel. We cannot tell why they traveled on a difficult journey, but they traveled in faith. They believed they would find the Savior of the world.
They went to a bloodthirsty king, Herod, but God kept them safe. Herod had the chance to see the Savior and believe in Him. Instead, he used to knowledge to try to kill the Savior. Those are two different and very significant reactions to the Word of God Incarnate.

Why can’t more people believe in Jesus? They probably need more miracles. God gave Herod a miracle in the sky, the Wise Men to show how important the Star was, and Jewish experts to explain the meaning of the Star.

Many would say, “With that much happening, I would certainly believe. My faith would never falter and never grow weak if I saw the Star of Bethlehem and the Wise Men.” But the true Church produces a miracle every time Holy Communion is celebrated. The Body and Blood of Christ are given with the common elements of bread and wine, given for the forgiveness of sin. Both are miracles. Holy Communion is a miracle. Forgiveness is a miracle.

These wonderful testimonies from the Gospels strengthen our faith, and so do the Sacraments.

God created and managed many different events to strengthen the faith of those who would literally face wild animals in defense of the Gospel. God’s abundance of mercy is shown in the heavenly choirs, the Star of Bethlehem, the Wise Men, the flight into Egypt, and the later miracles. Many individual miracles are so great that the ability to do one of them today would create world-wide headlines. More importantly, the disciples and the people knew that Jesus converted them through the spoken Word. They knew that better than anything else. Although they were weak and frail, impulsive and wrong so many times, those early followers were strengthened by the Word and remained fruitful for abiding in that Word.

Matthew 2:10 When they saw the star, they rejoiced with exceeding great joy. 11 And when they were come into the house, they saw the young child with Mary his mother, and fell down, and worshipped him: and when they had opened their treasures, they presented unto him gifts; gold, and frankincense, and myrrh.


Schmauk Quotations
"Shall we permit this to be done! in the name of Christian unity! and by a latitudinarianism that is our own heritage, which rises ever anew from the embers of the past to find such veiled support and strength in the citadel of Zion that Confessionalism is told to whisper low in Jerusalem lest she be heard on the streets of Gath."
Theodore E. Schmauk and C. Theodore Benze, The Confessional Principle and the Confessions, as Embodying the Evangelical Confession of the Christian Church, Philadelphia: 1911, p. 941.

"Is the Lord's Supper the place to display my toleration, my Christian sympathy, or my fellowship with another Christian, when that is the very point in which most of all we differ; and in which the difference means for me everything--means for me, the reception of the Savior's atonement? Is this the point to be selected for the display of Christian union, when in fact it is the very point in which Christian union does not exist?"
Theodore E. Schmauk and C. Theodore Benze, The Confessional Principle and the Confessions, as Embodying the Evangelical Confession of the Christian Church, Philadelphia: 1911, p. 905f.

"The modern radical spirit which would sweep away the Formula of Concord as a Confession of the Church, will not, in the end, be curbed, until it has swept away the Augsburg Confession, and the ancient Confessions of the Church--yea, not until it has crossed the borders of Scripture itself, and swept out of the Word whatsoever is not in accord with its own critical mode of thinking. The far-sighted rationalist theologian and Dresden court preacher, Ammon, grasped the logic of a mere spirit of progress, when he said: 'Experience teaches us that those who reject a Creed, will speedily reject the Scriptures themselves.'"
Theodore E. Schmauk and C. Theodore Benze, The Confessional Principle and the Confessions, as Embodying the Evangelical Confession of the Christian Church, Philadelphia: General Council Publication Board, 1911, p. 685. Trinity

"The real question is not what do you subscribe, but what do you believe and publicly teach, and what are you transmitting to those who come after? If it is the complete Lutheran faith and practice, the name and number of the standards is less important. If it is not, the burden of proof rests upon you to show that your more incomplete standard does not indicate an incomplete Lutheran faith."
Theodore E. Schmauk and C. Theodore Benze, The Confessional Principle and the Confessions, as Embodying the Evangelical Confession of the Christian Church, Philadelphia: 1911, p. 890.

[Selnecker, who wrote "Ach bleib bei uns" (TLH #292) was bitterly attacked and severely persecuted by the Reformed, deposed when Augustus died, reduced to poverty, and not allowed to remain in Leipzig as a private citizen.]
Theodore E. Schmauk and C. Theodore Benze, The Confessional Principle and the Confessions, as Embodying the Evangelical Confession of the Christian Church, Philadelphia: General Council Publication Board, 1911, p. 310ff.

No comments: