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Showing posts from February, 2014

Raphael’s Transfiguration of Christ

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Transfiguration is a feast for the eyes and for the ears. Jesus is suddenly changed. The face of Jesus shines like the sun. His clothes are dazzling in their brilliance. Glory beams in bright rays from His body. Just before Jesus heads down the mountain to be brutally beaten, scourged and crucified, He displays His honor and glory for three of His disciples to witness. Those same disciples hear God the Father’s voice from the Majestic Glory. They are told to give their undivided attention to this glorified and shining person, who is the beloved Son of the Father from heaven. They are also privy to the conversation between the Son of God and Moses, the Lawgiver, and Elijah, the Prophet. In our Lutheran churches this Sunday, we will be celebrating the Feast of the Transfiguration of Our Lord. Although this festival is rather new to our Lutheran churches - only being celebrated with regularity in the past 100-200 years - it is a very ancient festival. It has been observed as a major festi…

Worship Helps for the Transfiguration

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Worship Theme:Jesus appears in glory as the Son of God. The Epiphany season is bookended by the voice of God the Father proclaiming Jesus his Son. Before he suffered as man’s substitute, Jesus gave his Church a glimpse of the glory that he set aside to be our Savior. See how much he loves us! The God of Mt. Sinai, the Majestic Glory, became a man to suffer and die for us, just as Moses and the Prophets had foretold. It’s good that we are here.

Old Testament:Exodus 24:12 The LORD said to Moses, "Come up to me on the mountain and stay here, and I will give you the tablets of stone, with the law and commands I have written for their instruction." 15 When Moses went up on the mountain, the cloud covered it, 16 and the glory of the LORD settled on Mount Sinai. For six days the cloud covered the mountain, and on the seventh day the LORD called to Moses from within the cloud. 17 To the Israelites the glory of the LORD looked like a consuming fire on top of the mountain. 18 Then Mos…

Jesus’ perfect upside-down Kingdom

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Matthew 5:38-48 "You have heard that it was said, 'Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.' 39 But I tell you, Do not resist an evil person. If someone strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also. 40 And if someone wants to sue you and take your tunic, let him have your cloak as well. 41 If someone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles. 42 Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you. 43 "You have heard that it was said, 'Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.' 44 But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45 that you may be sons of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. 46 If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? 47 And if you greet only your brothers, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that…

David takes Saul’s spear and water bottle

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James Tissot is one of the most famous illustrators of the Bible. It is difficult to do an Internet search for a Bible painting without discovering one of Tissot’s works. The Old Testament Supplemental Scripture lesson for this Sunday is 1 Samuel 26:7-25. David has been anointed to be the next king of Israel. Saul, the present king, knows this and hates David for it. He has been chasing David and his men all around the Judean countryside. David had already spared King Saul’s life once in the cave of Adullam (1 Samuel 24). There, David cut off a corner of Saul’s robe while Saul was relieving himself in the cave. But David did no harm to Saul for he was still “the Lord’s anointed” (1 Samuel 24:6). After the incident in the cave, Saul returned to his palace. But David once again became the object of Saul’s unrelenting manhunt. Tissot beautifully illustrates the action of the scene. David and one of his men, Abishai, sneak over to the Israelite army who were encamped in the Desert of Ziph.…

Receiving God’s diagnosis

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Matthew 5:21 "You have heard that it was said to the people long ago, 'Do not murder, and anyone who murders will be subject to judgment.' 22 But I tell you that anyone who is angry with his brother will be subject to judgment. Again, anyone who says to his brother, 'Raca, 'is answerable to the Sanhedrin. But anyone who says, 'You fool!' will be in danger of the fire of hell. 23 "Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, 24 leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to your brother; then come and offer your gift. 25 "Settle matters quickly with your adversary who is taking you to court. Do it while you are still with him on the way, or he may hand you over to the judge, and the judge may hand you over to the officer, and you may be thrown into prison. 26 I tell you the truth, you will not get out until you have paid the last penny. 27 "Yo…

Worship Helps for Epiphany 7

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Worship Theme: The Savior’s Sermon: Love your enemies! What could be more counterintuitive? Yet Christ calls his disciples to a love for our neighbor that models itself after Jesus’ love for the world. As Luther said: Christi sumus in nominativo et genitivo (We are Christs—with and without the apostrophe). A heart like Christ’s has no room for vengeance, but is filled with love for all.
Old Testament:1 Samuel 26:7 So David and Abishai went to the army by night, and there was Saul, lying asleep inside the camp with his spear stuck in the ground near his head. Abner and the soldiers were lying around him. 8 Abishai said to David, "Today God has delivered your enemy into your hands. Now let me pin him to the ground with one thrust of my spear; I won't strike him twice." 9 But David said to Abishai, "Don't destroy him! Who can lay a hand on the LORD's anointed and be guiltless? 10 As surely as the LORD lives," he said, "the LORD himself will strike him;…

Church of the Beatitudes

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Beauty and creativity are not only expressed in art, but also in architecture. The Gospel lessons for the Epiphany season in many of our Lutheran churches are from Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount recorded in Matthew 5-7. There is no doubt that Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount is the most famous sermon ever preached. It is perhaps also the most misunderstood. It is not a summary of the whole Christian faith. Rather it is a description of how the Christian demonstrates and lives his/her faith. This is not a sermon on justification – of how a God saves a person. Rather it is entirely a sermon on sanctification – of how a person lives after God has saved him/her.  In order to understand this sermon, we must keep in mind the audience to whom it was preached and the purpose Jesus had in mind. The audience was, primarily, Jesus’ disciples, although the large crowds who had been following Jesus were evidently in the background listening in. The purpose of the sermon was to give the believers a better under…

You are salt and light

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Matthew 5:13 "You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled by men. 14 "You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. 15 Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house.16 In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven. 17 "Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. 18 I tell you the truth, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished. 19 Anyone who breaks one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but who…