The Glory Has Departed


Norma Boeckler, Artist-in-Residence

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Sunday, January 24, 2016

Septuagesima Sunday, 2016.
1 Corinthians 9:24-10:5



Septuagesima Sunday, 2016

Pastor Gregory L. Jackson


Bethany Lutheran Church, 10 AM Central Time


The Hymn #132                           O God of God                                     
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                        

Let Us Run the Race with a Goal

The Hymn # 227                             Come Holy Ghost                              
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                              


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.

Let Us Run the Race with a Goal

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. 

Athletics were important in the ancient world, and the Greeks spread their fondness for competition through Alexander the Great.  The ancient Greeks stopped wars for their games, and competed on the athletic field with those they were fighting at the time. The Roman Empire absorbed this and held competitions too. 

The Scriptures often speak of the universal nature of Christ's atonement. He died for all, so that no one can doubt that the cross means "my sins, even my great and terrible sins." 

But the Scriptures also teach the difficulty of remaining a believer. For instance, Paul advised that it was good for the minister to remain a believer - he knew of many leaders who capitulated to doubt and false doctrine. So, instead of dreaming about a marble cathedral with your name on it, concentrate on remaining a believer by being a student of the Word of God.

This passage is especially pointed because everyone can identify with the example. A race begins with a group of runners, and they all run the race. But only one runner receives the prize. 

Faith is an individual matter. No one can believe for another, just as no one can run for another. Then, as today, some identified with the group without trusting completely in the Word of God. That is the foundation of all troubles, lack of trust. Some laity and pastors want a ministry of the Law, and that makes matters worse, because it assumes the Law is effective when the Gospel is not. When I told one group that the Law itself bears no fruit, one man almost stroked out. He had been fed a diet of Law and considered the Law to be central rather than the tutor that leads us to Christ.

We should not be like the mother who literally shoved me toward her daughter, ordering, "Make her go to church." I thought, "This is where the trouble began."

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. 

Those who compete in athletics do so with everything taken into account to win - rest, nutrition, exercise, and conditioning. Each athlete wants to win the prize. We give second and third place medals at the modern Olympics, but everyone knows that gold is the real prize.

Those who overdo one aspect of training or another will fail, so they balance one with another. Paul's masterful argument turns the topic to the Christian life. If a group of people can devote themselves to a temporary honor, which many do not receive, how much more should we concentrate on a prize that cannot be corrupted by persecution, illness, or station in life.

As I have mentioned before, the choice of crown is a wonderful symbol, because the first martyr was Stephan, whose name in Greek means crown. So when the New Testament mentions the crown, it is doubtless a reference to him.

The Bible has many examples of this. Jesus means salvation, and the Hebrew word is Yeshua. Where the Psalms speak of salvation, one can often insert Jesus in that verse.

“Restore unto me the joy of thy salvation (Jesus) ; and uphold me with thy free spirit.”  Psalm 51:12

Joy in Jesus is joy in salvation, in receiving forgiveness through faith in Him.

26 I therefore so run, not as uncertainly; so fight I, not as one that beateth the air: 

The runner has a particular goal in mind and focuses on it. That would be a strange race if each runner headed in a different direction, yet that is often what happens in a group of Christians. One becomes a charismatic, one Episcopalian, one a Hindu transcendental meditation fanatic.

Many do not thing there should be any fighting, although they are fighting in their own way. If a race began in 10 different directions, the referee would blow a whistle and stop it. If a football team wanted to change their goalposts "when they felt like it," the game would be chaos.

We are still in the 1960s era of doing something once we feel good about it. That creates uncertainty because feelings are volatile, ever changing. Most of us conquer the world before we get up in the morning but once up, we are happy to have some hot coffee. The feelings stirred up by imagination are easily quashed by moving around a little.

Paul writes about the Christian life as determination, focus, practice, and application. 

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.

This reminds me of the singer famous for the song Sixteen Candles. He said, "I did not want to ruin my voice with smoking and drinking." And he sang as clearly before his death as he did when his song first came out. After reading that, I listened to his contemporaries who grew old in the party atmosphere. The rasp in their voices was clear. They could not hit the same notes with clarity anymore.

Paul is saying that self-discipline has its rewards, the first one being that he did not want to be preaching to others while he was falling apart from self-centeredness, from indolence and hedonism.

Instead of "living in the moment" which is a common excuse today, he was living for eternity, more importantly for the eternal salvation of many others.

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;

What follows is Paul's warning to Christians, who know the story of the Exodus better than we do. A vast number left Egypt, no longer slaves but free. And they soon grumbled at the burden laid on them.

The newly freed slaves even complained they had it better as slaves in Egypt. Miracles set them free and miracles accompanied them. The Son of God was with them and yet they did not believe.

 2 And were all baptized unto Moses in the cloud and in the sea; 3 And did all eat the same spiritual meat; 

7. Paul cites a terrible example from Scripture to prove that not all obtain the prize who run. There were about six hundred thousand of them, all of whom walked in the way of God and enjoyed his word and his confidence so completely as to be protected under the cloud and miraculously to pass through the sea; yet among the vast number who ran at that time only two, Joshua and Caleb, obtained the prize. They alone of all that multitude reached the promised land.

Later on in the chapter (verses 11-12) Paul explains this fact, saying: “Now these things happened unto them by way of example; and they were written for our admonition... wherefore let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall.” The design of these dealings of God with Israel is to terrify the pride, false wisdom and self-will; to deter men from despising their fellows and from seeking to make the Word of God minister to their own honor or profit in preference to the honor and profit of others. The intent is to have each individual put himself on an equality with others, each to bear with his fellow, the weak enduring the strong, and so on, as enjoined in the four chapters.

Our temptation is always to think we have it made, we are secure and comfortable. I hear the cries of the outraged when I point out that their pretensions of holiness, based on their fallible institutions, have no basis in fact. They do not teach the Scriptures or the Confessions, and their criminal arrest records suggest something is vastly wrong. No cover-up can change that.

The example from the Old Testament is to startle us into thinking it can happen just as easily to us. No one suspects it at the moment, but later we have plenty of time to regret. Luther often mentions that being beaten down by bearing the cross, facing adversity, is good for us, so we do not get haughty like the Princes of the Church.

Those who value the Gospel message are those who feel the need the most. The comfortable, secure, complacent, and smug have the need but do not feel it. One might as well soak a wax ball in water and expect it to change. Nothing will happen. Some blithely parrot what they are told until some event is so rattling to them that they must look at the Word again and see the enormous gap between God's Word and man's. 

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.

Luther's point is that the Old Testament people had Christ as much as we do, but in a different form. He was promised to them, that He would follow after them. The verses make it seem as though an enormous boulder followed the Exodus. But if I say "Pastor Messerschmidt followed me in Columbus," it does not mean that he walked behind me, stalked me, or shadowed me. It means he came after me in the same church.

9. Well, the example of Israel is one readily understood. God grant we may heed it! Let us examine the apostle’s text yet further — his mention of baptism and spiritual food, using Christian terms and placing the fathers upon the same plane with us Christians, as if they also had had Baptism and the Holy Supper.

He would have us know, first, the oft-repeated fact that God from the beginning led, redeemed and saved his saints by two instrumentalities [GJ -  aka Means, Means of Grace] — by his own word and external signs. Adam was saved by the word of promise ( Genesis 3:15): The seed of the woman shall bruise the serpent’s head; that is, Christ shall come to conquer sin, death and Satan for us. To this promise God added the sign of sacrifice, sacrifice kindled with fire from heaven, as in Abel’s case ( Genesis 4:4), and in other cases mentioned in the Scriptures. The word of promise was Adam’s Gospel until the time of Noah and of Abraham. In this promise all the saints down to Abraham believed, and were redeemed; as we are redeemed by the word of the Gospel which we believe. The fire from heaven served them as a sign, as baptism does us, which is added to the word of God.

10. Such signs were repeated again and again at various times, the last sign being given by Christ in his own person — the Gospel with baptism, granted to all nations. For instance, God gave Noah the promise that he should survive the flood, and granted him a sign in the ship, or ark, he built. And by faith in the promise and sign Noah was justified and saved, with his family. Afterward God gave him another promise, and for a sign the rainbow. Again, he gave Abraham a promise, with the sign of circumcision. Circumcision was Abraham’s baptism, just as the ark and the flood were that of Noah. So also our baptism is to us circumcision, ark and flood, according to Peter’s explanation. 1 Peter 3:21. Everywhere we meet the Word and the Sign of God, in which we must believe in order to be saved through faith from sin and death.



God only works through the Word. Those who doubt the Visible Word of the Sacraments are expressing doubt about the Word itself. If the rainbow is a sign of God's Promise, is not baptismal water? What is more inclusive than water itself.

Here is a fascinating detail about soil and water. A certain amount of water is bound to soil, so tightly that soil must be baked at a high temperature for a long to make it completely free of water. Why is that? God has bound water and soil so tightly together to make life grow in it, even when "dry." And since it is always damp to some degree, the additional water makes the life within flourish even more. Without that we would all starve to death. The microbial life not only needs water but also hold water, like little sponges. If they live and multiply, the increase the sponginess of the soil. If they die, and they surely do, they donate their moisture and nutrition to plants and other microbes.

Holy Baptism is both a birth and a washing but the doubters who use the name Baptist (and the Pentecostals, even more vehemently) deny this power of Water and the Word.

The cloud and fire led the Israelites and reminded them of God's presence, but they fell in the wilderness, because of doubt. How could they forget the miracles? How could we?