The Glory Has Departed


Norma Boeckler, Artist-in-Residence

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Sunday, January 11, 2015

The First Sunday after the Epiphany, 2015. Jesus in the Temple.
Luke 2:41-52

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The First Sunday after the Epiphany, 2015

Pastor Gregory L. Jackson


Bethany Lutheran Worship, 10 AM Central Standard Time

The Hymn # 277     I heard the voice            4:57
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             Romans 12:1-5
The Gospel           Luke 2:41-52          
Glory be to Thee, O Lord!
Praise be to Thee, O Christ!
The Nicene Creed p. 22
The Sermon Hymn # 396   Oh For a Faith   4:18

God Brings the Gospel and the Cross

The Hymn #130   O Jesus King of Glory   4:49
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 #267   If God Had Not                      4:61


KJV Romans 12:1 I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. 2 And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God. 3 For I say, through the grace given unto me, to every man that is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think; but to think soberly, according as God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith. 4 For as we have many members in one body, and all members have not the same office: 5 So we, being many, are one body in Christ, and every one members one of another.

KJV Luke 2:41 Now his parents went to Jerusalem every year at the feast of the passover. 42 And when he was twelve years old, they went up to Jerusalem after the custom of the feast. 43 And when they had fulfilled the days, as they returned, the child Jesus tarried behind in Jerusalem; and Joseph and his mother knew not of it. 44 But they, supposing him to have been in the company, went a day's journey; and they sought him among their kinsfolk and acquaintance. 45 And when they found him not, they turned back again to Jerusalem, seeking him. 46 And it came to pass, that after three days they found him in the temple, sitting in the midst of the doctors, both hearing them, and asking them questions. 47 And all that heard him were astonished at his understanding and answers. 48 And when they saw him, they were amazed: and his mother said unto him, Son, why hast thou thus dealt with us? behold, thy father and I have sought thee sorrowing. 49 And he said unto them, How is it that ye sought me? wist ye not that I must be about my Father's business? 50 And they understood not the saying which he spake unto them. 51 And he went down with them, and came to Nazareth, and was subject unto them: but his mother kept all these sayings in her heart. 52 And Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favour with God and man.

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First Sunday After Epiphany

Lord God, heavenly Father, who in mercy hast established the Christian home among us: We beseech Thee so to rule and direct our hearts, that we may be good examples to children and servants, and not offend them by word or deed, but faithfully teach them to love Thy Church and hear Thy blessed word. Give them Thy Spirit and grace, that this seed may bring forth good fruit, so that our homelife may conduce to Thy glory, honor and praise, to our own improvement and welfare, and give offense to no one; 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.

God Brings the Gospel and the Cross

KJV Luke 2:41 Now his parents went to Jerusalem every year at the feast of the passover. 42 And when he was twelve years old, they went up to Jerusalem after the custom of the feast. 

This is not a minor detail, and Luke is careful to include such observations. As I mentioned before, Luke used political titles with great precision, and archaeology has shown how accurate he was.  Going to Jerusalem each year for Passover was the normal routine of His parents. That informs us about how they became relaxed about their Son and where he was, but also about God's efforts to bring the Gospel to the citadel of Judaism.

Each year the Savior came to Jerusalem, so the very place that would reject Him had an opportunity to see Him. In this example. the leaders were given the chance to see and hear Him in connection with the Scriptures.

The Passover is the great festival of Judaism, filled with references to the Savior. The blood of an innocent lamb is used on the doorways to prevent the loss of their first-born sons. The Passover lamb is likewise a spotless lamb, foreshadowing "Behold the Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world."

Paul wrote, "The Rock which followed them was Christ." The manna from heaven foreshadowed Jesus as the Bread of Life (John 6), and the snake cure--strangest of all--the crucifixion, John 3:16. Everything about the Passover concerns the future revelation of the Messiah and His work.

And every year, Joseph and Mary brought Jesus to Jerusalem for the Passover feast, so this was not the first time, but the 12th time. 

Luther observed this lesson as an example of laying the cross on believers. He gave Mary the greatest joy in bearing the the Savior, but also cataclysmic sorrow in letting Jesus stay behind in the Temple.

We have to consider not only the fear, grief, and panic of a young mother who has lost track of her Son, but also her despair over having such an enormous responsibility and losing track of Him. "If only I had..." is something that follows our faulty assumptions. If only I had asked. If only I had talked to this person. If only I had checked out the details.

7. When God vouchsafes to us a strong faith and a firm trust in him, so that we are assured he is our gracious God and we can depend upon him, then we are in paradise. But when God permits our hearts to be discouraged and we believe that he takes from us Christ our Lord; when our conscience feels that we have lost him and amidst trembling and despair our confidence is gone, then we are truly in misery and distress. For even if we are not conscious of any special sin, yet in such a condition we tremble and doubt whether God still cares for us; just as Mary here doubts and knows not whether God still deems her worthy to be the mother of his Son. Our heart thinks in the time of trial thus: God has indeed given me a strong faith, but perhaps he will take it from me and will no longer want me as his child. Only strong minds can endure such temptations and there are not many people whom God tests to this degree. Yet we must be prepared, so that we may not despair if such trials should come upon us.

8. We find many examples of this in the Scriptures, as for instance in Joshua 7:6-7. God had given to Joshua great and strong promises, telling him that he would exterminate the heathen and charging him to attack his enemies courageously and vigorously, which he also did. But what happened? When his faith was strong he,sent three thousand men against a city to take it. They were proud, seeing that it was a small city with only a few people to defend it. When the men of Israel approached, the enemy sallied forth from the city and defeated the people. Then Joshua fell to the earth upon his face before the ark of Jehovah until the evening, lifting up his voice and lamenting before God, saying: “Alas, O Lord Jehovah, wherefore hast thou at all brought this people over the Jordan, to deliver us into the hand of the Amorites, to cause us to perish?” His faith had become weak and he was utterly discouraged, so that God himself had to raise him up again. Thus God deals with his great saints, whom he sometimes deprives of Christ, that is, of their faith and confidence.

The source of our great sorrow - sin and death - is also the reason for our greatest joy, thanks to the grace and mercy of God, the Means of Grace He supplies to us. The experiences of despair and sorrow teach us to trust completely in God because He shows us His lovingkindness in time.

Once a group of handicapped adults taught me a lesson. They lived in a group home and I visited them regularly. I took one man out and we had fun doing things like going through the car wash, stopping at the post office, etc. These were routine events that filled him with great happiness. Once four of them were discussing daily events with me. Not one of them could get up from the table and walk down the block. They were limited in the work they could do, but they cared deeply about problems in the public school. I wanted to put them on the school board or in the principal's office.

We always take for granted what is easy and routine for us, but those things are not even possible for others to do or enjoy. Even the stresses of life are part of this, because stress comes from addressing problems and being responsible to others. God gives us a role to play, and whatever we do in faith glorifies Him. The ordinary pastors serving parishes no one has heard of - they are doing more of God's work than the cologne soaked divas of religious TV.

43 And when they had fulfilled the days, as they returned, the child Jesus tarried behind in Jerusalem; and Joseph and his mother knew not of it. 44 But they, supposing him to have been in the company, went a day's journey; and they sought him among their kinsfolk and acquaintance. 

All this rests on "supposing Him" but it relates directly to God's will. As Jesus said in this lesson, He had assigned work to do, and if He did that work, it was in obedience to God the Father. 

But that is the difficult part in all such tragedies, that something so bad at the time could be part of God's plan. We can spend so much time  blaming ourselves. If we do not, someone will do it for us. We spent years hearing it blamed on our genetic code, on the places where we lived, on not being Assemblies of God or charismatic. Finally there is no answer about cause, which is true of all health problems, but there is another answer about how we deal with the affliction. 

It was good for Joseph and Mary to suffer early, repeatedly, because the greatest suffering was ahead of them. Mary was promised a Child, and Joseph suffered disgrace, but in faith he obeyed God. The Virgin Birth of Jesus was devoid of the usual amenities, so that was not a reward in the usual sense. Immediately after they had to flee the wrath and terror of Herod.

All of this foreshadowed Mary's loss of her Son, and she was there as a witness, at the cross. The previous episodes of despair and sorrow and hardship did not shake her faith but carried her through with God-given strength to be associated with the early Apostles.

The novelist Somerset Maugham said he lost his faith in God when he prayed for his stuttering to be taken away, and it was not. Ted Turner had a similar loss of faith.

This is why the cross is taught so consistently throughout the Scriptures, because the suffering endured is directly related to the Word and not simply the consequence of being human, mortal, and fallible.

When children are raised in an atmosphere of blaming, they are used to going backwards and figuring out what should have been done to have made everything perfect. But that is waste of time and energy. Our fun example of the opposite comes from my extreme sleepiness during driving. In two cases I was so sleepy that I had to stop the car, get out, and walk around to wake up. In both cases we were driving into the path of a tornado. Apparently the super-low of a tornado hits my sleep zone. So worry about being late turned into imagining the car spinning through the air. 

Blaming ourselves or others or God are three ways to transform the bad experience, but they are all dysfunctional efforts. That is not an excuse for sin, because the remedy for sin is often not applied - the Gospel message of forgiveness. If blaming absolved us of sin, then the world would be free of sin. Blaming cures nothing, but the comfort of the Gospel is healing, because Jesus died not just for petty sins, but for great and terrible sins. 

45 And when they found him not, they turned back again to Jerusalem, seeking him. 46 And it came to pass, that after three days they found him in the temple, sitting in the midst of the doctors, both hearing them, and asking them questions. 47 And all that heard him were astonished at his understanding and answers. 

This is one of the clearest examples of God bringing the Gospel to the center of the opposition. Foreknowledge means He knew what would happen when His Son entered Jerusalem, but His grace is revealed in His efforts to teach everyone faith in Him, regardless of the opposition.

Clergy want to have easy, pleasant, congregations where there is no opposition to the Word. Members join by osmotic pressure. For instance, a surburb in Minneapolis is certain to have thousands of Lutherans in the neighborhoods, many without a a church. Rounding them up is easy. Avoiding tough issues is even easier. 

Lutherans have grown so lax overall that the Methodists are now more conservative and less likely to compromise on key issues. But laxity is popular. If Jesus had anticipated this model of ministry, there would be no Gospel to teach.

As a boy, Jesus was in the Temple, so full of knowledge of the Word that the great and learned teachers of Judaism were astonished at His learning. Here is an example of His divine nature, because no human parent could have taught Him so much in a few years that life-long scholars were astonished. Jesus listened to them and asked them questions.

Someone must know the subject matter well to ask good questions. One famous student said to the Old Testament professor, "Dr. Levin. I did not understand what you were saying." He responded, "Which part, Wendy." She said, "All of it."

When someone in network engineering explains something to this geezer, assuming that email is still a struggle, I say, "Oh yes, it's always the physical layer, isn't it." That tells him that I know (not much really, but that surprises the younger generation.)

Since Jesus kept up the tradition of going to Jerusalem, in His public ministry, we can see that He went into the face of opposition instead of staying away with the disciples who loved Him and believed in Him. Thus we should always take the Gospel into the face of opposition, especially in these days of apostasy, so that people have a chance to hear the Word as it is rather than human philosophy and pagan errors.

As Brett Meyer said to me in Seattle, where we finally met, "We do this because of optimism, that it makes a difference to teach the truth." No one can judge where that ends. God knows and only wants us to be faithful and bear the cross.

29. This then is the comfort we derive from this Gospel in our great trials, of which we have spoken above. We know that consolation may be found only in the Scriptures, the Word of God. For this reason God caused this to be recorded, so that we might learn these lessons, as St. Paul writes to the Romans: “For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that through patience and through comfort of the Scriptures we might have hope.” Romans 15:4. Here he says that the Scriptures are comforting, that they impart patience and comfort.

Consequently there can be nothing else that comforts the soul, not even in the most trifling temptations. For everything else with which man comforts himself, however great it may be, is altogether uncertain, and the heart inquires constantly: Who knows whether it is right? if I only were sure about it! etc. But when the heart clings to the Word of God, it may say without any wavering: This is the Word of God, which can not lie nor err, of this I am certain. And this is our greatest struggle that we keep and hold firmly to the Word; for if that is taken from the heart, man is lost.

30. Let us then be prepared for their representations and expostulations to the effect that the Christian church can not err, so that we may know how to meet them, and say: Here is not the word of man, but the Word of God.

We read in this Gospel that his mother, Mary, was filled with the Holy Spirit, and yet she erred. Likewise we read in the Acts that there was a Christian council of such who believed and who had the Spirit, and yet they stumbled and would have established an unchristian law, if others had not protested. We should therefore not believe any council or, saint, if they come without the Word of God. This is then the sum total of this Gospel, and if anything else is to be said on it, we will let those explain it who have leisure; but he who studies it faithfully, will easily understand it.

48 And when they saw him, they were amazed: and his mother said unto him, Son, why hast thou thus dealt with us? behold, thy father and I have sought thee sorrowing. 49 And he said unto them, How is it that ye sought me? wist ye not that I must be about my Father's business?

Here in two verses are the sorrow and anger of Joseph and Mary expressed, yet the mission of Jesus transcends it. "You may be furious with Me, but I had to fulfill the will of My Heavenly Father. Chill." The words are majestic and magisterial, revealing His knowledge of His divine mission when most boys are throwing rocks at passing vehicles. 

This also matters because there are heretics abounding who make Jesus into a teacher who had no idea what his apostles and Paul would make of Him. There is an answer for every false dogma - often many clear and compelling answers. If we do not know the basics we are easily fooled, as are the children of parents who never teach them the truth or how to discern truth from error, the revelation of God from the imagination of Man.

50 And they understood not the saying which he spake unto them. 51 And he went down with them, and came to Nazareth, and was subject unto them: but his mother kept all these sayings in her heart. 52 And Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favour with God and man.

Even though Joseph and Mary were eye-witnesses to all the previous miracles, they did not grasp the full meaning of Jesus' mission. In the same way, our faith begins at a certain level, but many experiences teach us the full meaning of the Word, not that we can even know all of it. It is a gold mine where each new passageway leads us to new treasures and never runs out of rewards for those who study it.


27. There are many similar examples and types elsewhere in the Gospel which point out the same truth, namely, that nothing should be taught but the Word of God and no other doctrine should be accepted, because Christ can be found only in the Scriptures. Thus we read in the Gospel for Christmas, Luke 2:12, where the angel, who announced the birth of Christ, said to the shepherds: “And this is the sign unto you: Ye shall find a babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, and lying in a manger.” Why does he not direct them to Mary and Joseph, but only points them to the swaddling clothes and the manger? The reason is that God will not point us to any saint, not even to the holy mother herself, for they may all err. Therefore a special place must be pointed out where Christ is, namely the manger, where he surely may be found, even if Joseph and Mary were not present.

This signifies that Christ is completely wrapped in the Scriptures, just as the body is wrapped in the clothes. The manger is the preaching of the Gospel, where he is lying and where he is apprehended, and from which we take our food. Now it would indeed appear that the child should lie where Joseph and Mary are, these great and holy people. Yet the angel points only to the manger, which he will not have overlooked or dishonored. It is an insignificant and simple expression, but Christ is found in it.