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, September 25, 2016

The Eighteenth Sunday after Trinity, 2016. 1 Corinthians 1:4-9.
Gospel Fruits and Weeds

The Eighteenth Sunday after Trinity, 2016

Pastor Gregory L. Jackson

The Hymn # 239                 Come Thou Almighty King                         
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 #269            O Lord Our Father                      

Gospel Fruits and Weeds

The Communion Hymn # 396            Oh for a Faith            
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 #651               Be Still My Soul            


KJV 1 Corinthians 1:4 I thank my God always on your behalf, for the grace of God which is given you by Jesus Christ; 5 That in every thing ye are enriched by him, in all utterance, and in all knowledge; 6 Even as the testimony of Christ was confirmed in you: 7 So that ye come behind in no gift; waiting for the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ: 8 Who shall also confirm you unto the end, that ye may be blameless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. 9 God is faithful, by whom ye were called unto the fellowship of his Son Jesus Christ our Lord.

KJV Matthew 22:34 But when the Pharisees had heard that he had put the Sadducees to silence, they were gathered together. 35 Then one of them, which was a lawyer, asked him a question, tempting him, and saying, 36 Master, which is the great commandment in the law? 37 Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. 38 This is the first and great commandment. 39 And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. 40 On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets. 41 While the Pharisees were gathered together, Jesus asked them, 42 Saying, What think ye of Christ? whose son is he? They say unto him, The Son of David. 43 He saith unto them, How then doth David in spirit call him Lord, saying, 44 The LORD said unto my Lord, Sit thou on my right hand, till I make thine enemies thy footstool? 45 If David then call him Lord, how is he his son? 46 And no man was able to answer him a word, neither durst any man from that day forth ask him any more questions.

Eighteenth Sunday After Trinity

Lord God, heavenly Father: We are poor, miserable sinners; we know Thy will, but cannot fulfill it because of the weakness of our flesh and blood, and because our enemy, the devil, will not leave us in peace. Therefore we beseech Thee, shed Thy Holy Spirit in our hearts, that, in steadfast faith, we may cling to Thy Son Jesus Christ, find comfort in His passion and death, believe the forgiveness of sin through Him, and in willing obedience to Thy will lead holy lives on earth, until by Thy grace, through a blessed death, we depart from this world of sorrow, and obtain eternal life, through Thy Son, Jesus Christ, our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with Thee and the Holy Ghost, one true God, world without end. Amen.

Gospel Fruits and Weeds
KJV 1 Corinthians 1:4 I thank my God always on your behalf, for the grace of God which is given you by Jesus Christ; 

Paul's difficulties in Corinth remain a blessing to us this day. Those who like to pick away at the Bible criticize the Apostle for his personal letters. This was a man with normal emotions and responses to difficulties, they complain. His letters are too personal, so they show him as a mortal, fallible man. 

But if we look purely human accounts, there is quite a difference. I am fond of those bits of trivia from the past, where so much is revealed and concealed. People will invariably write their church histories as glorious heroes planting the flag of grace on some lonely, barren spiritual desert - like my hometown Moline. Synods write such predictable histories as Fifty Years of Grace. Individual histories have plenty of details in them, but also have many blank areas. The nephew of CFW Walther skipped most of the early history of the group, which he must have known, sitting at the table of his uncle, and one official site pretended nothing happened until the LCMS started - when CFW became president.

Man's histories forget the faithful leaders and sanitize the rascals.

In contrast, Paul's letters give us a human picture which is also divinely inspired, because the Spirit led him to address the positive and the negatives about Corinth in order to lead them correctly with the Gospel. 

The first three verses are the formal start of an epistle. 

Paul called to be an apostle of Jesus Christ through the will of God, and Sosthenes our brother,
Unto the church of God which is at Corinth, to them that are sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints, with all that in every place call upon the name of Jesus Christ our Lord, both their's and our's:
Grace be unto you, and peace, from God our Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ.

Thus the opening emphasizes the apostolic call of Paul, sent from Jesus Christ through the will of God. Sosthenes is likely the head of the synagogue in Corinth who was beaten (Acts 18:17) for being a Christian.

No one is named a saint except those who believe Christ, who call upon His Name. Paul's union with them is that Jesus is their Lord and his Lord. The greeting starts with grace, which is God's mercy and love through the Gospel, peace which is the result of forgiveness in Him - both coming from the Father and Son, witnessed by the Holy Spirit.

4. In this wise he extols to them the preaching of the Gospel (as indeed he does on different occasions); his purpose is to induce them to regard it most appreciatively. He gives them an example of his own gratitude, thanking God on their behalf, for the purpose of calling forth their especial gratitude when they should consider what they formerly were and what they now had received through the Gospel. And again, he would have them beware lest, forgetful of their former misery and present grace, they relapse into their old blindness. A sad beginning in such backsliding had been made by factions in their midst, who, satiated with the Gospel and indifferent to the abundant grace they enjoyed, began to cast about for something else.

5. Now observe: If the exalted apostle and venerable teacher of the Gentiles in his day had to witness in his own parish such factions and sects as those which, in sinful security and ingratitude toward the Gospel, arose during his life, what wonder is it that today, when we do not have the excellent preachers and pious Christians of those times, there are similar sects? We are aware of the great benefits bestowed upon us, but at the same time we see and realize that the devil instigates divisions and scandals. And the cause of these evils may be traced to our ingratitude; we have quickly forgotten the ills we endured under the blindness of popery, and how miserably we were deluded and tormented. Necessarily, where God’s mercies are lightly dismissed from the mind and disregarded, gratitude and regard for God’s Word cannot be the result; satiated, listless Christians go their way fancying that spiritual conditions always were and always will be as now.

I thank my God always on your behalf

Paul was always thankful to God for the results of the Gospel. He was tireless among the Jews and the non-Jews, which provoked conflict among the Twelve. Were they not Jewish teachers, followers of the Jewish Messiah, with so many Jews to convert to the Gospel? As an outsider to the original Twelve, Paul had to defend his work among non-Jews while continuing his work among the Jews.

Our basic instruction tends to emphasize the non-Jews (the Gentiles) and bypass the large-scale conversions among Jews that caused so much conflict, hatred, persecution, and Paul's ultimate arrest.

The Gospel converted people by showing them that Jesus paid the price for their sins, that believing in Him was forgiveness and the basis for a life in Christ, a road toward eternal life. The Gospel conversions were a miracle that changed people's lives, often dramatically because the good, decent people were satisfied while the lowest characters lacked the luxury of excusing their behavior. 

for the grace of God which is given you by Jesus Christ; 
Paul's conversion made him especially aware of the power of Christ. He was the greatest enemy of Christ, but Paul became the greatest ambassador for Him. Everywhere he preached about Jesus, people believed and opposition arose. Paul damaged the business of pagan idol shops and enraged the Jewish leaders. He tended to unite the opposition against him that way, but also saw the fruits of his work, which is really God's work in the Word.

Nothing is more discouraging than reading the babble of Lutheran leaders today as they market the Reformation while denouncing the Gospel of Paul, the preaching of Luther. However, at the same time, the publication and promotion of Luther and Lutheran books has this remarkable effect - gathering people who love the Gospel and want to learn more.

This increase in reading Luther comes from the experience of many who have been afflicted by false doctrine, damaging leaders, and the chaos created by current conditions. As I often mention, liturgical Lutheran services were once taken for granted, and the KJV reigned supreme, but now entire regions are populated with clowns who want to star in their own circus of snacks and soft-drinks. But wait - there's more. They want to study the Bible at a bar, because that sounds so cool.

In the midst of that nonsense, younger men say, "I want to know what to read and what to avoid in Lutheran, Biblical teaching." That is the miracle of the Gospel and the grace of God. That thirst for Biblical knowledge skipped over my generation almost entirely - the Boomers who took everything for granted and watched it slip away, fearful lest a synodical committee assignment be lost or a mission trip to the beaches of France be canceled. 

5 That in every thing ye are enriched by him, in all utterance, and in all knowledge; 6 Even as the testimony of Christ was confirmed in you: 

I am researching the use of treasure in the Book of Concord, and found it exclusively in Luther's Large Catechism. That finding is no surprise, because Luther was the son of a miner, well acquainted with the digging of new areas for treasure, whether minerals, gold, or silver.

Therefore, the Gospel itself is a treasure in Luther's sermons. Paul used a similar expression - you are enriched by Him in all utterance and knowledge. And in 2 Corinthians - that Christ became poor to enrich others  with the Gospel.

2 Corinthias 8:9 For ye know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that, though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, that ye through his poverty might be rich.

Like everything else we have in abundance, we take these spiritual treasures for granted. That is why I experience people either rooted in the current fads and illusions or else eager to study what is being thrown away.

I can order a used Lutheran book at random and find one in perfect condition owned by a famous seminary professor. Or by a member of the Stellhorn family, a clan instrumental in the LCMS and the ALC. The prices are almost always very low because the demand is low. But when my friends look for this discarded treasure they find it sold short at Salvation Army and other bookstores.

The enrichment of the Gospel is not only what God gives us through grace but also how He spares us by keeping us away from the bogs and swamps that trap so many. Simply read the Internet for news and the words, actions, and thoughts of people will stun the believer with crassness, gross language, and a careless attitude toward everything.

Gerhardt's hymn expresses this perfectly.

Someone wrote, "It may be too hard to translate into English." And yet 9 and 90 Red Balloons was translated from German and became a hit in English. It all depends on what we value. Enormous, expensive efforts are made to support and promote secular quasi-religious music while Lutherans stop once a century to nod toward Gerhardt. One ELS professor could not distinguish between Gerhardt the hymn-writer and Gerhard the theologian. If the professors are so ignorant of their own history, what will the students know and teach in the future?

6 Even as the testimony of Christ was confirmed in you: 

Paul called upon the experience of his readers to remind them of the powerful effect of the Word of God. They knew individually where they came from, because most of the Christians in the Apostolic Age came from the slaves and the most despised, which Paul recalled for them later.

1 Corinthians 6 Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind,
10 Nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God.
11 And such were some of you: but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God.
The power of Gospel conversion was shown in their lives, how the Word changed them from hedonists and criminals into forgiven, sanctified believers.
7 So that ye come behind in no gift; waiting for the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ: 8 Who shall also confirm you unto the end, that ye may be blameless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. 
8. For in your own judgment, what better thing could you have than is the Christian’s in his Gospel and his faith? He has assurance of sins forgiven and washed away in holy baptism, of justification and holiness before God, and of the fact that he is God’s child and heir to eternal life. Furthermore, although the Christian is conscious of remaining weakness and sin, yea, although he be overcome by a fault, he may avail himself of absolution, comfort and strength through his fellow Christians and by the aid of the sacraments; and he has daily guidance for his conduct and faith in all the walks of life. Again, he can call upon God in prayer in the day of trouble, and the firm assurance is his that God will hear and help him. What further can one desire, or what more does he need, than the knowledge that he is God’s child through baptism and has God’s Word at hand for comfort and strength in weakness and sin? Do you consider it slight enrichment to have assurance of the fact that God himself is speaking to you and, by means of the office of the ministry, is effective in you, teaching, admonishing, comforting, sustaining you, yea, granting you victory over the devil, death and all evil influences on earth?
7 So that ye come behind in no gift;
God gives His people the gifts needed to continue in the spread of His Gospel. The gifts are freely given and distributed according to His wisdom. When we needed a place to worship in New Ulm, a tiny group of us were able to purchase four lots with a house, obtain a bank mortgage and a 0% down-payment loan, a large electric organ, hymnals, chairs, a small new chapel, and such.
When we grew as a small group of Lutherans, the Net and a small video camera started us on free Internet worship services. Various technological advances have made communication and publishing relatively easy.
One reader advised me, "Keep up the gardening articles and Norma Boeckler's art." Many are encouraging and they are names not known to the rest.
These gifts should never be be taken for granted, because they make so many things possible. I took computer science to improve what I could do in publishing. If I had stayed at my level of knowledge, I would be like my highschool classmates, wondering if the Internet is open on Sundays. But by learning a few things I found out I could send entire books the world as PDFs on DropBox. God guides in applying man's technology to His work.
waiting for the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ: 8 Who shall also confirm you unto the end, that ye may be blameless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. 
The end is coming, whether it be this year, century, or millennium. No matter what terrifies us now or causes anxiety, that certainty reminds us Who holds history in His hands. 
 Pier Francesco Sacchi_-_Dottori_della_Chiesa_-_ca._1516
 Doctors of the Church

Blameless reminds me of a statement by St. Augustine. He hoped when his mother died that she would not be tempted to say she was worthy because of her good works, but that she would rely solely on her faith in the merits of Christ. He might have preached her into heaven, because her prayers were realized when he was converted by the Word of God. Her prayers were answered in abundance when he became one of the greatest theologians of the Church, second only to Martin Luther, who was an Augustinian monk himself. Among the other famous "Doctors of the Roman Church," Augustine taught grace and justification by faith best of all, with Ambrose a second.
Augustine published far too much, so there is an entire volume of retractions. However, he said this, which few Lutherans would say today - "If anything I wrote is against the Scriptures, disregard it entirely." Far too many today think their inventions are the Word of God. Some think they represent Christ in the flesh, as the Roman Catholics characterize the pope.
Blameless means receiving forgiveness of sin through faith in Christ. That is the message and purpose of the Bible. Without that we have no more wisdom than the pagans have and must rely on a system of works.
 9 God is faithful, by whom ye were called unto the fellowship of his Son Jesus Christ our Lord.
We may falter and fail, but the Word never does. The garden is a perfect example for us to remember. Whenever we start to create some natural beauty or production in plants, we look for good soil. If we want the best, we improve the soil with watering, earthworms, mulch, and natural fertilizers. When this happens, even if we shade the soil with layers of paper, cardboard, and mulch, the weeds burst through and make a big show for themselves.
Weed seeds last 40 years in the soil, so they wait patiently. My neighbor built two berms from topsoil and these mounds were covered in tall weeds in weeks - a fascinating display.
So where the Gospel grows, so do the weeds. And the fake Gospel is like a weed, looking very much like the good plant it is trying to displace. There really are two Gospels, as Luther said, and they grow together. One is the true Gospel and the other is the false Gospel, designed to fool people.
Other obnoxious weeds simply try to choke the Gospel to death or hog all the sunlight and water. The Asian religions are good example. They even try to masquerade as harmonious with the Gospel - Zen, etc.
Some mistakenly believe that opposition is a bad sign, but unbelief with always oppose faith - bitterly, with great vindictiveness. That is the cross every Christian must bear. Luther said "The believer does not need to wonder what his cross is - it is already on his back."

In Our Prayers -
Roman's mother - Florida  (Flora).
Pete and Helene Ellenberger.
Those suffering from the riots and terrorism.