The Glory Has Departed

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Norma Boeckler, Artist-in-Residence

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I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men; For kings, and for all that are in authority; that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty. For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour; Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth. 1 Timothy 2:1-4

Sunday, December 21, 2014

The Fourth Sunday in Advent, 2014. Philippians 4:4-7.
The Votum Lesson

The Fourth Sunday in Advent, 2014

Pastor Gregory L. Jackson

No broadcast today due to broadband limitations.

Bethany Lutheran Church,  

The Hymn #477   Lord Jesus Thou            3:90
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 #90 Come, Your Hearts             3.83

The Votum Lesson - Be Anxious about Nothing

The Hymn # 103 – Luther            To Shepherds            3.82
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 #95 Savior of the Nations            3.42   

KJV Philippians 4:4 Rejoice in the Lord alway: and again I say, Rejoice. 5 Let your moderation be known unto all men. The Lord is at hand. 6 Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. 7 And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.

KJV John 1:19 And this is the record of John, when the Jews sent priests and Levites from Jerusalem to ask him, Who art thou? 20 And he confessed, and denied not; but confessed, I am not the Christ. 21 And they asked him, What then? Art thou Elias? And he saith, I am not. Art thou that prophet? And he answered, No. 22 Then said they unto him, Who art thou? that we may give an answer to them that sent us. What sayest thou of thyself? 23 He said, I am the voice of one crying in the wilderness, Make straight the way of the Lord, as said the prophet Esaias. 24 And they which were sent were of the Pharisees. 25 And they asked him, and said unto him, Why baptizest thou then, if thou be not that Christ, nor Elias, neither that prophet? 26 John answered them, saying, I baptize with water: but there standeth one among you, whom ye know not; 27 He it is, who coming after me is preferred before me, whose shoe's latchet I am not worthy to unloose. 28 These things were done in Bethabara beyond Jordan, where John was baptizing.

Fourth Sunday In Advent

Lord God, heavenly Father, it is meet and right that we should give thanks unto Thee, that Thou hast given us a more glorious baptism than that of John the Baptist, and hast therein promised us the remission of sins, the Holy Spirit, and everlasting life through Thy Son, Jesus Christ: Preserve us, we beseech Thee, in such faith in Thy grace and mercy, that we may never doubt Thy promise, but be comforted by the same in all temptations: and grant us Thy Holy Spirit that we may renounce sin, and ever continue in the righteousness bestowed upon us in baptism, until by Thy grace we obtain eternal salvation, through the same, Thy beloved Son, Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with Thee and the Holy Ghost, one true God, world without end. Amen.

The Votum Lesson
KJV Philippians 4:4 Rejoice in the Lord alway: and again I say, Rejoice.

I called this the Votum lesson because it includes the words many ministers use at the end of the sermon - The peace that passes all understanding... Votum is Latin for prayer.

This is Paul's letter from prison, and it is the most joyous one of all. A Christian believer rejoices because he rejoices in the Lord. In whatever station in life he might occupy, he has reason to rejoice. The reason is Christ.

That experience of rejoicing is often lacking among the powerful, the ones admired in the world press. They know how they have arrived at that position, and that makes them worried and anxious. They may disappear from that lofty standing very soon, or the truth may come out and their honor taken away. The Madoff family was high and mighty until someone finally audited the firm properly and the fraud was uncovered. Most of the assets were imaginary and the patriarch went to prison. Others followed, because quite a few were in on the scam.

Rejoicing is lacking when people depend on their own powers and abilities, trusting no one else. Some things may work well and then everything goes into reverse for no particular reason. 

2. Joy is the natural fruit of faith. The apostle says elsewhere ( Galatians 5:22-23): “The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, meekness, self-control.” Until the heart believes in God, it is impossible for it to rejoice in him. When faith is lacking, man is filled with fear and gloom and is disposed to flee at the very mention, the mere thought, of God. Indeed, the unbelieving heart is filled with enmity and hatred against God. Conscious of its own guilt, it has no confidence in his gracious mercy; it knows God is an enemy to sin and will terribly punish the same.

People may not express a fear of sin, when they are unbelievers, but the fear is there, except in sociopaths who have no conscience. That does not seem possible but it does happen. The vast majority are not, and they feel a dread from the consequences of sin. What if others find out? What terrible punishments will come? Will everything be lost?

There are many morality tales where the lead character gets away with a crime but finds himself far more tortured by his conscience than any police officer could dole out to him.  See Scarlet Street. In fact, many detectives recognized this and use it to get confessions of the crime. "I know you want to come clean about this. You will feel better telling the truth. You know that." And it works. The criminal confesses and ends the immediate torment. Still, true peace comes from faith in God, trust in salvation through Christ.

This means rejoicing always, not simply when we get what we want. Those things admired by unbelievers should not be our goal. Sometimes those things happen anyway, but if they are first or are always our goal, they will prove to be a short-gain. A student told me the origin of the white elephant was the custom of giving one as a gift. It was too valuable to turn down, but it was also useless and expensive. Many desires can end up as white elephants like that, a short gain and a long season of remorse.

The Scriptures always teach us the importance of trusting in God's goodness, especially when difficult times come along. Those difficulties teach us and they keep us from being trapped by security, which is often a false sense of security. 

Someone made fun of my rented room in my rented house for our broadcast. He forgot that the infant Jesus was born in a rented room, that everything we have will one day be enjoyed by someone else. Like the $24 million watch, we only care for things for the next generation. So we should care about sound doctrine above all, since that provides forgiveness of sin and eternal life.

 5 Let your moderation be known unto all men. The Lord is at hand.

So many want to be the big chief, the feared boss, but this verse says we should be the opposite. As Luther advises in this lesson, we should be concede to others, as long as we do not violate the 10 Commandments. That is the meaning of moderation or forbearance here. Take people for the best, not for the worst. 

What happens with behavior and teaching are often mixed around. People say, "Oh he teaches wrong. He is a heretic. Everyone knows it, so he is harmless." That is being forbearing or forgiving about false doctrine, which is a violation of the First Table, Commandments 1-3.

In that light, the same people will find reason to be mortally offended by some actions or words, often without. And they are ready to tear up trees by the roots, they are so angry. They will get even. They will punish. They will scold and shun. They will never bend a second, but get even many times over, just to be sure.

When someone gets really angry with me in traffic and waves his hand at me oujt the window, as if to say, "You are number one!" - I blow kisses. Why engage in the same behavior and become enraged. When we roll in the mud with a  pig, we both get dirty, and the pig enjoys it.

As Oswald Chambers said, "A Christian does not claim rights. He gives up rights." What would happen if mothers claimed rights and wanted everything to come out equal before they did one more sacrificial thing? The world would come to a stop.

I was offended when a Notre Dame library guard asked to look through my things, to reduce theft from the library. When I got huffy, he looked at me and smiled and said, "It's my job" in a patient and kindly way.

As St. Paul knew, from inspiration from the Holy Spirit, forbearance or patience or moderation is the best way to go through life, in peace and faith and rejoicing rather than in anger and revenge. God takes care of the jerks - it is natural law. Break the natural order and the natural order will come back to bite, sometimes with help from God to aid people in their repentance. I have heard many tales about men who treated others very badly. I always advise, "Time wounds all heels."

20. The headstrong and the unyielding, they who excuse none but are determined to control all things by their own wisdom, lead the whole world into error. They are the cause of all the wars and calamities known on earth. Yet they claim justice as their sole motive. Well has it been said by a certain heathen: “Summum jus, summa injustitia” ¾ the most extreme justice is the greatest injustice. Ecclesiastes 7:16 also warns: “Be not righteous overmuch; neither make thyself overwise.” As the most extreme justice is the greatest injustice, so the most extreme wisdom is the greatest folly. The old adage is, “When the wise act the fool, they are grossly foolish.” Were God always to execute extreme justice, we could not live a moment. Paul commends gentleness in Christ ( 2 Corinthians 10:1), saying, “I... entreat you by the meekness and gentleness of Christ.” So we are to moderate our attitude, our demands, our wisdom and wit, adapting ourselves to the circumstances of others in all respects.

6 Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. 

This means - never be anxious. Never be full of cares and worries. Be just the opposite. With prayers, trust in God for all your needs. This is spiritual wisdom from God, because He sees ahead and grants the prayer, even if it takes some time. 

Man's answer is to do anything to gain the advantage. God's answer is to provide the prayer request in His time so that it works several advantages at once. It can be to teach patience. It may be that a delay means a better result. God may wish to show that He alone has accomplished this.

7 And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.

This prayer has so much meaning in a few words.

The peace of God only comes through forgiveness, and forgiveness only through faith. What is the purpose of a sound sermon - to teach faith in Christ. This peace is granted,  but we need constant boosters of God's grace to maintain that faith. The more the world pollutes our thinking, the more we need to hear the Promises to maintain that faith, that peace. 

Passes all understanding...
Paul teaches about our minds and our emotions. This addresses the mind. No one can understand how a murderer on death row can have perfect peace. Human reason cannot grasp this, because we cannot imagine ourselves in great and terrible crimes. And yet, the Word teaches that forgiveness comes through faith in Christ, forgiveness of sin - great and terrible sins, minor sins, long-term sins. 

Shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus..
This phrase involves the emotions and human reason. Nothing is left out. 

41. This, mark you, is the peace of the cross, the peace of God, peace of conscience, Christian peace, which gives us even external calm, which makes us satisfied with all men and unwilling to disturb any. Reason cannot understand how there can be pleasure in crosses, and peace in disquietude; it cannot find these. Such peace is the work of God, and none can understand it until it has been experienced. Relative to this topic, it is said in the epistle for the second Sunday in Advent: “The God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing.” What the apostle there terms “peace in believing” he here calls “peace of God.”

42. In this verse Paul implies that for him who rejoices in God and exercises forbearance in his life, the devil will raise up a cross calculated forcibly to turn his heart from that way. The Christian should therefore be well fortified, placing his peace beyond the devil’s reach ¾ in God. Let him not be anxious to rid himself of what the devil has forced upon him.