Sunday, June 13, 2010

The Second Sunday after Trinity

Cover design by Norma Boeckler.
Book ready for Lulu publication.

The Second Sunday after Trinity

Pastor Gregory L. Jackson

Bethany Lutheran Church, 10 AM Central Time

The Hymn # 361 O Jesus King 4.1
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 #471 Jesus Thy Blood 4.6

Excuses Lead to Evangelism

The Communion Hymn # 462 I Love Thy Kingdom 4.21
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 #657 Beautiful Savior 4.24

KJV 1 John 3:13 Marvel not, my brethren, if the world hate you. 14 We know that we have passed from death unto life, because we love the brethren. He that loveth not his brother abideth in death. 15 Whosoever hateth his brother is a murderer: and ye know that no murderer hath eternal life abiding in him. 16 Hereby perceive we the love of God, because he laid down his life for us: and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren. 17 But whoso hath this world's good, and seeth his brother have need, and shutteth up his bowels of compassion from him, how dwelleth the love of God in him? 18 My little children, let us not love in word, neither in tongue; but in deed and in truth.

KJV Luke 14:16 Then said he unto him, A certain man made a great supper, and bade many: 17 And sent his servant at supper time to say to them that were bidden, Come; for all things are now ready. 18 And they all with one consent began to make excuse. The first said unto him, I have bought a piece of ground, and I must needs go and see it: I pray thee have me excused. 19 And another said, I have bought five yoke of oxen, and I go to prove them: I pray thee have me excused. 20 And another said, I have married a wife, and therefore I cannot come. 21 So that servant came, and shewed his lord these things. Then the master of the house being angry said to his servant, Go out quickly into the streets and lanes of the city, and bring in hither the poor, and the maimed, and the halt, and the blind. 22 And the servant said, Lord, it is done as thou hast commanded, and yet there is room. 23 And the lord said unto the servant, Go out into the highways and hedges, and compel them to come in, that my house may be filled. 24 For I say unto you, That none of those men which were bidden shall taste of my supper.

Second Sunday After Trinity
Lord God, heavenly Father, we give thanks unto Thee, that through Thy holy word Thou hast called us to Thy great supper, and we beseech Thee: Quicken our hearts by Thy Holy Spirit, that we may not hear Thy word without fruit, but that we may prepare ourselves rightly for Thy kingdom, and not suffer ourselves to be hindered by any worldly care, 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.

Excuses Lead to Evangelism
This Gospel lesson teaches, with a certain amount of humor, how people turn away from the Word, and yet that leads to evangelism.

This is a parable – as indicated by the words – “a certain man.”

The great feast includes both the Kingdom of God and Holy Communion. The anti-sacrament people like to go lite on Holy Communion, because it is just an ordinance to them. However, the sacraments are essential to the Kingdom of God. We can tell that from the placement of the sacraments in the Gospels and the frequency of their mention in the New Testament.

For example, the baptism of Jesus is the beginning of His public ministry. He also indicated the inclusion of children in baptism when He said, “Let the children come to Me, and do not forbid them [literally – excluding from membership] for to such belong the Kingdom of God.” He also said, “Whoever does not believe as a child will not enter the Kingdom.”

The importance of Holy Communion is indicated by its careful description in Matthew, Mark, Luke, and Paul, its meaning described in John, and many more references in Paul.
The largest portion of each Gospel is devoted to the crucifixion of Christ, and the Last Supper is a central element in that series of events. We do not memorialize any other part of the Passion of Christ. The Last Supper epitomizes the meaning of the Gospel – “given and shed for you for the forgiveness of sin.”

The feast is also important because our important and favorite events are marked by eating and celebrating together. We consider invitations to these events to be very significant by themselves.

Many people fuss over the lack of believing Christians, as if that is the fault of God. They want a different formula or a reason for this happening. Of course, the New Testament is full of explanations, but that does not please these people, who seem to put on itching powder every morning.

The invitation is the same word as “call.” Jesus called His disciples. When I translate Greek with a student, I always insist on them using the verb “phone,” to get them used to connecting the Greek root with actual verb. That does sound strange – Jesus phoned His disciples. But that does convey what happened. If I phone someone to hear the Wannamaker Organ (Philadelphia), that is significant by itself. What happens to that invitation is another matter. Actually I was invited to that concert and I was unable to attend – just like the parable. The disciples were called to be apostles, and they trained men who were called to be pastors.

The general call or invitation is the Holy Spirit’s work through the Word:

The Third Article.
Of Sanctification.
I believe in the Holy Ghost; one holy Christian Church, the communion of saints; the forgiveness of sins; the resurrection of the body; and the life everlasting. Amen.
What does this mean?--Answer.
I believe that I cannot by my own reason or strength believe in Jesus Christ, my Lord, or come to Him; but the Holy Ghost has called me by the Gospel, enlightened me with His gifts, sanctified and kept me in the true faith; even as He calls, gathers, enlightens, and sanctifies the whole Christian Church on earth, and keeps it with Jesus Christ in the one true faith; in which Christian Church He forgives daily and richly all sins to me and all believers, and at the last day will raise up me and all the dead, and will give to me and to all believers in Christ everlasting life. This is most certainly true.
So – Number One. The Gospel invitation goes out, and that invitation is expressed in many different ways by many different voices representing Christ.

Those who were invited in this parable were also united – they all had an excuse.

· The first said unto him, I have bought a piece of ground, and I must needs go and see it: I pray thee have me excused.
· And another said, I have bought five yoke of oxen, and I go to prove them: I pray thee have me excused.
· And another said, I have married a wife, and therefore I cannot come.

All three excuses are flimsy.
· The purchased land is not going to move or go away.
· Test-driving the oxen would normally precede the purchase.
· Would his wife not allow him? Family matters are often an excuse, and that was offered as one when a man left the Lutheran church to please his wife, who became very antagonist toward Lutheran orthodoxy. She did not mind lukewarm Lutheranism but she despised Lutheran orthodoxy.

The excuses are material reasons for avoiding the spiritual invitation of the Gospel. We can see how wrong that is, and yet that is often the reason behind the refusal.

Years ago, I met with one couple who had been at church. They were offended by two things. We had a building fund – that really annoyed them. They also did not like the absolution, pronouncing forgiveness. They did not want to learn – they wanted to condemn. They found reasons, and I did not see them again.

Jesus is teaching us that excuses will always accompany the Gospel invitation. That is not a reason to give up. It is not for us to judge and decide, based on false assumptions, that we are discouraged.

The gracious invitation, in this parable, was not merely ignored. It was refused with reasons given. There the wrath of God was incited. “None of them shall taste of My supper.”

To gather for the feast, the Master gave these instructions:

Go out quickly into the streets and lanes of the city, and bring in hither the poor, and the maimed, and the halt, and the blind.

The four groups suggest every possible person – among the least likely. Even today they are the invisible population. People know they are present, but look past them.

Brenda Kiehler, who slowly succumbed to a bone disease, had to rely on help for almost everything. When she typed, she used one arm to pick up the other. She said, “The Gospel is all that I have, so I cling to that. I don’t have money or health or anything else.”

When large groups are suggested the Bible, as this parable does, it does not mean only those named, but everyone. The four groups are like the four corners of the world. Or someone would say today, “I looked North, East, West, and South for that.”

When the four groups do not fill the banquet hall, God says,

23 And the lord said unto the servant, Go out into the highways and hedges, and compel them to come in, that my house may be filled. 24 For I say unto you, That none of those men which were bidden shall taste of my supper.

Lenski has many interesting comments based on the strange responses to this parable. Over the ages it has been tempting to invent a lot of things about it.

Because the initial invitation is refused, representing official Judaism, the call goes out to the least likely, and finally people are compelled to come in from the highways and hedges. That is to say – no place on earth is spared.

I was surprised to find out that the most pages read on my blog came from mentioning the Christian who evangelizes the Muslims from a location in America. That seems to be an unlikely quest, one hardly worth trying and certainly one filled with danger.

And yet it is being done while many people raised in the Christian faith take it for granted, the worst of them being Scribes and Pharisees of the visible church – the theology professors in the divinity schools and seminary. (The academic theologians are almost always atheists – but are the official denominational theologians any better?)
The parable reveals the grace of God. Rather than limit His call to His chosen people, He has extended it to all across the earth. The less likely one is to become a believer, the greater the call to that person.

Through persecution and hardship the call is extended. For example, those who are beset by the spiritual conflict of false doctrine are the very ones who value sound doctrine the most. It is not calm but emotional hurricanes that make people seek shelter.

The Reformation was an era of conflict and persecution, warfare to destroy the Lutherans and kill their leaders. That was also when the best hymns were written, the best books published.

When Lutheran doctrine became divided by false teachers, The scandal was so great that Lutherans could not agree among themselves at religious conferences. Their opponents said, “Why should we debate you? You are not in agreement among yourselves.” God raised up another group of religious leaders to give us the Book of Concord.

The temptation is to say, “No we cannot debate these issues. That would divide us.” But the Scriptures say there must be divisions to prove what is acceptable and good in the eyes of God.

I cannot remember a single religious document that worries about institutional issues, such as the budget, the numbers, the emotional calm of the organization. In other words, they never worried about the man-made structure. They concentrated on the doctrine – whether it was in harmony with God’s Word or not.

That is the very thing mocked by people today, within the fold and without.

The apostle John wrote:

1 John 3:13 Marvel not, my brethren, if the world hate you.

Doesn’t that sound strange in the context of today’s attitudes? There is an assumption that a good church or a good believer will be one where the unbelieving world smiles and pronounces its blessing. Just the opposite is true. There will always be an attitude of scandal, derision, and mockery.

We know this is true from the catcalls within the visible church.

“You have a Martin Luther complex.”

“You are a legalist.”

“How many members do you have?”

“Why are you so small if you are following His Word?”

Meanwhile the false teachers are in the driver’s seat – even better – they are being driven in a limo while scattering coins among the poor.

So there is a constant choice for believers, between loving God’s Word and loving the world’s opinion. The two cannot be reconciled in this life.

The gulf is so great that I speak to a group of people and see who the opponents of the Gospel are by the way they respond visibly. They scowl, fold their arms, and find fault. Yesterday my grandson and I practiced the look. We scowled at each other, looked down, scrunched up our arms, and glared. Behind his “look” was merriment, so he laughed in between.

Opponents of the Gospel do not laugh. They get even, And they get even many times over.

Once apostasy takes over, people will not tolerate any minister except an apostate. He must be as lost as they are, a belly server and flatterer.

In the old ULCA, which preceded the LCA, many congregations would only call a Mason for a pastor. The brother Masons were so powerful that they would not consider anything else. If you think that is strange, the Secretary of the LCA, George Harkins, was told he would never get anywhere in the older organization, the ULCA, unless he became a Mason. He never did and he never became the president, which he was well qualified to do (apart from belonging to the Lodge).

Now that seems absurd because it is tough to find a Mason younger than 80, but it opened the door to free-thinking, secretive apostasy. Since money flows to false doctrine, the loot confirms false doctrine as good in the minds of materialistic people. How can it be wrong if a Mason just built a new sanctuary for us?

I know of that happening in WELS and in Missouri, while WELS made fun of Missouri for being soft on the Masonic Lodge.

One of the great comforts of this parable is to show that we are not rubbing shoulders with the elite who scorn the Gospel, but with the riff-raff, who were compelled by the Gospel call to come to the feast.

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