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Sunday Thoughts for October 14

The Lord be with you

This coming Sunday (Pentecost 21; October 14) we will be using Matins for our liturgy. We will be using Matins for October and November on the Sundays we do not celebrate the Lord’s Supper.

Matins was one of the “Prayer Hours” developed in the monasteries over the centuries. (The two other “Prayer Hours” in our hymnal are Vespers and Compline.) With these “offices” the monks prayed through the entire Psalter, either every week or every day (depending on the monastery). In modern times they may have slowed down to every month. We will not be that ambitious.

Matins is shorter than our regular Sunday morning liturgy (which is sometimes called “cathedral” because it developed in city churches (where the cathedral was located) and developed with the laity in mind. Because Matins takes less time, a modern pastor has several choices: 1) make the prayers longer; 2) make the sermon longer; 3) select longer hymns; 4) have a shorter worship service. Our first hymn Sunday, which is well-known, is “Salvation unto Us Has Come” (LSB 555). As this hymn has ten verses, it usually is redacted to four or five verses when used. This Sunday we will sing all ten verses and hear its entire message. The Sermon Hymn, “Thee Will I Love, My Strength, My Tower” (LSB 694) and the Closing Hymn, “Oh, That the Lord Would Guide My Ways” (LSB 707), are typical in length. Both are well-known. So, we will be singing four hymns worth of lyrics with our three hymns.

Our appointed lessons are Amos 5:6–7, 10–15; Hebrews 3:12–19; and Mark 10:17–22. With our Three Year lectionary we follow a semi-continuous reading in our epistle lessons. Last Sunday we started Hebrews and, as you can see, this coming Sunday we will continue in our trip through Hebrews. When we use Matins we also use the appointed Psalm for the Day instead of the Introit. Sunday it is Psalm 90:12-17. The antiphon is verse 1.

Our lessons afford us an opportunity to consider what exactly is “good.” The sermon is titled “Good God.”

Below are the lessons for Sunday with a few thoughts.

Psalm 90:12–17 (antiphon: v. 1)
Lord, you have been our dwelling place
in all generations.

12 So teach us to number our days
that we may get a heart of wisdom.
13 Return, O LORD! How long?
Have pity on your servants!
14 Satisfy us in the morning with your steadfast love,
that we may rejoice and be glad all our days.
15 Make us glad for as many days as you have afflicted us,
and for as many years as we have seen evil.
16 Let your work be shown to your servants,
and your glorious power to their children.
17 Let the favor of the Lord our God be upon us,
and establish the work of our hands upon us;
yes, establish the work of our hands!

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.

Lord, you have been our dwelling place
in all generations.

My initial thoughts: The antiphon (verse 1 of the Psalm) reminds us of the eternal nature of God for God is our dwelling place in all generations. Sometimes we think God has abandoned us because we are going through difficult times. But God is still our dwelling place, so the Psalmist prays “make us glad for as many days as you have afflicted us, and for as many years as we have seen evil” (v. 15). The Psalm also reminds us of God’s steadfast love, of his glorious power, that his favor is upon us, and that God establishes his work in our hands. So in good times or bad our good God is with us and brings about his glorious and loving will.

Amos 5:6–7, 10–15
6 Seek the LORD and live,
lest he break out like fire in the house of Joseph,
and it devour, with none to quench it for Bethel,
7 O you who turn justice to wormwood
and cast down righteousness to the earth!

[8 He who made the Pleiades and Orion,
and turns deep darkness into the morning
and darkens the day into night,
who calls for the waters of the sea
and pours them out on the surface of the earth,
the LORD is his name;
9 who makes destruction flash forth against the strong,
so that destruction comes upon the fortress.]

10 They hate him who reproves in the gate,
and they abhor him who speaks the truth.
11 Therefore because you trample on the poor
and you exact taxes of grain from him,
you have built houses of hewn stone,
but you shall not dwell in them;
you have planted pleasant vineyards,
but you shall not drink their wine.
12 For I know how many are your transgressions
and how great are your sins—
you who afflict the righteous, who take a bribe,
and turn aside the needy in the gate.
13 Therefore he who is prudent will keep silent in such a time,
for it is an evil time.

14 Seek good, and not evil,
that you may live;
and so the LORD, the God of hosts, will be with you,
as you have said.
15 Hate evil, and love good,
and establish justice in the gate;
it may be that the LORD, the God of hosts,
will be gracious to the remnant of Joseph.

My initial thoughts: Verses 8-9 are not part of our Sunday reading. I’ve included them here just so that I’m aware of the overall flow of the text. As you can see, it speaks of our good God as being in control of creation. Amos preaches to the unrepentant Northern Kingdom of Israel to repent while they still have time. Our good God will forgive them. Examples of how they have sinned are given, examples that ring true for America today. For those who repent the promise is extended “it may be that the LORD, the God of hosts, will be gracious to the remnant of Joseph.” Why make this sound like “maybe he will, but maybe he won’t”? Perhaps it is to drive the people to consider how God has acted in reference to repentant people in the past. If they do consider God’s tract record then they will discover a good God who is merciful and forgiving.

Hebrews 3:12–19
12 Take care, brothers, lest there be in any of you an evil, unbelieving heart, leading you to fall away from the living God. 13But exhort one another every day, as long as it is called “today,” that none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin. 14For we have come to share in Christ, if indeed we hold our original confidence firm to the end. 15As it is said,

“Today, if you hear his voice,
do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion.”

16 For who were those who heard and yet rebelled? Was it not all those who left Egypt led by Moses? 17And with whom was he provoked for forty years? Was it not with those who sinned, whose bodies fell in the wilderness? 18And to whom did he swear that they would not enter his rest, but to those who were disobedient? 19So we see that they were unable to enter because of unbelief.

My initial thoughts: The writer of Hebrews makes an evil heart, and an unbelieving heart, synonyms. Faith in Jesus is good. Lack of faith in Jesus is evil. This is, of course, the basic difference between what is, or is not, a good work. As all that we do is sin-damaged, only faith in Christ can make any of our works “good.” I love his constant circling back to “today.” Don’t let opportunities for Christ slip by. It is always time to repent, turn to Christ in faith, and share that faith in word and deed.

Mark 10:17–22
17 And as he was setting out on his journey, a man ran up and knelt before him and asked him, “Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” 18And Jesus said to him, “Why do you call me good? No one is good except God alone. 19You know the commandments: ‘Do not murder, Do not commit adultery, Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Do not defraud, Honor your father and mother.’” 20And he said to him, “Teacher, all these I have kept from my youth.” 21And Jesus, looking at him, loved him, and said to him, “You lack one thing: go, sell all that you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.” 22Disheartened by the saying, he went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions.

My initial thoughts: This is the well-known story of the Rich Young Ruler. He was a “good” man. He had kept the commandments to the best of his ability. The Lord had blessed him with wealth. We can well imagine that he was well respected and many looked to him for advice and aid. And yet he felt something was missing. He wasn’t sure of his salvation. Hearing of Jesus he went to the Lord looking for the answer. Jesus begins to take him to school. This is not a harsh lesson. Jesus loved the man. He was the cream of the crop. But he needed to learn the lesson we all need to learn. There is no one who is good except God. All have sinned. The bottom line is that our sinfulness makes it impossible for us to love God above all else and our neighbor as our selves. We need to repent and know that our good God, for the sake of his good Son, will forgive us and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

May this look ahead help in preparing for our Sunday worship.

Blessings in Christ,
Pastor

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