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Sunday Thoughts for November 25

The Lord be with you

This coming Sunday (November 25) is the Last Sunday of the Church Year. On some church calendars, it is known also as Christ the King Sunday. We will be using Matins for our liturgy. This will be the last time we use Matins for awhile. Matins is one of those liturgies that began in monasteries. It is one of the “Prayer Hours.” Its focus has always been a service of the word, with an accent on the Psalms. The monks use Matins, and the other prayer hours, every day. The liturgies we designate as “divine” grew up in the cities and have always been intended as the main worship service for all believers once a week. These services are sometimes called “Cathedral Services.” In times past, they always offered the Lord’s Supper.

We will sing three hymns Sunday. The first hymn will be “Rise, My Soul, to Watch and Pray” (LSB 663). The last hymn will be “All Hail the Power of Jesus’ Name” (LSB 579). The homily hymn will be “Lo! He Comes with Clouds Descending.” The words for this well-known hymn are printed in the worship folder because our new hymnal changed both the music and the words (by adding a phrase in each verse). Our hymn review committee found the new tune quite difficult and did not feel it was worth learning, so we will use the hymn as it appeared in Lutheran Worship.

As always, with Matins, we will use the appointed Psalm for the day instead of the Introit. Our appointed lections are Psalm 93 (antiphon v. 2), Isaiah 55:4-6, Jude 20-25, and Mark 13:24-36. The book of Jude has only one chapter so the “20-25” refers to verses, not chapters. All these readings relate to End Times themes. There are actually two options for the readings this Sunday. I’ve chosen option two. The sermon is titled “Final Exam” and the text will be Mark 13:26.

Below are the readings and some of my initial thoughts on them.

Psalm 93 (antiphon: v. 2)
Your throne is established from of old;
you are from everlasting.

1 The LORD reigns; he is robed in majesty;
the LORD is robed; he has put on strength as his belt.
Yes, the world is established; it shall never be moved.
2 Your throne is established from of old;
you are from everlasting.
3 The floods have lifted up, O LORD,
the floods have lifted up their voice;
the floods lift up their roaring.
4 Mightier than the thunders of many waters,
mightier than the waves of the sea,
the LORD on high is mighty!
5 Your decrees are very trustworthy;
holiness befits your house,
O LORD, forevermore.

Glory be to the Father and to the Son
and to the Holy Spirit;
as it was in the beginning,
is now, and will be forever. Amen.

Your throne is established from of old;
you are from everlasting.

Initial Thoughts: An antiphon is a verse that captures the main thought of the Psalm. A “regular” antiphon is taken from the Psalm. An “irregular” antiphon is taken from somewhere else, perhaps a verse from the New Testament or a liturgical verse. So the main thought in our Psalm is that God rules. He always has. He always will. Two areas of his rule are accented. First is in nature. Second is in his Church. The expansive words of the Psalm, however, let us know that these two areas are simply the tip of the iceberg. There is nowhere outside the all-powerful God’s ruling reach.

Isaiah 55:4-6
4 “Give attention to me, my people,
and give ear to me, my nation;
for a law will go out from me,
and I will set my justice for a light to the peoples.
5 My righteousness draws near,
my salvation has gone out,
and my arms will judge the peoples;
the coastlands hope for me,
and for my arm they wait.
6 Lift up your eyes to the heavens,
and look at the earth beneath;
for the heavens vanish like smoke,
the earth will wear out like a garment,
and they who dwell in it will die in like manner;
but my salvation will be forever,
and my righteousness will never be dismayed.

Initial Thoughts: This is the speech of God that Isaiah records. God calls to his people. He tells them first that he has reached out to them. Through Jesus the law has been fulfilled. Through Jesus God’s justice has been executed. Through Jesus, God’s righteousness draws near. Through Jesus, God’s salvation comes to us. “My arm” is a reference to strength. Through Jesus, God judges. “The coastlands” is a reference to people who are not physical descendants of Abraham. So the heathen, the non-Christian, looks to Jesus for their hope. The passage concludes with the judgment of the world on the Last Day. This old, fallen, world passes away. Those who trust in Christ will last forever.

Jude 20-25
20 But you, beloved, build yourselves up in your most holy faith; pray in the Holy Spirit; 21keep yourselves in the love of God, waiting for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ that leads to eternal life. 22And have mercy on those who doubt; 23save others by snatching them out of the fire; to others show mercy with fear, hating even the garment stained by the flesh.
24 Now to him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you blameless before the presence of his glory with great joy, 25to the only God, our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion, and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen

Initial Thoughts: The eternal future is behind all that Jude writes here. We are to build ourselves up in light of eternity. Notice that this is not an individual effort. The Holy Spirit, working through fellow believers as well as the Word and Sacrament, accomplishes this. “Waiting for the mercy of our Lord Jesus” is a reference to the Second Coming. We are to be agents of God’s mercy, especially to those struggling. The word “fire” is referring to hell. Notice that “hating even the garment stained by the flesh” does not mean we have no compassion towards them. We are cautious when we engage them with mercy, seeking to avoid making their same sins. The final doxology returns us to Jesus for our security. We are never to trust our own ability. Trust Jesus. Notice that Jesus is here called the “only-God, our Savior.”

Mark 13:24-36
24 [Jesus said:] “But in those days, after that tribulation, the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light, 25and the stars will be falling from heaven, and the powers in the heavens will be shaken. 26And then they will see the Son of Man coming in clouds with great power and glory. 27And then he will send out the angels and gather his elect from the four winds, from the ends of the earth to the ends of heaven.
28 “From the fig tree learn its lesson: as soon as its branch becomes tender and puts out its leaves, you know that summer is near. 29So also, when you see these things taking place, you know that he is near, at the very gates. 30Truly, I say to you, this generation will not pass away until all these things take place. 31Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away.
32 “But concerning that day or that hour, no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. 33Be on guard, keep awake. For you do not know when the time will come. 34It is like a man going on a journey, when he leaves home and puts his servants in charge, each with his work, and commands the doorkeeper to stay awake. 35Therefore stay awake—for you do not know when the master of the house will come, in the evening, or at midnight, or when the cock crows, or in the morning— 36lest he come suddenly and find you asleep. 37And what I say to you I say to all: Stay awake.”

Initial Thoughts: Jesus is clearly speaking of his Second Coming. At first glance, one might think of things like the sun being darkened etc., as supernatural events. However they do not have to be. Pollution darkens the sun. Eclipses prevent the moon from shining. Space debris falls to earth all the time. In Luke 17 Jesus tells us that people will think it is just like any other day when he suddenly appears. We see the ever growing evidence of the world’s corruption and understand it as a sign that the Day of the Lord is growing closer (that fig tree stuff) but the unregenerated do not understand the message. “This generation” is referring to the New Testament age, that began with Jesus and will end with Jesus’ Second Coming. In other words, it is not forty years, or whatever. Jesus also tells us that no one knows when his Second Coming will be. If someone gives you a date, you can stop listening to him. They are claiming to know more than Jesus! Our role is to be prepared. Be in the Word. Receive the Sacrament. Attend worship. Avoid sin. Trust in Jesus.

Well, I pray this will help some prepare for our worship service this coming Sunday.

Blessings in Christ,

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