Sunday, December 30, 2012

The Sunday after Christmas, 2012.
Luke 2:33ff.

The Sunday after Christmas, 2012

Pastor Gregory L. Jackson

The Hymn #79            Rejoice, Rejoice, This     4:77
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 #305:1-5            Soul, Adorn              4.25

 Holy Communion – The Visible Word

The Hymn #305:6-9                                Soul, Adorn              4.25
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 Galatians 4:1 Now I say, That the heir, as long as he is a child, differeth nothing from a servant, though he be lord of all; 2 But is under tutors and governors until the time appointed of the father. 3 Even so we, when we were children, were in bondage under the elements of the world: 4 But when the fulness of the time was come, God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law, 5 To redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons. 6 And because ye are sons, God hath sent forth the Spirit of his Son into your hearts, crying, Abba, Father. 7 Wherefore thou art no more a servant, but a son; and if a son, then an heir of God through Christ.

KJV Luke 2:33 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. 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. 39 And when they had performed all things according to the law of the Lord, they returned into Galilee, to their own city Nazareth. 40 And the child grew, and waxed strong in spirit, filled with wisdom: and the grace of God was upon him.

Sunday After Christmas

O almighty and everlasting God, mercifully direct our ways, that we may walk in Thy law, and be made to abound in good works: 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.

Holy Communion – The Visible Word

KJV Luke 2:33 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;

After Jesus was born, He was presented in the Temple. As Savior and Messiah, He lived according to Jewish law and custom. We can see how the Christian faith was established among Jews from the beginning.

God let His appointed servants see that the Messianic Promises were being fulfilled. The shepherds and Wise Men knew the truth from God. So did Simeon and Anna.

In v. 27 Luke wrote “the parents,” and he now in the same sense writes “his father and his mother,” knowing that his reader will understand in what sense “his father” is to be understood. Each parent is named separately instead of saying merely “his parents” wondered. The one was astonished as much as the other. How did this man know the mystery of the child? How did he single out their babe? More than that, their wonder was this that he should say such astounding things about the child. Simeon’s words went beyond Matt. 1:21; Luke 1:32, 33; 2:10, which referred only to Israel; Simeon included all the Gentile nations in the salvation that this child was bringing—reason, indeed, for astonishment at this new revelation!
Lenski, R. C. H.: The Interpretation of St. Luke's Gospel. Minneapolis, MN, Augsburg Publishing House, 1961, S. 152.

KJV Luke 2:20 And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things that they had heard and seen, as it was told unto them. 21 And when eight days were accomplished for the circumcising of the child, his name was called JESUS, which was so named of the angel before he was conceived in the womb. 22 And when the days of her purification according to the law of Moses were accomplished, they brought him to Jerusalem, to present him to the Lord; 23 (As it is written in the law of the Lord, Every male that openeth the womb shall be called holy to the Lord;) 24 And to offer a sacrifice according to that which is said in the law of the Lord, A pair of turtledoves, or two young pigeons. 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.

Anna and Simeon were witnesses and evangelists, but so were the learned men who heard Jesus later, when He came to the Temple as a youth.

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.

This verse deserves careful reading, because there is a shift in the pronouns. Simeon blessed Joseph and Mary, but spoke about Jesus to Mary. This implies what is assumed from tradition, that Mary outlived Joseph and was a widow when Jesus was crucified. Acts also speaks only of Mary.

Luther said, “What kind of blessing was this for a young mother?” And yet, this was the truth of God’s revelation.

First –

Behold, this child is set for the fall and rising again of many in Israel;

The Gospel would be the Word of salvation for all those who believed, but also condemnation for all those who rejected the Gospel.

When men reject that grace in unbelief they fall, and it is God’s will that they perish (Mark 16:16; Isa. 8:14; Matt. 21:42, 44; Rom. 9:33). On the other hand, when God’s grace in Christ wins men and makes them rise up from sin and death in a spiritual resurrection (Eph. 2:5, 6), this is again the effect of his consequent will but at the same time the execution of his voluntas antecedens [GJ – freely translated – God’s long established will] which, disregarding all else, took into account only man’s fallen estate and sent grace and a Savior for all alike (John 3:16; Rom. 9:33b; Acts 4:12).
Lenski, R. C. H.: The Interpretation of St. Luke's Gospel. Minneapolis, MN : Augsburg Publishing House, 1961, S. 153.

The Parable of the Sower (Matthew 13, Mark 4) describes how the Word multiplies even though many forces work against it.

and for a sign which shall be spoken against;

Jesus will be a sign, a miracle from God who is spoken against. One category of this opposition is Holy Communion.

  1. Christianity – The Only Religion Where God Gives to Man.

One way to distinguish the Christian faith from all others is this  - Christianity is the only faith where God gives to man.

The rest have man giving to God, whether in one type of work or another, to appease and satisfy a demanding god of law.

But Christianity means God gives man forgiveness as a gift, from God’s grace,  His lovingkindness and forgiveness.

I posted a series of photos on Facebook where a lion cub fell onto a cliff, with loose soil and little tufts to stand on here and there. The lionesses all looked down in concern. The mother came down this cliff, which seemed almost vertical, got below her cub, picked him up, and carried him up to safety. The photos seem impossible, but one can see the muscles bulging as the mother brought the cub to the top. He was bad. He was careless. He deserved a scalding. His mother licked him to show her love and happiness. It makes people remember where this lovingkindness came from. God is the example and the font of grace.

Therefore, any attempt to change Christianity away from the Religion of Grace to a religion of demands must be resisted, avoided, repudiated.

  1. What is Holy Communion?

The Bible does not use the term “Means of Grace” but various groups use it as a shorthand for many discussions about the Gospel. Roman Catholics use the term, but forgiveness is never complete and the demands are always presented, so it is a term without grace – like giving a present and asking the recipient for cash to pay for it. And the price is never fully paid, either.

Lutherans say “Means of Grace” because Holy Communion is one way to receive God’s grace. It is truly a sign, a miracle, spoken against, because the basics revealed in the Word of God are questioned, attacked, and modified.

Holy Communion means that the Holy Spirit, at work in the Word, consecrates the elements of bread and wine so that Christ’s body and blood are also present.

The passages where this is most clear are changed to mean something else, even though the original text is clear. The bread is also the body and communing with the body of Christ. Likewise, the wine and the blood of Christ.

These are given – for the forgiveness of sin.

It is true that the Lord’s Supper is symbolic, as the non-Lutheran Protestants say, but it is more than symbolic. God’s Word does what it claims.

Holy Communion is the visible Word. When the Gospel Promises are united with earthly elements, we have a better grasp of the reality of God’s grace. This is not done because God needs it, but because we do.

Our own customs and habits show our need for visual confirmation. We could receive awards without any physical sign of them, but we have ribbons and trophies for those who win those awards.

One large business in St. Louis does nothing except give awards to people, paid for by the employer.

When I pass an in-house course at a university, they send a graphic with my name on it – I have successfully completed a course in The Difficult Student, or something similar.
Students given a pass or fail, in the old days, refused to study. They had nothing special to show for it. No sign of approval.

Each state (except Ohio) has its own flag. People identify with the flag. (Ohio has a pennant, not a flag.)

Holy Communion is more than seeing the symbol. We re-enact the Last Supper, using the same words to consecrate the elements. This is akin to the Passover Meal, where the conditions of the Passover are re-created.

Luther explained the value of Holy Communion by pointing out how the sermon can pass over our heads. One of the hardest things to do is concentrate and listen for 15-30 minutes. (His idea of a sermon was an hour, but only 30 minutes for beginning preachers.) It is impossible to miss the meaning of Holy Communion when we come up to the front, receive the consecrated elements, and hear the Word of God – This is My body, This is My blood, given for you for the forgiveness of sin.

  1. Preparation for Holy Communion

There are many good ways to prepare for Holy Communion, but the essential one is a believing heart. Faith receives the Gospel in the visible form of the communion elements. That is why closed communion is so important, since the Body and Blood are offered for faith and not for unbelief.

When denominations decided that giving Holy Communion to everyone, in the name of grace, they made people indifferent about the sacrament. From indifference comes opposition – a sign that is spoken against. “How do we know this is true?”

Anger about closed communion can have two results. I have seen both. People visiting can walk out when they see the notice. Or people can become upset and have a discussion about it. I know at least three households where upset over closed communion resulted in membership and even more people joining.

When an ELCA member can commune at a “conservative” Lutheran congregation, there is no reason to think there is any difference between the two.
When there is a stark difference pointed out, then actions follow the thought, and thought follows the actions.

  1. Benefits of Holy Communion

Holy Communion conveys the forgiveness of all sin. It is the Instrument or Means of God’s grace. God gives what He promises in the Word. We should not judge God’s Word by man’s thoughts, but man’s thoughts by God’s Word. The same Word that multiplied the loaves can also provide the consecrated elements for believers around the world.

When this is denied, it is a sign spoken against.

The Gospel is the only way we can fight against temptation and sin, so Holy Communion is a medicine for the sick, not for the healthy. It strengthens us and helps us in remaining with the True Vine and becoming fruitful for the kingdom.

We are not partially forgiven, but completely forgiven of all sins, and this continues to be a blessing for all believers. Holy Communion strengthens that faith because it shows us and makes us participate in what Christ did for us.

The “for you” is the key word in the Lord’s Supper. Given for you. It is personal, individual, and directed at believers.

They actually removed visitors and catechumens and locked the doors when celebrating Holy Communion in the past. Some confessions still follow this practice.

Holy Communion unites people in forgiveness and love, because they have one Savior, one Good Shepherd who gathers them together. They hear His voice and listen gladly to it, wherever they may live.

Like all miracles, Holy Communion helps us with anxieties and fears, since we see how much God can do in a moment.

Holy Communion

"And just as the Word has been given in order to excite this faith, so the Sacrament has been instituted in order that the outward appearance meeting the eyes might move the heart to believe [and strengthen faith]. For through these, namely, through Word and Sacrament, the Holy Ghost works."
Apology Augsburg Confession, XXIV (XII), #70. The Mass. Concordia Triglotta, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1921, p. 409. Tappert, p. 262. Heiser, p. 123.         

"Our adversaries have no testimonies and no command from Scripture for defending the application of the ceremony for liberating the souls of the dead, although from this they derive infinite revenue. Nor, indeed, is it a light sin to establish such services in the Church without the command of God and without the example of Scripture, and to apply to the dead the Lord's Supper, which was instituted for commemoration and preaching among the living [for the purpose of strengthening the faith of those who use the ceremony]. This is to violate the Second Commandment, by abusing God's name."
Apology Augsburg Confession, XXIV. #89. The Mass. Concordia Triglotta, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1921, p. 413f. Tappert, p. 265f. Heiser, p. 124.     

"Whoever denies the Real Presence of the body and blood of Christ in the Lord's Supper must pervert the words of Institution where Christ the Lord, speaking of that which He gives His Christians to eat, says: 'This is My body,' and, speaking of that which He gives them to drink, says: 'This is My blood.' [Also 1 Corinthians 10:16]
Francis Pieper, The Difference between Orthodox and Heterodox Churches, and Supplement, Coos Bay, Oregon: St. Paul's Lutheran Church, 1981, p. 40. 1 Corinthians 10:16.

"If Reformed theology wishes to free itself from the confusion of self-contradiction and its other Christological errors, it must by all means eliminate its rationalistic principle that the finite is not capable of the infinite."
Francis Pieper, Christian Dogmatics, 3 vols., St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1951, II, p. p. 275.                

"And all these are established by the words by which Christ has instituted it, and which every one who desires to be a Christian and go to the Sacrament should know. For it is not our intention to admit to it and to administer it to those who know not what they seek, or why they come."
Large Catechism, The Sacrament of the Altar. #2. Concordia Triglotta, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1921, p. 753. Tappert, p. 447. Heiser, p. 210.         

"For it is not founded upon the holiness of men, but upon the Word of God. And as no saint upon earth, yea, no angel in heaven, can make bread and wine to be the body and blood of Christ, so also can no one change or alter it, even though it be misused. For the Word by which it became a Sacrament and was instituted does not become false because of the person or his unbelief. For He does not say: If you believe or are worthy you receive My body and blood, but: Take, eat and drink; this is My body and blood."
The Large Catechism, Sacrament of the Altar. #16-17. Concordia Triglotta, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1921, p. 757. Tappert, p. 448. Heiser, p. 211.      

"On this account it is indeed called a food of souls, which nourishes and strengthens the new man. For by Baptism we are first born anew; but (as we said before) there still remains, besides, the old vicious nature of flesh and blood in man, and there are so many hindrances and temptations of the devil and of the world that we often become weary and faint, and sometimes also stumble."
The Large Catechism, Sacrament of the Altar. #23. Concordia Triglotta, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1921, p. 757. Tappert, p. 449. Heiser, p. 211f.        

"Therefore it {communion}is given for a daily pasture and sustenance, that faith may refresh and strengthen itself so as not to fall back in such a battle, but become every stronger and stronger. For the new life must be so regulated that it continually increase and progress; but it must suffer much opposition. For the devil is such a furious enemy that when he sees that we oppose him and attack the old man, and that he cannot topple us over by force, he prowls and moves about on all sides, tries all devices, and does not desist, until he finally wearies us, so that we either renounce our faith or yield hands and feet and become listless or impatient. Now to this end the consolation is here given when the heart feels that the burden is becoming too heavy, that it may here obtain new power and refreshment."
The Large Catechism, Sacrament of the Altar. #24-27. Concordia Triglotta, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1921, p. 759. Tappert, p. 449. Heiser, p. 211.  

"For here in the Sacrament you are to receive from the lips of Christ forgiveness of sin, which contains and brings with it the grace of God and the Spirit with all His gifts, protection, shelter, and power against death and the devil and all misfortune."
The Large Catechism, Sacrament of the Altar. #70. Concordia Triglotta, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1921, p. 769. Tappert, p. 454. Heiser, p. 214.         

"Therefore, if you cannot feel it {the works of the flesh, Galatians 5:199ff. above}, at least believe the Scriptures; they will not lie to you, and they know your flesh better than you yourself...Yet, as we have said, if you are quite dead to all sensibility, still believe the Scriptures, which pronounce sentence upon you. And, in short, the less you feel your sins and infirmities, the more reason have you to go to the Sacrament to seek help and a remedy."
The Large Catechism, Sacrament of the Altar. #76-78. Concordia Triglotta, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1921, p. 771. Tappert, p. 455. Heiser, p. 214.       

"Calvin was dissatisfied with Zwingli's interpretation of the Lord's Supper, but his own interpretation was also wrong. He said that a person desiring to receive the body and blood of Christ could not get it under the bread and wine, but must by his faith mount up to heaven, where the Holy Spirit would negotiate a way for feeding him with the body and blood of Christ. These are mere vagaries, which originated in Calvin's fancy. But an incident like this shows that men will not believe that God bears us poor sinners such great love that He is willing to come to us."
C. F. W. Walther, The Proper Distinction Between Law and Gospel, trans., W. H. T. Dau, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1928, p. 185.     

"Is the Lord's Supper the place to display my toleration, my Christian sympathy, or my fellowship with another Christian, when that is the very point in which most of all we differ; and in which the difference means for me everything--means for me, the reception of the Savior's atonement? Is this the point to be selected for the display of Christian union, when in fact it is the very point in which Christian union does not exist?"
Theodore E. Schmauk and C. Theodore Benze, The Confessional Principle and the Confessions, as Embodying the Evangelical Confession of the Christian Church, Philadelphia: 1911, p. 905f.        

"For in Confession as in the Lord's Supper you have the additional advantage, that the Word is applied to your person alone. For in preaching it flies out into the whole congregation, and although it strikes you also, yet you are not so sure of it; but here it does not apply to anyone except you. Ought it not to fill your heart with joy to know a place where God is ready to speak to you personally? Yea, if we had a chance to hear an angel speak we would surely run to the ends of the earth."
Martin Luther, Sermons of Martin Luther, 8 vols., ed. John Nicholas Lenker, Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1983 II, p. 199.     

"In addition there is this perversion, that whereas Christ instituted the use of His Supper for all who receive it, who take, eat, and drink, the papalist Mass transfers the use and benefit of the celebration of the Lord's Supper in our time to the onlookers, who do not communicate, yes, to those who are absent, and even to the dead."
Martin Chemnitz, Examination of the Council of Trent, trans., Fred Kramer, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1986, II, p. 498.       

"However, you will be sure as to whether the sacrament is efficacious in your heart, if you watch your conduct toward your neighbor. If you discover that the words and he symbol soften and move you to be friendly to your enemy, to take an interest in your neighbor's welfare, and to help him bear his suffering and affliction, then all is well. On the other hand, if you do not find it so, you continue uncertain even if you were to commune a hundred times a day with devotions so great as to move you to tears for very joy; for wonderful devotions like this, very sweet to experience, yet as dangerous as sweet, amount to nothing before God. Therefore we must above all be certain for ourselves, as Peter writes in 2 Peter 1:10: 'Give the more diligence to make your calling and election sure.'"
Martin Luther, Sermons of Martin Luther, 8 vols., ed. John Nicholas Lenker, Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1983 II, p. 211. 2 Peter 1:10.

"Hence it is manifest how unjustly and maliciously the Sacramentarian fanatics (Theodore Beza) deride the Lord Christ, St. Paul, and the entire Church in calling this oral partaking, and that of the unworthy, duos pilos caudae equinae et commentum, cuius vel ipsum Satanam pudeat, as also the doctrine concerning the majesty of Christ, excrementum Satanae, quo diabolus sibi ipsi et hominibus illudat, that is, they speak so horribly of it that a godly Christian man should be ashamed to translate it. [two hairs of a horse's tail and an invention of which even Satan himself would be ashamed; Satan's excrement, by which the devil amuses himself and deceives men].
Formula of Concord, Epitome, Article VII, Lord's Supper, 67, Concordia Triglotta, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1921, p. 997. Tappert, p. 581f. Heiser, p. 270.    

"Dr. Luther, who, above others, certainly understood the true and proper meaning of the Augsburg Confession, and who constantly remained steadfast thereto till his end, and defended it, shortly before his death repeated his faith concerning this article with great zeal in his last Confession, where he writes thus: 'I rate as one concoction, namely, as Sacramentarians and fanatics, which they also are, all who will not believe that the Lord's bread in the Supper is His true natural body, which the godless or Judas received with the mouth, as well as did St. Peter and all [other] saints; he who will not believe this (I say) should let me alone, and hope for no fellowship with me; this is not going to be altered [thus my opinion stands, which I am not going to change]."
Formula of Concord, Epitome, Article VII, Lord's Supper, 33, Concordia Triglotta, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1921, p. 983. Tappert, p. 575. Heiser, p. 267.  

"Besides this, you will also have the devil about you, whom you will not entirely tread under foot, because our Lord Christ Himself could not entirely avoid him. Now, what is the devil? Nothing else than what the Scriptures call him, a liar and murderer. A liar, to lead the heart astray from the Word of God, and blind it, that you cannot feel your distress or come to Christ. A murderer, who cannot bear to see you live one single hour. If you could see how many knives, darts, and arrows are every moment aimed at you, you would be glad to come to the Sacrament as often as possible."
The Large Catechism, Sacrament of the Altar. #80-82. Concordia Triglotta, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1921, p. 771f. Tappert, p. 456. Heiser, p. 214.

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