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Norma Boeckler, Artist-in-Residence

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email: greg.jackson.edlp@gmail.com,
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Sunday, December 4, 2011

The Second Sunday in Advent:
Romans 15:4ff

By Norma Boeckler



The Second Sunday in Advent, 2011

Pastor Gregory L. Jackson


Bethany Lutheran Church, 10 AM Central Time


The Hymn # 58 – Gerhardt              O Lord    4:49
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      Romans 15:4-13
The Gospel            Luke 21:25-36 
Glory be to Thee, O Lord!
Praise be to Thee, O Christ!
The Nicene Creed p. 22
The Sermon Hymn #71            Watchman     4.9 

 Patience and Comfort of the Scriptures

The Hymn # 304 An Awesome 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 # 647 O Little Town   4.13

Second Sunday In Advent

Lord God, heavenly Father, who by Thy Son hast revealed to us that heaven and earth shall pass away, that our bodies shall rise again, and that we all shall appear before the judgment seat: We beseech Thee, keep us by Thy Holy Spirit in Thy word; establish us in the true faith, graciously defend us from sin and preserve us in all temptations, that our hearts may not be overcharged with surfeiting and drunkenness, and cares of this life, but that we may ever watch and pray and, trusting fully in Thy grace, await with joy the glorious coming of Thy Son, and at last obtain eternal salvation, 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.

KJV Romans 15:4 For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope. 5 Now the God of patience and consolation grant you to be likeminded one toward another according to Christ Jesus: 6 That ye may with one mind and one mouth glorify God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. 7 Wherefore receive ye one another, as Christ also received us to the glory of God. 8 Now I say that Jesus Christ was a minister of the circumcision for the truth of God, to confirm the promises made unto the fathers: 9 And that the Gentiles might glorify God for his mercy; as it is written, For this cause I will confess to thee among the Gentiles, and sing unto thy name. 10 And again he saith, Rejoice, ye Gentiles, with his people. 11 And again, Praise the Lord, all ye Gentiles; and laud him, all ye people. 12 And again, Esaias saith, There shall be a root of Jesse, and he that shall rise to reign over the Gentiles; in him shall the Gentiles trust. 13 Now the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that ye may abound in hope, through the power of the Holy Ghost.

KJV Luke 21:25 And there shall be signs in the sun, and in the moon, and in the stars; and upon the earth distress of nations, with perplexity; the sea and the waves roaring; 26 Men's hearts failing them for fear, and for looking after those things which are coming on the earth: for the powers of heaven shall be shaken. 27 And then shall they see the Son of man coming in a cloud with power and great glory. 28 And when these things begin to come to pass, then look up, and lift up your heads; for your redemption draweth nigh. 29 And he spake to them a parable; Behold the fig tree, and all the trees; 30 When they now shoot forth, ye see and know of your own selves that summer is now nigh at hand. 31 So likewise ye, when ye see these things come to pass, know ye that the kingdom of God is nigh at hand. 32 Verily I say unto you, This generation shall not pass away, till all be fulfilled. 33 Heaven and earth shall pass away: but my words shall not pass away. 34 And take heed to yourselves, lest at any time your hearts be overcharged with surfeiting, and drunkenness, and cares of this life, and so that day come upon you unawares. 35 For as a snare shall it come on all them that dwell on the face of the whole earth. 36 Watch ye therefore, and pray always, that ye may be accounted worthy to escape all these things that shall come to pass, and to stand before the Son of man.

Patience and Comfort of the Scriptures
KJV Romans 15:4 For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope.

The letter to the Romans was the most important one written by Paul the Apostle. It is summary of his Gospel teaching, a library of passages about the forgiveness of sin and how we apply that in our lives as believers.

For one of my classes I outlined Romans this way:

Chapters 1-3: Eliminating the idea that we can be righteous or forgiven through religious works (Judaism) or through good works (civic righteousness).

Chapters 4-5: Justification by faith, showing that we are forgiven through faith in Gospel, apart from any works. That is – works  do not earn forgiveness of sin. Faith is that trust created by the Holy Spirit in the Word.

Chapters 6 following: The application of justification by faith, how we live the Christian life.

Romans has an introduction and Chapters 15-16 are the conclusion. Paul was writing a formal letter in the style of his time, using many conventions of writing at that time, but he was writing as an apostle, inspired by the Holy Spirit.

This epistle lesson begins with a reference to a Messianic passage just quoted:

KJV Romans 15:1 We then that are strong ought to bear the infirmities of the weak, and not to please ourselves. 2 Let every one of us please his neighbour for his good to edification. 3 For even Christ pleased not himself; but, as it is written, The reproaches of them that reproached thee fell on me.

Paul is teaching us that we should be Christ-like as His followers. We have two relationships from the Ten Commandments and all of the Bible. The first is our relationship to God, listening to His Word in faith. The second is our relationship to our neighbor, providing for and protecting our neighbor against harm. When the first relationship is broken, the second one also fails.

The entire Bible is a sermon about Jesus. The Word of God brings Jesus to us. When we listen to God’s Word, participate in the liturgy, sing Biblical hymns, listen to a faithful sermon, there is a meeting place. God’s grace is carried to us through the Instruments of His grace, the Word and the Sacraments. In shorthand, the Gospel comes to us invisibly as teaching and preaching, visibly as Holy Baptism and Holy Communion.

We also come before Jesus in this meeting. We are creations by His Word (John 1:1ff – all things were created by Him, and nothing was created apart from Him). That means that Jesus knows us by name and everything about us. In this meeting with Him, through the Gospel, our souls are nourished and the fruits of faith in Him flourish.

15:4a For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning,

The Old Testament, as we call it, was the foundation for all Apostolic preaching. This was the great message for everyone looking for salvation – all those promises are about Jesus. He fulfilled every prophecy, from His birth to His death and resurrection.  Therefore, when we are reading the Old Testament, we are reading Part One of the Sermon about Jesus.

Someone who does not believe in Christ will look at the Old Testament as a series of stories about people who are irrelevant today. The Psalms seem to be strange poems until we see the promises about Christ in them. Why are people so attracted to the 23rd Psalm? It is a poem about Jesus, the Shepherd, told from the perspective of a sheep. It is a little sermon about Jesus.

And then in Isaiah –
  • KJV Isaiah 40:11 He shall feed his flock like a shepherd:
  • he shall gather the lambs with his arm, and carry them in his bosom,
  • and shall gently lead those that are with young.

KJV Matthew 11:29 Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.

We can find this unified message of truth wherever we start in the Bible. That particular theme we follow will take us through books of the Old and New Testament. The more we study them, the more they teach us. They were written for our learning.

KJV Romans 15:4 For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope.

The second part of the verse makes sense when we see the Gospel in the first part.

All these things were written so “we through patience”…

This word patience is not adequate to reveal what the passage means. Some might use endurance, but that starts to sound like a strong-man contest. Perhaps “patient continuance” is better, if a bit awkward.

It means this – maintaining faith in God’s goodness and forgiveness in spite of many different trials. We live in an instant gratification era where people run away from responsibility and service. Knowing this, the wolf-preachers tell people to join with them, have happy thoughts about being positive, and they will be happy. “Take up the cross and follow Me” is a downer, as they say, so that is not mentioned.

Patient continuance means – whatever God sends our way is meant for our good and for His glory.

I have noticed for many decades that many people do not want special children, those who do not fit the norms of our conforming society. If a child is too bright, that annoys the teachers. If a child has special medical needs, that is a burden. That by itself is a strange form of denial because we all have those needs in time. Anyone who tells a medical person, “I have no medical complaints” is going to go down in the chart as a deceiver. Those things pile up later, but they often emerge earlier.

We all need patient continuance because God fashions a cross for each believer to bear – for His glory, for our good. If this were easy, it would not be called a cross to bear. We saw that with our children, all three off the charts in norms. I felt sorry for people who ran away from our daughters, who simply radiated love for others and listened intently to what they said.

One man liked to tell Erin the story of Goldilocks. He ended the story with, “Do you know who Goldilocks was? You!” Erin had strawberry blond hair and she loved that story. All I had to do was mention that story and she began to smile. I would go over the details and build up to the ending she loved.

This is what many people told us, “I came to make your daughter feel better, and she made ME feel better.” That happened without her talking or being able to do anything, including rolling over by herself.

But a true cross is one connected with the Word, one which makes us think of the Gospel as a burden. People make sure that we feel that way at times, and our Old Adam, our sinful self responds to that.

(Luther makes the following general comment on Romans 2:6­10):
"Patient continuance is so altogether necessary that no work can be good in which patient continuance is lacking. The world is so utterly perverse and Satan is so heinously wicked that he cannot allow any good work to be done, but he must persecute it. However, in this very way God, in His wonderful wisdom, proves what work is good and pleasing to Him. Here the rule holds: As long as we do good and for our good do not encounter contradiction, hatred, and all manner of disagreeable and disadvantageous things, so we must fear that our good work as yet is not pleasing to God; for just so long it is not yet done with patient continuance. 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.'"
Martin Luther, Commentary on Romans, trans. J. Theodore
Mueller, Grand Rapids: Kregel Publications, 1976, p. 55. Matthew 5: 10, 12.

The unbelieving world looks at believers as unloved orphans abandoned by God, and believers do feel like that at times. I remember one mother telling me about that experience many decades ago.

comfort of the scriptures
Some say “admonition” which may sound more like criticism or the law. This “comfort” is the work of the Holy Spirit (John 16:8) – to convict the world of sin, because “they do not utterly trust in Me.”

The purpose of the Scriptures is to turn us away from our difficulties and rely upon Christ, seeing His wisdom and love in all that happens.

Romans 15:5 Now the God of patience and consolation grant you to be likeminded one toward another according to Christ Jesus: 6 That ye may with one mind and one mouth glorify God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. 7 Wherefore receive ye one another, as Christ also received us to the glory of God.







Quotations

"One Christian who has been tried is worth a hundred who have not been tried, for the blessing of God grows in trials. He who has experienced them can teach, comfort, and advise many in bodily and spiritual matters."
Martin Luther, What Luther Says, An Anthology, 3 vols., ed., Ewald Plass, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1959, III, p. 1381. Genesis 27:28-29.

"In order to keep your faith pure, do nothing else than stand still, enjoy its blessings, accept Christ's works, and let him bestow His love upon you. You must be blind, lame, deaf, dead, leprous and poor, otherwise you will stumble at Christ. That Gospel which suffers Christ to be seen and to be doing good only among the needy, will not belie you."
Martin Luther, Sermons of Martin Luther, 8 vols., ed., John Nicholas Lenker, Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1983, I, p. 110. Third Sunday in Advent. Matthew 11:2-10.

"We have the comfort of this victory of Christ--that He maintains His Church against the wrath and power of the devil; but in the meantime we must endure such stabs and cruel wounds from the devil as are necessarily painful to our flesh and blood. The hardest part is that we must see and suffer all these things from those who call themselves the people of God and the Christian Church. We must learn to accept these things calmly, for neither Christ nor the saints have fared better."
Martin Luther, Sermons of Martin Luther, 8 vols., ed., John Nicholas Lenker, Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1983, III, p. 263. Sunday after Ascension, Exaudi. John 15:26-16:4.

"Therefore God must lead us to a recognition of the fact that it is He who puts faith in our heart and that we cannot produce it ourselves. Thus the fear of God and trust in Him must not be separated from one another, for we need them both, in order that we may not become presumptuous and over­confident, depending upon ourselves. This is one of the reasons why God leads His saints through such great trials."
Martin Luther, Sermons of Martin Luther, 8 vols., ed., John Nicholas Lenker, Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1983, II, p. 21. First Sunday after Epiphany. Luke 2:41-52.

"Secondly, God permits His saints to suffer these trials as an example for others, both to alarm the carnally secure and to comfort the timid and alarmed...But when we see and hear that God has in like manner dealt with His saints and did not spare even His own mother, we have the knowledge and comfort that we need not despair in our trials, but remain quiet and wait until He helps us, even as He has helped all His saints."
Martin Luther, Sermons of Martin Luther, 8 vols., ed., John Nicholas Lenker, Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1983, II, p. 40f. First Sunday after Epiphany, Second Sermon. Luke 2:41-52.

"Now it is the consolation of Christians, and especially of preachers, to be sure and ponder well that when they present and preach Christ, that they must suffer persecution, and nothing can prevent it; and that it is a very good sign of the preaching being truly Christian, when they are thus persecuted, especially by the great, the saintly, the learned and the wise."
Martin Luther, Sermons of Martin Luther, 8 vols., ed., John Nicholas Lenker, Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1983, II, p. 97. Fourth Sunday after Epiphany. Matthew 8:23-27.

"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."
Martin Luther, 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.

"There is another temptation also in the time of trouble which was punished severely among the people of Israel and which alas is common as compared to the other temptation and equally irrational. That temptation occurs before God's Word is heard; this after we hear the Word, namely thus: when we know that God has promised help in the time of any trouble, but are not content with it, go forward and will not abide His promise, but prescribe time, place, and manner for His help; and then if He does not come as we expect and desire, faith vanishes."
Martin Luther, Sermons of Martin Luther, 8 vols., ed., John Nicholas Lenker, Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1983, I, p. 366. Epiphany. Matthew 2:1-12.

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