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Showing posts from July, 2014

God forgives even the ridiculous

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Exodus 32:15-29 Moses turned and went down the mountain with the two tablets of the Testimony in his hands. They were inscribed on both sides, front and back. 16 The tablets were the work of God; the writing was the writing of God, engraved on the tablets. 17 When Joshua heard the noise of the people shouting, he said to Moses, "There is the sound of war in the camp." 18 Moses replied: "It is not the sound of victory, it is not the sound of defeat; it is the sound of singing that I hear." 19 When Moses approached the camp and saw the calf and the dancing, his anger burned and he threw the tablets out of his hands, breaking them to pieces at the foot of the mountain. 20 And he took the calf they had made and burned it in the fire; then he ground it to powder, scattered it on the water and made the Israelites drink it. 21 He said to Aaron, "What did these people do to you, that you led them into such great sin?" 22 "Do not be angry, my lord," Aaro…

Not peace, but a sword

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When Jesus was born, angels from heaven sang, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests."  Jesus came to establish peace between God and all the people of world by taking the guilt of their sin on himself and suffering their death penalty for sin.  Because of Jesus, we are free from of the guilt and punishment of our sin.  Washed clean by the blood of Jesus, we have peace with God.  That’s why it was declared of Jesus by Isaiah the prophet that he is the “Prince of Peace” (Isaiah 9:6). Yet Jesus says in our Gospel lesson for this Sunday, “I did not come to bring peace, but a sword” (Matthew 10:34). And he quotes from the prophet Micah that his coming will cause hostility even among family members (Micah 7:6).  Jesus is the bringer of peace and at the same time the bringer of hostility.  He brought peace between us and the Father – a peace that is founded on the forgiveness of sins and looks forward confidently to the hope of heaven.  But in our…

Worship Helps for Pentecost 6

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Title: Adoration of the Calf Artist Jacopo Tintoretto Year: 1546
Worship Theme: The Christian loves God above all things. The Church prays for the love of God that we might always love him above all things. The lessons warn of the earthly ramifications of such love, but also point to the promised heavenly rewards.
Old Testament:Exodus 32:15-29 Moses turned and went down the mountain with the two tablets of the Testimony in his hands. They were inscribed on both sides, front and back. 16 The tablets were the work of God; the writing was the writing of God, engraved on the tablets. 17 When Joshua heard the noise of the people shouting, he said to Moses, "There is the sound of war in the camp." 18 Moses replied: "It is not the sound of victory, it is not the sound of defeat; it is the sound of singing that I hear." 19 When Moses approached the camp and saw the calf and the dancing, his anger burned and he threw the tablets out of his hands, breaking them to pieces at the f…

Worship Helps for Pentecost 5

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Worship Theme: Christ promises courage for his witnesses to testify even in the face of pain or persecution. The Prayer of the Day is one of the most ancient in the Church’s use. It seems to have been suggested by the disasters of the dying Western Empire. As Rome crumbled, the Church prayed for God’s governance that she might worship in peace and joy. Today Christ reminds us that even when that peace and joy are absent, he will give us the courage to continue to testify in his name.
Old Testament:Jeremiah 19:14-20:6  Jeremiah then returned from Topheth, where the LORD had sent him to prophesy, and stood in the court of the LORD's temple and said to all the people, 15 "This is what the LORD Almighty, the God of Israel, says: 'Listen! I am going to bring on this city and the villages around it every disaster I pronounced against them, because they were stiff-necked and would not listen to my words.'" 20:1 When the priest Pashhur son of Immer, the chief officer in …

Getting over ourselves

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Matthew 9:35 Jesus went through all the towns and villages, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the good news of the kingdom and healing every disease and sickness. 36 When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. 37 Then he said to his disciples, "The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. 38 Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field." 10:1 He called his twelve disciples to him and gave them authority to drive out evil spirits and to heal every disease and sickness. 2 These are the names of the twelve apostles: first, Simon (who is called Peter) and his brother Andrew; James son of Zebedee, and his brother John; 3 Philip and Bartholomew; Thomas and Matthew the tax collector; James son of Alphaeus, and Thaddaeus; 4 Simon the Zealot and Judas Iscariot, who betrayed him. 5 These twelve Jesus sent out with the following instructions: "Do not go a…

The church is a hospital

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Are you ever uncomfortable in a hospital? It’s natural to be. You walk down the halls past countless rooms, and through the open doors you see so muchsickness, so muchhurt, so muchpain. You see broken limbs, wrapped in casts. You hear the quietwhirr of machines that are helping people to breathe. You see IV bags dripping antibiotics into patients to help cure them of, well, who knows what awful sickness they’re battling? It’s natural to want to get out, to pull away. Jesus’ heart is so different than ours. He saw a world of sickness, hurt and pain, and he didn’t want to get out or run away. He drew closer (Matthew 9:35-10:8). What was that world like? A place where you could hear the cries of people who were filled with guilt, and only told of a God who would hate them for their sins. He could see lepers whose decaying bodies didn’t bothering them as much as the loneliness and rot they felt in their hearts. He walked among people with healthy limbs but breaking and broken homes and liv…

Being a disciple of Jesus is difficult business

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The Synaxis of the Twelve Apostles. Russian, 14th century, Moscow Museum. Jesus chose twelve men to be His disciples. Jesus’ choice of these twelve particular men – Simon, Andrew, James, John, Philip, Bartholomew, Thomas, Matthew, James, Thaddaeus, Simon and Judas Iscariot – are in answer to Jesus’ prayer at the end of Matthew 9: “Ask the Lord of the harvest to send out workers.” God would accomplish great things through these disciples. But it wouldn’t be Thomas’ inquiries, Peter’s boldness or Simon’s zealousness that would win souls for Christ. As if to emphasize this point, Jesus continues with a description of what they are to do: “Heal the sick,” He instructs. “Cleanse the lepers. Drive out demons. … And while you’re at it, why don’t you raise the dead, too.” (Matthew 10:6-8) As it that wasn’t an impossible list of tasks, Jesus then gives them a description of how they are to go, and what it’s going to be like for them out there: “Don’t take any supplies,” He says. “Rely on what yo…

Worship Helps for Pentecost 4

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Worship Theme: The Holy Ministry is given by God out of compassion for his people. Over the next three Sundays we hear Jesus’ Missionary Discourse (Matthew 10:5-42). Last Sunday we saw the unworthiness of the servants God calls by mercy. Today the emphasis is still on the Ministry of the Word, but the focus shifts from the servants to the people they serve. We see the compassion and love of God for this world, love so great that he called ministers of the Word to share his grace and mercy and foretell of the coming kingdom of heaven. The Prayer of the Day is Gregorian and fits the Sunday beautifully as it emphasizes how God protects us, empowers us, and sanctifies us through the ministry of the Word that shows us mercy and forgiveness and leads us to the glory of heaven.
Old Testament:Numbers 27:15-23 Moses said to the LORD, 16 "May the LORD, the God of the spirits of all mankind, appoint a man over this community 17 to go out and come in before them, one who will lead them out an…