The Glory Has Departed


Norma Boeckler, Artist in Residence

Bethany Lutheran Worship on
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NT Greek Lessons - Thursdays, 7 PM.

Saved worship files and Greek lessons are at the live worship link.

email: greg.jackson.edlp@gmail.com,
which works as gregjacksonedlp@gmail.com too.

Luther's Sermons, Lenker Series
Book of Concord Selections
Bente's Historical Introductions,
and Martin Chemnitz Press Books

Sunday, February 1, 2015

Septuagesima Sunday - The Third Sunday Before Ash Wednesday



Septuagesima Sunday, 2015

Pastor Gregory L. Jackson


Bethany Lutheran Church, 10 AM Central Time


The Hymn #132                           O God of God                                    3:55
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 # 151            Christ the Life                       2:78

Grace and Mercy - Do People Really Want Justice?

The Hymn # 227     Come Holy Ghost                             2:72
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 #409   Let Us Ever Walk                              2:91

1 Corinthians 9:24 Know ye not that they which run in a race run all, but one receiveth the prize? So run, that ye may obtain.  25 And every man that striveth for the mastery is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a corruptible crown; but we an incorruptible.  26 I therefore so run, not as uncertainly; so fight I, not as one that beateth the air:  27 But I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection: lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway. 10:1 Moreover, brethren, I would not that ye should be ignorant, how that all our fathers were under the cloud, and all passed through the sea;  2 And were all baptized unto Moses in the cloud and in the sea; 3 And did all eat the same spiritual meat;  4 And did all drink the same spiritual drink: for they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them: and that Rock was Christ.  5 But with many of them God was not well pleased: for they were overthrown in the wilderness.

KJV Matthew 20:1 For the kingdom of heaven is like unto a man that is an householder, which went out early in the morning to hire labourers into his vineyard. 2 And when he had agreed with the labourers for a penny a day, he sent them into his vineyard. 3 And he went out about the third hour, and saw others standing idle in the marketplace, 4 And said unto them; Go ye also into the vineyard, and whatsoever is right I will give you. And they went their way. 5 Again he went out about the sixth and ninth hour, and did likewise. 6 And about the eleventh hour he went out, and found others standing idle, and saith unto them, Why stand ye here all the day idle? 7 They say unto him, Because no man hath hired us. He saith unto them, Go ye also into the vineyard; and whatsoever is right, that shall ye receive. 8 So when even was come, the lord of the vineyard saith unto his steward, Call the labourers, and give them their hire, beginning from the last unto the first. 9 And when they came that were hired about the eleventh hour, they received every man a penny. 10 But when the first came, they supposed that they should have received more; and they likewise received every man a penny. 11 And when they had received it, they murmured against the goodman of the house, 12 Saying, These last have wrought but one hour, and thou hast made them equal unto us, which have borne the burden and heat of the day. 13 But he answered one of them, and said, Friend, I do thee no wrong: didst not thou agree with me for a penny? 14 Take that thine is, and go thy way: I will give unto this last, even as unto thee. 15 Is it not lawful for me to do what I will with mine own? Is thine eye evil, because I am good? 16 So the last shall be first, and the first last: for many be called, but few chosen.

Septuagesima Sunday

Lord God, heavenly Father, who through Thy holy word hast called us into Thy vineyard: Send, we beseech Thee, Thy Holy Spirit into our hearts, that we may labor faithfully in Thy vineyard, shun sin and all offense, obediently keep Thy word and do Thy will, and put our whole and only trust in Thy grace, which Thou hast bestowed upon us so plenteously through Thy Son Jesus Christ, that we may obtain eternal salvation through Him, who liveth and reigneth with Thee and the Holy Ghost, one true God, world without end. Amen.



Grace and Mercy - Do People Really Want Justice?

This parable is familiar to most who go to church and hear the historic lessons. This narrative teaches more about human nature and our reaction to God's grace.

The overall plot is familiar to anyone who hires people as day laborers. The idea is that one job needs to be done, and some people are looking for short-term work.  This fits our human situation because we do all kinds of work in many places before our days are over. Everyone wants to be paid well, and if we are, we take that for granted until things change and half-pay is the norm. When things are really bad, any pay for any job is good.

God's grace is the central issue in all confessions of the Christian faith. That is another way of saying - how are people rewarded for being trusting in God for forgiveness and salvation. 

The ultimate reward is forgiveness and eternal life. so that makes an interesting parallel in this story. Everyone gets a penny.

First he hires people at the beginning of the day to work in the vineyard, for a penny. We still use that term for church work. I recall a pastor writing and saying, "I am glad you will be working in the vineyard." He neglected to say that the vineyard (LCA) was being replanted with poison grapes.

We should not consider what the penny or shilling means, not what the first or the last hour signifies; but what the householder had in mind and what he aims to teach, how he desires to have his goodness esteemed higher than all human works and merit, yea, that his mercy alone must have all the praise.

Later, more are hired, four more times They will get whatever is right, and no specific promise is made to them. But the pay is given in reverse. The last hired get a penny, so the first hired think, "We will get more, because we worked all day."

But they only get a penny. They are quite unhappy, in spite of their earlier agreement.

11 And when they had received it, they murmured against the goodman of the house, 12 Saying, These last have wrought but one hour, and thou hast made them equal unto us, which have borne the burden and heat of the day.

First of all - people complain about how little the others have worked compared to them. Secondly, they make known how much they suffered.

This represents the human reaction to what others receive. Of course, we always have a very slight understanding of anyone else, but still the Old Adam says, "This is not fair. They have done very little to deserve this, while I have suffered terribly in comparison. The reward should be just, equal."

4. Hence the substance of the parable in today’s Gospel consists not in the penny, what it is, nor in the different hours; but in earning and acquiring, or how one can earn the penny; that as here the first presumed to obtain the penny and even more by their own merit, and yet the last received the same amount because of the goodness of the householder. Thus God will show it is nothing but mercy that he gives and no one is to arrogate to himself more than another. Therefore he says I do thee no wrong, is not the money mine and not thine; if I had given away thy property, then thou wouldest have reason to murmur; is it not lawful for me to do what I will with mine own ?

The answer reminds us of God speaking out of the whirlwind to Job:

3 But he answered one of them, and said, Friend, I do thee no wrong: didst not thou agree with me for a penny? 14 Take that thine is, and go thy way: I will give unto this last, even as unto thee. 15 Is it not lawful for me to do what I will with mine own? Is thine eye evil, because I am good? 16 So the last shall be first, and the first last: for many be called, but few chosen.

This parable builds toward the ending, and that ending should be given a lot of thought.

We always think of justice or fairness, whether we admit it or not. The first issue is answered well by Paul in Romans. No one wants justice, because the Law condemns us even if we fail in even one part of the Law. 

The human view of justice is, "I deserve more, because he did less."

God's first response is ironic humor. "I did you no wrong. You agreed with this offer. Accept that and do not argue. I am giving My goodness and mercy to the last hired just as I am giving to you."

God's mercy and goodness belong to Him alone. When He gives it, He is breaking no law. He is not taking from one man to give it to another.

Is thine eye evil, because I am good?

Therefore, God asks why His goodness makes man see evil.

How This Happens Today
Sometimes we get a special burden to bear. It may be our own disorder or handicap. It can be caring for children with special needs. It can be a congregational call with nothing but problems, or it can be the abuse of a synod that rewards common criminals, drunks, adulterers, and sex offenders.

There is always an example to observe and covet, asking why God allows such a thing to happen.

But we do not know how God works in the broadest sense until much later. Age and experience have given at least a higher spot to observe those things from the past and a prediction of the future - if I am only standing on an anthill.

I have pointed out to many men that abusive leaders have given them a blessing in sending them away. There are many more opportunities with freedom than with slavery under the slave-masters. The worse others have behaved, the more they will see God's justice, which is terrible indeed.

The Gospel is not chained, as Paul observed. It can go everywhere, but no one should use the Gospel as an excuse to be lawless, as many are today.

When God gives us special children, He has given us special blessings. Sometimes they cannot live or live the ideal life. But I know two little girls who were constant blessings to others and still bless us today. Another baby girl, far more fragile, grew up and lost all kinds of ability from her disease. She suffered terribly from the disease she had and from people taking advantage of her weakness. But she was completely involved in caring for others.

This is how God blesses with His goodness, although it is completely hidden from many. Most pastors will labor in the vineyard without being noticed or even thanked very much. They hear members praise the famous media ministers, who often live in $10 million houses. Meanwhile, the parsonage roof leaks and furnace needs repairing. 

Children look at mothers as obstacles blocking their path to happiness, and the mothers carry on, enjoying the fact that they love their children, than having them and loving them is reward enough.

God's goodness is revealed in His ability to turn ordinary water into wine, as the miracle at Cana indicated. If we look at God's goodness as evil, because others seem to get more, then all we have to do is wait. Time wounds all heels. If the undeserving get too much, God will whisk it away suddenly.

If the goodness seems slight at the moment, later it will compound its interest and be clear - but only to thankful hearts.