Worship Helps for Easter 7
Worship Theme: Live in eager expectation of glory! That glory is not dimmed by earthly suffering; rather, such suffering reminds us of the glory that awaits us. First the cross; then the crown. Our light and momentary troubles cannot mute the joy of living in eager expectation of glory. The week that falls between Ascension and Pentecost is one of waiting and expectation for the promised Spirit and the promised glory.
Old Testament: 1 Samuel 1:21-28
When the man Elkanah went up with all his family to offer the annual sacrifice to the LORD and to fulfill his vow, 22 Hannah did not go. She said to her husband, "After the boy is weaned, I will take him and present him before the LORD, and he will live there always." 23 "Do what seems best to you," Elkanah her husband told her. "Stay here until you have weaned him; only may the LORD make good his word." So the woman stayed at home and nursed her son until she had weaned him. 24 After he was weaned, she took the boy with her, young as he was, along with a three-year-old bull, an ephah of flour and a skin of wine, and brought him to the house of the LORD at
Shiloh. 25 When they had slaughtered the
bull, they brought the boy to Eli, 26 and she said to him, "As
surely as you live, my lord, I am the woman who stood here beside you praying
to the LORD. 27 I prayed for this child, and the LORD has granted me
what I asked of him. 28 So now I give him to the LORD. For his whole
life he will be given over to the LORD." And he worshiped the LORD there.
1. What can Hannah teach us about living with trouble or sorrow while we wait for God’s glory?
Epistle: 2 Corinthians 4:13-18
It is written: "I believed; therefore I have spoken." With that same spirit of faith we also believe and therefore speak, 14 because we know that the one who raised the Lord Jesus from the dead will also raise us with Jesus and present us with you in his presence. 15 All this is for your benefit, so that the grace that is reaching more and more people may cause thanksgiving to overflow to the glory of God. 16 Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. 17 For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. 18 So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.
2. How can Paul call our troubles “light and momentary?”
Gospel: John 17:1-11a
After Jesus said this, he looked toward heaven and prayed: "Father, the time has come. Glorify your Son, that your Son may glorify you. 2 For you granted him authority over all people that he might give eternal life to all those you have given him. 3 Now this is eternal life: that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent. 4 I have brought you glory on earth by completing the work you gave me to do. 5 And now, Father, glorify me in your presence with the glory I had with you before the world began. 6 "I have revealed you to those whom you gave me out of the world. They were yours; you gave them to me and they have obeyed your word. 7 Now they know that everything you have given me comes from you. 8 For I gave them the words you gave me and they accepted them. They knew with certainty that I came from you, and they believed that you sent me. 9 I pray for them. I am not praying for the world, but for those you have given me, for they are yours. 10 All I have is yours, and all you have is mine. And glory has come to me through them. 11 I will remain in the world no longer, but they are still in the world, and I am coming to you. Holy Father, protect them by the power of your name-- the name you gave me-- so that they may be one as we are one.
3. Why did Jesus pray, "Glorify your Son, that your Son may glorify you?"
4. What comfort do we find in our Savior's prayer?
1. Afflicted by her rival, Peninnah, Hannah’s troubles seemed neither light nor momentary. Her barrenness brought suffering and sadness that embittered her life, but it did not shake her faith. At the house of the LORD she cast her cares on him and prayed, expectant of God’s grace and blessing. She humbled herself under God’s mighty hand, and he lifted her up in due time: the son she longed for would become Samuel, the leader of God’s people. On this Sunday of expectation, Hannah’s example shines: she did not focus her eyes on what was seen, on the troubles of this life, but on the unseen eternal glory that God had stored up for her. For her eager expectation of glory, see 1 Samuel 2.
2. Who thinks that their troubles are light or momentary? When we lose a loved one, when we face mortal illness or financial ruin—who could ever think those troubles insignificant or passing? Only people who have a perspective that stretches to the unbounded time of eternity and encompasses the unbounded joy that we eagerly expect there. We believe that one day Christ will present us to the Father for an eternity of glory. Therefore…therefore we fix our eyes not on all our problems that we know so well, but on the unseen glory, the eternal glory that we do not yet know, but eagerly expect.
3. In praying for the Father to glorify him, Jesus was praying for the successful outcome of his work of salvation. The glory would come with Jesus' victory over Satan on the cross. Through Jesus the glory of the Father also shone brightly since all that the Son did was for the Father's glory.
4. Can you hear the certainty in Christ’s voice? Can you feel the authority resonate from his words? Stop for a moment and marvel at the words Christ speaks even as his enemies prepare to arrest him, to torture him, to kill him. Christ enters his passion as victor. We know the end of the story; we know this is Christ’s path to glory. But what would the disciples think in the next few hours as the blows landed, the whip bit, the nails pierced, and the blood flowed? This is glory? Just wait…these sufferings would not last. Just wait…glory is coming. Look at Jesus’ promise: he has been granted all authority—but he uses it to give, not to take. He gives us life eternal won by the glory of his completed work. On this post-ascension Sunday, Christ’s promise to return to his Father has proven true. What comfort, then, is his promised prayer for us who remain behind! We are in the world, but not as orphans, and so we bear our sufferings in eager expectation of the glory that’s coming.
Putting your faith into action
Knowing the Father and his Son constitutes eternal life. Following the Father and the Son is Christian living. As Jesus lifted up prayers to his Father, we lift up prayers and our lives to the Father. We do not belong to the world; we belong to our God. He has created us, bought us, and made us his own. Our lives of faith reflect that.
We have stated clearly that good works do not fulfill the Law, that we need God’s mercy, that through faith we are accepted by God, that good works—even the works of
Paul himself—cannot bring rest to the conscience. We are to believe that we receive eternal
life through Christ by faith, not because of our works. But what do we say of the reward that
Scripture mentions? If the adversaries
will admit that we are regarded righteous through faith because of Christ, and
that good works please God because of faith, we will not afterward argue much
about the term reward. We confess that
eternal life is a reward; it is something due because of the promise, not
because of our merits. For the
justification has been promised, which we have previously shown to be properly
God’s gift. To this gift the promise of
eternal life has been added, according to Romans 8:30, “Those whom He justified
He also glorified.” Paul says, “There is
laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge,
will award to me”. The justified are due
the crown because of the promise. Saints
should know this promise, not that they may labor for their own profit, for
they ought to labor for God’s glory. But
saints should know it so they may not despair in troubles. They should know God’s will: He desires to
aid, to deliver, and to protect them. – Apology of the Augsburg Confession,
Article V, Love and Fulfilling the Law (paragraphs 241-243)