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 CDT.


Midweek Lenten - 7 PM Central Daylight.

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

Sunday, January 31, 2010

Septuagesima Sunday



Norma Boeckler


Septuagesima Sunday

Pastor Gregory L. Jackson

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

Bethany Lutheran Church, 10 AM Central Time


The Hymn #479 Zion Rise 2:13
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
The Gospel
Glory be to Thee, O Lord!
Praise be to Thee, O Christ!
The Nicene Creed p. 22
The Sermon Hymn # 151 Christ the Life 2:78

Fairness or Grace, Law or Gospel

The Hymn # 227 Come Holy Ghost 2:72
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 #409 Let Us Ever Walk 2:91

1 Corinthians 9:24 Know ye not that they which run in a race run all, but one receiveth the prize? So run, that ye may obtain. 25 And every man that striveth for the mastery is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a corruptible crown; but we an incorruptible. 26 I therefore so run, not as uncertainly; so fight I, not as one that beateth the air: 27 But I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection: lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway. 10:1 Moreover, brethren, I would not that ye should be ignorant, how that all our fathers were under the cloud, and all passed through the sea; 2 And were all baptized unto Moses in the cloud and in the sea;
3 And did all eat the same spiritual meat; 4 And did all drink the same spiritual drink: for they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them: and that Rock was Christ. 5 But with many of them God was not well pleased: for they were overthrown in the wilderness.

KJV Matthew 20:1 For the kingdom of heaven is like unto a man that is an householder, which went out early in the morning to hire labourers into his vineyard. 2 And when he had agreed with the labourers for a penny a day, he sent them into his vineyard. 3 And he went out about the third hour, and saw others standing idle in the marketplace, 4 And said unto them; Go ye also into the vineyard, and whatsoever is right I will give you. And they went their way. 5 Again he went out about the sixth and ninth hour, and did likewise. 6 And about the eleventh hour he went out, and found others standing idle, and saith unto them, Why stand ye here all the day idle? 7 They say unto him, Because no man hath hired us. He saith unto them, Go ye also into the vineyard; and whatsoever is right, that shall ye receive. 8 So when even was come, the lord of the vineyard saith unto his steward, Call the labourers, and give them their hire, beginning from the last unto the first. 9 And when they came that were hired about the eleventh hour, they received every man a penny. 10 But when the first came, they supposed that they should have received more; and they likewise received every man a penny. 11 And when they had received it, they murmured against the goodman of the house, 12 Saying, These last have wrought but one hour, and thou hast made them equal unto us, which have borne the burden and heat of the day. 13 But he answered one of them, and said, Friend, I do thee no wrong: didst not thou agree with me for a penny? 14 Take that thine is, and go thy way: I will give unto this last, even as unto thee. 15 Is it not lawful for me to do what I will with mine own? Is thine eye evil, because I am good? 16 So the last shall be first, and the first last: for many be called, but few chosen.

Septuagesima Sunday
Lord God, heavenly Father, who through Thy holy word hast called us into Thy vineyard: Send, we beseech Thee, Thy Holy Spirit into our hearts, that we may labor faithfully in Thy vineyard, shun sin and all offense, obediently keep Thy word and do Thy will, and put our whole and only trust in Thy grace, which Thou hast bestowed upon us so plenteously through Thy Son Jesus Christ, that we may obtain eternal salvation through Him, who liveth and reigneth with Thee and the Holy Ghost, one true God, world without end. Amen.

Fairness or Grace, Law or Gospel
This parable illustrates an important concept in the Christian faith. While we think normally in terms of Law, the Gospel teaches grace.

The parable is stated in the plainest terms, but many who heard the parables did not comprehend what was said. Jesus taught them privately. In the body of the New Testament we have the explanations and parallel passages we need to understand the more difficult passages.

This parable is plain to the believer, but the Old Adam resists. The Old Adam enjoys righteousness through the Law, whether Old Testament ritual law or civil righteousness.
Paul took care of both in Romans, which we are studying today. No one is righteousness through the Law, however Law is interpreted.

The story is clear enough. A man hired workers during the day, to work in his vineyard. We can see that this symbolizes God and those in the church (the vineyard). The first hired were promised a penny a day. That was before the Minimum Wage Law. Others were hired later in the day, promised whatever was right as their pay.

The conflict came because the last hired were paid a penny, even though they worked only a short time. Everyone else also received a penny, but they thought they would receive multiples of a penny, since they worked many more hours.

11 And when they had received it, they murmured against the goodman of the house, 12 Saying, These last have wrought but one hour, and thou hast made them equal unto us, which have borne the burden and heat of the day.

The same man who hired them gave them their pay, and he responded.

13 But he answered one of them, and said, Friend, I do thee no wrong: didst not thou agree with me for a penny? 14 Take that thine is, and go thy way: I will give unto this last, even as unto thee. 15 Is it not lawful for me to do what I will with mine own? Is thine eye evil, because I am good? 16 So the last shall be first, and the first last: for many be called, but few chosen.

The problem is from people converting the Gospel into Law. As children always say, “That’s not fair.”

One student failed his class by not doing his weekly assignments. He asked for another chance once the class was over and his financial aid was in jeopardy. He submitted his work and received a passing grade. His response was, “That’s not fair. I wanted a higher grade. I did all my work.”

When parents deal with their children, the “not fair” complaint is common. Kids measure the size of dessert, who got privileges, who sat by the window, and all kinds of other things. We were regular Pharisees at our home, always talking about our own virtues and the unfairness of favorable treatment of our siblings. Children have trouble with their parents treating the other children differently because of a variety of factors. A child’s concept of “fair” can be remarkably self-centered.

Some children have special needs. Others have special talents. Parents are always in training, so they start out with certain objectives and modify them as they are blessed with more children. They expect the most out of the first-born children and only children, so those children grow up to be pilots, CPAs, and architects.

In contrast, parents relax quite a bit when the baby of the family arrives. Everything the baby does is cute. The baby is always funny and entertaining. So typical babies become entertainers and salespeople.

Middle children are the most ignored, so they end up with different characteristics too. This is part of God’s design to build society through the lessons learned in the family.

In the church, this parable applies to all believers. The ending shows that God’s doctrine, being different from man’s opinion, caused many to fall away – Many are invited but few are elect. The Gospel calls many but few remain steadfast in the Gospel.

Murmuring against the Gospel is common. When God promises grace, that grace cannot be turned into law and remain grace.

God’s grace means His favor, which is undeserved and unearned our part. The message of the Gospel is that Christ earned this favor and bestowed it on us through the Gospel promises.

I was re-reading Lenski today. In his Romans commentary he wrote about Luther’s discovery of grace. Luther labored under the concept of earning God’s favor. When he was turned into a professor of Scripture, he saw that the entire Bible taught something different from what he learned as a Medieval monk.

Luther learned to earn God’s favor by depriving himself, enduring long vigils of prayer, and confessing his sins endlessly. His spiritual advisor said, “You do not love God. You hate him.” Luther grew to realize that in making Christ a fearsome and condemning judge, he led a spiritual life of resentment and anxious works.

When people talk about the god they reject, they often give this away. “I do not believe in a god who…” Their hatred and resentment comes from a concept of their own righteousness.

When Luther discovered justification by faith for himself, he felt set free from the law condemnation he had lived under. He did more than teach justification by faith. He also condemned:
· justification by works,
· paying money for forgiveness,
· and the entire structure of Medieval righteousness.

He let the Word attack the papacy, and the beast was mortally wounded from that time on. Luther would have been tolerated, even praised for teaching the Gospel by itself. What they could not abide was his attack on false doctrine, which threatened the entire financial structure of Medieval society. The churches, hotels, saloons, and relic museums all depended on the pilgrimage money from anxious believers, moving from place to place to earn forgiveness. The monasteries and nunneries were filled with people working for their salvation, hoping to reduce time in Purgatory for their friends and family.

One response to Luther was – That is not fair. How can the repentant murderer receive God’s grace on the scaffold, the same as the monk laboring for 50 years?


Sunday, January 24, 2010

The Third Sunday after the Epiphany





The Third Sunday after the Epiphany

Pastor Gregory L. Jackson

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

Bethany Lutheran Church, 10 AM Central Time


The Hymn #44 Ye Lands 2.41
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
The Gospel
Glory be to Thee, O Lord!
Praise be to Thee, O Christ!
The Nicene Creed p. 22
The Sermon Hymn # 264 Preserve Thy Word 2.55

By God’s Command

The Hymn # 249 Isaiah Mighty Seer 2.75
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 #45 Now the Hour of Worship 2.95

KJV Romans 12:16 Be of the same mind one toward another. Mind not high things, but condescend to men of low estate. Be not wise in your own conceits. 17 Recompense to no man evil for evil. Provide things honest in the sight of all men. 18 If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men. 19 Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord. 20 Therefore if thine enemy hunger, feed him; if he thirst, give him drink: for in so doing thou shalt heap coals of fire on his head. 21 Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good.

KJV Matthew 8:1 When he was come down from the mountain, great multitudes followed him. 2 And, behold, there came a leper and worshipped him, saying, Lord, if thou wilt, thou canst make me clean. 3 And Jesus put forth his hand, and touched him, saying, I will; be thou clean. And immediately his leprosy was cleansed. 4 And Jesus saith unto him, See thou tell no man; but go thy way, shew thyself to the priest, and offer the gift that Moses commanded, for a testimony unto them. 5 And when Jesus was entered into Capernaum, there came unto him a centurion, beseeching him, 6 And saying, Lord, my servant lieth at home sick of the palsy, grievously tormented. 7 And Jesus saith unto him, I will come and heal him. 8 The centurion answered and said, Lord, I am not worthy that thou shouldest come under my roof: but speak the word only, and my servant shall be healed. 9 For I am a man under authority, having soldiers under me: and I say to this man, Go, and he goeth; and to another, Come, and he cometh; and to my servant, Do this, and he doeth it. 10 When Jesus heard it, he marvelled, and said to them that followed, Verily I say unto you, I have not found so great faith, no, not in Israel. 11 And I say unto you, That many shall come from the east and west, and shall sit down with Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, in the kingdom of heaven. 12 But the children of the kingdom shall be cast out into outer darkness: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth. 13 And Jesus said unto the centurion, Go thy way; and as thou hast believed, so be it done unto thee. And his servant was healed in the selfsame hour.

Third Sunday After Epiphany
O almighty and everlasting God, mercifully look upon our infirmities, and in all dangers and necessities stretch forth Thy mighty hand, to defend us against our enemies; through Jesus Christ, Thy Son, who liveth and reigneth with Thee and the Holy Ghost, one true God, world without end. Amen.


By God’s Command – Forgiveness

The one great issue in all of religion is this – how are people forgiven their sins? This lesson addresses the issue by showing us how God’s Word is the same as His will.

There are two miraculous healings in this Gospel lesson. The first one shows the faith of the leper, who said, “You can make me clean, if you will.” Jesus’ response is concise, “I will. Be clean.”

The man was immediately healed of his leprosy. Jesus told him to show himself to the priest for the ritual cleansing, “as a testimony.” This is another example of how the Gospel spread. Jesus did not burden them with the Law, telling them they had to convert people to faith to make God happy, that hordes of people were going to Hell without an effective—and expensive—evangelism program. Instead, He told the healed man to have the cleansing ritual performed. The process of showing himself to the priest would reveal everything, and people would discuss this miracle among all their friends and relatives.

The modern frauds invent miracles and call that evangelism, when they fake events and brag about their crowds. I ran into a photo of one of these frauds in my files. He was raising the dead in Florida, he claimed, although no evidence ever emerged. His felony record did show up and he went on the lam. Perhaps he is working his miracles in Haiti now.

Jesus performed miracles to confirm His Word, so people would see that His authority came from God the Father. The miracles themselves were secondary, because even the widow’s son (Nain) and Lazarus had to face death.

The leprosy cure was especially noteworthy because the man they knew as a leper, an outcast, was cleansed of his disease in a moment. The miracle was associated with the teaching of Jesus. As the news spread, people believed in Him before they heard Him speak, before they saw a miracle with their own eyes.

This leper worshiped Jesus and trusted in the power of the Savior. We do not know exactly when this happened. There are many similar examples in the Gospels. Jesus was clearly revealed as the Son of God, in many different ways, so the countryside was coming to see Him and to seek His healing.

The leper had the advantage, if we can call it that, of having nothing. Lacking the esteem of his own people, feeling nothing but rejection for his unclean state, the leper had nothing of his own to offer – wealth, power, or good works. The Word kindled faith in his heart and that faith trusted in the power of the Savior to make him whole again.

Jesus only needed to say, “Be clean” and the leper was healed.

The miracle strengthens our faith by showing us the power of the Word. With that established, we see in the next miracle how God’s Word is not limited by the visible presence of Christ.

An officer of the Roman army came to Jesus and asked Him to heal his servant. As everyone knew then, a Roman army officer had absolute power over his men. This power was far greater and more terrible than anything known today. He could order a decimation, where one soldier out of ten was beaten to death, to firm up discipline in the ranks. For that reason, and many more, the centurion knew how powerful a command could be.

The centurion also had faith in Jesus. Like Peter, he spoke of his unworthiness, and asked for his servant to be healed.

He offered his own perspective on God’s Word.

but speak the word only, and my servant shall be healed. 9 For I am a man under authority, having soldiers under me: and I say to this man, Go, and he goeth; and to another, Come, and he cometh; and to my servant, Do this, and he doeth it.

Jesus marveled at the soldier’s faith, and healed his servant at that moment.

Before the healing was announced, Jesus gave this as a warning:

11 And I say unto you, That many shall come from the east and west, and shall sit down with Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, in the kingdom of heaven. 12 But the children of the kingdom shall be cast out into outer darkness: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.

In other words, people from all cultures will hear the Gospel and be saved, but the natural heirs, the Jewish people, will be cast into Hell for unbelief.

The unifying element is faith, not heritage. Nothing prepares people more for faith in Christ than Judaism. All the worship, Scriptures, and practices point toward Jesus as the Messiah. The initial Christian church was almost completely Jewish in its makeup. When the rejection and excommunication set in, the Gospel rain moved on to other cultures. God gave His own people abundant chances, from the shepherds seeing the angels to the Temple appearances and miracles.

Many Jews today are Christians, often “secret believers,” to use a term from F. Pieper. To be an open believer in their families would make them modern day lepers. We known someone who went to her husband’s grave for a rabbinic ceremony and had a Bible study at her house later. When someone says, “Bible study,” it is not from the local synagogue.

Most of us are from that outside group Jesus described. As I mentioned before, one part of my family was burdened by the Law demands of the Seventh Day Adventists (no pork, etc), so they joined an Evangelical Church. Apparently some of my Adventist relatives were bigshots, so leaving that behind was an issue in the extended family. I was attending a popular mainline church with my family when the whole youth situation and Church Growth style services made me cross the street to go with traditional, liturgical, Augustana Lutherans. One step leads to another, both toward the Gospel and away from the Gospel. The person I asked about the Lutheran Church is a Hindu teacher now. We lived in the same neighborhoods, attended the same schools, and were confirmed in the same Lutheran Church.

The Effective Word
These Gospel miracles show the power of God’s Word, essential to understand when we speak about forgiveness.

People easily lose their faith in the forgiveness of sin. Truly that is the greatest miracle of the Bible, after the Incarnation. God can and does provide miraculous healing.

How can God declare sins forgiven? That is the meaning behind that term – justification. There are only two kinds of justification: self-justification, our normal state; and justification by faith, taught in the Word.

Self-justification consists of making excuses or offering up good works in exchange for forgiveness. Sometimes people make future promises as well, as if the weakness of the first instance will be overcome by a newfound strength. Self-justification is the hardest thing of all, as a desert father once wrote.

Justification by faith is instantaneous and does not require anything of us. The Gospel plants faith in our hearts and nurtures that faith.

Like the healing of the leper and the centurion’s servant, God says – Be clean, and we are clean. He says – Be healed, and we are healed.

We offer nothing but receive everything through faith. This justification is continuous from the Gospel. The Holy Spirit daily forgives us our sin, fully and freely, as we confess in the Small Catechism. (When we say the Holy Spirit, it also means the Word. And vice versa.)

When we receive Holy Communion, God’s Word says – “for the forgiveness of sin.”

It is important to cling to the plain words of the Scripture, in spite of all our doubts and insecurities. The Old Adam wants to offer something in exchange, to make a deal as Gov. Hucklebee recently said on TV.

Christ has already given all for the treasure of the Atonement. The Holy Spirit distributes that treasure through the Word and Sacraments.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

The Second Sunday after the Epiphany




The Tree of Life, by Norma Boeckler


The Second Sunday after the Epiphany

Pastor Gregory L. Jackson

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

Bethany Lutheran Church, 10 AM Central Time


The Hymn #39 Praise to the Lord 3.1
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
The Gospel
Glory be to Thee, O Lord!
Praise be to Thee, O Christ!
The Nicene Creed p. 22
The Sermon Hymn # 370 My Hope Is Built 3.11

Water into Wine – God’s Word Transforms

The Hymn #294 O Word of God Incarnate 3.31
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 #626 O Happy Home 3.65

KJV Romans 12:6 Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, whether prophecy, let us prophesy according to the proportion of faith; 7 Or ministry, let us wait on our ministering: or he that teacheth, on teaching; 8 Or he that exhorteth, on exhortation: he that giveth, let him do it with simplicity; he that ruleth, with diligence; he that sheweth mercy, with cheerfulness. 9 Let love be without dissimulation. Abhor that which is evil; cleave to that which is good. 10 Be kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly love; in honour preferring one another; 11 Not slothful in business; fervent in spirit; serving the Lord; 12 Rejoicing in hope; patient in tribulation; continuing instant in prayer; 13 Distributing to the necessity of saints; given to hospitality. 14 Bless them which persecute you: bless, and curse not. 15 Rejoice with them that do rejoice, and weep with them that weep. 16 Be of the same mind one toward another. Mind not high things, but condescend to men of low estate. Be not wise in your own conceits.

KJV John 2:1 And the third day there was a marriage in Cana of Galilee; and the mother of Jesus was there: 2 And both Jesus was called, and his disciples, to the marriage. 3 And when they wanted wine, the mother of Jesus saith unto him, They have no wine. 4 Jesus saith unto her, Woman, what have I to do with thee? mine hour is not yet come. 5 His mother saith unto the servants, Whatsoever he saith unto you, do it. 6 And there were set there six waterpots of stone, after the manner of the purifying of the Jews, containing two or three firkins apiece. 7 Jesus saith unto them, Fill the waterpots with water. And they filled them up to the brim. 8 And he saith unto them, Draw out now, and bear unto the governor of the feast. And they bare it. 9 When the ruler of the feast had tasted the water that was made wine, and knew not whence it was: (but the servants which drew the water knew;) the governor of the feast called the bridegroom, 10 And saith unto him, Every man at the beginning doth set forth good wine; and when men have well drunk, then that which is worse: but thou hast kept the good wine until now. 11 This beginning of miracles did Jesus in Cana of Galilee, and manifested forth his glory; and his disciples believed on him.

Second Sunday After Epiphany
Lord God, heavenly Father, we thank Thee, that of Thy grace Thou hast instituted holy matrimony, in which Thou keepest us from unchastity, and other offenses: We beseech Thee to send Thy blessing upon every husband and wife, that they may not provoke each other to anger and strife, but live peaceably together in love and godliness, receive Thy gracious help in all temptations, and rear their children in accordance with Thy will; grant unto us all to walk before Thee, in purity and holiness, to put all our trust in Thee, and lead such lives on earth, that in the world to come we may have everlasting life, through the same, Thy beloved Son, Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with Thee and the Holy Ghost, one true God, world without end. Amen.

Water into Wine – God’s Word Transforms
This Gospel selection has several different lessons in it.
As Luther preached, the Gospel shows that Jesus honored and blessed marriage. He was invited and come with His disciples.

During the Middle Ages, the Church promoted monasticism and stopped allowing priests to be married. They liked to refer to the papacy as the Chair of Peter, but they did not want their priests to have mothers-in-law, as Peter did. (Jesus healed Peter’s mother-in-law in the Gospel of Mark.) But I learned at Notre Dame, that priests were married at the time of the Reformation. A tax on married priests made a lot of money for the pope. However, that semi-official approval was removed during the Counter-Reformation.

The concept of the law in Roman Catholicism is puzzling to Protestants. The rules are very strict and broken all the time. A man can be married and have several children, but his marriage is annulled if he is rich, powerful, and generous to those who hold the Office of the Keys. (For a Lutheran example, see Marvin Schwan and his marriages.)

Marriage was considered a low estate, one where someone never reached the spiritual blessings of religious vocations. Every step up the ladder was more spiritually blessed than the lower levels. Ordinary nuns and priests lived at a much higher level than the laity. Bishops and cardinals were above the priests. The pope was (and supposedly is) the Vicar of Christ, with the keys to heaven.

Luther changed the idea of the family by pointing out that everything done in faith glorified God. Moreover, since he was trained at a Roman Catholic university, he knew how to unravel their enslaving arguments. The works they promoted were pathways to Hell, not Heaven. One of his best comments on the entire Roman Catholic system of sanctification was this – “They purchase Hell when they could have Heaven for free.”

Pietists shun what they do not approve and they shun whomever they do not approve. Jesus, by attending this marriage, showed His divine approval of the married state. Nor was Peter rejected as a disciple because of his marriage. People debate about Paul being previously married and widowed. That is a historical question and not a doctrinal one. Some language in his letters and rabbinic tradition would argue that he was married at one time. Traditional Jews and Muslims believe that all people should be married.

Today we have just the opposite, an odd parallel to Medieval Romanism. Marriage is shunned because people can postpone the end of their hedonism until middle age, as Luther observed. They shun marriage so they can have more money and freedom. And they shun marriage because it may not work out perfectly. They trust only themselves and not the Word. Lacking faith in God’s Promises, they end up with the very aspects of life they fear the most.

Luther compared turning water into wine that same miracle where God transforms a couple through marriage. God blesses marriage far beyond anyone’s expectations, with an abundance difficult to measure.

Miracle of the Word
This miracle also shows that Christ could and does transform instantly through the Word. There is no difference between the will of God and the Word of God.

The conversation between Jesus and His mother could be interpreted as a battle of wills, but that ignores His divine knowledge of people. In being reluctant – My hour has not yet come – He encouraged His mother to say, “Do whatever He says.”

The actual miracle is so clear that no one could claim it was a trick. Even today there are ways to pour liquids together and get a quick change of color.

The men knew they drew water to fill the containers, because they did it themselves. They drew from the water and carried it to the host of the feast. Not only was it wine, but it was such good wine that he scolded the groom for saving the best wine until last. He should have served that first.

In the Christian faith, the one doctrine ignored the most and taught against the most is illustrated here - God’s Word is always effective. The Word accomplishes far more than we can expect or hope. No barrier can stop it.

When people deny the Real Presence in communion, or the power of the Consecration by the Word, they are denying this very doctrine.

When they trust in human inventions instead of faithfulness to the Word, they are rejecting what is clearly taught here.

When Pietists teach that God absolved the entire world, without the Word, they are going against the clear teaching of the Scriptures and making up something never stated or implied in the Word.

Luther used the term Enthusiasm to describe all false doctrine, which separates the Holy Spirit from the Word.

To counter our doubts about God’s ability, power, and compassion, all we need to do is meditate on these miracles of the Word.

This was probably a poor family, since Mary seems to be in charge of the wedding, not the bride or groom’s parents. Another measure of their poverty is running out of wine, which would be a social disaster for the time. By today’s standards, they should not have been married, because of their lack of money. And yet, Jesus graced their marriage by being their with His disciples and by performing the first of all His miracles.

Against Rome
Jesus’ address to His mother, “Woman,” often softened by translators, is repeated at the crucifixion.

Before the development of Mariolatry, the Word showed everyone that Jesus as Lord addressed His mother as “Woman.”

Medieval error elevated Mary above Jesus and turned Christianity into a Mary religion, as it still is today. One of the first signs of a Lutheran pastor joining Rome is his obsession with Mary.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

First Sunday after the Epiphany




The Last Supper, by Norma Boeckler


The First Sunday after the Epiphany


Pastor Gregory L. Jackson

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

Bethany Lutheran Church, 10 AM Central Time


The Hymn # 134 Songs of Thankfulness 4.9
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
The Gospel
Glory be to Thee, O Lord!
Praise be to Thee, O Christ!
The Nicene Creed p. 22
The Sermon Hymn # 396 O For a Faith 4.18

Temple Alone – God Made Manifest

The Hymn #304 An Aweful Mystery 4.6
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 #81 O Jesus Christ Thy Manger 3:60

KJV Romans 12:1 I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. 2 And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God. 3 For I say, through the grace given unto me, to every man that is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think; but to think soberly, according as God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith. 4 For as we have many members in one body, and all members have not the same office: 5 So we, being many, are one body in Christ, and every one members one of another.
KJV Luke 2:41 Now his parents went to Jerusalem every year at the feast of the passover. 42 And when he was twelve years old, they went up to Jerusalem after the custom of the feast. 43 And when they had fulfilled the days, as they returned, the child Jesus tarried behind in Jerusalem; and Joseph and his mother knew not of it. 44 But they, supposing him to have been in the company, went a day's journey; and they sought him among their kinsfolk and acquaintance. 45 And when they found him not, they turned back again to Jerusalem, seeking him. 46 And it came to pass, that after three days they found him in the temple, sitting in the midst of the doctors, both hearing them, and asking them questions. 47 And all that heard him were astonished at his understanding and answers. 48 And when they saw him, they were amazed: and his mother said unto him, Son, why hast thou thus dealt with us? behold, thy father and I have sought thee sorrowing. 49 And he said unto them, How is it that ye sought me? wist ye not that I must be about my Father's business? 50 And they understood not the saying which he spake unto them. 51 And he went down with them, and came to Nazareth, and was subject unto them: but his mother kept all these sayings in her heart. 52 And Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favour with God and man.

First Sunday After Epiphany
Lord God, heavenly Father, who in mercy hast established the Christian home among us: We beseech Thee so to rule and direct our hearts, that we may be good examples to children and servants, and not offend them by word or deed, but faithfully teach them to love Thy Church and hear Thy blessed word. Give them Thy Spirit and grace, that this seed may bring forth good fruit, so that our homelife may conduce to Thy glory, honor and praise, to our own improvement and welfare, and give offense to no one; through the same, Thy beloved Son, Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with Thee and the Holy Ghost, one true God, world without end. Amen.

Temple Alone - God Made Manifest

The Gospel of Luke has so much material that is loved and known by all Christians. Many favorite stories about Jesus are from Luke and unique to Luke – the birth story, the essence of every Christmas program by children, Jesus in the Temple, the Good Samaritan, the Lost Sheep, Zacchaeus…

KJV Luke 19:2 And, behold, there was a man named Zacchaeus, which was the chief among the publicans, and he was rich.

If we learned the story in Sunday School, it was probably in Luke.

The relationship between Luke and the New Testament is also interesting. We know from brief references that he was a traveling companion with Paul (Acts).

I smile when people try to compare world religious leaders, because I have to gather information about each world religion. The earliest biography of Mohammed is from 200 years later. Our Gospels are from the same generation as Jesus – not two centuries later.

What if our first biography of George Washington came off the presses this year? There would be no first-hand witnesses around. The Virgin Mary was with the apostles in Jerusalem and stayed with John in Ephesus, according to tradition.
What a difference in factual knowledge alone, not to mention the details that make history valid.

The factual basis of Luke is overshadowed by the Holy Spirit’s inspiration, but it is not divorced from reality. Luke had all his historical details correct, which proves how painstaking he was.

Jesus in the Temple

This is a story for all children and for the child or parent within us. We can identify with Jesus as a boy (to some extent) and as parents with Joseph and Mary.

The details are very important. Nothing should be overlooked, because the Gospels are quite condensed. And this story has abundant details.

Here is one:

Luke 2:41 Now his parents went to Jerusalem every year at the feast of the passover.

Joseph and Mary always went to the Passover in Jerusalem. In this story, Jesus is twelve, so we can assume from the details provided that He went many times with them, perhaps every time. A large extended family went together, which is ideal for traveling with small children.

We took a tour of the famous St. Louis Zoo when our middle grandchild was just a baby. It was hot and sticky, normal weather for St. Louis. Baby Dani got crabby with the heat, so I got to hold her. Her big sister was pushed in the buggy and kept checking on us. Dani fussed from the heat. A couple (not grandparents yet) said, “You must be tired of holding her.” I said, “Never.”
Going to Jerusalem was an annual tradition, and doubtless it included the extended family each time. We can see how this developed. Jesus was probably entrusted to others at various times, and the parents were secure in the thought that they knew where he was.

Most importantly, Jesus was present many times in Jerusalem. Later, when he mourned over the future destruction of Jerusalem, it would be like a Midwestern adult knowing that Chicago would be utterly destroyed, or like a New Yorker knowing that the entire city would be leveled one day. When Jesus wept over Jerusalem, it was a city He knew well, and one that knew Him.

They were given every chance.

When people worry about the salvation of unbelievers, they forget how often God has provided the Gospel for them. The population is always shifting. For example, the Jewish population does not stay Jewish. There are many Christian Jews, ethnic Jews who believe in Christ, who have congregations and ministries in various parts of America. No one talks about it. Phoenix has three Messianic Jewish congregations, which now attract non-Jews. Northwest Arkansas has another group, and no one expects that in the rural South.

Jesus in the Temple explains why this is so and how many things developed in the time of Jesus.

There are believing Jews in the religious leadership when Jesus was on trial and crucified. Two of them are named – Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus. We know how Nicodemus encountered Jesus in John 3.

The seed was sown early, when Jesus made Himself known in the Temple a second time. After all, He was already known there once before:

Simeon in the Temple

KJV Luke 2:25 And, behold, there was a man in Jerusalem, whose name was Simeon; and the same man was just and devout, waiting for the consolation of Israel: and the Holy Ghost was upon him. 26 And it was revealed unto him by the Holy Ghost, that he should not see death, before he had seen the Lord's Christ. 27 And he came by the Spirit into the temple: and when the parents brought in the child Jesus, to do for him after the custom of the law, 28 Then took he him up in his arms, and blessed God, and said, 29 Lord, now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace, according to thy word: 30 For mine eyes have seen thy salvation, 31 Which thou hast prepared before the face of all people; 32 A light to lighten the Gentiles, and the glory of thy people Israel. 33 And Joseph and his mother marvelled at those things which were spoken of him. 34 And Simeon blessed them, and said unto Mary his mother, Behold, this child is set for the fall and rising again of many in Israel; and for a sign which shall be spoken against; 35 (Yea, a sword shall pierce through thy own soul also,) that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed.

Anna in the Temple

KJV Luke 2:36 And there was one Anna, a prophetess, the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Aser: she was of a great age, and had lived with an husband seven years from her virginity; 37 And she was a widow of about fourscore and four years, which departed not from the temple, but served God with fastings and prayers night and day. 38 And she coming in that instant gave thanks likewise unto the Lord, and spake of him to all them that looked for redemption in Jerusalem.

We can see that God already provided multiple witnesses to Jesus. Simeon alone might have been enough, but Anna also spoke about seeing the Messiah in their own Temple.

Perhaps people forgot, or only one person remembered, 12 years later. But no one could forget what happened when Jesus made himself known to the most distinguished Jewish religious leaders.

Joseph and Mary left Jerusalem after the Passover traditions were completed. They traveled downhill toward home for one whole day before they realized Jesus was not with the company.

Has that happened to any other family? We left my sister at a gas station on a trip. My mother assumed she was in the front seat. I did not hear her in the back seat, so I asked first. “Why she is up there with you.” It was dark and my father was occupied with driving. Mom was in the back. We headed back to the gas station, where my sister was being consoled. Every minute that passed made her think that no one missed her. It was just a matter of false assumptions. A hit movie was based on the same concept.

Joseph and Mary had to travel uphill for an entire day to reach Jerusalem again, doubtless going between feelings of anxiety and fury with each step. They looked for Jesus three days. Was that three days plus one? Either way, that was a long time to look for a lost child. Jerusalem was a large city and choked with pilgrims at that time.

The personal details remind us of Luke and Mary being associated. One of the greatest icons of the Christians in Constantinople was a portrait of Mary painted by Luke. Lutherans are not inclined to believe the factual nature of many of these sacred objects, but the painting does show the traditional association of those two New Testament figures.

KJV Acts 1:14 These all continued with one accord in prayer and supplication, with the women, and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with his brethren. [This is the last mention of Mary in the New Testament.]

Parents can identify with Mary’s response to finding Jesus in the Temple:

And when they saw him, they were amazed: and his mother said unto him, Son, why hast thou thus dealt with us? behold, thy father and I have sought thee sorrowing.

Nothing sounds so up to date as that response. Losing a child in this way combines sorrow and anger at the same time.

This story emphasizes the divine nature of Christ. There are no details about how He obtained food or shelter, or how He worried about His parents. He was unlike all other boys His age. His human nature did not limit His divine nature in any way.

Jesus had amazed the most learned teachers of the Law. He had three days to teach them about the Messiah. These men were astounded at His learning.

Luke 2:46 And it came to pass, that after three days they found him in the temple, sitting in the midst of the doctors, both hearing them, and asking them questions. 47 And all that heard him were astonished at his understanding and answers.

The time from His manifestation in the Temple as a baby until this moment was not so long that everyone forgot Simeon and Anna. This was additional proof of what was said at that time.

Jesus said to His parents – Don’t you realize that I must be about my Father’s business? He could not stop being the Son of God, and His mission was to take the Gospel to His people first.

This is so often mixed up by the belly-servers of today. They talk about mission, but they want to take the Gospel to those who are already believers (in a way) and want a different spin, a different market plan. So these characters brag about how they fill their movie theaters – by appealing to the Old Adam.

Jesus took the Gospel to the opposition and gave His own people every chance to believe in Him. That began with the official circumcision in the Temple, the prophecies there, the lengthy appearance in the Temple, and the public ministry later.

This Gospel shows us how God brings us Christ in spite of our sin and failings. We do not come to Him. He comes to us. We love Him because He first loved us.

He gives us the Gospel in many different ways – Word and Sacrament, through faithful pastors, the written Word, hymns, the liturgy and Creeds. The witnesses are abundant and varied.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

The Sunday Before Epiphany




Christ Is Born, by Norma Boeckler


The Sunday before Epiphany

Pastor Gregory L. Jackson

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

Bethany Lutheran Church, 10 AM Central Time


The Hymn # 126 Arise and Shine 3:67
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
The Gospel
Glory be to Thee, O Lord!
Praise be to Thee, O Christ!
The Nicene Creed p. 22
The Sermon Hymn # 128 Brightest and Best 3:29

Strange But Spiritual Advice

The Hymn #95 Savior of the Nations 3:42
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 #81 O Jesus Christ Thy Manger 3:60

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 2:13 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.

Sunday Before Epiphany
O Lord God, heavenly Father, who didst suffer Thy dear Son, Jesus Christ, to become a stranger and a sojourner in Egypt for our sakes, and didst lead Him safely home to His fatherland: Mercifully grant that we poor sinners, who are strangers and sojourners in this perilous world, may soon be called home to our true fatherland, the kingdom of heaven, where we shall live in eternal joy and glory; through the merits of Thy Son, Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with Thee and the Holy Ghost, one true God, world without end. Amen.

Strange But Spiritual Advice

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.

When we consider the New Testament teaching of the cross, or as Luther called it, the dear, holy cross, we have to think first about Jesus and His family.

The experience of the cross is not misfortune, such as what we all experience during an economic decline. Nor is it simply illness. The cross is suffering because of the Word.

For example, Mary was promised the Savior, and Joseph planned to divorce her. For Joseph, the miracle promised was a burden he had to bear in silence. In those times, a couple was married first and later occupied a home. They were not simply engaged, but married. (A man does not divorce his fiancé.) It was the Jewish custom to be formally married first, with a written contract, and consummate the marriage later when living quarters could be arranged. (See Lenski on this.)

Mary and Joseph received the promise of a great miracle, the greatest miracle, in faith. Their reward was hardship, the cross, because of the Word. They experienced rejection in the manner of Christ’s birth. When Jesus was brought to the Temple the first time, Simeon said to Mary,

KJV Luke 2:34 And Simeon blessed them, and said unto Mary his mother, Behold, this child is set for the fall and rising again of many in Israel; and for a sign which shall be spoken against; 35 (Yea, a sword shall pierce through thy own soul also,) that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed.

Luther commented - “What kind of saying is that to give to a young mother?”

Because Herod was furious with the Wise Men, and afraid of the Messiah (the anointed king), he did his best to kill the infant. Joseph, Mary, and Jesus had to escape until it was safe again. Many baby boys lost their lives because of Herod’s wrath.

The birth of Christ, as the miracle of miracles, was one in which His human nature was tested from the beginning. The long climb to Bethlehem was difficult for Mary. There is no indication that she rode on a donkey, as the Christmas cards show, or that fruit trees bowed down to her to give Mary their fruit, as the Roman Catholic legends says.

When Jesus told us to take up the cross daily, He was already an example, even before the crucifixion.

The apostle Peter compares the trial of remaining true to the Word with being refined, as silver and gold are.

KJV 1 Peter 1:6 Wherein ye greatly rejoice, though now for a season, if need be, ye are in heaviness through manifold temptations: 7 That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ: 8 Whom having not seen, ye love; in whom, though now ye see him not, yet believing, ye rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory:

KJV Zechariah 13:9 And I will bring the third part through the fire, and will refine them as silver is refined, and will try them as gold is tried: they shall call on my name, and I will hear them: I will say, It is my people: and they shall say, The LORD is my God.

The spiritual advice in Peter’s letter contradicts our natural feelings, because our Old Adam does not like the cross. Nevertheless, the Holy Spirit teaches the cross as a blessing, not as a curse:

1 Peter 4:14 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.

This should remind us of the Beatitudes, which climaxes with the most difficult blessing to accept:

KJV Matthew 5:11 Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake. 12 Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you.

We want to please man and to be praised by the multitude, but Paul taught:

KJV Galatians 1:10 For do I now persuade men, or God? or do I seek to please men? for if I yet pleased men, I should not be the servant of Christ.

We can see through history that false versions of Christianity have always fallen for salvation through works. Paul might have been more popular at the time if he had gone along with the fad. But he saw through to the dangers and taught against it in his special role as apostle.

The Cross Is For Everyone

There is a common attitude today that most people can enjoy all the benefits of the Christian faith, without the cross. Those people seem to think that a designated few can bear the cross for everyone else.

Jesus did not teach that. Truly, the prophets and apostles paid the greatest price, with their lives. So did the martyrs of the past and present.

Jesus’ words are universal in scope.

KJV Matthew 10:38 And he that taketh not his cross, and followeth after me, is not worthy of me.

KJV Matthew 16:24 Then said Jesus unto his disciples, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.

KJV Mark 10:21 Then Jesus beholding him loved him, and said unto him, One thing thou lackest: go thy way, sell whatsoever thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come, take up the cross, and follow me.

KJV Luke 14:27 And whosoever doth not bear his cross, and come after me, cannot be my disciple.

The Church Shrinkers do not like the cross, but they love the term disciple. They want to “make disciples” (wrong translation). The best way to be a disciple is to take up the cross, to pay a price for adhering to the pure Word of God. If someone does not bear his own cross, he is not worthy to be a disciple.

There is a reason Willow Creek looks like a suburban mall and does not allow a cross in the worship (seeker) area:

KJV 1 Corinthians 1:18 For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God.

The Shrinkers glory in entertainment, not the cross:

KJV Galatians 6:14 But God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world.

Our example is Christ –

KJV Hebrews 12:2 Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.

What Is Good about the Cross?
The cross is good because our faith needs refining. When there are large deposits of metal, such as copper, some of the remainder is gold or silver. One special set of silver was created from the silver refined from a copper mine. It was given to the US Missouri battleship and fought over. The base metals are in abundance but silver and gold are prized and separated out with great labor, because they are worth so much.

Troubles because of the Word refine our faith. We are in the refiner’s fire all our lives if we cling to God’s Word instead of man’s reason. The dross or slag is never entirely consumed, because of our base nature. But the cross brings out the gold and silver of the Gospel promises. We see what is lasting and valuable and separate that from the base.