Grace Evangelical Lutheran Church

Grace Evangelical Lutheran Church
9 E Homestead Ave. Palisades Park, NJ 07650 201-944-2107 Sundays 11:00 a.m. We preach Christ crucified (1. Corinthians 1,23)

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Psalm 1,1-3; Psalm 106,3. 18. Trinity

  One Message: Christ crucified and risen for you
The Word of the Lord Endures Forever
Verbum Domini Manet in Aeternum

Psalm 1,1-3; Psalm 106,3 5117
18. Trinitatis  063
Teresa of Avila, Spain. Virgin 1582 
15. Oktober 2017 

1. O Lord, our Peace and Security, guard our hearts and minds with the pure gospel, so that our trust is always and only on Jesus.  Amen. (Gradual). 
2. Blessed are they who guard judgement, who do righteousness at all times! Blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers; but his delight is in the torah of the Lord, and on His torah he meditates day and night. He is like a tree planted by streams of water that yields its fruit in its season, and its leaf does not wither. In all that he does, he prospers.
  3. The Psalmist begins today’s Introit with these words: »Blessed are they who guard judgement, who do righteousness at all times!« The Hebrew concept of of judgement was two-fold: punish the wrong-doer and vindicate the person wronged; as such, it is similar to our concept of justice. Many of the laws in the Mosaic covenant dealt with specific cases of injustice and what the prescribed judgement should be. The laws of restitution were practical applications of justice. Stolen livestock required restitution 4 or 5 times more that was stolen, stolen money required restitution double that was stolen and damaged farm crops required a 1:1 restitution from the best of one’s crops (Leviticus 22,1-7). These and many more laws sought to ultimately restore the bond of neighborly love that had been severed. These laws also served as a guide for moral holiness and virtue, for the Lord declared: »Sanctify yourselves and be holy, for I you Lord am holy« (Leviticus 11,44). Sanctification and holiness is righteousness language. The Lord is righteous, therefore you be righteous. The Psalmist, however, is not calling for woks-righteousness whereby a person is merited righteous because of all the good, moral things he/she does and says. The Lord’s people are moral, holy and righteous because He declares them as such; He is our Lord we are His people, therefore we are righteous. 
4. The Lord grounded this righteousness upon a particular action: His redemption of Israel from Egyptians slavery (Leviticus 11,45); He has set Israel apart from all others (Leviticus 20,26). The Lord dwelt among His people and delivered them through Moses and Aaron. We know the checkered history of Israel: they would worship the Lord, but then fall away, back and forth, pious then wicked, and the Lord sent Prophets to call them back to His promise and covenant with them: I redeemed you and declared you righteous, now live as holy people. Finally, the Prophet Malachi declared: »Behold, the day is approaching, burning like an oven, when all the evil-doers will be stubble; the day that is approaching shall burn them up, but for you who honor the Name of the Lord, the Sun of Righteousness shall rise with healing in His wings« (Malachi 4,1-2). How did John the Baptizer prepare the way for Jesus? He spoke like the Prophet Malachi: »Repent, for the reign of heaven is in your midst. I baptize you with water for repentance, but one who is more powerful than me is arriving after me, He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. His winnowing fork is in His hand, and He will clear His threshing floor and will gather His wheat into the granary, but He will burn the chaff with unquenchable fire« (Matthew 3,2.11-12). When Jesus began His ministry, His first sermon was simply: »Repent, for the reign of heaven is in your midst« (Matthew 4,17). 
5. Jesus stands in our midst like the Tree of Life. The Psalmist declares: »Blessed is the one who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked, but rather his delight is in the Torah of the Lord and on His Torah he meditates day and night.« The Word of the Lord is a Lamp to our feet and a Light to our path (Psalm 119,105). His Word teaches us about His character and nature, rebukes us of sin, exhorts us to walk upon the moral path and promises us forgiveness and salvation; in short, the Word of the Lord teaches us wisdom and knowledge. The Apostle John affirms that Jesus is the Word of the Lord made flesh who gives us eternal life (John 1,4.14).  
6. The Psalmist promises that those who meditate upon the Word of the Lord, upon Jesus, are fruitful trees who prosper. Faith confesses Jesus to be the Christ and thus receives the gospel of salvation through Jesus, then faith yields a bountiful harvest of good works that benefit our neighbors. From faith springs forth love, patience, kindness and generosity (Galatians 5,22-23). With this faith and works we guard judgement and do righteousness that is pleasing to the Lord and is helpful to our neighbor. 
7. »The Lord watches over the way of the righteous« (Psalm 1,6). »For the Lord has destined us for salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ who died for us, so that whether we are awake or asleep we shall live with Him« (1. Thessalonians 5,9-10). »May the Lord of peace sanctify you, and may your spirit, soul and body be kept sound and blameless at the advent of our Lord Jesus Christ. The one who called you is faithful, and He will do this. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you« (1. Thessalonians 5,23-24.28).  Amen. 
8. Let us pray. O Lord, our Faithful Friend, teach us to fear, love and trust You, so that in all our doings and all our days we may remain focused on you with our faith and works for Your praise and our neighbor’s benefit.  Amen. 

To God alone be the Glory 
Soli Deo Gloria

All Scriptural quotations are translations done by The Rev. Peter A. Bauernfeind using the Biblia Hebraica Stuttgartensia, 4th Edition © 1990 by the Deutsche Bibelgesellschaft, Stuttgart, and the Novum Testamentum Graece, Nestle-Aland 27th Edition © 1993 by Deutsch Bibelgesellschaft, Stuttgart.  
All quotations from the Book of Concord are translations done by The Rev. Peter A. Bauernfeind using Die Bekenntnisschriften der evangelisch-lutherischen Kirche, 12. Edition © 1998 by Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht.  

Friday, October 13, 2017

Psalm 86,3-5.11; 86,9. 17. Trinity

One Message: Christ crucified and risen for you
The Word of the Lord Endures Forever 
se cwide þæs béaggiefan ábireþ ferhþ

Psalm 86,3-5.11; Psalm 86,9  5017
17. Sonntag nach Trinitatis  062 
Pelagia, penitent of Antioch, Turkey, 5th c.
8. Oktober 2017 

1. О Lord Jesus Christ, Thou who brings into His Church from all nations, send us forth to proclaim Your gospel, so that our neighbors will also be chosen and Your heritage.  Amen. (Gradual
2. O Lord, all the nations You have made will go and worship before You, and will glorify Your Name. Be gracious to me, O Lord, for to You do I cry all the day. Gladden the soul of Your servant, for to You, O Lord, do I lift up my soul. For you, O Lord, are good and forgiving, abounding in steadfast love to all who call upon You. Teach me Your way, O Lord, so that I may walk in Your truth; unite my heart to fear Your Name. 
  3. It is the Lord’s desire for all men and women to acknowledge and worship Him. In fact, the Psalmist proclaims that this will indeed happen: »O Lord, all, the nations You have made will go and worship before You, and will glorify Your Name.« The Prophet Micah proclaimed the same 700 years later: »It shall happen in the latter days that many nations will go to Mt. Zion, and say: Arise, let us go up to Mt. Zion so that the Lord may teach us His ways and that we may walk in His paths.« (Micah 4,1.2). The Apostle Peter proclaimed at Pentecost: »In the last days God will pour out His Spirit on all the nations« (Joel 2,28; Acts 2,17). And also the Apostle James declared: »Peter has related how God first visited the nations to take from them a people for His Name« (Acts 15,14). 
  4. Today’s Gospel pericope highlights God’s mercy to the Gentiles: He healed the daughter of a Canaanite woman (Matthew 15,22.28). Jesus is Israel’s Messiah but He is also gracious to the nations. In fact, Jesus confirms that even Gentiles can have faith in the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob (Matthew 15,28). This is quite a powerful statement given the historic animosity between Jews and Canaanites. The Canaanites were living in Palestine, the Promised Land, when Joshua lead the Israelites in to the land promised to Abraham’s descendants. The Canaanites at that time were wicked and depraved: they practiced a heinous form of idolatry: sacrificing their children to Moloch by burning them (Deuteronomy 18,10-11). The Canaanites in Jesus’ day still bore that stigma among many Jews: clearly Canaanites cannot have faith in our God and the fact that this girl is possessed clearly shows the Jews that her mother must practice the vile idolatry of her ancestors. 
5. Yet, Jesus shows that He is gracious to those who cry to Him for help, whether they be Jew or Gentile. Jesus shows this same grace to people, to us, today. The Psalmist comforts us with these words: »The Lord is good and forgiving; He abounds in steadfast love to all who call upon Him.« When His people needed deliverance from their enemies, the Lord sent them judges and kings; when they sinfully strayed from His Word, He sent them prophets. Finally, they Epistle to the Hebrews tells us: »Long ago God spoke to our fathers in many and various ways by the Prophets, and now in these last days He has spoken to us by a Son« (Hebrews 1,1-2). This Son is the promised Christ; Jesus called the people back to the Scriptures, told them to repent of their sin and He then forgave them. In Jesus, the mercy of His Father is physically manifested in flesh and blood, for the angels sang at His birth: »To you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among men with who He is pleased« (Luke 2,11.14). Again, the Epistle to the Hebrews tells us: »And without faith it is impossible to please God, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that He exists and that He rewards those who seek Him« (Hebrews 11,6). Faith in Jesus is pleasing to God the Father, and this Jesus is gracious to us for as His Father is pleased with Him then so He is pleased with us. 
6. The Psalmist prays: »O Lord, teach me Your Way, so thatI may walk in Your Truth.« Jesus is the fulfillment of this verse, for He says: »I am the Way, the Truth and the Life« (John 14,6). The Canaanites woman’s faith was great because her faith was in Jesus. Yes, all nations will confess Jesus to be the Christ, and our little church is a microcosm of different nations who share a common faith in Jesus. The Holy Spirit creates similar Christian microcosms throughout our State, our nation and even the world. The gospel has no national or cultural boundaries, for it is able to create faith in all who hear the Truth of Christ’s crucifixion and resurrection. 
7. This gospel is to be shared with our neighbors. Jesus tells us: »You are the light of the world. A city built on a hill cannot be hid. No one after lighting a lamp puts it under the bushel basket, but rather puts it on the lampstand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let you light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven« (Matthew 5,13-16). Yes, let others see your faith, let them bear witness to your good works, so that in seeing and hearing the love and mercy of Jesus in your lives they may also believe in Him too.  Amen. 
8. Let us pray. O Heavenly Father, whose  steadfast love endures forever; guide the words of our lips and the deeds of our hands so that we may encourage and build the faith of others.  Amen. 

To God alone be the Glory 
Gode ealdore sy se cyneþrymm

All Scriptural quotations are translations done by The Rev. Peter A. Bauernfeind using the Biblia Hebraica Stuttgartensia, 4. Edition © 1990 by the Deutsche Bibelgesellschaft, Stuttgart, and the Novum Testamentum Graece, Nestle-Aland 27. Edition © 1993 by Deutsch Bibelgesellschaft, Stuttgart. 
ELKB. Evangelisch-Lutherische Kirche in Bayern. www.bayern-evangelisch.de/www/index.php. Copyright © 2013 Evangelisch-Lutherische Kirche in Bayern. 
The Sunday Sermons of the Great Fathers, Vol. 4. © 1963 Henry Regnery Co. 

VELKD. Vereinigte Evangelisch-Lutherische Kirche Deutschlands. www.velkd.de. Copyright © 2013 Vereinigte Evangelisch-Lutherische Kirche Deutschlands. 

Saturday, October 7, 2017

Psalm 30,1-3a.4-5; Psalm 16,10.114. 16. Trinity

One Message: Christ crucified and risen for you
The Word of the Lord Endures Forever
Verbum Domini Manet in Aeternum

Psalm 30,1-3a.4-5; Psalm 16,10.11 4717
16. Trinitatis  061
Remigius, Bishop of Reims, France. Apostle of Franconia, Bavaria 533  
1. Oktober 2017 

1. O Jesus Christ, whose Name is Faithful, build up Your Church and adorn her with Your Glory, so that all the nations may be blessed by her.  Amen. (Gradual). 
2. For You, O Lord, will not abandon my life to Sheol, or let Your Holy One see corruption. You make known to me the path of life; in Your presence there is fullness of joy; at Your right hand are pleasures forevermore. I will extol You, O Lord, for You have lifted me up, and have not let my enemies rejoice over me. O Lord my God, I cried to You for help, and You have healed me. O Lord, You have brought up my soul from Sheol; You restored me to life Sing praises to the Lord, O you His saints, and give thanks to His Holy Name. For His anger is but for a moment, and His mercy is for a lifetime. Weeping may tarry for the night, but joy arrives with the morning. 
3. The Psalmist declares: »O Lord, You will not abandon my life to Sheol, or let Your Holy One see corruption.« The concept of Sheol is one probably not well-known to many of us. Sheol is an old Hebrew understanding about death in the old testament. It is simply the condition of physical death; we could also say Sheol is the grave. At death, the soul resided in one of two places: hades (hell), a place of torment, or Abraham’s abode (Sheol/hades), a place peaceful rest. Sheol was a temporary rest area where the righteous stayed until the resurrection of the body and full entrance into Paradise. Thus the Psalmist believes that Sheol is a temporary residence and an even better existence is to be eagerly anticipated. 
4. The Psalmist continues: »O Lord, You make known to me the path of life; in Your presence there is fullness of joy; at Your right hand are pleasures forevermore.« For the Jews, this path of life was connected to Abraham and Moses: boys got circumcised, the people learned the Scriptures, offered sacrifices at the temple for forgiveness awaited the arrival of the Messiah. The new testament explains how Jesus fulfilled the expectations of the old testament: Jesus was circumcised, taught the Scriptures to the crowds, offered Himself up as the sacrifice for the world’s sin and proclaimed Himself to be the Messiah, that is, the Christ. Jesus Himself declares: »I am the Way, the Truth and the Life; no one approaches the Father except through Me« (John 14,6).  He then told His disciples: »In a little while, you will be sorrowful, but your sorrow will turn into joy and no one will take your joy from you. Take heart; I have overcome the world« (John 16,16.20.22.33). 
5. The sorrow Jesus spoke of was His impending betrayal, arrest, condemnation and execution on the cross. Jesus hung on the cross as one cursed (Galatians 3,13). The disciples fled in fear at being rounded up and punished for having Jesus as their teacher. Good Friday was a sad day for them, for they believed everything Jesus was had been thwarted and defeated. The joy Jesus spoke of was His impending resurrection on Easter Sunday. This event proved Jesus is the Christ and that sin, death and hell have been conquered. The gates of hades have been torn down and the gates of heaven flung wide open!  
6. The Apostle Paul tells us that »in Christ Jesus the blessing of Abraham might arrive to the Gentiles, so that we might receive the promised Spirit through faith« (Galatians 3,14); and also: »All of us who have been baptized into His crucifixion were therefore buried with Him by baptized into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might live in the newness of life« (Romans 6,3-4). Through Christ, in Holy Baptism, »the Lord has lifted us up and has not let our enemies rejoice over us.« This is one of the themes repeated over and over again throughout the Bible: God sweeps aside His enemies and lifts up His people. He cursed the Devil, but promised salvation to Adam and Eve. He drowned the world in a Flood, but saved Noah and his family. He swept Pharaoh’s army aside, but spared Israel. He punished His Only Son on the cross, and forgave us all our sin. »The Lord hears our cry for help and He saves us.«
7. The Prophet Ezekiel proclaims: »The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; His mercies never draw to an end; they are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness« (Lamentations 3,23). Once again, on this the Lord’s day, we comforted by the very words of Jesus: »I am the Resurrection and the Life. Whoever believes in Me, though he die, yet he will live« (John 11,25). This declaration by Jesus is the promise we cling to; it is our certainty when trials and tribulations afflict our souls. Our Lord’s mercy has been exhibited before our eyes yet again this morning with three precious Baptisms. God calls people into His family, and He has don so again publicly this morning. In response to His goodness »we sing praises to the Lord, and give thanks to His Holy Name.« We also acknowledge God’s presence in each of our lives, for as His children we are heirs to His heavenly good fortune. The Apostle Paul speaks of this fortune, writing: »God gave us a spirit not of fear but a spirit of power, love and self-control, which now has been manifested through the appearing of our Savior Jesus Christ, who abolished death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel« (2. Timothy 1,7.10) and this gospel assures us that we are right now justified before God, for whoever has Jesus has eternal life (1. John 5,12-13). God does not abandon us; He sent Jesus to redeem us and open up the glories of heaven for us. Trust in Jesus and rest in His promise.  Amen. 
8. Let us pray. O Lord, Thou Redeemer of all the Earth; send forth the grace of Your Testament, so that all who hear and receive are blessed.  Amen. 

To God alone be the Glory 
Soli Deo Gloria

All Scriptural quotations are translations done by The Rev. Peter A. Bauernfeind using the Biblia Hebraica Stuttgartensia, 4th Edition © 1990 by the Deutsche Bibelgesellschaft, Stuttgart, and the Novum Testamentum Graece, Nestle-Aland 27th Edition © 1993 by Deutsch Bibelgesellschaft, Stuttgart.  
All quotations from the Book of Concord are translations done by The Rev. Peter A. Bauernfeind using Die Bekenntnisschriften der evangelisch-lutherischen Kirche, 12. Edition © 1998 by Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht.  


Psalm 127,1-2; 128,1; 1, Peter 5,7. 15. Trinity

One Message: Christ crucified and risen for you
The Word of the Lord Endures Forever 
se cwide þæs béaggiefan ábireþ ferhþ

Psalm 127,1-2; 128,1; 1. Peter 5,7  4817
15. Sonntag nach Trinitatis  060 
Gerhard Sagredo, Bishop in Hungary, Apostle to Hungary, Martyr in Hungary, 1046 
24. September 2017 

1. О Lord Jesus Christ, our Trustworthy Refuge, keep us safe from the perils and tribulations of this fallen world, so that we may praise You and be of help to our neighbors when they are in need.  Amen. (Gradual
2. Cast all your anxieties on God, because He cares for you. Unless the Lord builds the house, those who build it labor in vain. Unless the Lord watches over the city, the watchman stays awake in vain. It is in vain that you rise up early and go late to rest, eating the bread of anxious toil; gives to His beloved sleep. Blessed is everyone who fears the Lord, who walks in His ways! 
  3. The Apostle Peter exhorts in today’s Introit: »Cast all your anxieties on God because He cares for you.« Our world is full of anxieties brought about by hurricanes, wildfires, earthquakes, terrorism, nuclear brinksmanship and a host of other events. The Apostle Peter encourages us to put our trust in God, and he himself heard this from the very mouth of God. Jesus teaches in today’s Gospel pericope: »Do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or drink, nor about your body and what you will put on. Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your Heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?« (Matthew 6,25-26). Jesus’s question expects an affirmative answer: Yes, we are of more value than the birds, therefore know with certainty that God provides for us too. 
  4. It is possible to live a life in this world apart from God. Billions of people do so day in and day out. Not all of them are anxious worriers. People put their trust in something or someone to assuage their anxiety: their own wisdom or wealth, the government, a philosophy or a religion that helps them cope with all the tribulations in the world. The Psalmist declares that any reliance other than God is ultimately futile. You can build a house without the Lord, but you labor in vain. You can remain vigilant without the Lord, but you stay alert in vain. You can burn the candle at both ends to advance your career, but again you do so in vain. King Solomon wisely teaches: »All is vanity! What does a man gain by all the toil which he labors under the sun? I have seen everything that is done under the sun, and behold, all is vanity and striving after wind« (Ecclesiastes 1,2-3.14). A life lived apart from God is ultimately a life that is vain. What do we leave behind? Perhaps some wealth and wisdom for those who knew us. Some philanthropists have left great endowments to benefit generations later. But there is no certainty that such wealth, wisdom or endowment will be utilized, respected or further  the betterment of others. People can reject or appreciate gifts given to them; they can also squander or utilize the opportunities afforded to them. This temporal life is a vain and tenuous existence. 
5. Today’s Introit brings hope in the midst of vanity: »Blessed is everyone who fears the Lord, and walks in His ways!« That verse nicely summarizes the message of the Bible. Many of the stories and events in the Bible revolve around a person undertaking a trek in discovery of God. Sometimes they failed miserably and at other times they succeeded beyond measure; in every instance God’s mercy and grace is on display in  their lives, never giving up on them, calling people out of the darkness of their sin and oppression into the light of God’s forgiveness and loving-kindness. Thus, Jesus exhorts us: »Seek first the reign of God and His righteousness« (Matthew 6,33), for »where your treasure is, there your heart will be also« (Matthew 6,21). Solomon realized that the wisdom of the world is ultimately futile and leads to a nihilistic philosophy because worldly wisdom cannot answer the longing of the soul for its Creator. Is there more to this life than merely accumulating knowledge and stuff? What happens when I die? What is the meaning of it all? Solomon says there is something more to this life than simply obtaining worldly wisdom; he says to seek God for He answers the futility of wisdom; true wisdom is the fear of the Lord (Proverbs 9,10); Jesus taught the same. Jesus is God and the Righteous One of His Father. Jesus simply says: Seek Me and My righteousness, for I am the Way, the Truth and the Life (John 14,6). Cast Your anxieties upon Jesus for His yoke is easy and His burden is light (Matthew 11,30). You are created in the Image and Likeness of God; you are more valuable to Him than lilies and birds. He provides for you, watches over you and has redeemed you. Jesus lived and died for you; He declares you righteous by the very merit of His righteousness. Your life has meaning and value, for your life is connected to Jesus who loves the world and saved the world. Blessed is the one who fears, loves and trusts Jesus, for He is the Wisdom of God who makes you wise unto salvation in His Name.  Amen. 
6. Let us pray. O Heavenly Father, Thou Faithful and Benevolent God; bless us as our Refuge and Fortress, so that we remain at peace and safe in this world with its fallen perils.  Amen. 

To God alone be the Glory 
Gode ealdore sy se cyneþrymm

All Scriptural quotations are translations done by The Rev. Peter A. Bauernfeind using the Biblia Hebraica Stuttgartensia, 4. Edition © 1990 by the Deutsche Bibelgesellschaft, Stuttgart, and the Novum Testamentum Graece, Nestle-Aland 27. Edition © 1993 by Deutsch Bibelgesellschaft, Stuttgart. 
ELKB. Evangelisch-Lutherische Kirche in Bayern. www.bayern-evangelisch.de/www/index.php. Copyright © 2013 Evangelisch-Lutherische Kirche in Bayern. 
The Sunday Sermons of the Great Fathers, Vol. 4. © 1963 Henry Regnery Co. 

VELKD. Vereinigte Evangelisch-Lutherische Kirche Deutschlands. www.velkd.de. Copyright © 2013 Vereinigte Evangelisch-Lutherische Kirche Deutschlands. 

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Psalm 146,2-3.5.7-9; Psalm 50,23. 14. Trinity

One Message: Christ crucified and risen for you
The Word of the Lord Endures Forever
Verbum Domini Manet in Aeternum

Psalm 146,2-3.5.7-9; Psalm 50,23 4717
14. Trinitatis  059
Hildegard, Abbess of St. Rupert near Bingen, Germany. 1179
17. September 2017 

1. O Jesus Christ, Thou art worthy to be praised, declare Your steadfast love to us, so that we may rejoice in the righteousness.  Amen. (Gradual). 
2. The one who offers thanksgiving as his sacrifice glorifies Me; I will show the salvation of God to one who orders his way rightly! I will praise the Lord as long as I live; I will sing praises to my God while I have my being. Do not put your trust in princes, in a son of man, in whom there is no salvation. Blessed is he whose help is the God of Jacob, whose hope is in the Lord his God, who executes justice for the oppressed, who gives food to the hungry. The Lord sets the prisoners free; the Lord opens the eyes of the blind. The Lord lifts up those who are bowed down; the Lord loves the righteous. The Lord watches over the sojourners; He upholds the widow and the fatherless, but He brings to ruin the way of the wicked.
3. The Holy Scriptures tell us that many people, in diverse situations, gave thanks to the Lord. The Psalmist makes the following connection: »The one who offers thanksgiving as his sacrifice glorifies the Lord; I will show the salvation of God to the one who orders his way rightly!« In today’s Gospel pericope, St. Luke tells us that only one of the ten lepers made clean by Jesus returned to praise and thank Him. This man was a Samaritan. recall last Sunday’s parable where Jesus made a Samaritan the righteous and neighborly hero rather than the expected Jewish priest or Levite. 
4. Jews and Samaritans had a long and complicated history. The Samaritans were the descendants of the 10 Tribes of Israel who had remained in northern Israel after Assyria had conquered them (721 bc). Roughly 50 years after this conquest, a new Assyrian king, Esarhaddon, brought people from Babylon to settle in the region of Samaria and nearby cities. These Babylonian Assyrians began marrying the local Israelites and thus the Samaritans were born. These Samaritans still worshipped the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, but they only accepted the 5 Books of Moses: Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy as Biblical books. When the two southern tribes of Judah returned from their own Babylonian Captivity they refused to let the Samaritans help rebuild the temple in Jerusalem. As a result, enmity sprang up between the two groups and this enmity was further worsened when the Samaritans decided to build their own temple at Shechem. By the time Jesus was born, the Jews would have no dealings with the Samaritans (John 4,9). To this day, about 900 Samaritans live in and around Shechem. 
5. The Jews claimed to worship the One True God. The Samaritans made the same claim. Each group believed the other to be in error. Yet, when Jesus healed the lepers in today’s Gospel pericope only the Samaritan returned to praise and thank Him. The other 9 Jews knew the psalm in today’s Introit: »I will sing praises to my God while I have my being.« but they don’t live it. The Samaritan, who did not regard Psalm 146 as Holy Scripture, nevertheless does what the psalm exhorts: He praised God. Christians often find themselves in similar predicaments. We know what God says, You shall not …. or Repent, and believe the gospel, yet we fail at doing and believing. It is the bane of our weak, fallen human nature. 
6. The Bible consistently repeats the laws and promises of God throughout its pages. The Holy Spirit inspired the Biblical authors this way in part to remind us how often we fail and sin, but also to exhort us to holy living and faith. The Scriptures exhort us to not rely on ourselves or our strength, but rather »Put your trust in the Son of Man in whom there is salvation.« That is what the lepers did. They didn’t get well by their own strength or through medicine. Had Jesus not arrived in their midst they would have lived the rest of their lives as outcasts from society and died apart from the fellowship of the temple and their relatives. They begged for mercy, and Jesus showed them mercy: You are healed, go, and show yourselves to the priests and be declared clean. One of the duties of the Jewish priest was to examine lepers and declare them clean and healed of their leprosy; only the priestly declaration would allow these cured men back into Jewish society.  
7. The Samaritan, however, received a double blessing of mercy from Jesus. Our Lord healed him of his leprosy, and when he returned to express his thanks, Jesus told him: Go, your faith has saved you (Luke 17,19). We do not know what this Samaritan thought of Jesus before he met Him. There is good reason to believe that he longed for the promise of the Messiah to be fulfilled. In this he was in agreement with his Jewish cousins. But did he believe Jesus was the Messiah? Did he even know of Jesus before his encounter with Him? The Bible doesn’t answer these questions. However, the Samaritan does seem to at least recognize Jesus’ reputation as a healer, thus with the other lepers he cried out in hope: Please, pity us and heal us too! 
8. Our Lord heeds the cry of the oppressed. »The Lord sets the prisoners free, He gives sight to the blind, He lifts up those bowed down and He watches over the traveler, the widow and the orphan.« You couldn’t get more oppressed than a leper in Jesus’s day. The conventional wisdom at that time was if you became a leper, then it was because you did something despicable so that God punished you. That same wisdom reigns today among Christians and even unbelievers. When someone gets seriously ill, what is one of the first things they ask themselves? What did I do to deserve this from God? Why is He angry at me? Ultimately, these are rhetorical questions because we simply have no word from God concerning the particular event. We can say that such illnesses are the result of the curse of God upon creation on account of Adam’s sin, so we get serious illnesses because we have a weaker body that is now subject to disease and death. Ultimately, we cannot change our fate: all men must die. 
9. The curse, however, is not the final word from God. He ends our sinful condition with the promise: I will send you the Christ and He will not only heal you but save you as well. This promised Christ stood among the lepers and showed them mercy. »Blessed is he whose help and hope is in the Lord.« Jesus is that Lord, that Hope and that Help. Thus, Jesus told the Samaritan: »Your faith has saved you«, for in praising the man who had healed him the Samaritan had been convinced that this Jesus is the Christ. And so this day our Lord tells you: Arise, and go, or your faith in Jesus has saved you.  Amen. 
10. Let us pray. O Lord, Thou hast shown compassion to us; help us to trust You so that each day we in the assurance of Your loving kindness.  Amen. 

To God alone be the Glory 
Soli Deo Gloria

All Scriptural quotations are translations done by The Rev. Peter A. Bauernfeind using the Biblia Hebraica Stuttgartensia, 4th Edition © 1990 by the Deutsche Bibelgesellschaft, Stuttgart, and the Novum Testamentum Graece, Nestle-Aland 27th Edition © 1993 by Deutsch Bibelgesellschaft, Stuttgart.  

All quotations from the Book of Concord are translations done by The Rev. Peter A. Bauernfeind using Die Bekenntnisschriften der evangelisch-lutherischen Kirche, 12. Edition © 1998 by Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht.  

Friday, September 15, 2017

Psalm 24,3-5; Matthew 5,7. 13. Trinity

One Message: Christ crucified and risen for you
The Word of the Lord Endures Forever 
se cwide þæs béaggiefan ábireþ ferhþ

Psalm 24,3-5; Matthew 5,7  4617
13. Sonntag nach Trinitatis  058 
Pulcheria, Empress, Virgin, 453 
10. September 2017 

1. О Lord Jesus Christ, the God who works wonders, make known Your might among Your people and with outstretched arm You redeem us, so that we are free to live as Your children.  Amen. (Gradual
2. Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy. Who shall ascend the hill of the Lord? And who shall stand in His holy place? He who has clean hands and a pure heart, who does not lift up his soul to what is false and does not swear deceitfully. He will receive blessing from the Lord and righteousness from the God of his salvation. 
  3. In His Beatitudes, Jesus taught: »Blessed are the merciful, for they will receive mercy.« The Parable of the Good Samaritan shows what mercy looks like: a stranger takes care of another who might very well walk by him had the situation been reversed. Jews and Samaritans had a tumultuous and strained relationship; yet, in His parable a Samaritan cares for a Jew. Even the Jewish lawyer, one well-versed in the intricacies of the Mosaic law, admits the Samaritan showed mercy to the man left for dead. »Blessed are the merciful, for they will receive mercy.« 
  4. The Psalmist asks in today’s Introit: »Who shall ascend the hill of the Lord; and who shall stand in His holy place?« The hill of the Lord is Mt. Zion, and the holy place is in the temple. The holy place housed the table with 12 loaves of bread, a golden lampstand (the menorah) and an altar of incense. To the east was a curtain covered the entrance to the holiest place. Only priests had access to the holy place. So the answer to the Psalmist’s question is: only a Jewish priest can stand in the holy place. Such priests had to be holy, and the Mosaic law was very meticulous in what must be done for a priest to be holy, including »having clean hands, a pure heart, a right heart and one who speaks the truth.« Priest were only allowed to be around dead people if they were their close relatives (Leviticus 21,1-4.11-12); touching a dead person made you unclean for a week, and ritual washing was required to be clean again (Numbers 19,11-14). Thus the priest and Levite in Jesus’ parable choose to walk past the beaten man lest they discover he is really dead and now they are unclean for 7 days and forbidden entry into the temple until the 8. day. 
5. So, a ritually clean and righteous priest may enter the holy place. In the temple this priest represented the people of Israel where he would make sacrifices for them in the temple courtyard and ofer prayers for them in the holy place. Once a year, on Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement, the high priest was allowed to enter the holiest place where the Glory of the Lord resided upon the ark of the covenant. On this day the chief priest poured the blood of a goat as a sin offering over the ark (Leviticus 16). The Lord declared of this day: »On this day shall atonement be made for you to cleanse you« (Leviticus 16,30). »Blessed are the merciful, for they will receive mercy.« 
6. The priest who enters the holy place »will receive blessing from the Lord and righteousness from the God of his salvation.« The Epistle to the Hebrews tells us that Jesus is our high priest (Hebrews 4,14). Jesus represented us and offered up prayers to His Father and He was heard because of His reverence (Hebrews 5,7). Christ has obtained a ministry that is as much more excellent than the old under Moses as the covenant Jesus mediates is better, since it is enacted on better promises (Hebrews 8,6). In speaking of a new covenant, Jesus makes the first covenant obsolete (Hebrews 8,13). The first covenant enacted by Moses was built on the promise of forgiveness through animal sacrifices. The Old Testament priest made sacrifices every day and every year the high priest performed the atonement sacrifice. The second covenant enacted by Jesus was also built on the promise of forgiveness through a sacrifice. The New Testament priest made one sacrifice on Good Friday; He offered Himself up as that sacrifice. The Epistle to the Hebrews tells us: »For by a single offering Jesus has perfected for all time those who are being sanctified« (Hebrews 10,14). 
7. Jesus’ vicarious sacrifice has made us holy and righteous. Jesus deigned by means of His humanity: to become neighbor to us (Bede 67). He found us spiritually forsaken, destitute and left for dead, and like the Samaritan in His parable, Jesus rescued us, nurtured us back to health and promises to do so all our lives. Jesus showed us mercy. No one is more a neighbor to us than he who shows us mercy (Bede 70). Jesus then exhorts His Christians to holy living: go, and do likewise, as the Samaritan; that is, go, and be merciful; be a neighbor to those in need. Show that you truly love your neighbor as yourself, doing with love whatever you can to help him (Bede 70). »Blessed are the merciful, for they will receive mercy.«  Amen. 
8. Let us pray. O Heavenly Father, Your Name is worthy to be praised; bless us this time forth and forevermore, so that we rejoice in Your righteousness and pass on to others Your gracious mercy.  Amen. 

To God alone be the Glory 
Gode ealdore sy se cyneþrymm

All Scriptural quotations are translations done by The Rev. Peter A. Bauernfeind using the Biblia Hebraica Stuttgartensia, 4. Edition © 1990 by the Deutsche Bibelgesellschaft, Stuttgart, and the Novum Testamentum Graece, Nestle-Aland 27. Edition © 1993 by Deutsch Bibelgesellschaft, Stuttgart. 
ELKB. Evangelisch-Lutherische Kirche in Bayern. www.bayern-evangelisch.de/www/index.php. Copyright © 2013 Evangelisch-Lutherische Kirche in Bayern. 
        The Sunday Sermons of the Great Fathers, Vol. 4. © 1963 Henry Regnery Co. 

VELKD. Vereinigte Evangelisch-Lutherische Kirche Deutschlands. www.velkd.de. Copyright © 2013 Vereinigte Evangelisch-Lutherische Kirche Deutschlands. 

Psalm 147,1.3.5-6.11; Isaiah 29,18. 12. Trinity

One Message: Christ crucified and risen for you
The Word of the Lord Endures Forever
Verbum Domini Manet in Aeternum

Psalm 147,1.3.5-6.11; Isaiah 29,18 4517
12. Trinitatis  057
Phoebe, Deaconess at Cenchreae (eastern port of Corinth), appr. 58. Romans 16,1
Gregory the Great, Pope, 604 
3. September 2017 

1. O Jesus Christ, Thou art worthy to be praised continually, teach us to boast in You, so that we remain humble and gladly hear Your gospel.  Amen. (Gradual). 
2. In that day the deaf will hear the words of a book, and out of their gloom and darkness the eyes of the blind will see. Praise the Lord! For it is good to sing praises to our God; He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds. Great is our Lord, and abundant in power; His understanding is beyond measure. The Lord lifts up the humble; He casts the wicked to the ground. But the Lord takes pleasure in those who fear Him, in those who hope in His steadfast love. 
3. The Prophet Isaiah foresaw a time when the deaf will hear and the blind will see; the meek will be refreshed with joy and the poor will exult the Lord (Isaiah 29,18-19). Isaiah’s vision was fulfilled by Jesus in His ministry. St. Mark tells us in his Gospel that Jesus healed a man who was both deaf and dumb (Mark 7,32.35). The crowds zealously proclaimed this miracle (Mark 7,36), also fulfilling Isaiah’s prophecy that the poor would exult the Lord; in fact, they declared that Jesus has done all things well (Mark 7,37). If we look a little more deeply at what the crowd declares we discover that the Greek word καλως that the esv translates as „well“ also means „rightly“ or „correctly“. So we can also understand the crowds to be confessing: Jesus has done all things correctly. 
4. This nuance highlights the confession of the crowds. Isaiah says the Messiah will heal the deaf and blind. We have seen Jesus heal the deaf and blind. Therefore, Jesus is correctly fulfilling the Messianic prophecies; He must be the prophesied Messiah! The Psalmist exhorts the people to sing praises to God who heals the broken-hearted and binds up their wounds. The Messianic confession of the crowd was based on more than just one act of healing. Prior to this miracle in Chapter 7, St. Mark records 13 miracles performed by Jesus ranging from healing various ailments, casting out demons, calming a storm and feeding 5000 men with 5 loaves and 2 fish. The crowds have seen Jesus exhibit Divine power and authority in different circumstances of several months. But Jesus didn’t merely perform miracles; He also taught people the Scriptures. His first sermon is an 18-word sentence: »The time is fulfilled, and the reign of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel« (Mark 1,15). Jesus preached to the crowds on the plains, in the synagogues and even in the temple courtyard. Jesus would read the Law and the Prophets in the synagogue and declare: »Today this Scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing« (Luke 4,21). The people soon realized that Jesus taught them as one who had authority, and not as the scribes (Mark 1,22). Truly, »Our Lord is great, and abundant in power; His understanding is beyond measure.«  
5. The Synoptic Gospels tell us that one of Jesus’ preferred modes of teaching was through parables, that is, a simple story that highlights a specific spiritual lesson to be meditated upon; we would classify a parable as an allegory or a simile in English literature. Parables are easy to remember and I suspect most of us can recall a number of Jesus’ parables from memory. When asked about His parables by the apostles, Jesus tells them: »The mystery of the reign of God has been given to you, but for those outside everything is in parables so that they may indeed see but not perceive, and may indeed hear but not understand, lest they should turn and be forgiven« [Isaiah 6,9-10] (Mark 4,10-12). So what is this mystery of God’s reign that Jesus reserves for His apostles? A: 1. a mystery is something that entices us to solve and humans generally have a desire to unravel a mystery as popular interest in detective or crime novels and TV shows consistently reveal. 2. Jesus wants people to solve His mystery of God’s reign. 3. that mystery is simply this: Jesus is the promised Messiah; this mystery is taught but many reject Him, and only a few hear and believe. These believers have solved the mystery: Moses and the Prophets prepared the way for the Messiah; Jesus is the Messiah, and the redemption of the world is nigh. With this mystery revealed and solved, we are able to read all the Scriptures and discover what they teach us about Christ and His reign, namely: Jesus is the Way, the Truth and the Life; no one goes to the Father except through Jesus (John 14,6). »Jesus lifts up the humble and He casts the wicked to the ground.« As Jesus tells His disciples, the parables separate mankind into two groups: those who believe in Jesus and those who do not believe. Believers search the parables for the treasures they teach about the reign of God’s, but unbelievers merely hear them as stories without understanding their deeper spiritual teaching.  
6. »The Lord takes pleasure in those who fear Him and who hope in His steadfast love.« Martin Luther exhorts us to take this verse to heart as he encourages us to fear, love and trust God. King Solomon teaches in his Proverbs: »The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge« (Proverbs 1,7). Jesus furthers our knowledge of God by revealing to us the mysteries of the reign of God (Mark 4,11). The great mystery of God’s reign is revealed by Jesus when He tells His apostles: »The Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders, the chief priests and the scribes and be killed, and after 3 days rise again« (Mark 8,31). At first, the apostles could not accept this and they try to convince Jesus to walk another path, a path befitting the Messiah with power and ruling authority over the land. But Jesus would not be deterred from walking the path that led Him up to the Roman cross. The chief priests and the scribes mocked Jesus as He hung on the cross (Mark 15,31), but when Jesus had breathed His last a centurion confessed: »Truly this man was the Son of God!« (Mark 15,39). The great mystery of the Messiah revealed by Jesus is that the Son of God has arrived to lay down His life as a ransom and in doing so will redeem the world from its sin (Mark 10,45). 
7. We thus praise Jesus with hymns of joy for He has saved us from our sinful state; He has healed our broken hearts and bound up our wounds. We have faith in Jesus, and He promises us: »For to the one who has, more will be given« (Mark 4,25). Go in peace, for you have Jesus and He will give you an abundant inheritance when your place is ready for you in heaven.  Amen. 
8. Let us pray. O Lord, Thou who is eternally blessed; pour out the spirit of wisdom and knowledge so that when we read Your Holy Scriptures we see and understand all that they teach and proclaim.  Amen. 

To God alone be the Glory 
Soli Deo Gloria

All Scriptural quotations are translations done by The Rev. Peter A. Bauernfeind using the Biblia Hebraica Stuttgartensia, 4th Edition © 1990 by the Deutsche Bibelgesellschaft, Stuttgart, and the Novum Testamentum Graece, Nestle-Aland 27th Edition © 1993 by Deutsch Bibelgesellschaft, Stuttgart.  

All quotations from the Book of Concord are translations done by The Rev. Peter A. Bauernfeind using Die Bekenntnisschriften der evangelisch-lutherischen Kirche, 12. Edition © 1998 by Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht.