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 27, 2015

The Sunday after Christmas. Luke 2:33-40.
The Sign Spoken Against

By Norma Boeckler

The Sunday after Christmas

Pastor Gregory L. Jackson

The Hymn # 85:1-8                            From Heaven Above  
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 #85:9-15               From Heaven Above  

  The Sign Spoken Against

The Hymn #657                                    Beautiful Savior  
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 #83                             Hark! What Mean Those Holy Voices  

KJV Galatians 4:1 Now I say, That the heir, as long as he is a child, differeth nothing from a servant, though he be lord of all; 2 But is under tutors and governors until the time appointed of the father. 3 Even so we, when we were children, were in bondage under the elements of the world: 4 But when the fulness of the time was come, God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law, 5 To redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons. 6 And because ye are sons, God hath sent forth the Spirit of his Son into your hearts, crying, Abba, Father. 7 Wherefore thou art no more a servant, but a son; and if a son, then an heir of God through Christ.

KJV Luke 2:33 And Joseph and his mother marvelled at those things which were spoken of him. 34 And Simeon blessed them, and said unto Mary his mother, Behold, this child is set for the fall and rising again of many in Israel; and for a sign which shall be spoken against; 35 (Yea, a sword shall pierce through thy own soul also,) that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed. 36 And there was one Anna, a prophetess, the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Aser: she was of a great age, and had lived with an husband seven years from her virginity; 37 And she was a widow of about fourscore and four years, which departed not from the temple, but served God with fastings and prayers night and day. 38 And she coming in that instant gave thanks likewise unto the Lord, and spake of him to all them that looked for redemption in Jerusalem. 39 And when they had performed all things according to the law of the Lord, they returned into Galilee, to their own city Nazareth. 40 And the child grew, and waxed strong in spirit, filled with wisdom: and the grace of God was upon him.

Sunday After Christmas
O almighty and everlasting God, mercifully direct our ways, that we may walk in Thy law, and be made to abound in good works: through 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 Sign Spoken Against

KJV Luke 2:33 And Joseph and his mother marvelled at those things which were spoken of him. 34 And Simeon blessed them, and said unto Mary his mother, Behold, this child is set for the fall and rising again of many in Israel; and for a sign which shall be spoken against; 35 (Yea, a sword shall pierce through thy own soul also,) that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed. 


All we are able to say is that God knew when the proper time had arrived. Judaism was bankrupt, and paganism had always been so. We can enumerate some of the providences which helped to open the way for the gospel such as the vast extent of the Roman Empire, the spread of the Greek language, the facility of travel throughout the empire, the extensive diaspora of the Jews, its many proselytes from Gentilism, etc. All of these aided the spread of the gospel. What God saw and regarded as the fulness of the time in the spiritual condition of men, barbarian as well as Greek, is too difficult for us to predicate because his thoughts and judgments are too unsearchable for us. Paul, too, refrains from stating details.
Lenski, R. C. H.: The Interpretation of St. Paul's Epistles to the Galatians, to the Ephesians and to the Philippians. Columbus, O. : Lutheran Book Concern, 1937, S. 197.

KJV Luke 2:33 And Joseph and his mother marvelled at those things which were spoken of him. 

This verse reflects on what Simeon just said - 

Luke 2 - 

25 And, behold, there was a man in Jerusalem, whose name was Simeon; and the same man was just and devout, waiting for the consolation of Israel: and the Holy Ghost was upon him.
26 And it was revealed unto him by the Holy Ghost, that he should not see death, before he had seen the Lord's Christ.
27 And he came by the Spirit into the temple: and when the parents brought in the child Jesus, to do for him after the custom of the law,
28 Then took he him up in his arms, and blessed God, and said,
29 Lord, now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace, according to thy word:
30 For mine eyes have seen thy salvation,
31 Which thou hast prepared before the face of all people;
32 A light to lighten the Gentiles, and the glory of thy people Israel.
33 And Joseph and his mother marvelled at those things which were spoken of him.
Joseph and Mary marvelled because they knew the divine origin of Jesus and rejoiced in Simeon acknowledging its truth in a miraculous way. He would not see death until the Messiah appeared, and he knew this Promise to be fulfilled, truly a great miracle from God that this would be foretold and fulfilled in Simeon's lifetime.
In the same way, parents are pleased when they know their child has a special ability, a remarkable one, and an expert confirms that with tests. But the example of Jesus is far beyond that experience.
Although I teach Old Testament most of the time, I always make it a New Testament class by showing how the Promises of God are Gospel and begin with Creation, Genesis 3:15, and continue through the Exodus, the Prophets, and Psalms. All these passages fit together although they are scattered, and they form the foundation for the New Testament, much a concrete, steel, and other ingredients are gathered in one place and fastened to bedrock to form the foundation of a high-rise building.
Simeon is not only an example but doubtless also a center of influence in making known Jesus as the Messiah. In the unfolding of this revelation people could piece together - not one, but many - examples of Jesus as the Son of God. Some marvelled and believed; others scowled and rejected what was freely offered for them as the fulfillment of the entire Scriptures, which we now call the Old Testament.
God did this for the widest possible audience to hear the Gospel. It seemed to take so long to develop, and it did, but previous cultures were rather local, even among the great kingdoms. Or - those kingdoms were confined to one culture, one language. Alexander the Great and the Roman armies made Greek the universal language for all cultures. The saying must have been, "Do you want to make a name for yourself and earn an income in global commerce? Learn Greek - it is the language of culture, commerce, literature - everything." 
Jews were more likely to know Greek well than to know Hebrew, so the Greek Septuagint (Old Testament) was already available centuries before Christ. Thus there was no limitation for a dispersed Jew in knowing what His own Bible said about the Messiah.
(Some of us are still waiting for the Aramaic New Testament to be found. They keep talking about it but not one shred of evidence exists. Aramaic is closely related to Hebrew and this theory comes from how Jewish the Greek New Testament sounds. But that Hebrew phrasing is better explained by those with Hebrew training writing in Greek, reflecting upon the Old Testament. When we speak of the US Constitution our language necessarily sounds more formal and elegant, because our words and thoughts are shaped by the majestic prose of those Founders.  Perhaps some day there will be a Surfer Dude paraphrase of the Constitution, to match the New NIV paraphrase, even in turning language upside, for example - by banning free speech, the right to bear arms, by ordering warrentless search and seizures.)
Jesus is the fulfillment of the Old Testament Promises, so we call those Promises Gospel. They are also good news. That is why we should hear the Word gladly, because God's Promises are always kept. To deny this is to blind ourselves to God's Word and reject His blessings.
7. If Joseph and Mary had judged according to outward appearances, they would have considered Christ more than a poor child. But they disregard the outward appearance and cling to the words of Simeon with a firm faith, therefore they marvel at his speech. Thus we must also disregard all the senses when contemplating the works of God, and only cling to his words, so that our eyes and our senses may not offend us.

8. The fact that they were marveling at the words of Simeon is also mentioned to teach us that the Word of God is never preached in vain, as we read in Isaiah 55:11: “So shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth” (i.e. out of the mouth of God’s messengers): “it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it.” Thus the Evangelist would say that Simeon delivered a warm-hearted, beautiful sermon, preaching the pure Gospel and the Word of God. For the Gospel is nothing but a sermon whose theme is Christ, declaring him to be the Savior, light and glory of all the world. Such preaching fills the heart with joy and wonder at this great grace and comfort, if it is received in faith.

9. But although this sermon was very beautiful and comforting, there were only a few who believed; nay people despised it as being foolish, going hither and thither in the temple. Some prayed, others did something else, but they did not give heed to the words of Simeon. Yet, as the Word of God must produce results, there were indeed some who received it with joy and wonder, namely Joseph and Mary. The Evangelist here also rebukes the unbelief of the Jews, for as this occurred publicly in the temple, there were many present, and yet they would not believe, the fact that the Savior was only a child causing them all to stumble. Thus we learn here that we should hear the Word of God gladly, for it will invariably produce good fruits.

36 And there was one Anna, a prophetess, the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Aser: she was of a great age, and had lived with an husband seven years from her virginity; 37 And she was a widow of about fourscore and four years, which departed not from the temple, but served God with fastings and prayers night and day. 38 And she coming in that instant gave thanks likewise unto the Lord, and spake of him to all them that looked for redemption in Jerusalem. 

Anna is an example of good works that come from faith and the urging of the Holy Spirit. Luther calls leaders "blockheads" (the name of his dog) who look at good works and ape them. The difference is that Anna did these works as a result of her faith and not to appease God. Many do not comprehend this because of their faulty knowledge of the Word. They imagine that praying 12 hours a day makes them more holy, more righteous, more pleasing to God. Many imitations of the Christian Faith degenerate into displays of endless or fancy worship and dramatic priestcraft performances. 

If the celebrant knows every color and every gesture but cannot preach about the Word of God, then he is in that unproductive loop of creating impressions without meaning them. Thus the leaders of WELS, the ELS, and the LCMS rejoice that they believe exactly what the ELCA believes - that the entire world is forgiven without faith. And they pose in their priestly robes.

This distinction is made by Luther for an Epiphany sermon:
3. I will let every man decide for himself the difference between the outward priesthood of dazzling character and the internal, spiritual priesthood. The first is confined to a very few individuals; the second, Christians commonly share. One was ordained of men, independently of the Word of God; the other was established through the Word, irrespective of human devices. In that, the skin is be-smeared with material oil; in this, the heart is internally anointed with the Holy Spirit. That applauds and extols its works; this proclaims and magnifies the grace of God, and his glory.

That does not offer up the body with its lusts, but rather fosters the evil desires of the flesh; this sacrifices the body and mortifies its lusts. The former permits the offering up to itself of gold and property, of honor, of idleness and pleasure, and of all manner of lust on earth; the latter foregoes these things and accepts only the reverse of homage. That again sacrifices Christ in its awful perversions; this, satisfied with the atonement once made by Christ, offers up itself with him and in him, by making similar sacrifices.

In fact, the two priesthoods accord about as well as Christ and Barabbas, as light and darkness, as God and the world. As little as smearing and shaving were factors in Christ’s priesthood, so little will they thus procure for anyone the Christian priesthood. Yet Christ, with all his Christians, is priest. “Thou art a priest for ever after the order of Melchizedek.”  Psalm 110:4. The Christian priesthood will not admit of appointment.

The priest is not made. He must be born a priest; must inherit his office. I refer to the new birth — the birth of water and the Spirit. Thus all Christians become priests, children of God and co-heirs with Christ the Most High Priest.

Anna is a good example because her life is sketched. In old age she found something useful to do instead of being idle, and she glorified God in doing this. In her earlier life she was a wife. She carried out her duties according to her station in life. This is what causes so many disturbances in life. People take on roles, husband, wife, parents, and yet despise their own stations and their duties. They want to do exactly what they feel like doing. In carrying on this way, they miss the blessings of being faithful to the Word.

The false promise of this world is that by doing exactly what we want at the moment, that is, being driving by our feelings, we will always feel good. But the irony is that people feel good after accomplishing mundane, boring, or strenuous work. Starting the job is not so fun, but being finished and seeing something worthwhile is. I urge students to use a mechanical approach to getting their work done, following steps, until it becomes second nature. They have coddled themselves too long and think they can write by being inspired. If they wrote for a living - and few can do that - they would starve to death. Or they they will do their work when "they feel like it." Who feels like reading a chapter in a book? or writing responses to discussion questions? They can dream all day long about graduation, but dreaming is not the same as doing, as many fools have proven.

There is a drudgery, to use the term, at studying the Word. That must be tedious because so many clergy avoid true study. Instead they want practical consequences. In looking for practical consequences, they look for quick, simple, methods to make everything appealing, such as advertising soft drinks and food at the services. They really despise the Word of God and teach others to despise it as well.  They never feel the delight that comes from study and spiritual insight, provided by the Holy Spirit, and fake their delight in those clownish grins -
 as if they just discovered the Lost Dutchman's Mine in Phoenix.

In fact, gold seekers engage in more drudgery than these clown-clergy. They climb unforgiving rocks, break rocks with their hammers, and endure great hardships for their lust for gold. Serious students only need to open the Bible and study the Word, using some faithful guides for support.

Likewise, where the battle-lines have been declared, the documents are fascinating, not boring, and they drive us to understand the Word of God better. One layman just discovered Melanchthon's Apology of the Augsburg Confession and left his other reading to study that. There is where the great genius of the Renaissance and Reformation took his time to part company with the entire Church of Rome, all arrayed to attack and destroy the Lutherans (called the Evangelicals at that time). So we have a faithful confession in a few words, with the citations from the Bible - and clergy call it "boring and irrelevant." 

I have heard several stories of laymen asking for study of the Book of Concord, only to be met with clergy looks that said "Never in my lifetime."

The great leaders of the past were students of the Bible, on their own, even when they were wrong. Therefore, studying their correct and erroneous statements are worthwhile because we can trace where they were correct or wrong in their conclusions. But the so-called leaders of today are not studious, except in their fascination with business and entertainment and gimmicks, so one only has to look a few minutes to see what their authorities are. There were howls of rage when I showed how all the WELS leaders were saying exactly what the Fuller Seminary jackasses brayed about. So the WELS leaders were offended on their own and also offended by having their heroes at Fuller mocked.

This is only a replay of the Reformation, where the Roman priests put on shows that the laity watched passively. The priest tyrannized people then as the clergy do now.

But Anna draws us into the role of the Old Testament figures, men and women, who pre-figured Christ.

66. It is then indicated here that the saints before the birth of Christ have understood and believed the massage of the prophets and all have been saved in Christ and by faith in him, as Christ says of Abraham: “Your father Abraham rejoiced to see my day; and he saw it, and was glad”; also Luke 10:24: “For I say unto you, that many prophets and kings desired to see the things which ye see, and saw them not; and to hear the things which ye hear, and heard them not.” Paul says in Hebrews 13:8: “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today, yea and for ever,” and more plainly in 1 Corinthians 10:1-4: “For I would not, brethren, have you ignorant, that our fathers were all under the cloud, and all passed through the sea; and were all baptized unto Moses in the cloud and in the sea; and did all eat the same spiritual food; and did all drink the same spiritual drink: for they drank of a spiritual rock that followed them: and the rock was Christ.”

Such and similar passages prove that all the saints before the birth of Christ have like us been saved in Christ. Therefore we read in Hebrews of examples of faith, of Abel, Enoch, Noah, Abraham, Moses and others, who spent their lives in Christ and for Christ who heard him and through the prophet’s words knew him, believed in him and waited for his coming.

67. For this reason all the narratives of the Old Testament so beautifully answer Christ and testify of him with one accord, standing around him just as Anna here literally stood near him. It is a great delight to read and perceive how they all look and point at Christ. Let us notice only one example. Isaac was sacrificed by his father and yet his life was spared, a ram being substituted for him, which Abraham saw behind him caught in the thicket by his horns. Here Christ, the Son of God, is prefigured, who like a mortal man died on the cross. Yet the divine nature did not die, the human nature being sacrificed in its place which is designated in the ram that by his horns (this is to say the preaching of the Gospel, rebuking and punishing the perversity and obstinacy of the scribes and priests) was caught in this thicket, being behind Abraham, that is to say coming after him. Many more important lessons might be learned from this narrative.

68. So Joseph was sold into Egypt, and after having been in prison became the ruler of the whole land, Genesis 37 and 41. This occurred and was recorded that Christ might be prefigured, who through his sufferings became the Lord of all the world. But who has time enough to explain all these narratives and to show how Samson, David, Solomon, Aaron and others are appropriate and perfect types of Christ?

As Luther indicates, there is no end to viewing the Gospel content of the Old Testament. The Reformer wrote 100 mega-volumes in his lifetime but does not have time to list all the examples. That is another way of stating that the treasure of the Word is endless. 

Like the Emmaus disciples, once our eyes are open, the entire Bible teaches us about Christ.