Human beings feast when they celebrate. Food is the essence of life for us. When we feast we celebrate life. We pray before we eat because we recognize that without food we would die, and so we thank God who “brings forth bread from the earth; who opens his hand and feeds all living things”. (Psalm 104:14- 15; 27-28) Easter is the Feast of Feasts. At Easter we celebrate that God has given us Christ, who “is the Bread of Life’. (St. John 6:35) That is why Christ gave us the Lord’s Supper. At the Table of the Lord, we receive Christ in his body and blood; food that nourishes us to eternal life. The brief liturgies that follow are to be prayed at the table. The first, before breakfast on Easter morning; the second, before Easter dinner. Both liturgies call for a candle, symbol of the Risen Christ (He is also the Light of the World.) to be lighted. The readings are included, so nothing else will be needed.
Prayers before Breakfast on Easter Morning
The Lord be with you. AND ALSO WITH YOU. A reading from the Gospel according to St. Matthew. After the Sabbath, as the first day of the week was dawning, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to see the tomb. And suddenly there was a great earthquake; for an angel of the Lord descending from heaven, came and rolled back the stone and sat on it. His appearance was like lightening, and his clothing white as snow. For fear of him the guards shook and became like dead men. But the angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid; I know that you are looking for Jesus who was crucified. He is not here; for he has been raised from the dead and indeed he is going ahead of you to Galilee; there you will see him. This is my message for you”. So they left the tomb quickly with fear and great joy, and ran to tell his disciples. Suddenly Jesus met them and said, “Greetings!” And they came to him, took hold of his feet, and worshipped him. Then Jesus said to them, “Do not be afraid; go and tell my brothers to go to Galilee; there they will see me. Here ends the reading.
St. Matthew 28:1-10 The Christ candle is lighted
Alleluia! The Lord is risen! INDEED, HE IS RISEN! ALLELUIA!
The hymn may be sung or read responsively.
Good Christians all, rejoice and sing! Now is the triumph of our King! To all the world glad news we bring: ALLEUIA! ALLELUIA! ALLELUIA!
The Lord of life is risen today! Death’s mighty stone is rolled away. Let all the earth rejoice and say: ALLELUIA! ALLELUIA! ALLELUIA!
YOUR NAME WE BLESS, O RISEN LORD, AND SING TODAY WITH ONE ACCORD THE LIFE LAID DOWN, THE LIFE RESTORED: ALLELUIA! ALLELUIA! ALLELUIA!
Prayer of the Day Christ is in our midst! HE IS AND ALWAYS WILL BE! Let us pray. Glorious Lord of Life, by the mighty resurrection of your Son you overcame the old order of sin and death to make all things new in him. Grant that we who celebrate with joy Christ’s rising from the dead may be raised from the death of sin to the life of righteousness, through him who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. AMEN.
Let us bless the Lord. THANKS BE TO GOD.
Prayers before Dinner on Easter Day
When the risen Lord was at table with them, he took bread, blessed and broke it, and gave it to them. Then their eyes were opened and the recognized him….
St. Luke 24:30-31a The Christ candle is lighted.
The Lord be with you. AND ALSO WITH YOU. While the disciples were talking about the reports of his resurrection, Jesus himself stood among them and said to them, “Peace be with you”. They were startled and terrified and thought they were seeing a ghost. He said to them, “Why are you frightened, and why do doubts arise in your hearts”? Look at my hands and my feet; see that it is I myself. Touch me and see, for a ghost does not have flesh and bones as you see that I have”. And when he had said this he showed them his hands and his feet. While in their joy they were disbelieving and wondering, he said to them, “Do you have anything here to eat”? They gave him a piece of broiled fish and he took it and ate it in their presence. Then he said to them, “These are my words that I spoke to you while I was still with you. – that everything written about me in the Law of Moses, the prophets and the psalms must be fulfilled”. Then he opened their minds to understand the scriptures, and he said to them, “Thus it is written that the Messiah is to suffer and to rise from the dead on the third day, and that repentance and forgiveness of sins is to be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem. You are witnesses of these things. And see, I am sending upon you what my Father promised; so stay in the city until you have been clothed with power from on high”. Here ends the reading. St. Luke24:36-49
Spring bursts forth today; FOR CHRIST IS RISEN AND ALL THE EARTH’S AT PLAY!
Prayer of the Day Let us pray. O God, worker of wonders, you made this day for joy and gladness. Let the risen Christ abide with us this evening, opening the scriptures to us and breaking bread in our midst. Set our hearts aflame, and open our eyes that we may see in his sufferings all that the psalms and prophets foretold, and recognize him at this table as the Christ, now entered into his glory, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever. AMEN.
Let us bless the Lord. THANKS BE TO GOD.
A DEVOTION ON THE SEVEN WORDS FROM THE CROSS
A DEVOTION ON THE SEVEN WORDS FROM THE CROSS
In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. AMEN.
Is it nothing to you, all you that pass by? Behold and see if there be any sorrow like unto my sorrow with which the Lord has afflicted me. I, IF I BE LIFTED UP FROM THE EARTH, WILL DRAW ALL PEOPLE TO MYSELF.
The Lord be with you. AND ALSO WITH YOU.
O Lord Jesus Christ, Son of the Father and Savior of the world, hear us as with humble and adoring hearts we remember your seven words of love spoken on this day from the cross. Draw us, we pray, into closer communion with you, that the mind which was in you might also be found in us. AMEN.
We remember that, as they crucified you, you said, Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.
Silence for reflection.
Prayer If you, Lord, should mark our guilt, O Lord, who could stand? But there is forgiveness with you, therefore we revere you. You bore our sins in your own body on the Tree that we, being dead to sin, should live in righteousness. Wherefore we worship and adore your holy name. AMEN.
Reading: Psalm 130
We remember your promise to the penitent thief, Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in paradise.
Silence for reflection.
Prayer With you, O Lord, is the fountain of life, and in your light we see light. O Shepherd of the flock of God, you guide those who know your voice in green pastures and beside waters of comfort. When we awake we shall be satisfied with your likeness. Wherefore, we worship and adore your holy name. AMEN.
Reading: Psalm 23
We remember your word to your blessed mother, and to the disciple whom you loved, Woman, behold your son! Son, behold your mother!
Silence for reflection.
Prayer O Son of God and son of Mary, you came to revive the spirit of the humble, and to bind up the broken hearted. Your loving-kindness is better than life, therefore my lips will praise you. My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior. Wherefore we worship and adore your holy name. AMEN.
Reading: St. Luke 1:46-55
We remember the loneliness of that loud cry which burst from your overburdened heart, while the dread darkness lay upon the land, My God, my God, why have your forsaken me?
Silence for reflection.
Prayer O Son of Man, beloved of the Father, was there ever sorrow like your sorrow? You were despised and rejected, a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief. For our transgressions you were wounded; for our sins you were bruised; the chastisement of our peace was laid on you and with your stripes we are healed. All we, like sheep, had gone astray. We had turned everyone to his own way, and God has laid upon you the sin of us all. By our sin you were cut off from God, in whom alone is life, so that we might live. Wherefore we worship and adore your holy name. AMEN.
Reading: Isaiah 42:1-9
We remember how, in fulfillment of the scriptures you said, I thirst.
Silence for reflection.
Prayer Was it not written of you, “My strength is dried up like a potsherd, and my tongue cleaves to the roof of my mouth and you have brought me into the dust of death.” And yet your word endures: “If anyone thirsts, let them come to me and drink.” O Fount of Life, who thirsts for our souls, we thirst also for you in a dry and weary land where there is no water. Wherefore we worship and adore your holy name. AMEN.
Reading: Psalm 22:1-26
We remember that word which from your lips alone was truth eternal, It is finished.
Silence for reflection.
Prayer O Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end, source and fulfillment of all life, Author and Finisher of the faith; for the joy that was set before you, you endured the cross, ignoring the shame, and now are seated at the right hand of the throne on high. Wherefore we worship and adore your holy name. AMEN.
Reading: Revelation 1:4b-8
We remember that when you had cried with a loud voice, you said Father, into your hands I commend my spirit, and then bowing your head, you gave up your spirit.
Silence for reflection.
Prayer O Savior of the world, whom have we in heaven but you? And there is none on earth that we desire beside you. Flesh and heart fail, but you are the strength of our hearts and our portion forever. Into your hands we commend our spirits, for you have redeemed us, O God of truth. Wherefore we worship and adore holy name. AMEN.
Reading: Psalm 31:1-8
Christ became obedient unto death; EVEN DEATH ON A CROSS. Let us pray. HAVE MERCY UPON US, O GOD, ACCORDING TO YOUR LOVING-KINDNESS; ACCORDING TO THE MULTITUDE OF YOUR TENDER MERCIES BLOT OUT OUR TRANSGRESSIONS. WASH US THROUGHLY FROM OUR INIQUITY AND CLEANSE US FROM OUR SIN. RESTORE TO US THE JOY OF YOUR SALVATION AND UPHOLD US WITH A WILLING SPIRIT. The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not turn away. AMEN.
Christ bore our sins in his body on the cross that we might be dead to sin and alive to righteousness. THANKS BE TO GOD
The Sermon They Didn't Want God to Preach
“The Sermon They Didn’t Want Jesus To Preach”
Text – ISAIAH 61:1—3 and LUKE 4:16-21
GRACE BE UNTO YOU AND PEACE FROM GOD THE FATHER AND FROM OUR CRUCIFIED AND RISEN LORD AND SAVIOR – JESUS THE CHRIST.
Who is this Jesus Christ God reveals so powerfully to us in this Epiphany Season of revealing and showing forth?
The synagogue in Nazareth was crowded that Saturday 21 centuries ago. They all wanted to hear the visiting rabbi. You see there was a new teacher in town. Well, maybe not completely new. As a teacher, He certainly was new to them -- but, as a person, they knew Him well -- or at least thought they did. After-all, He had grown up just a stone's throw from the synagogue.
From toddler to age 30, Jesus had been the nice kid down the street -- the carpenter's son learning Joseph's trade and being rather good at it … the devout boy turned devout teenager turned devout man who brought a pride-filled gleam to the local rabbi's eye. Everybody loved Jesus. They hated to see Him go when the 30 year old Jesus moved to Capernaum.
He had been gone a year now and there had been a steady stream of news. They heard He turned water into wine at a wedding in Cana … healed the deathly ill son of an official at Capernaum … healed a leper somewhere else … and cured a demon-possessed man in still another place.
They had also heard of people coming from miles around to question Him and to hear Him discuss The Word of God -- and now, He was back in His Old hometown on a Sabbath Day. Surely He would come to the synagogue.
At the beginning of the service, the elder got the scroll which contained the main Scripture reading for the day. It was always taken from one of the first 5 books of THE HOLY BIBLE – The Torah – The Books of The Law. As the elder brought the scroll forward, one of the men would volunteer to read the selected passage and then would lecture on it or lead a discussion about it.
Imagine their disappointment when Jesus neither read nor entered into the discussion. This was the most important part of the service and Jesus wasn't even participating.
Jesus remained silent until the service was almost over -- until the time of the second reading … the reading that was always taken from one of the prophetic books of THE HOLY BIBLE. This reading was considered less important than the first one -- but involved the same time for reading and discussion as the first.
The elder picked up the scroll containing THE BOOK OF ISAIAH and Jesus volunteered to read from it. The text was ISAIAH, Chapter 61,verses 1 and 2 -- "The Spirit of The Lord is upon me, because He has chosen Me to preach The Good News to the poor. He has sent Me to proclaim liberty to the captives, and recovery of sight to the blind; to set free the oppressed, and announce the year when The Lord will save His people."
The passage was familiar to everyone. They knew it contained the description of The Christ God Himself had given to ISAIAH - God's description of The One God promised to send to save the people.
The Nazareth congregation had heard about Jesus' great ability to interpret God's Word and they anxiously anticipated His insights into Messianic Prophecy -- especially His interpretation of one of the best known of all Messianic Prophecy texts.
As Jesus laid down the scroll, walked over to the preaching-teaching chair, and sat down, everyone wondered what He would say.
No one was prepared for what Jesus did say. There was one unanimous gulp -- a whole room of worshipers sucking air in shock.
Had they heard Him right? Had Jesus really said, "Today this Scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing"? Was Jesus really claiming to be the long-promised Messiah?
Jesus was taking the Words of Prophecy God spoke through ISAIAH describing The Messiah-Christ as a description of Himself. Jesus was taking those well-known Words of Prophecy as the text of His "State of the Kingdom" address … as His Own Words of Promise … as His modus operundi … as a description of His Messianic Mission and Ministry.
The sacred text says “He has sent Me to proclaim liberty to the captives”.
It is a text that separates Jesus and His Holy Christian Church from all of the world’s false religions. Only through His true Holy Christian Church, Jesus offers true temporal and eternal liberty to the captives.- something only the true Messiah can offer.
Here in America – and throughout the world – we are living in an age when Christ’s teachings and followers are under constant attack and morality has been officially replaced by hedonism and selfish egotism and when The Truth has been replaced by political correctness – an age when successful movements have created a society in which no one is made to take responsibility for their actions and those attempting to live by Jesus’ Teachings are labeled prejudiced.
God only deals in Truth – All have sinned and fall short of the Glory of God and the wages of sin is death. That means the entire human race is captive to the tempter, to temptation, sin, guilt, death, and all the human frailties with which death rules. And, as part of creating us in The Image of God, God gave us insight into our God and consciences to keep us aware of the merit or evil in all we do.
In Christ, we have the words of our text – the words of promise spoken by God through the prophet Isaiah - He has sent Me to proclaim liberty to the captives.
What makes those words so powerful is the fact that only God could offer that Promise and fulfill it. No false god created by human beings can honestly make such a promise or fulfill it. The wages of sin is death, but The Gift of God – and only God - is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord Who came to proclaim liberty to the captives. God Himself came as a vulnerable flesh and blood Christ – came as the Ultimate High Priest to offer His Perfect Human Life as The Perfect Human Sacrifice to give liberty to the captives – to conquer the tempter, temptation, sin, guilt, death, and all the other human frailties with which death rules.
For the members of an increasingly politically correct- but morally and theologically false - society, there is opportunity in Christ for repentance, forgiveness and God’s Own Gift of eternal life and liberty. And yes, it is in Jesus Christ – and only in Jesus Christ – that there is truly Liberty for the captives, Jesus confessed that He and He alone is the Messiah-Christ God promised through Isaiah to send among us “to proclaim liberty to the captives, and recovery of sight to the blind; to set free the oppressed, and announce the year when The Lord will save His people."Having read Isaiah’s prophetic words, Jesus left no doubt as He proclaimed "Today this Scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing".
And they were all filled with wrath in the synagogue, as they heard these things. They all knew Who Jesus was claiming to be – what Promises He had come to fulfill.
An Epiphany in Jesus’ own words! And they rose up, and cast Him forth out of the city, and led Him unto the brow of the hill whereon their city was built, that they might throw Him headlong. 20th and 21st Century terrorists and atheistic hedonists were not the first to attack The Body of Christ and His True Church. Hedonistic and selfish human beings did not just invent their false claims in the 20th and 21st Centuries.
But Jesus, passing through the midst of them, went His Way - His Way to the cross to earn temporal and eternal liberty for all the captives held in bondage to the tempter, to temptation, sin, guilt, death, and all the human frailties with which death rules - His Way to the empty tomb where He proclaimed and offers that liberty to the captives and all those other gifts only God can give.
THE PEACE OF GOD WHICH PASSES ALL HUMAN UNDERSTANDING KEEP YOUR HEARTS AND YOUR MINDS IN OUR CRUCIFIED AND RISEN LORD AND SAVIOR JESUS CHRIST
AND HIS PROCLAMATION OF LIBERTY TO THE CAPTIVES.
Fourth Sunday of the Epiphany Season (actually texts for 3rd Sunday of Epiphany Season)
February 3, 2019
Dr. Kurt Borows
Pastor, Resurrection Lutheran Church, Catawba Island Port Clinton, Ohio
MAUNDY THURSDAY APRIL 9, 2020
On this day our Lord returned to Jerusalem to eat the Passover meal with his disciples. In the evening, in the upper room of John Mark’s mother’s house, he washed his disciple’s feet. In the course of the Passover meal he instituted the Lord’ Supper, the Holy Eucharist, and made the Great Intercession for his disciples. After singing a hymn they went out, crossed the Kidron Valley and ascended the Mount of Olives. There, in the Garden of Gethsemane, Jesus endured his agony, was arrested, and taken away to judgement and to death.
Behold the Lamb of God; BEHOLD HIM WHO TAKES AWAY THE SIN OF THE WORLD.
Prayer of the Day The Lord be with you. AND ALSO WITH YOU. Almighty God, look with mercy upon this your family for whom our Lord Jesus Christ was willing to be betrayed, given over into the hands of sinners, and to suffer death on the cross; who now lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever. AMEN.
First Reading: St. John 13:1-17, 31b-35
Jesus washes the disciple’s feet
Reflection George McLeod, founder of the Iona Community in Scotland, used to assign himself the task of cleaning the rest rooms in the Abbey. He was the founder and guiding light of the Iona mission. He had been knighted by Queen Elizabeth as a Renewer of the Church. Still, he took his turn cleaning the johns. He did this, he said, so that he wouldn’t be tempted to preach any sappy sermons about the dignity of work. I would not presume to correct George McLeod, but I think he meant sappy sermons about the dignity of service. I believe all work, any work, has dignity, because if faithful men and women do the work as people of faith, their faith makes the work dignified. But service? Well, that is another matter. Service does not require dignity of us. Rather, service requires humility. That is why foot washing is important. It keeps us from preaching sappy sermons and saying silly things about the glory of serving others. Service usually means cleaning up someone else’s mess. Service requires us to bow our backs and bend our necks, and to put ourselves, including our dignity, beneath the one being served. Service without humility is patronizing. If in service we play Lord and Lady Bountiful, giving our generous help to all the unfortunates and ne’er-do-wells, then we aren’t serving at all. We are preening, so that we will be admired and revered. The true model of service is the one Christ shows us in the foot washing, full of grace, but more, full of humility. It’s what he means when he tells us to “love one another”. Amen. Blessed are they who hear the word of God and do it. AMEN
Prayer O God, your love was made flesh in Jesus Christ, who washed his disciple’s feet and gave them the new commandment to love one another as he loves them. Write this commandment in our hearts and give us the will to serve others as Christ who was the servant of all; who loved us and gave himself for us. AMEN.
Second Reading: ST Matthew 26:26-29 Jesus institutes the Lord’s Supper.
Reflection I don’t remember which Marx Brothers movie it is in, but it’s the one where Groucho comes into a room where a cocktail party is going on and says, “There is a lot less going on here than meets the eye”. The opposite is true with the meal we call the Lord’s Supper, or Holy Communion. Holy Communion may outwardly look pretty simple, but in reality it is infinitely rich. There is a lot more going on here than meets the eye. So, what more? What is actually happening when we eat this meal? John Calvin, the great Reformer, provides a beautiful answer to that question in Book 4, chapter 17 of his magnum opus, “The Institutes of the Christian Religion”. He begins by saying that, “Union with Christ is the special fruit of the Lord’s Supper”. Calvin understood that union with God – God in us and we in him - through Jesus Christ, and not just salvation from sin, is the goal of the Christian life. As a husband and wife are two, but in marriage become one, so we become one with God in Christ. Christians are not just on the receiving end of some kind of divine judicial pardon. We were created in the image of God in order that we might live in Christ and have Christ living in us. The Lord’s Supper is the choice occasion for that indwelling to take place. Calvin calls it “the marvelous exchange”. He says “Godly souls can gain great assurance and delight from this Sacrament; in it they have a witness of our growth into one body with Christ such that whatever is his may be called ours also. As a consequence, we may dare assure ourselves that eternal life, of which he is the heir, is ours; and that the Kingdom of heaven, into which he has already entered can no more be cut off from us that from him; again, that we cannot be condemned for our sins, from whose guilt he has absolved us, since he willed to take them upon himself as if they were his own. This is the wonderful exchange which, out of his measureless benevolence, he has made with us; that becoming Son of Man with us, he has made us sons and daughters of God with him; that by his descent to earth, he has prepared an ascent to heaven for us; that by taking our mortality, he has conferred his immortality upon us; that, accepting our weakness, he has strengthened us by his power; that receiving our poverty unto himself, he has transferred his wealth to us; that taking the weight of our iniquity upon himself, he has clothed us with his righteousness”. The Lord’s Supper is not a simple remembrance. It is not even simple nourishment. There is a marvelous exchange between us and Christ that occurs as we eat this meal. He gives us himself and all that his life, death, resurrection and ascension means. Come with joy to the Lord’s Table that he may work this wonderful exchange in you. Amen. Blessed are they who hear the Word of God and do it.
Prayer When I Cannot Come to Communion In union, O Lord, with you and all your faithful people at every altar of your Church where the Holy Eucharist is now being celebrated, I desire to offer you praise and thanksgiving. I remember your death, Lord Christ; I proclaim and celebrate your resurrection; I await your coming in glory. And since I cannot receive you today in the Sacrament of your Body and Blood, I beseech you to come spiritually into my heart. Cleanse and strengthen me with your grace, Lord Jesus, and let me never be separated from you. May I live in you, and you in me, in this life and in the life to come. Amen.
Third Reading: St. John 1:1-5 Jesus prays for his disciples.
Reflection In intercessory payer we pray for the needs of others. We focus not primarily on our parochial needs, but rather on those who are not present: on the entire church of God, the created world, the nations of the earth, the community in which we reside, and those absent from our company because of sickness and troubling circumstances. This prayer trains us to have our heart with others, especially those in ill fortune. While contemporary psychology urges us to know our own hearts and solve our own problems, the Christian ethic calls us to live as if our hearts are not full and complete in our own bodies, but are always half with those in need. There is an African language in which to say, “John is sick”, one says, “We are sick in John”. That is precisely what a Christian theology of intercession teaches. Week after week, year after year, century after century, the faithful have prayed for the peace, justice, sustenance and health of the world. “Lord, hear our prayer, hear our prayer”. This continual praying is evidence of the faith of the church that God has acted, is acting, and will act to bring life to a world wrapped around in death. I wonder: Do you suppose the state of the world would be worse than it is if these intercessions were to stop? I am reminded of Frances McNutt, one of the great teachers of intercessory prayer. When Francis McNutt prayed at the bedside of a sick person he would pause periodically to ask them if they felt better. If they did not, he went back to praying until they did! That is the way it is with the church: if the prayers we offer seem to no avail, the faithful simply pray more. The widow in Jesus’ parable keeps on pestering the unjust judge for vindication of her cause until finally he acts in her favor just to be rid of her. So we, like the widow, keep hammering away on the doors of God’s providence; the God who is willing and ready to do more for us than we can ask or imagine. Certainly more than any unjust judge! We believe that in God is boundless life for the whole creation, and so we lament the brokenness and death we see all around us and plead for God’s creative Spirit to brood again over our chaos, restoring peace. We need to train our hearts to be with the needy, and so we give a entire part of the Sunday liturgy to those in need. We need to temper the deadly individualism that infects our culture with the Christian idea that, bound together in love, we will have no peace until everyone has peace. The last sentence Martin Luther wrote, scribbled on a piece of paper by his deathbed, was not a last will and testament like ‘I was the center of the century’s greatest social and religious upheaval”, but simply the phrase, “We are beggars, this is true”. The church is the body which begs that God’s generosity will enliven a begging world. It is in this spirit the Jesus interceded for us on the night when he was betrayed. Amen. Blessed are they who hear the Word of God and do it.
Pray the Great Intercession with Jesus as it is found in St. John 17:1-26
Reading: St. Matthew 26:30-32 Verses: The hour has come; THE SON OF MAN IS BETRAYED INTO THE HANDS OF SINNERS. St. Mark 14:41b For us and for our salvation, Christ became obedient unto death even death on a cross.
BLESSED BE THE NAME OF THE LORD.
Our Ever-Present Lamb of God
"OUR EVER-PRESENT LAMB OF GOD"
Text - JOHN 1:29-31 and THE 23rd PSALM
THE PEACE OF GOD WHICH PASSES ALL HUMAN UNDERSTANDING KEEP YOUR HEARTS AND YOUR MINDS IN CHRIST JESUS - OUR CRUCIFIED AND RISEN LORD AND SAVIOUR.
The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, "Behold!
The Lamb of God Who takes away the sin of the world!"
John and Andrew knew – as David had before them – that without a conscientious shepherd to lead them, Judean sheep would die of starvation or thirst or wander into eminent danger.
I have an article in my files I’ve shared in sermons and BIBLE studies for years about a group of Basque shepherds who left their flocks in the field as they went into town for supper. A sudden storm, a bolt of lightning, and a loud clap of thunder caused a panicky ram to run and 3,000 sheep followed that ram off the edge of a cliff to their death. I’ve seen less fatal but equally erratic behavior myself,
As if Israel’s barren terrain and the sheep's helpless nature aren't enough of a handicap, their anatomy adds to their problems.
While cattle can graze the same pasture for long periods of time, sheep have such narrow lips that they eat the grass right down to the soil and their cloven hoofs tear up that soil and the roots just beneath it. When it comes to water, sheep will only drink it if the water is truly clear and perfectly still.
In the animal kingdom, most of the species are wild - living by the basic instincts and abilities The Creator has given them. We've domesticated some like dogs, cats, birds, horses - but, even there, the key is we have domesticated them - they were wild – basically self-sufficient and we made them pets or beasts of burden.
Sheep – domesticated or not - would not survive without a conscientious shepherd.
The two future disciples knew how blessed are we human beings – more dependent than all other creatures on a Divine Shepherd to nurture and guide us – to truly have our Divine Shepherd.
The Psalmist David – years before God came among us as the vulnerable flesh and blood Christ – knew that Divine Shepherd very well. Those nights – laying under the stars and writing his psalms - he must have thought here I am taking care of these helpless sheep who couldn't make it without their human shepherd - but where would I be without my own Divine Shepherd. Thank God, The Lord is my Shepherd; I shall not want.
He maketh me to lie down in green pastures. The pastures of food which God has blessed us human beings with come in such abundance that, having been well fed, we are able to find rest and solitude as we figuratively lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside the still waters - the clean, clear, unpolluted, still waters even the most finicky sheep would treasure. Our Creator cares for our physical needs in such abundance that even the most selfish hoarding cannot diminish the generosity of divine gifts.
My Divine Shepherd leads me in the paths of righteousness for His Name's sake. In THE HOLY BIBLE, righteousness - whether referring to God Himself or to human beings or to other animals or even inanimate objects - always means living up to the definition God has given to describe Himself, or us, or something else. We are only righteousness when we live up to the definition of what God created us to be. To make us righteous in God’s sight, He leads using the paths of righteousness
Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil for God is with me; His rod and staff comfort me.
For the Holy Land sheep following shepherds through narrow valleys surrounded by mounts, there are numerous shadowy areas where predatory animals and human thieves can hide to snatch a wandering lamb and abandoned cisterns into which careless lambs tumble - their valley of the shadow of death.
Terrorists who consider murder to be virtuous behavior - the prevalence today of the most erratic and dangerous weather patterns of our lifetime - new threats from new diseases and some ancient ones resurfacing in parts of our world - our modern world lives in the valley of the shadow of death - and in the end we will all die - but our Divine Shepherd is with us.
And with our Divine Shepherd and our human flock there is more – far more. God – our Divine Shepherd – came among us to restore our souls and save us. Created in the Image of God for an eternal relationship of love and trust with God, we humans have a dimension to our lives that no other animals have or can even comprehend having.
Human sinners that we are, we tarnish that Image and alienate ourselves from the relationship God has so loving established with us- but God restores our souls and renews His relationship with us.
How great is God’s love for us? God not loves and blesses us through the entirety of our lives as our Divine Shepherd, but God comes among us as one of the flock- as The Lamb of God Who takes away the sin of the world!". We can scientifically gauge the difference between a human being and a sheep. The difference between God and us is so great that we can not even begin to describe or gauge the difference – but God loves us so much He came among us as the vulnerable flesh and blood member of the human flock - the Lamb of God to redeem us and to restore that Relationship God created us to have and we and our sins destroyed.
Our Divine Shepherd Who came as The vulnerable flesh and blood Lamb of Goddid not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form He humbled Himself and became obedient unto death, even death on the cross. (PHILIPPIANS 2:6b—8)
God preparest a table before us in the presence of our enemies.
In the presence of temptations, we all too easily succumb to - in the presence of those sins which alienate and separate us from God - in the presence of guilt and death - we come to the altar table as we will next Sunday to commune with Jesus in the meal The Lamb of God has prepared for us with His Own Body and Blood.
"Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life ..." - because our Creator loves us that much.
"And I shall dwell in the house of The Lord forever” because our Creator has created us for that eternal relationship and our Savior suffered and died on the cross and rose from the dead to spend eternity with us.
The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, "Behold!
The Lamb of God Who takes away the sin of the world!" Behold Jesus!
The Son of God throughout all eternity and The Son of Man born of the virgin Mary – God becoming one of us to truly relate to us, to perfectly communicate His Word and His Will to us, and to give His Perfect Life for us on the cross to lead us out of death itself.
"Behold! The Lamb of God Who takes away the sin of the world!"
THE PEACE OF GOD WHICH PASSES ALL HUMAN UNDERSTANDING KEEP YOUR HEARTS AND YOUR MINDS IN CHRIST JESUS The Lamb of God Who takes away the sin of the world !
3rd Sunday After The Epiphany Of Our Lord January 27, 2019 -week late due to snow level 4
Dr. Kurt Borows
Pastor, Resurrection Lutheran Church, Catawba Island, Port Clinton, Ohio