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Norma Boeckler, Artist-in-Residence

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Saturday, March 7, 2009

Reminiscere - The Second Sunday in Lent



"And the Rock which followed was Christ." Norma Boeckler




Reminiscere, The Second Sunday in Lent

Pastor Gregory L. Jackson

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

Bethany Lutheran Worship, 8 AM Phoenix Time

Mid-Week Lenten Services are Wednesdays at 6 PM.

The Hymn #140 Jesus Leiden und Pein
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 Thess. 4:1-7
The Gospel Matthew 15:21-28
Glory be to Thee, O Lord!
Praise be to Thee, O Christ!
The Nicene Creed p. 22
The Sermon Hymn #206 Jesus, meine Zuversicht

God Afflicts the Old Adam

The Hymn #311 Jesus Christus, unser Heiland
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 #151, vss 1-3 Jesu, meines Lebens Leben

KJV 1 Thessalonians 4:1 Furthermore then we beseech you, brethren, and exhort you by the Lord Jesus, that as ye have received of us how ye ought to walk and to please God, so ye would abound more and more. 2 For ye know what commandments we gave you by the Lord Jesus. 3 For this is the will of God, even your sanctification, that ye should abstain from fornication: 4 That every one of you should know how to possess his vessel in sanctification and honour; 5 Not in the lust of concupiscence, even as the Gentiles which know not God: 6 That no man go beyond and defraud his brother in any matter: because that the Lord is the avenger of all such, as we also have forewarned you and testified. 7 For God hath not called us unto uncleanness, but unto holiness.

KJV Matthew 15:21 Then Jesus went thence, and departed into the coasts of Tyre and Sidon. 22 And, behold, a woman of Canaan came out of the same coasts, and cried unto him, saying, Have mercy on me, O Lord, thou Son of David; my daughter is grievously vexed with a devil. 23 But he answered her not a word. And his disciples came and besought him, saying, Send her away; for she crieth after us. 24 But he answered and said, I am not sent but unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel. 25 Then came she and worshipped him, saying, Lord, help me. 26 But he answered and said, It is not meet to take the children's bread, and to cast it to dogs. 27 And she said, Truth, Lord: yet the dogs eat of the crumbs which fall from their masters' table. 28 Then Jesus answered and said unto her, O woman, great is thy faith: be it unto thee even as thou wilt. And her daughter was made whole from that very hour.

Second Sunday In Lent
Lord God, heavenly Father, grant us, we beseech Thee, by Thy Holy Spirit, that He may strengthen our hearts and confirm our faith and hope in Thy grace and mercy, so that, although we have reason to fear because of our conscience, our sin, and our unworthiness, we may nevertheless, with the woman of Canaan, hold fast to Thy grace, and in every trial and temptation find Thee a very present help and refuge, through Thy beloved Son, Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with Thee and the Holy Ghost, one true God, world without end. Amen.

God Afflicts the Old Adam

The New Testament has many passages that have troubled people for centuries. Some of them seem to show Jesus as harsh, unconcerned, even insulting. This is one of them. If we study the Gospel, then we can see that Jesus’ love and wisdom should never be doubted.

First of all, we should ask ourselves why the Word of God would place such stumbling blocks in our way, making us wonder about Jesus. This is especially worth considering, since the Holy Spirit is very concise in telling us about Christ. Much more could be written, as the ending of John’s Gospel declares. Therefore, it would have been possible for the Bible to offer us only stories that flow past us without disturbing us at all.

We think we would like God’s Word to be like one class I once took. The professor was so kind and easy-going. He was soft spoken and soft on his students. In fact, I could hardly stay awake. If the Bible never disturbed us in any way, we would be asleep all of the time, or take things for granted.

We can see that this woman already believed in Christ. She had complete trust in His ability to heal her daughter and His willingness to do so. That never wavered. So, this is an example of Jesus laying His cross on a believer. As Luther wrote:

"Observe, God and men proceed in contrary ways. Men set on first that which is best, afterward that which is worse. God first gives the cross and affliction, then honor and blessedness. This is because men seek to preserve the old man; on which account they instruct us to keep the Law by works, and offer promises great and sweet...But God first of all terrifies the conscience, sets on miserable wine, in fact nothing but water; then, however, He consoles us with the promises of the Gospel which endure forever."
Sermons of Martin Luther, 8 vols., ed., John Nicholaus Lenker, Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1983, II, p. 69. Second Sunday after Epiphany, John 2:1-11.

In this miraculous healing, Jesus was first asked by a woman to heal her daughter, who was “grievously vexed with a devil.” But Jesus did not even answer the woman! Where was His love and compassion? She continued to cry, and His disciples intervened to ask Him to care of things. The request of the disciples implied that they wanted Him to grant her prayer, because His answer seemed to be a clear “No.” Jesus said He was sent to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. She was a Canaanite woman, a non-Jew. He was not sent to minister to her.

First Jesus refused to answer her. Then He told His disciples that His mission was to help the house of Israel. Next, the woman worshiped Him and implored His help. But He answered in a way that would be taken by many to be quite insulting: “It is not right to take away the children’s bread and give it to the dogs.” The children belonged to the house of Israel. She did not.

Three different times Jesus failed to grant her prayer for her daughter. The Canaanite woman responded in faith, “Even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from the master’s table.” She was saying, “It is true that I do not qualify to receive help, so I am no better than a dog. But there is so much at the master’s table that I might get a crumb.”

Then Jesus said, “Great is your faith.” The woman’s daughter was healed at that moment.

In various miracles of healing, different points are made to give us spiritual wisdom. When the centurion’s son was healed, the main point was that Jesus could heal with His Word, without being present. However, that happened in this miracle without any emphasis upon the Word.

When the Gerasene demoniac was healed, the evil spirit confessed Jesus as the Son of God.

In this miracle, the healing revolved around Jesus’ reluctance to answer the woman or give her what she desperately wanted for her sick daughter. In fact, this is how God often treats us. He teaches us to look at Him as our kind, gracious, heavenly Father, and to see ourselves as His beloved children. He admonishes us to ask Him for everything, all our needs. And yet, when we pray to God, our prayers do not seem to be answered many times.

God does this to discipline us and to destroy our self-confidence. That is not a typographical error. Self-confidence often means pride, conceit, self-centeredness. When God delays answering our prayers and does not seem to hear or care about us, we begin to despair of ourselves. That is a good thing. When we think we can manage things ourselves, when we make demands, we can become extremely ungrateful.

One aspect of our fallen nature is very clear. Simply receiving things in abundance will make us spoiled, ungrateful, even resentful. Times of privation, when we have almost nothing, make us thankful for what we have. Some of the most grateful Americans are those who came through the Depression and WWII. Others are immigrants. One Polish immigrant came into the city treasury department in New Ulm, paid his real estate taxes, and said, “I want to tell you how thankful I am to be able to pay my taxes in America.” The workers were stunned and pleased to have a happy tax-payer in the office.

If we think we can take of ourselves through our strength, cleverness, and hard work, then our confidence in God will decrease. In contrast, if we give up on ourselves and throw ourselves on the mercy of God, then we will give Him alone the glory for the solution to our affliction.

The miracle in this lesson offers us two examples. First of all, the Son of God does not seem to listen and yet, after a period of waiting, He says, "Be it done as you desire.” Second, the woman is not deterred by waiting or the apparent shunning of her cause. Accepting the designation of “dog,” she responds, “Even the dogs get the scraps from the table.” She is held up as an example by Jesus Himself, “Great is your faith.”

In contrast, many are those who pray to God but become discouraged. What is discouragement but a lack of courage? Courage and patience are closely related. Aristotle wrote that courage and patience are so closely related that one must be the daughter of the other.

Praying in faith means having the spiritual wisdom to realize that God will answer prayers according to His wisdom. Faith in God means trusting that His nature is completely different from ours. His thought are completely different. “My ways are not your ways; My thoughts are not your thoughts.” God may delay answering our prayers to strengthen us in faith and to kill our confidence in our own abilities, wisdom, and strategies. If we are thankless, He may wait long enough to make us thankful. If we have decided exactly how He should accomplish our will, He may grant a prayer in such a convoluted way that we have to concede, “God alone did this.”

False teachers instruct people in how to demand and get from God exactly what they want, when they want it. God is not so weak nor so deaf that He cannot turn this around on them. They get exactly what they want and when they want it, to their destruction. They become more and more puffed up in their pride. They create their own destruction by being proud, unthankful, and conceited.

So we see in this Canaanite woman no questioning of God’s goodness. Her mission is so important that she cannot stop asking. Prayer to God requires faith. Her faith is undaunted by all the apparent roadblocks: the initial silence, the comment made to the disciples, and finally the response from Jesus Himself.

In Christ we have the source and giver of all spiritual treasures: forgiveness of sins through the cross, eternal life, the peace and joy of the Christian life, the blessings enjoyed by our children and grandchildren. Nothing is beyond the reach of God. He can bestow His wealth of blessings upon everyone.

Thankfulness and humility lead us to pray for others, to pray for what is most important for ourselves (in the eyes of God), to pray for faithful pastors and congregations.


Luther On the Cross

"If, here upon earth, the body is unwilling, not capable of grace and Christ's leading, it must bear the Spirit, upon which Christ rides, who trains it and leads it along by the power of grace, received through Christ. The colt, ridden by Christ, upon which no one ever rode, is the willing spirit, whom no one before could make willing, tame or ready, save Christ by His grace. However, the sack carrier, the burden-bearer, the old Adam, is the flesh, which goes riderless without Christ; it must for this reason bear the cross and remain a beast of burden."
Sermons of Martin Luther, 8 vols., ed., John Nicholas Lenker, Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1983, I, p. 53. First Sunday in Advent Matthew 21:1-9.

"But when our good work is followed by persecution, let us rejoice and firmly believe that it is pleasing to God; indeed, then let us be assured that it comes from God, for whatever is of God is bound to be crucified by the world. As long as it does not bring the cross, that is, as long as it does not bring shame and contempt as we patiently continue in it, it cannot be esteemed as a divine work since even the Son of God was not free from it--(suffering for the sake of the good He did) --but left us an example in this. He Himself tells us in Matthew 5:10, 12: 'Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness sake.. Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven.'"
Commentary on Romans, trans. J. Theodore Mueller, Grand Rapids: Kregel Publications, 1976, p. 55. Matthew 5: 10, 12.; Romans 2:6-10

"On the other hand, we are outwardly oppressed with the cross and sufferings, and with the persecution and torments of the world and the devil, as with the weight of heavy stone upon us, subduing our old sinful nature and checking us against antagonizing the Spirit and committing other sins."
Sermons of Martin Luther, 8 vols., ed., John Lenker, Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1983, VIII, p. 145. Sixth Sunday after Trinity, Romans 6:6 John 16:20 –

"Such people, however, do not understand divine things, they think they will suddenly enter death with Christ, whom they have never learned to know except in words. Thus was Peter also disposed, but he stood before Christ like a rabbit before one beating a drum. Notice, how the old Adam lacks courage when under the cross! The new man, however, can indeed persevere through grace."
Sermons of Martin Luther, 8 vols., ed. John Nicholas Lenker, Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1983, III, p. 85. Third Sunday after Easter John 16:16-23

"But wine is sharp and signifies the holy cross that immediately follows. A Christian need not look for his cross, it is always on his back. For he thinks as St. Paul says, 2 Timothy 3:12: 'All that would live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution.' This is the court-color in this kingdom. Whoever is ashamed of the color, does not belong to this king."
Sermons of Martin Luther, 8 vols., ed., John Nicholaus Lenker, Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1983, V, p. 30. Thirteenth Sunday after Trinity, Luke 10:23-37; 2 Timothy 3:12

"Observe, God and men proceed in contrary ways. Men set on first that which is best, afterward that which is worse. God first gives the cross and affliction, then honor and blessedness. This is because men seek to preserve the old man; on which account they instruct us to keep the Law by works, and offer promises great and sweet...But God first of all terrifies the conscience, sets on miserable wine, in fact nothing but water; then, however, He consoles us with the promises of the Gospel which endure forever."
Sermons of Martin Luther, 8 vols., ed., John Nicholaus Lenker, Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1983, II, p. 69. Second Sunday after Epiphany, John 2:1-11.

"Not only is Christ hidden from the world, but a still harder thing is it that in such trials Christ conceals himself even from His church, and acts as if he had forgotten, aye, had entirely forsaken and rejected it, since He permits it to be oppressed under the cross and subjected to all the cruelty of the world, while its enemies boast, glory and rejoice over it, as we shall hear in the next Gospel."
Sermons of Martin Luther, 8 vols., ed., John Nicholas Lenker, Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1983, III, p. 67. Second Sunday after Easter John 10:11-16.

"If we would be Christians, we must surely expect and count on having the devil, together with all his angels and the world, as our enemies. They all will bring misfortune and sorrow on us For where the Word of God is preached, accepted, or believed, and where it produces fruit, the dear, holy cross cannot be wanting."
What Luther Says, An Anthology, 3 vols., ed., Ewald Plass, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1959, I, p. 357. Large Catechism

"O Lord, look down from heaven, behold And let Thy pity waken;
How few are we within Thy fold, Thy saints by men forsaken!
True faith seems quenched on every hand, Men suffer not Thy Word to stand;
Dark times have us overtaken.

(2) With fraud which they themselves invent Thy truth they have confounded;
Their hearts are not with one consent On Thy pure doctrine grounded.
While they parade with outward show, They lead the people to and fro,
In error's maze astounded.

(3) May God root out all heresy And of false teachers rid us
Who proudly say: 'Now, where is he That shall our speech forbid us?
By right or might we shall prevail; What we determine cannot fail;
We own no lord and master.

(5) As silver tried by fire is pure From all adulteration
So through God's Word shall men endure Each trial and temptation.
Its light beams brighter through the cross, And purified from human dross,
It shines thru every nation."
The Lutheran Hymnal, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1941, Hymn #260. Psalm 12.

"But now, since the prince of this world and the Holy Spirit, the kingdom of Christ and the kingdom of the devil, are directly opposed to one another, and the Holy Spirit is not willing that anyone should parade his own deeds and praise himself on account of them, the holy cross must soon follow. The world will not consent to be reprimanded for its blindness. Therefore one must willingly submit and suffer persecution. If we have the right kind of faith in our hearts, we must also open our mouths and confess righteousness and make known sin. Likewise we must condemn and punish the doings of this world and make it known that everything it undertakes, is damned."
Sermons of Martin Luther, 8 vols., ed., John Nicholas Lenker, Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1983, III, p. 120. Fourth Sunday after Easter John 16:5-15.

"The deeper a person is sunk in sadness and emotional upheavals, the better he serves as an instrument of Satan. For our emotions are instruments through which he gets into us and works in us if we do not watch our step. It is easy to water where it is wet. Where the fence is dilapidated, it is easy to get across. So Satan has easy access where there is sadness. Therefore one must pray and associate with godly people."
What Luther Says, An Anthology, 3 vols., ed., Ewald Plass, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1959, III, p. 1243. 1532

"This a true definition of marriage: Marriage is the God-appointed and legitimate union of man and woman in the hope of having children or at least for the purpose of avoiding fornication and sin and living to the glory of God. The ultimate purpose is to obey God, to find aid and counsel against sin; to call upon God; to seek, love, and educate children for the glory of God; to live with one's wife in the fear of God and to bear the cross; but if there are no children, nevertheless to live with one's wife in contentment; and to avoid all lewdness with others."
What Luther Says, An Anthology, 3 vols., ed., Ewald Plass, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1959, II, p. 884. Genesis 24:1-4.

"This is a true definition of marriage: Marriage is the God-appointed and legitimate union of man and woman in the hope of having children or at least for the purpose of avoiding fornication and sin and living to the glory of God. The ultimate purpose is to obey God, to find aid and counsel against sin; to call upon God; to seek, love, and educate children for the glory of God; to live with one's wife in the fear of God and to bear the cross; but if there are no children, nevertheless to live with one's wife in contentment; and to avoid all lewdness with others."
What Luther Says, An Anthology, 3 vols. ed. Ewald Plass, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1959, II, p. 884. Genesis 24:1-4

"Human works and doctrines at all times yield much revenue and carnal gain, while the doctrines of God and the work of Christ bring the cross, poverty, ignominy, and all kinds of calamity, which the holiness of Herod cannot endure. Thus it happens always, that they who have ensnared and oppressed the poor with an erring conscience and with human doctrines, do not like to hear that poor, miserable consciences receive instruction, attain a right understanding, and seek the simple pure Word of God and faith."
Sermons of Martin Luther, 8 vols., ed., John Nicholas Lenker, Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1983, I, p. 376. Epiphany Matthew 2:1-12.

"The apostle says 'our,' 'our sins;' not his own sin, not the sins of unbelievers. Purification is not for, and cannot profit, him who does not believe. Nor did Christ effect the cleansing by our free-will, our reason or power, our works, our contrition or repentance, these all being worthless in the sight of God; he effects it by himself. And how? By taking our sins upon himself on the holy cross, as Isaiah 53:6 tells us."
Sermons of Martin Luther, ed., John Nicholas Lenker, Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1983, VI, p. 180. Hebrews 1:1-12; Hebrews 1:3;

"This, mark you, is the peace of the cross, the peace of God, peace of conscience, Christian peace, which gives us even external calm, which makes us satisfied with all men and unwilling to disturb any. Reason cannot understand how there can be pleasure in crosses, and peace in disquietude; it cannot find these. Such peace is the work of God, and none can understand it until it has been experienced."
Sermons of Martin Luther, 8 vols., ed., John Nicholaus Lenker, Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1983, VI, p. 111. Fourth Sunday in Advent, Philippians 4:7

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