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

Norma Boeckler, Artist-in-Residence

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Sunday, March 4, 2012

The Second Sunday in Lent


By Norma Boeckler



Bethany Lutheran Church, 10 AM Central Time



The Hymn #652  I Lay My Sins on Jesus 1:24
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 # 454      Prayer Is the Soul's Sincere Desire     1:41


Unanswered Prayers

The Hymn # 281         The Savior Calls            1:29
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 # 374         Grace Tis a Charming Sound 1:91

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.

Unanswered Prayers

Matthew 15:21 Then Jesus went thence, and departed into the coasts of Tyre and Sidon.

This lesson shows how Jesus mission to the Gentiles already existed, because the fame of His miracles reached outside the Jewish community. The Gospel also teaches a clear lesson about unanswered prayers.

Jesus was in Gentile territory, so one point of this miracle is to show that believers already existed outside of Judaism. Some have argued that “Lord” by itself is not so distinctive as we think, since the title was used for secular leaders. In modern Greek, they say Lord Jackson instead of Mr. Jackson, so the term has declined in value over the years.

However, this woman called Jesus “Son of David” too. That was a clear confession of faith in Jesus as the promised Messiah. That meant she knew enough of the Old Testament (the only Scriptures at that time) to rely on the Messianic promises. She also knew the reputation of Jesus for His healing miracles. She believed in Him as a miraculous healer and as the Messiah.

That should not be too surprising, but we do not often think of it. Paul is emphasized as the Gentile missionary, but Jesus was the first missionary to non-Jews. The Promises of the Old Testament moved easily through society because the Scriptures were translated into Greek, the international language of its day.
Trade and travel meant that Jews were in many locations with their Scriptures and worship.

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.

“And behold” emphasizes that this is a remarkable event. A pagan was not expected to make a confession of faith. This woman was looking for Jesus, meeting Him to beg for an act of mercy.

Those who criticize the Bible in the name of niceness will always use this healing story as an excuse to make up fables about the Scriptures and miss the meaning of the healing. Jesus does seem mean and uncaring  - that is the point.

First it needs to be said that no one in the New Testament who asked Jesus was denied. Each healing described in detail has a point or two to teach in addition to revealing the divine power of Christ.

This is definitely a wrenching portrait, because this woman is placing all her hope on Jesus in curing her daughter. Anyone can identify with this.

23 But he answered her not a word.

This brief response has Jesus not even responding to the poor woman. Where is the love and compassion? I have many experiences of sending a personal message, even a certified letter, and not even getting a response, not even an acknowledgement. That is very annoying and seems to be the ultimate in shunning – not even worth an answer.

If we see this miracle as an example of unanswered prayer, or to be more precise, delayed answers, then each step makes perfect sense. We can see the allegory that fits so well with the actual event.

We pray out of dire need and seem to get no answer, not even a response. We see that as no response but it is really a delay in our sense of time.
And his disciples came and besought him, saying, Send her away; for she crieth after us.

Lenski sees “Send her away” as neutral, because Jesus always healed those who came to Him. However, the woman must have felt embarrassed and slighted as she saw the disciples respond by going to their Master and speaking to Him. “Send her away” could not have sounded good, if she heard the words.

When we are placed in situations like that we always feel uncomfortable wondering what is being said.

This is analogous to the feelings we have when people wonder why misfortunes come our way. It adds to the burden and they enjoy being spectators. Much of this is a matter of perspective. Taunting comes because God blinds people to the meaning of afflictions and the cross in the lives of believers. Unbelievers can only see folly, shame, and misery. The taunting is actually a good sign, and not a bad sign.

We can see from the whole miracle that good was developing, even in the midst of silence and apparent coldness.

This should remind of Chytraeus saying, “It is a sin to question the goodness of God.” Whatever the circumstances. God means something good for His believers.”

Lenski offered a couple of reasons why the disciples wanted the woman dismissed, in the positive sense, “Heal her and send her along the way.” One reason would have that it was unseemly for a woman to be following them and shouting petitions at them.

Another reason might have been their unwillingness to attract attention in a pagan area. That is not far-fetched. When Jesus said they were going to Bethany, to His friend Lazarus, Doubting Thomas said, “We are going to die.”

KJV John 11:14 Then said Jesus unto them plainly, Lazarus is dead. 15 And I am glad for your sakes that I was not there, to the intent ye may believe; nevertheless let us go unto him. 16 Then said Thomas, which is called Didymus, unto his fellowdisciples, Let us also go, that we may die with him.

24 But he answered and said, I am not sent but unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel.

Luther sees this answer as exercising the faith of the woman. It was not His time to begin a Gentile mission, even though the beginnings were there due to the power of His healings and teaching. The Gentile mission would start after He completed the mission to His own people.
This corresponds to people saying to themselves, “Perhaps I am not worthy.” But believers know that Christ makes us worthy, that all true prayers are in the Name of Christ, and God responds to us on His behalf.

I see people saying to friends, “I will send positive thoughts your way,” as if positive thoughts are anything but a mockery of faith. Shirley McClaine once asked her followers to think hard about the power going on when the theater went black. They did, and the theater’s power stayed off.

25 Then came she and worshipped him, saying, Lord, help me.

This believer worshiped Christ as she continued her requests. Before she was asking from behind the group. Now she bowed before Him in submission. She did not stop believing, in spite of the outward appearance of rejection. Jesus did not turn her down, but said this:

26 But he answered and said, It is not meet to take the children's bread, and to cast it to dogs.

Lenski does not want Jesus to sound harsh, but that is hard to soften, since dog is a lowly term in the Holy Land and often across the world.

When we are waiting for an answer we feel unworthy and unwanted, so this woman’s actions and words are an example as Jesus said Himself. Her answer was not anger toward God, but a turn on the phrase Jesus used.

27 And she said, Truth, Lord: yet the dogs eat of the crumbs which fall from their masters' table.

This is why Jesus responded in such a way. He already knew what was in her heart and in His plan, but this developed (as it did with many miracles) so the manner of healing would remain a teaching example forever.

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.

This is an example of temptation versus faith. God allows us to have temptation so that faith can conquer the temptation and show what God can do. When our second daughter became ill and we saw the same symptoms beginning again, while our first daughter was in dire straits already, it was tempting to think, “This is so unfair and wrong, with two in a row, many more years of incompetent doctors and nurses to face.”

Quotations

            SERMON NOTES
         The Second Sunday in Lent
               March 3, 1996
             Matthew 15:21-28

               A HARD SAYING

"But see in this example how Christ like a hunter exercises and chases faith in His followers in order that it may become strong and firm."
     Sermons of Martin Luther, ed., John Nicholas Lenker, Grand Rapids:  Baker Book House, 1983 II,  p. 149.  Matthew 15:21‑28.

"In like manner Moses must precede and teach people to feel their sins in order that grace may be sweet and welcome to them.  Therefore all is in vain, however friendly and lovely Christ may be pictured, if man is not first humbled by a knowledge of himself and he possesses no longing for Christ, as Mary's Song says, 'The hungry he hath filled with good things; and the rich he hath sent
empty away,' Luke 1:53."
     Sermons of Martin Luther, II, p. 149.
         
"All this is spoken and written for the comfort of the distressed, the poor, the needy, the sinful, the despised, so that they may know in all times of need to whom to flee and where to seek comfort and help."
     Sermons of Martin Luther, II,  p. 149.

"Now what does the poor woman do?  She turns her eyes from all this unfriendly treatment of Christ; all this does not lead her astray, neither does she take it to heart, but she continues immediately and firmly to cling in her confidence to the good news she had heard and embraced concerning Him, and never gives up.  We must also do the same and learn firmly to cling to the Word, even though God with all His creatures appears different than His Word teaches.  But, oh, how painful it is to nature and reason, that this woman should strip herself of self and forsake all that she experienced, and cling along to God's bare Word, until she experienced the contrary.  May God help us in time of need and of death to possess courage and faith!"
     Sermons of Martin Luther II,  p. 150. 
               WHAT WE LEARN

"As for example when we feel in our conscience that God rebukes us as sinners and judges us unworthy of the kingdom of heaven, then we experience hell, and we think we are lost forever.  Now whoever understands here the actions of this poor woman and catches God in His own judgment, and says, Lord, it is true, I am a sinner and not worthy of Thy grace; but still Thou hast promised sinners forgiveness, and Thou art come not to call the righteous, but, as St. Paul says in 1 Timothy 1:15, 'to save sinners.'  Behold, then must God according to His own judgment have mercy upon us."
     Sermons of Martin Luther, ed., John Nicholas Lenker, Grand Rapids:  Baker Book House, 1983 II,  p. 153. Matthew 15:21‑28; 1 Timothy 1:15               

"Since God has connected His most gracious promise of forgiveness with Baptism and the Lord's Supper, these also are true and efficacious means of grace, namely, by virtue of the divine promises that are attached to them."
     John Theodore Mueller, Christian Dogmatics, A Handbook of Doctrinal Theology, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1934, p. 444. 

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