Thursday, February 25, 2010

Daily Readings for February 28 - March 6

Second Sunday in Lent  Genesis 16:1–9, 15—17:22; Mark 6:1–13
March 1, 2010  Genesis 18:1–15; Mark 6:14–34; Genesis 18:16—20:18
March2  Genesis 21:1–21; Mark 6:35–56
March 3 Genesis 22:1–19; Mark 7:1–23
March 4 Genesis 24:1–31; Mark 7:24–37
March 5  Genesis 24:32–52, 61–67; Mark 8:1–21; Genesis 25:1—26:35
March 6  Genesis 27:1–29;Mark 8:22–38

Looking ahead to Lent 3 March 7, 2010

OCULI—THe Third Sunday in Lent

Jeremiah was charged with speaking evil when he spoke the word of the Lord. (Jeremiah 26:115) So also, Jesus is accused of doing evil when in fact He is doing good.  He casts out a demon from a mute man so that he is able to speak. (Luke 11:1428)  But some said Jesus did this by the power of Beelzebub, Satan.  Like Pharaoh of old, their hearts were hard. (Exodus 8:1624)  They did not recognize the finger of God, the power of the Holy Spirit at work in and through Jesus.  Jesus is the Stronger Man who overcomes the strong man.  He takes the devil’s armor of sin and death and destroys it from the inside out by the holy cross.  He exorcizes and frees us by water and the Word.  We were once darkness, but now we are light in Christ the Lord. (Ephesians 5:19) As children of light our tongues are loosed to give thanks to Him who saved us.  In a world where demons roam we confess, “My eyes are ever toward the Lord, for He shall pluck my feet out of the net.” (Introit)

My eyes are ever | toward the Lord,*
        for He shall pluck my feet out | of the net.
Turn Yourself to me, and have mer- | cy on me,*
        for I am desolate and af- | flicted. (Psalm 25:15–16)

To You, O Lord, I lift | up my soul.*
        O my God, I trust in You; let me not | be ashamed;
the troubles of my heart | have enlarged;*
        bring me out of | my distresses!
Look on my affliction | and my pain,*
        and forgive | all my sins.
Keep my soul, and de- | liver me;*
        let me not be ashamed, for I put my | trust in You. (Psalm 25:1–2, 17–18, 20)

We implore You, almighty and merciful Father, to look upon the hearty desires of Your humble servants and stretch forth the right hand of Your majesty to be our defense against all our enemies; through Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.

Old Testament: Exodus 8:16–24 [This is the finger of God]

Arise, O Lord, do not let | man prevail;*
        let the nations be judged | in Your sight.
When my ene- | mies turn back,*
        they shall fall and perish at Your | presence. (Psalm 9:19, 3)

Psalmody: Psalm 9

Epistle: Ephesians 5:1–9 [Imitators of God]

Unto You I lift | up my eyes,*
        O You who dwell in the | heavens.
Behold, as the eyes of | servants*
        look to the hand of their | masters.
So our eyes look to the | Lord our God,*
        until He has mer- | cy on us.
Have mercy on | us, O Lord,*
        Have mercy | on us! (Psalm 123:1–3)

Holy Gospel: Luke 11:14–28 [Jesus and Beelzebub]

“Remember, O Lord, Your tender mercies” Lent 2 Sermon

January 27 – 28, 2010  Lent 2
Matthew 15:21-28
Remember, O Lord, Your tender mercies”

In the Name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen. Remember, O Lord, Your tender mercies and Your loving kindnesses. For they are of old. They are older than our sins. So remember them and not our sins. Remember Your promises. Remember the Sacrifice of Your Son in our stead! For we are severely oppressed by demons, by an evil army of angels, by Satan himself. We are assaulted through the eyes and ears with temptations that threaten to overcome us and drag us into self-destruction by lust, greed, and malice. Sanctify us, O Lord. Fulfill Your will in us or else we are lost. Avenge us for we are Your own Blood-bought children. Cleanse us in holiness. Deliver us from the evil one. Have mercy upon us.

Remember, and do not forget, O Lord, our children which we have forgotten. The end draws near. The enemy is bold in his attacks. He dashes babies against the rocks in clinics in our city. He turns the fathers from their children to shameful, grainy images on the television screens watched alone in the dark behind locked doors or to bottles of violent poison advertized as the stuff of the high life! He tricks them into gambling away the college fund and pretending all the while that their abuse toughens their children for the real world. He demoralizes and defeats in subtle, cunning ways. He undermines the fathers’ love for their children by first destroying the fathers’ love for their wives. He seduces them away with pleasures of the flesh, hardens their hearts, turns them inward, so that they do not notice, or do not mind, when he rapes and tortures their children.

Remember, O Lord, what we have forgotten! For demons prowl the halls of our schools. Our children are in danger. Remember, O Lord, to crush the serpent’s head and to keep us as the apple of Your eye! For the enemy seeks victims in the bathrooms and locker rooms, in the cafeteria and playground. He attempts to rule through terror and pain. He cuts down with cruel words and false names. Our children suffer at his hand and learn the ways of evil men way too early, behaving too much like their fathers, violently using guns and condoms in the school. Have mercy, O Lord, Son of David. Intervene. Bestow the Wisdom that surpasses Solomon’s. Grant us peace in Your land: in our homes, in our Church, and in our government.

Remember, O Lord, Yourself. For with You there is forgiveness that You may be feared. Apart from You there is nothing, no hope, no future, no mercy. And though we have invited these demons in, we are oppressed and repent. We know we should not have. We wish that we had not. We want to never do it again. And most importantly, wholeheartedly, we put our hope in Your Word! We wait for You. For if You marked iniquities, O Lord, who could stand? We ask not for justice. We plead, we beg, for mercy. Send us limping away if You must, but first give us a blessing. Reveal Yourself to us. Tell us Your Name. For we believe that You are the God of Abraham, the living God who made all things, who delivered the Syro-Phonecian´s daughter from demons, who sacrificed Himself to redeem men and defeat Satan, who ascended into heaven to open the way to all believers. We believe that You are the most Holy Trinity. We believe that You are the God of forgiving mercy and saving grace.

We are not the lost sheep of the House of Israel. We are not of that fold. But remember, O Lord, that You have caused us to hear Your Voice. Turn not away from us. Bring us to Yourself. Unite us together in grace. Let us be little lap dogs, eating crumbs from Your table. Anything, just let us live and come in. Relieve us of the demons and Hell’s wrathful fire according to Your own prophetic promise. For it is better to be a dog in Your House than meat in the devil’s stew!

Cause us to remember, O Lord, Your bitter passion and death, to proclaim it and Your mercy, by eating and drinking our salvation in Your Body and Your Blood, by casting out demons and drowning the Old Adam in the Jordan ‘s stream flowing out of the Baptismal Font, by preaching the truth of Your boundless love in the suffering, crucifixion, and resurrection! Feed us. Nourish us. Strengthen and encourage us. Remember, O Lord, Your tender mercies and Your loving kindnesses for they are of old. Sanctify us. Fulfill Your will in us. Avenge us. Cleanse us. Deliver us. Help us.

Have mercy upon us, Lord, Son of David. We know Your Name. Remember our names in Your Kingdom for we are the new Israel. We have struggled with God and overcome by Your mercy. We have seen You. Our eyes have seen Your Body risen from the dead and hidden in bread. Our lips have been drank Your Holy Blood. Remember, O Lord, our children. Deliver us from demons. In  + Jesus’ Name. Amen.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

The Wound of Betrayal Feb. 23, 2010 Lent Midweek

“The Wound of Betrayal”

Text: Matthew 26:20-25; 2 Samuel 15:1-12
February 23, 2010

“One of you will betray me,” Jesus said as He reclined at the table with His disciples. What makes that statement even more remarkable is that it was spoken at not just any table, and not just at the Passover table, but at the Table which was about to be the Table of our Lord’s Supper. Jesus was about to give them His body and blood, and one of them was going to give Him over to death.

“One of your will betray me,” Jesus said to His friends. The twelve who were like His family. Who were the closest to Him. Whom He had hand-picked to be His disciples. One of them would turn on Him. No crown of thorns, no whip, no mocking, would hurt as deeply as that. Most of you know that. For most of you have felt the wound of betrayal - when your trust is thrust aside, and you are hurt by one close to you, a family member or a close friend. It is a wound not quick to heal.

“One of you will betray me.” And when they heard those words, the disciples began to be sorrowful, and each asked: “Is it I, Lord?” They would, of course, all betray Him. Not as Judas would, but each in their own way. As do we. Lent is a time to consider that, to examine ourselves, to ask the hard questions. Do I betray His name given to me in Baptism by how I live? Do I betray Him by presuming on His forgiveness and regarding it lightly? Do I take my Lord’s love and return it not?

“One of you will betray me.” As Absalom turned on his father David, so do sons of God turn on their Heavenly Father. But King David gives us a picture of the heart of God in that he will not return betrayal for betrayal, or wound for wound - his love for his son Absalom continues. He will endure the hurt and will not hurt in return.

So it is with Jesus. When He speaks, His words are not filled with anger or judgment or condemnation, but filled with love. “One of you will betray me” and “woe to that man by whom the Son of Man is betrayed” is not thundered like at Sinai, but spoken in compassion from the heart, to bring the terrors of conscience that lead to repentance and confession. That there might not be woe, but forgiveness. Yet Jesus knew, as was His way, that it would not be so. That when Judas came to know his sin, he would think it too grievous to be forgiven; greater than God’s mercy in Christ. And that made the sorrow even greater, and broke our Lord’s heart even more than the betrayal itself.

For it was for that sin that Jesus would now go “as it is written of Him.” It was for the sin of Judas, and the sins of all of us Judases, that the Son of Man stretched His hands on the wood of the cross and let them pound the nails. It was for the sin of Judas, and the sins of all of us Judases, that the Son of Man pleaded “Father, forgive!” It was for the sin of Judas, and the sins of all of us Judases, that the Lord of life let “grim death, with cruel rigor” (LSB #450 v.2) rob Him of His life, so that sin and death would lose their claim on us forever.

The wound of betrayal, perhaps we could say, hurt like hell! But in Jesus’ heart lives a love too great, too strong, too mighty to be conquered. And so there is no sin too great, too strong, too mighty to be forgiven. Jesus took all the sin of Judas, and all the sins of all of us Judases, that we might be forgiven. That we might turn to Him in faith. That we turn and live.

And live we do! Now, with the same love with which we have been loved. A love that will not return hurt for hurt, betrayal for betrayal, wound for wound - but which forgives the trespasses of those who sin against us. That is not easy; impossible, in fact, for our fallen human nature! But in communion with Christ, it is possible. That when we are crushed, when we are reduced to tears, when we are sold out, when we feel like rising up in anger and indignation and getting even with those who sin against us, instead, we take up our cross and follow Him. We nail that old Adam in us to the cross, and forgive. And love. To do so will feel like torture and death - like a cross! - to the old Adam. But to the new man in you, the resurrected man, created by God in Baptism, it will be joy and life. It will be the glory of Christ and His love living in you.

In the wounds of Christ, we find healing for our wounds of betrayal. In the wounds of Christ, we discover a love that sets us free from the need for revenge. In the wounds of Christ, we find the strength of compassion, and the joy of forgiveness. From the wounds of Christ come the gifts of our Lord, who comes to us betrayers, us sinners, now at this Table, this altar, with His body and blood, given and shed for you for the forgiveness of sins. And we say, at this table: “It is I, Lord.” And He says: Take eat; take drink. For you I am wounded. For you I am crucified. For you I am risen. For you I live. Go in My peace, My strength, My love.

In the name of the Father, and of the + Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Lessons for February 21-27

 Daily Lectionary
Second Sunday in Lent Genesis 16:1–9, 15—17:22; Mark 6:1–13
Monday Genesis 18:1–15; Mark 6:14–34
Tuesday Genesis 21:1–21; Mark 6:35–56
Wednesday Genesis 22:1–19; Mark 7:1–23
Thursday Genesis 24:1–31; Mark 7:24–37
Friday Genesis 24:32–52, 61–67; Mark 8:1–21
Saturday Genesis 27:1–29; Mark 8:22–38

Reminiscere—The Second Sunday In Lent
Jacob wrestled with God; he would not let Him go until he received a blessing from Him. (Genesis 32:22–32) So it was with the Canaanite woman. Though Jesus seemed to ignore and reject her, yet she continued to call upon His name and look to Him for help. (Matthew 15:21–28) Even when the Lord called her a little dog, she held on to Him in faith and would not let Him wriggle out of His words: ―Yet even the little dogs eat the crumbs which fall from their masters‘ table.‖ This Gentile woman shows herself to be a true Israelite, who struggles with God and man in Christ and prevails. ―O woman, great is your faith! Let it be to you as you desire.‖ This is the sanctifying will of God, (1 Thessalonians 4:1–7) to test your faith in order that it may be refined and strengthened. For tribulation produces perseverance; perseverance, character; character, hope. And hope in Christ does not disappoint. (Romans 5:1–5)

O God, our heavenly Father, seeing that of ourselves we have no strength, keep us both outwardly and inwardly that we may be defended from all adversities that may happen to the body and from all evil thoughts that may assault and hurt the soul; through Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.

Old Testament: Genesis 32:22–32 [Jacob wrestles with God]
Epistle: 1 Thessalonians 4:1–7 [God‘s calls us to be holy]
Holy Gospel: Matthew 15:21–28 [Canaanite Woman‘s faith]