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, November 6, 2016

All Saints Sunday, 2016. The Beatitudes

From Norma Boeckler

All Saints Sunday, 2016
Pastor Gregory L. Jackson

The Hymn # 429                   Lord Thee I Love                 
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 # 463            For All the Saints                   

The Beatitudes -  Blessings and the Most Difficult One

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 # 657            Beautiful Savior       

From Norma Boeckler

KJV Revelation 7:2 And I saw another angel ascending from the east, having the seal of the living God: and he cried with a loud voice to the four angels, to whom it was given to hurt the earth and the sea, 3 Saying, Hurt not the earth, neither the sea, nor the trees, till we have sealed the servants of our God in their foreheads. 4 And I heard the number of them which were sealed: and there were sealed an hundredand forty and four thousand of all the tribes of the children of Israel. 5 Of the tribe of Juda were sealed twelve thousand. Of the tribe of Reuben were sealed twelve thousand. Of the tribe of Gad were sealed twelve thousand. 6 Of the tribe of Aser were sealed twelve thousand. Of the tribe of Nepthalim weresealed twelve thousand. Of the tribe of Manasses were sealed twelve thousand. 7 Of the tribe of Simeonwere sealed twelve thousand. Of the tribe of Levi were sealed twelve thousand. Of the tribe of Issacharwere sealed twelve thousand. 8 Of the tribe of Zabulon were sealed twelve thousand. Of the tribe of Joseph were sealed twelve thousand. Of the tribe of Benjamin were sealed twelve thousand. 9 After this I beheld, and, lo, a great multitude, which no man could number, of all nations, and kindreds, and people, and tongues, stood before the throne, and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes, and palms in their hands; 10 And cried with a loud voice, saying, Salvation to our God which sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb. 11 And all the angels stood round about the throne, and about the elders and the four beasts, and fell before the throne on their faces, and worshipped God, 12 Saying, Amen: Blessing, and glory, and wisdom, and thanksgiving, and honour, and power, and might, be unto our God for ever and ever. Amen. 13 And one of the elders answered, saying unto me, What are these which are arrayed in white robes? and whence came they? 14 And I said unto him, Sir, thou knowest. And he said to me, These are they which came out of great tribulation, and have washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. 15 Therefore are they before the throne of God, and serve him day and night in his temple: and he that sitteth on the throne shall dwell among them. 16 They shall hunger no more, neither thirst any more; neither shall the sun light on them, nor any heat. 17 For the Lamb which is in the midst of the throne shall feed them, and shall lead them unto living fountains of waters: and God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes.

KJV Matthew 5:1 And seeing the multitudes, he went up into a mountain: and when he was set, his disciples came unto him: 2 And he opened his mouth, and taught them, saying,
Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted.
Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth.
Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled.
Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy.
Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God.
Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God.
10 Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness' sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.11 Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake. 12 Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you.

 From Norma Boeckler


O almighty and everlasting God, who through Thine only-begotten and beloved Son, Jesus Christ, wilt sanctify all Thine elected and beloved: Give us grace to follow their faith, hope, and charity, that we together with them may 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.

The Beatitudes -  Blessings and the Most Difficult One

KJV Matthew 5:1 And seeing the multitudes, he went up into a mountain: and when he was set, his disciples came unto him: 2 And he opened his mouth, and taught them, saying,

The Beatitudes read like a Psalm; μακάριοι at once recalls the blessed of Ps. 1:1. “Blessed!” intoned again and again, sounds like bells of heaven, ringing down into this unblessed world from the cathedral spires of the kingdom inviting all men to enter. The word, like its opposite “woe,” is neither a wish regarding a coming condition, nor a description of a present condition, but a judgment pronounced upon the persons indicated, stating that they must be considered fortunate. The form is almost exclamatory: “O the blessedness of those who,” etc.! And it is Jesus who renders this judgment, which is, therefore, absolutely true although all the world may disagree. Each of the eight judgments is at once established by revealing in what the blessedness actually consists; and the eighth judgment is even doubled, and its blessedness is unveiled in two strong statements. All this blessedness is spiritual, each part of it coming from the great Messianic kingdom, true soul-blessedness, a rich possession now but with a glorious promise of still greater riches—the very opposite of the word’s happiness which is poisoned already in the bud and soon blasted forever. “Blessed” means joy for those concerned. But this is the heavenly way: the great gifts of the kingdom are ours, insuring a constant flow of joy, so that, even if for a moment we be sad and sorrowful, the joy will again well up in our hearts. John 15:11.
Lenski, R. C. H.: The Interpretation of St. Matthew's Gospel. Minneapolis, MN. : Augsburg Publishing House, 1961, S. 183.

The Gospels show Jesus teaching from a boat, where the land rises above the water, providing a natural soundboard and pews with good sight-lines. We like to see the person talking and that helps fill in the words when background noise filters it out. Many churches were built this way in the past. Movie theaters still are.

The Sermon on the Mount is the reverse, with Jesus is seated at the high point and speaks to everyone below. Many traditional churches used this style, with a very high pulpit. I gave a sermon in Hustisford, Wisconsin, where my eyes were level with the balcony. The pulpit in Moby Dick was the prow of a ship. The preacher climbed into the pulpit and drew the rope ladder up after him.

Like most old fashioned pulpits, it was a very lofty one, and since a regular stairs to such a height would, by its long angle with the floor, seriously contract the already small area of the chapel, the architect, it seemed, had acted upon the hint of Father Mapple, and finished the pulpit without a stairs, substituting a perpendicular side ladder, like those used in mounting a ship from a boat at sea. The wife of a whaling captain had provided the chapel with a handsome pair of red worsted man-ropes for this ladder, which, being itself nicely headed, and stained with a mahogany color, the whole contrivance, considering what manner of chapel it was, seemed by no means in bad taste. 

Halting for an instant at the foot of the ladder, and with both hands grasping the ornamental knobs of the man-ropes, Father Mapple cast a look upwards, and then with a truly sailor-like but still reverential dexterity, hand over hand, mounted the steps as if ascending the main-top of his vessel.

The perpendicular parts of this side ladder, as is usually the case with swinging ones, were of cloth-covered rope, only the rounds were of wood, so that at every step there was a joint. At my first glimpse of the pulpit, it had not escaped me that however convenient for a ship, these joints in the present instance seemed unnecessary. For I was not prepared to see Father Mapple after gaining the height, slowly turn round, and stooping over the pulpit, deliberately drag up the ladder step by step, till the whole was deposited within, leaving him impregnable in his little Quebec.

I pondered some time without fully comprehending the reason for this. Father Mapple enjoyed such a wide reputation for sincerity and sanctity, that I could not suspect him of courting notoriety by any mere tricks of the stage. No, thought I, there must be some sober reason for this thing; furthermore, it must symbolize something unseen. Can it be, then, that by that act of physical isolation, he signifies his spiritual withdrawal for the time, from all outward worldly ties and connexions? Yes, for replenished with the meat and wine of the word, to the faithful man of God, this pulpit, I see, is a self-containing stronghold-a lofty Ehrenbreitstein, with a perennial well of water within the walls.

But the side ladder was not the only strange feature of the place, borrowed from the chaplain's former sea-farings. Between the marble cenotaphs on either hand of the pulpit, the wall which formed its back was adorned with a large painting representing a gallant ship beating against a terrible storm off a lee coast of black rocks and snowy breakers. But high above the flying scud and dark-rolling clouds, there floated a little isle of sunlight, from which beamed forth an angel's face; and this bright face shed a distant spot of radiance upon the ship's tossed deck, something like that silver plate now inserted into Victory's plank where Nelson fell. "Ah, noble ship," the angel seemed to say, "beat on, beat on, thou noble ship, and bear a hardy helm; for lo! the sun is breaking through; the clouds are rolling off-serenest azure is at hand."

Nor was the pulpit itself without a trace of the same sea-taste that had achieved the ladder and the picture. Its panelled front was in the likeness of a ship's bluff bows, and the Holy Bible rested on a projecting piece of scroll work, fashioned after a ship's fiddle-headed beak.

What could be more full of meaning?-for the pulpit is ever this earth's foremost part; all the rest comes in its rear; the pulpit leads the world. From thence it is the storm of God's quick wrath is first descried, and the bow must bear the earliest brunt. From thence it is the God of breezes fair or foul is first invoked for favorable winds. Yes, the world's a ship on its passage out, and not a voyage complete; and the pulpit is its prow. Moby Dick

So it seems entirely appropriate that the public ministry of Jesus began with a sermon, after a brief introduction with His temptation in the desert, baptism, and calling disciples - Matthew 4.

As Luther explains in his sermon about 1 Thessalonians, God allows suffering in this world to benefit us spiritually. 

2. This consolation Paul draws from their sufferings and God’s righteous judgment, by which he makes plain why God lets them suffer here on earth, what is his purpose in it. Looking at the Christian community with the eye of human reason and reflection, no more wretched, tormented, persecuted, unhappy people are in evidence on earth than those who confess and glory in Christ the crucified. In the world they are continually persecuted, tormented and assailed by the devil with all manner of wretchedness, misfortune, distress and death. Even to their own perceptions, it seems as if they surely are forgotten and forsaken by God in the sight of mankind. For he allows them to remain prostrate under the weight of the cross, while others in the world, particularly their persecutors, live in the enjoyment of honor and fortune, of happiness, power and riches, with everything moving to the fulfillment of their desires. The Scriptures frequently deplore this condition of things, especially the Psalms, and Paul in 1 Corinthians 15:19 confesses: “If we have only hoped in Christ in this life, we are of all men most pitiable.”

This is where we can see the vast gulf between the teaching of Jesus and the modern snake-oil salesmen. The fakes and frauds of today teach exactly the opposite on this topic, so they should be identified as wolves and hired hands. They tell people what their itching ears want to hear.

Of course, some take a slightly different tone, but it is the same message. Those wolves talk about how superior they are to all Christian groups. Therefore, the others must be shunned. Their blessedness comes from their moral superiority and the gulf between them and the unwashed hordes, who must be allowed to pollute them. 

In both cases, the wolves and charlatans are law salesmen who only have their own law to address problems of the law. As I explained to one person in a hospital waiting room. The law is like an x-ray - it shows us what is broken or twisted. However, once we know the problem and see it clearly, the solution is not another x-ray to heal it. There must be healing through the Gospel.

In short, the Beatitudes teach us to be blessed by looking at Christ and His own ministry. The ideal characteristics of the Christian are those of Christ. To use the adjective - Christ-like - we look at those qualities as good and beneficial for our spiritual well-being, especially when we feel the cross laid upon us.

We learn early in life not to taste something sweet and then something acidic. The acidic food seems so harsh that we can hardly stand it as children. The reverse works well. "Have your orange juice first and then the cereal." The false teachers offer tons of sugar and the innocent follower finds the world bitter, far too bitter after being given such sweet promises for joining. He finds his teeth on edge about his sufferings and regrets the false gospel he was given.

Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

This is the opposite of the proud and haughty who must always have their way and insist on their honors and perks. My Utmost for His Highest has this statement in it - "The Christian life is not claiming rights but giving them up." This is an era of rights, always piling one set of conflicting rights on top of another. Everyone is an individual and everyone has those rights. I laughed when I saw the website of a new mini-bishop in a micro-sect, the ELCA in Canada. She was no longer a nobody. Everything said, "The bishop will..." and "You will ask the bishop..." and so forth. Clearly she was going to roll in like Queen Victoria and demand her rights as a bishop, a title won by political maneuvering and deals.

The great and mighty in the visible church accomplish very little and if anything, they are terribly destructive and self-destructive. I have in my news items an ELCA bishop, a WELS DP, an Episcopalian bishop, and a Roman Catholic bishop - all convicted of drunken driving - meaning they were out of control drunks. Three of the four bishops killed someone during their DUI, and all three drove away from the accident. And yet, minutes before, they ruled jurisdictions and made their underlings bow before them.

The poor in spirit are the ordinary pastors who are overlooked, often looked down upon, even thought they are the ones visiting with the Word, preparing actual sermons, counseling with the Gospel instead of self-esteem books. They are often made to feel so bad that they drop out and consider themselves failures. The same could be said about laity who see wealthy nogoodniks at the head table while their self-sacrificial work is taken for granted. But God sees and rewards accordingly.

Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted.

The longer we live, the more we mourn the loss of loved ones. Although the Christian faith is a source of great healing, the pain is still there and continues to be felt. God does not leave us orphans, though we feel like it. Ahead is the glory of eternal life and realizing all the Promises.

A believer knows that suffering has meaning and belongs to God's purpose for us. Without faith in Christ, a loss means nothing and is often characterized as nothing. Sometimes it is portrayed in terms of human virtue, always centered in man's law. But the Christian who has grieved is someone who can comfort others by realizing and applying his insights.

We do not have the comfort of the Gospel from loss until we have experienced it. Then we know how much difference it makes to have the treasure of the Gospel Promises. That deepens our faith in Christ and changes our perspective. If everything is material, the greatest threat is loss of material things and the greatest reward is having even more stuff. But when we lose someone we love, the most important things are not material but spiritual, the wisdom that only the Word can give us.

Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth.

The meek are like their Master, Jesus, who did not announce Himself and call on others to treat Him as the Lord of Lords, though He was - and is. As Luther writes in another passage, inheriting the earth means having enough and enjoying the life God gives us - spouse, children, household goods.

Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled. <-The central Beatitude

Many do not have this hunger and thirst, because they are satisfied with themselves, their merit, their earthly honors, their works. One of the great businesses today is awarding trophies, awards, and luxuries for certain accomplishments.  That is why it is difficult for the very rich to inherit the Kingdom. They become an entity by themselves and institutions come to them to share in their glory.

Filled - with grace through the Means of Grace. The Scriptures are filled with God's blessings, Promises, and declarations. Non-Lutherans scowl and say, "Why do many Means of Grace? God does not need them." That is a clever turn of phrase, because man needs the Means of Grace, the Instruments by which God grants forgiveness, love, and favor to believers in His Son.

Normal people (but not sociopaths) feel the ache of sin. Many try to cure that ache with man-made inventions of self-punishment, or gifts honored by churches and institutions, or other non-Christian means. To hunger and thirst for the righteousness of Christ is a good lack to feel, because the Savior will satisfy it.

Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy.

The central Beatitude leads to the Gospel fruits of forgiveness, the Beatitudes that follow. From the forgiveness of sin comes an attitude of mercy. If all our sins are forgiven through faith in the grace of Our Lord, then we know what mercy is and that Gospel energy makes us more merciful. The unbelievers want an eye for an eye, and even more, but the believer who knows mercy is influenced by the Gospel's effect - like yeast penetrating dough - generating merciful hearts.

Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God.

This is another example of the Gospel's influence. The first Beatitudes are about the trials of Christians, but these are about the fruits of the Spirit. Forgiveness and peace go together - always - in the Bible. To say one is righteous or forgiven or enjoying peace - those are all the result the Gospel, different ways of expressing what God does for us through His Word. Forgiveness is what we receive through faith, and peace is what we enjoy through forgiveness. Righteous is not a scary word, because it does not demand perfection from us, but shows we have the righteousness of Christ, the righteousness of faith.

10 Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness' sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.11 Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake. 12 Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you.

Just when we are onto some good things from following Christ, we get the painful verses about how blessed it is to be persecuted. Even worse, the first statement is enlarged by what follows. But this is the way things must be in a world ruled by Satan.

The world is so utterly perverse that anything godly is going to be persecuted, most often by those who call themselves Christians.

This is the point where ministers want to give up, and yet Jesus says the opposite, "You are blessed. You are doing what is good and honorable in the eyes of God. As I was treated, so you will be treated."