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Sunday Thoughts for February 3

The Lord be with you

This coming Sunday, February 3, will be the Fourth Sunday after Epiphany (Epiphany 4). Some of our sister congregations will be celebrating it as The Feast of the Purification of Mary and the Presentation of our Lord (transferred). The actual date for this feast is February 2. The story can be found in Luke 2:22-38 and includes the Nunc Dimittis (AKA the Song of Simeon),

Our current practice is to celebrate all Feasts and Festivals when they fall on a Sunday, but not transfer them to Sunday if they fall on a weekday. So we will stick with the readings for Epiphany 4.They are: Jeremiah 1:4–10, 17–19; 1 Corinthians 12:31b—13:13; Luke 4:31–44.

As it is the first Sunday of the month, we will be celebrating the Lord’s Supper. That means a few extra hymns. Our opening hymn will be “Son of God, Eternal Savior” (LSB 842). Our sermon hymn will be “Where Charity and Love Prevail” (LSB 845). Our closing hymn will be “Go My Children, with My Blessing” (LSB 922). Our distribution hymns will be “I Am Trusting Thee Lord Jesus” (LSB 729), “There is a Balm in Gilead” (LSB 749), and “O Jesus Blessed Lord to Thee (LSB 632).

Our appointed lessons for the day are Jeremiah 1:4–10, 17–19; 1 Corinthians 12:31b—13:13; and Luke 4:31–44. As is common practice, we will be using the appointed Introit for the Day instead of the Appointed Psalm.

[Just a little random information, what we call the “Divine Service” developed in the city churches in the west. This is where the cathedrals were and so these services are also known as “Cathedral services.” This is in distinction to the services that developed in the monasteries which were services of word and prayer. These services are traditionally called “hours.” Services like Matins and Vespers are out of this tradition. “Cathedral” services were celebrations of the Lord’s Supper. “Hours” did not celebrate the Lord’s Supper. “Introits” were developed from the appointed Psalm of the Day, selecting only some of the verses. This was done, in part, to sharpen the focus but also because services that celebrate the Lord’s Supper tend to run longer. This is why we traditionally use Introits when we celebrate the Lord’s Supper. One other random fact: The terminology of “Divine Service” was introduced with Lutheran Worship. In the Lutheran Hymnal and the Evangelical Lutheran Hymn-Book it was simply called the “Morning Service.” The term “Divine” was borrowed from the Eastern Orthodox tradition. They call their Sunday morning worship the “Divine Liturgy.”]

Below are the lessons for Sunday along with some initial thoughts.

Jeremiah 1:4–10, 17–19
4 Now the word of the LORD came to me, saying,

5 “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you,
and before you were born I consecrated you;
I appointed you a prophet to the nations.”

6 Then I said, “Ah, Lord GOD! Behold, I do not know how to speak, for I am only a youth.” 7But the Lord said to me,

“Do not say, ‘I am only a youth’;
for to all to whom I send you, you shall go,
and whatever I command you, you shall speak.
8 Do not be afraid of them,
for I am with you to deliver you,
declares the LORD.”

9 Then the LORD put out his hand and touched my mouth. And the LORD said to me,

“Behold, I have put my words in your mouth.
10 See, I have set you this day over nations and over kingdoms,
to pluck up and to break down,
to destroy and to overthrow,
to build and to plant.” …

17But you, dress yourself for work; arise, and say to them everything that I command you. Do not be dismayed by them, lest I dismay you before them. 18And I, behold, I make you this day a fortified city, an iron pillar, and bronze walls, against the whole land, against the kings of Judah, its officials, its priests, and the people of the land. 19They will fight against you, but they shall not prevail against you, for I am with you, declares the LORD, to deliver you.”

Initial Thoughts: This is the call of Jeremiah into the office of prophet. It is clear that he will not have an easy ministry. No “health and welfare” doctrine for him. He had the daunting task of calling the country to repentance, knowing that they would not repent, and informing them that they would be conquered by Babylon and deported. He also had the joy of announcing that they would return from their Babylonian exile (unlike the Northern Kingdom of Israel that assimilated and vanished when deported by Assyria). Jeremiah even saw the rise of Persia and its king Cyrus, who conquered Babylon and freed the Hebrews. This call account is loved by all who defend the unborn as it is clear that God knows Jeremiah from conception and considers him a person. As is common in English translations, when the word “Lord” is in all capitals it reflects the Divine Name in the Hebrew text. In verse six we have “Lord GOD.” In this case it is the word “God” that is in all capital letters because it is the translation of the Divine Name. The word translated “Lord” is the standard word for “Lord” and is never all capitals (Adoni). It would be odd, though, to read “Lord LORD” so the translators render the Divine Name “God,” which should not be confused with the standard word for “God” (Elohim). One thought in this lesson is that God qualifies those he calls. In spite of his youth, Jeremiah would accomplish his appointed task. Another clear message is that God speaks through Jeremiah. His words are not, strictly speaking, his words. He speak the revealed word of God. So should be the case for all called preachers. We are not to share “our” words but the words of God. This passage can also be a real encouragement to all ministers who face difficult situations. Remain faithful! God is with you, no matter what the response might be. Consider the end for Jeremiah. He was captured by Jews and spirited away to Egypt. Tradition teaches that he died a martyr’s death there. All that being said, he was still a faithful prophet of the Lord.

1 Corinthians 12:31b—13:13
12:31b And I will show you a still more excellent way.
13:1 If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. 2And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. 3If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing.
4 Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant 5or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; 6it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. 7Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
8 Love never ends. As for prophecies, they will pass away; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will pass away. 9For we know in part and we prophesy in part, 10but when the perfect comes, the partial will pass away. 11When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I gave up childish ways. 12For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known.
13 So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love.

Initial Thoughts: This lesson will form the backbone for Sunday’s message. It is the famous “Love Chapter.” While it is common to consider this chapter in light of how we are doing, Sunday we will look at it from the point-of-view of a description of Jesus. As most Christians already know, the Greek language has different words that are translated “love.” This one is Agape, which is Divine love.

Luke 4:31–44
31 [Jesus] went down to Capernaum, a city of Galilee. And he was teaching them on the Sabbath, 32and they were astonished at his teaching, for his word possessed authority. 33And in the synagogue there was a man who had the spirit of an unclean demon, and he cried out with a loud voice, 34“Ha! What have you to do with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are—the Holy One of God.” 35But Jesus rebuked him, saying, “Be silent and come out of him!” And when the demon had thrown him down in their midst, he came out of him, having done him no harm. 36And they were all amazed and said to one another, “What is this word? For with authority and power he commands the unclean spirits, and they come out!” 37And reports about him went out into every place in the surrounding region.
38 And he arose and left the synagogue and entered Simon’s house. Now Simon’s mother-in-law was ill with a high fever, and they appealed to him on her behalf. 39And he stood over her and rebuked the fever, and it left her, and immediately she rose and began to serve them.
40 Now when the sun was setting, all those who had any who were sick with various diseases brought them to him, and he laid his hands on every one of them and healed them. 41And demons also came out of many, crying, “You are the Son of God!” But he rebuked them and would not allow them to speak, because they knew that he was the Christ.
42 And when it was day, he departed and went into a desolate place. And the people sought him and came to him, and would have kept him from leaving them, 43but he said to them, “I must preach the good news of the kingdom of God to the other towns as well; for I was sent for this purpose.” 44And he was preaching in the synagogues of Judea.

Initial Thoughts: Capernaum became kind of like Jesus’ home base. Among other disciples, it was the home town of Peter. In this lesson we learn that Peter was married. We do not know his wife’s name, or the names of his in-laws, and so forth. This omission was due, in part, to space limitations. The Gospels were originally written on scrolls. Such scrolls had a practical limitation on how long they could be. Luke was a full, long, scroll. Details that were not important for the main point had to be left out. The main point Luke is making is that Jesus is Lord over illness. He is also Lord over the demons. Luke is sharing that Jesus is the Messiah. The name of Peter’s mother-in-law does not add to the point. We are in the Epiphany season. We read this text as a revelation of who this man really is, Lord of all. It has often also been pointed out that Luke records the witness of the demons. This is especially powerful because, if they could, the demons would have denied who Jesus was. This “contrary to one’s interest” testimony is very powerful. Jesus leaves Capernaum to go to other towns. He said, “I must preach the good news of the kingdom of God to the other towns as well, for I was sent for this purpose.” Here we see the divine “must.” There was nothing accidental in the mission and ministry of Jesus. He came to proclaim the “good news,” that is, the Gospel. One might also add that this includes his atoning death because his message would be empty without his death and resurrection (1 Corinthians 15:12-28). Just one final note, yes we visited Capernaum while in Israel. Not surprisingly, our thoughts turned to this story while we were there.

Well, I hope these notes help you prepare for Sunday.

Blessings in Christ

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