The Glory Has Departed


Norma Boeckler, Artist-in-Residence

Bethany Lutheran Worship on
Ustream


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

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Ash Wednesday, 2017. Matthew 6:16-21. "Where Your Treasure Is...


Ash Wednesday, 2017, 7 PM Central

Pastor Gregory L. Jackson



The Hymn #552                Abide with Me 
            
The Order of Vespers                                                p. 41
The Psalmody               Psalm 1                        p. 123
The Lection                              Joel 2:12-19
Matthew 6:16-2


The Sermon –   Where Your Treasure Is...
The Prayers
The Lord’s Prayer
The Collect for Grace                                       p. 45

The Hymn # 429      Lord, Thee I Love                  


KJV Joel 2:12 Therefore also now, saith the LORD, turn ye even to me with all your heart, and with fasting, and with weeping, and with mourning: 13 And rend your heart, and not your garments, and turn unto the LORD your God: for he is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and of great kindness, and repenteth him of the evil. 14 Who knoweth if he will return and repent, and leave a blessing behind him; even a meat offering and a drink offering unto the LORD your God? 15 Blow the trumpet in Zion, sanctify a fast, call a solemn assembly: 16 Gather the people, sanctify the congregation, assemble the elders, gather the children, and those that suck the breasts: let the bridegroom go forth of his chamber, and the bride out of her closet. 17 Let the priests, the ministers of the LORD, weep between the porch and the altar, and let them say, Spare thy people, O LORD, and give not thine heritage to reproach, that the heathen should rule over them: wherefore should they say among the people, Where is their God? 18 Then will the LORD be jealous for his land, and pity his people. 19 Yea, the LORD will answer and say unto his people, Behold, I will send you corn, and wine, and oil, and ye shall be satisfied therewith: and I will no more make you a reproach among the heathen:



KJV Matthew 6:16 Moreover when ye fast, be not, as the hypocrites, of a sad countenance: for they disfigure their faces, that they may appear unto men to fast. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward. 17 But thou, when thou fastest, anoint thine head, and wash thy face; 18 That thou appear not unto men to fast, but unto thy Father which is in secret: and thy Father, which seeth in secret, shall reward thee openly. 19 Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal: 20 But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal: 21 For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.

This should be ready for initial proof-reading
tonight or tomorrow AM, D.V.


Where Your Treasure Is

KJV Matthew 6:16 Moreover when ye fast, be not, as the hypocrites, of a sad countenance: for they disfigure their faces, that they may appear unto men to fast. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward. 

Today the Facebook posts were crowded with references to wearing ashes today. That struck me as the opposite of the Gospel lesson's first part. 

One police officer asked an ELCA pastor to anoint his face with ashes, during a traffic stop, because he would not be able to make the service.

The lesson is not for or against certain customs, but against making a show of repentance to earn the praise of others. Once again, that is the basic temptation of Christianity, to turn the Gospel into a program, a system of works, a way to show off one's holiness.

Luther always praised the character and holiness of the Pharisees, for good reason. They were the best and the most honored of the religious. And St. Paul was the best Pharisee. The trouble with that was simple, their treasure was in their own holiness. They counted that and added it up like a Price Waterhouse CPA Partner-in-Charge.

As long as the treasure is in one's works of righteousness, there will be a constant effort to make sure the treasury is full and protected against all assaults. Every word and deed comes from the purest of motives and intentions, no matter how things ended up.

Luther was good about emphasizing how our Old Adam taints everything we do or say. Unless we face our inherent sinfulness, we are going to insist we are always right and the other person always wrong. Our motives will always be the best - the other's motives will always be the worst. 

The beginning of true repentance is not to go around with a hang-dog face, which is so popular today. The apology is often offered in terms of emotion:
  • The football star caught in a felony is very sorry.
  • "I feel terrible about it." 
  • I just cannot tell you how sorry I am. I have cried about it day and night.
The revivalists, even among Lutherans, were known for having a mourner's bench up front where they could sigh and pray and come to Jesus during a revival service. The Lutherans caught up with the Evangelical, non-Confessional revivals found out that eventually they wore this out and found it quite unproductive.

The revivalists made no secret of their attempts to manipulate everyone, so their preaching revivals found new energy in Pentecostalism, where speaking in tongues generated new excitement because they were new and supposedly material signs of God's Holy Spirit.

These entertainments, which continue in various forms, tend to reduce the audience's blessings in worship, because they become passive in watching the show unless they are starring in a mini-show, such as pounding on electronic instruments or dancing in the aisles.

Sadly, this passive behavior leads people away from the Means of Grace and genuine repentance. The Gospel itself is often the most moving message of our need for repentance, because of the magnitude of forgiveness, the greatness of the Treasure.

17 But thou, when thou fastest, anoint thine head, and wash thy face; 18 That thou appear not unto men to fast, but unto thy Father which is in secret: and thy Father, which seeth in secret, shall reward thee openly. 

People are not correct when they mope about and use sorrow for sin as their payment, because our emotions, our regrets, our long faces do not pay for sin. They do not certify us as worthy of forgiveness.

The Gospel is too simple for many to believe because just as our Old Adam sins, so our Old Adam wants to pay for sin. But the Gospel teaches that believing in Christ is forgiveness, complete and full.

Even more, the daily life of the believer means we are forgiven all our sins each day by the Holy Spirit in the Word that teaches us this forgiveness, the Atonement of Christ on the cross.

So we should anoint our heads, look bright and happy, even when observing a fast. The reason is - our treasure is in heaven and not there among the opinions of others, whether good or bad.

19 Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal:

One of my favorite passages in Moby Dick is where the tight-fisted Quakers do not want to pay Ishmael much for shipping out on a dangerous voyage hunting whales. Each time Ishmael hints at a greater share of the haul, they say, "Lay not up for yourselves..." In whaling, a "lay" is a portion of the haul. Clearly the Quakers were not observing their own Scriptural advice.

I decided, once I reached the age of Luther and Melanchthon when they died, - 63 years - that I should devote as much time as possible in publishing books that would benefit others with Scriptural, Lutheran doctrine. Instead of figuring that a final book in 2000 would be enough, I thought, "Why not explore all the important topics? Why not give away as much as possible?"

Now I am thinking of providing a series of lectures on Ustream, the basics of Christian doctrine and certain topics.

The blessings are unexpected, just as the shunning is. Let us forget the shunning for a century or so. The blessings come from uniting those who have a keen interest in Biblical, Lutheran teaching and eagerly study the Word of God, Luther, the Confessions, and related material.

That group is not enormous in size, but as Luther wrote, the Gospel is thinly sown. Those who have disrupted the lives of others by their attacks on Christian doctrine have awakened many who took certain claims for granted as being true.

20 But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal: 

We can lay up for ourselves treasures on earth, and that works fairly well. Jesus is quite clear about alternatives. There are believers and unbelievers, laying up treasure on earth - or in heaven.

Lenski pointed out that people concern themselves with what God already provides, but they fail to pray for what is most important. Anyone can see the results, because people were not concerned when faithful worship services were replaced with clown acts - literally in some cases. They agreed with ripping out pipe organs in the name of having pop music - and no more hymns. They piled up false teachers that would tell them what their itching ears wanted to hear.

The Gospel offers the cross, and Jesus insisted on it. Those who refuse the cross are not worthy to follow Him and be His disciple. That means who - when offered a chance to stay with the Gospel or appease others - choose the popular route.

God provides some ironic humor in this, because losing is always gaining. Those who lose friends, family, and jobs also gain in ways that can hardly be replaced.

Really secure jobs might have kept us in Phoenix. As I told our son, that would have denied us the last 7 years with his family. Our grandson only knows us being nearby. 

21 For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.

If material things are our treasure, then we measure everything that way. For example one of the Duponts grew up in a home filled with imported treasures from Europe, entire wings brought over. She said, "I was never allowed to play, because I might hurt something." Probably the oppressing thought was, "They love the antiques more than they love me."

When the Gospel is our treasure, we see how many blessings come from what God has given us. We have felt that in our neighborhood. Last night two neighbor girls knocked on the door. They brought a necklace over for my wife. They came in and gave her the gift, and they said, "We love you."

Likewise, Sassy's friend on the corner comes by often to visit. He has limitations but no limit on his caring. Every day on our walks I have to give him a report. He cared for his mother and stepfather in their final days.

In 47 years we have not had so many close neighbors, including the woman who died calling herself a Lutheran and a member of our church.