February 9-14, Parts of Worship 2

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FAMILY DEVOTIONS

Monday, February 9

And they sang a new song with these words: “You are worthy to take the scrolland break its seals and open it.
For you were slaughtered, and your blood has ransomed people for God from every tribe and language and people and nation. And you have caused them to become a Kingdom of priests for our God.  And they will reign on the earth.” Revelation 5:9-10

We continue walking through the liturgy this week for family devotions, exploring the meaning of each part of our Sunday worship service.  Today, we explore the creeds.  Every week we join in a common confession of our faith.  But why do we all speak the same words?  Many other Christian denominations ignore or avoid the creeds of the church, so why do we say them together week after week?  “As we open our mouths and begin, ‘I believe in God, the Father Almighty… ,’ we confess a profound truth that has passed over the lips of Christians in every generation. This confession of the triune God is the property of no single individual, but of the whole church, including the whole company of heaven. There are more than a few saints and martyrs who put their lives on the line as they defended the truths that we confess in the creeds. Think of… Luther, who stood firm against the combined might of the Roman Church and the Holy Roman Empire. In our own day, there are faithful Christians who risk their lives--and sometimes die--to confess these truths.”  Our reading today includes a confession of faith that is recorded in the courts of heaven – so even there we find confession.  “In the same way, as we stand on holy ground where Jesus comes in his Word and Sacraments, we join that noble company of saints and martyrs, confessing these holy truths concerning the triune God.”

 

Tuesday, February 10

Honor the Lord with your wealth, with the firstfruits of all your crops;then your barns will be filled to overflowing,and your vats will brim over with new wine. Prov 3:9-10

Following the sermon is the offertory and offering.  In the offertory we sing, “What shall I render (give) to the Lord for all His benefits to me?”  Truth is, there is nothing that we can actually give to God.  The whole world is His (Ps 24:1).  But there is an offering that we do make.  It is the offering of thanksgiving that we make now in our worship and will one day make in heaven itself.  We call it the sacrifice of thanksgiving.  This is completely separate from the sacrifice of redemption that Christ made for us.  We cannot save ourselves; only the blood of Jesus can save us.  “Every time we try to grab that honor for ourselves, we come up short--very short. But when we recognize our rightful place--that we are on the receiving end of God's merciful goodness--then the sacrifice of thanksgiving cannot help but pour forth from our lips as we give our thanks to the One who gave everything for us. The giving of our firstfruits, whether it is money or possessions, time or talents, is also a part of this sacrifice of thanksgiving. Our mouths cannot remain separated from the rest of our bodies. If the thanksgiving is flowing from our lips, then it will also find expression in the giving of our very selves for the sake of Christ and the neighbor.”  So we offer our gifts to God, working toward giving to Him 10% of everything that He gives to us, and giving with rejoicing and thanksgiving.

Jesus, only you could make the sacrifice needed to cover my sins, and in your love and mercy, you did that for me.  In joy and thanksgiving I offer my sacrifice of praise, time, my talents, and money.

 

Wednesday, February 11

In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord, high and exalted, seated on a throne; and the train of his robe filled the temple. Above him were seraphim, each with six wings: With two wings they covered their faces, with two they covered their feet, and with two they were flying. And they were calling to one another: “Holy, holy, holy is theLordAlmighty;the whole earth is full of his glory.” At the sound of their voices the doorposts and thresholds shook and the temple was filled with smoke.  Isaiah 6:1-4

“If any part of the service has been recognized as providing a glimpse of heaven, it's the Sanctus: ‘Holy, holy, holy, Lord God of Sabaoth, heaven and earth are full of your glory.’ This is the eternal song of the angels who hover over the throne of God in the vision of heaven that was given to Isaiah (Is. 6:1-4). At first glance, these words appear to be out of place at this point in the service. Nevertheless, the reality is that there is nothing in this entire world that compares with the miracle of Jesus' bodily presence to feed his people. In this meal God is breaking into our world to give us life. No wonder our repeated cry is ‘Hosanna in the highest,’ for what is more needed in this dying world than the Lord's salvation?
The second half of the Sanctus contains a statement as bold as the first. Here we have our own little Palm Sunday. Just as the crowds cried out to Jesus as he entered Jerusalem, so do we declare, ‘Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord’ (Mt. 21:9; Ps. 118:26). Heaven continues to break into our world as Jesus, our humble king, comes riding into our midst in the Lord's name.”

Holy, holy, holy is the Lord Almighty; the whole earth is full of His glory!

 

Thursday, February 12

While they were eating, Jesus took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to his disciples, saying, “Take and eat; this is my body.”Then he took a cup, and when he had given thanks, he gave it to them, saying, “Drink from it, all of you.  This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins. Matthew 26:26-28

Luther writes in the Small Catechism, “What is the Sacrament of the Altar?  It is the true body and blood of our Lord Jesus Christ under the bread and wine, instituted by Christ himself for us Christians to eat and to drink.”  For many Christians, the words of Institution are nothing more than an historical report: this is what Jesus did and what He said.  But we understand it as far more than that.  When the words of Institution are spoken and we take and eat the bread and take and drink the wine, we are truly receiving the body and blood of Jesus Christ given for the forgiveness of sins.  It is the present assurance of forgiveness for each of us, and not simply the remembrance of a past historical event.  “Of course, in heaven we won't receive the Lord's Supper. There we will have Jesus—the Bread of heaven—in all his fullness. But for now, as we wait for his return, he establishes his own beachhead in our sin-infested world, coming as our defender and deliverer, offering his own body and blood as the medicine of immortality. Here we find strength for the journey as Christ dwells in us and we in him. And the more we partake of this sacred food, the greater our desire becomes to be with Christ forever.”

“I come, O Savior, to Your table, for weak and weary is my soul.  You, Bread of Life, alone art able to satisfy and make me whole.  Lord, may your body and your blood be for my soul the highest good!”  (LSB)

 

Friday, February 13

The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him and said, “Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world! John 1:29

After the Words of Institution we sing the Agnus Dei (which means, “Lamb of God”). “When we sing the Agnus Dei, ‘Lamb of God, you take away the sin of the world, have mercy on us,’ we are preaching and praying all at once.  As we prepare to feast on the Lamb of our salvation, we do indeed proclaim him who gave his life for us. Here is the Lamb of God! Yet we also pray to him who is now present in his body and blood. We pray for mercy, mercy from the One who showed the true depths of mercy and compassion as he was silently led to slaughter, dying like a lamb shorn of all its honor. Returning one more time to the apostle John's vision of heaven, we later hear his description of the saints in white robes. "Who are they?" John is asked. The answer: ‘These are the ones coming out of the great tribulation. They have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb’ (Rev. 7:13-14). This is the blood of our redemption, the propitiatory sacrifice that was foreshadowed at the first Passover when the blood of the year-old lambs was sprinkled on the doorpost as a sign that blood had already been shed in that house. In his Easter hymn, Martin Luther applies that incident to us, thus revealing our standing before the Father:  See, his blood now marks our door; Faith points to it; Death passes o'er, And Satan cannot harm us.  (LSB #458).  So it is at every celebration of the Lord's Supper. The blood of the Lamb is poured out for our drinking and his flesh for our eating. Clearly, God's mercy is shown, and his peace rests on us.”

Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world, have mercy on us!

 

Saturday, February 14

After this I looked, and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and before the Lamb. They were wearing white robes and were holding palm branches in their hands. And they cried out in a loud voice: “Salvation belongs to our God,who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb.” Revelation 7:9-10

Communion is far from a private event.  It is a communal affair that crosses boundaries of nation, race, language and even time itself.  As we take communion we are joined with Christians from all around the world in every age and with the saints who have gone before us in heaven.  It is a foretaste of the feast to come in heaven!  “Try for a moment to picture the heavenly throng standing before the throne of God on the Last Day. The numbers will be staggering. And yet, united as we all are to Christ, the Bridegroom, we will be one--his elect Bride. As the faithful make their way to the altar to feast on the Bread of Life in the distribution, they are given a glimpse of that holy Bride. Oh yes, we see all of her warts and blemishes: the petty bickering over trivial matters, the deep disagreements on more weighty issues, and the painful ways in which we sometimes treat one another. Yet, by our common confession of the truth, we are one in Christ. As Christ gives himself to us in this holy meal, he strengthens that unity and bids us love one another with a deep and abiding love. How can it be any other way, as we are sent from the table with the blessing to depart in peace?”

Jesus, as we come to your table with our brothers and sisters in Christ, help us to see your holy Bride for which you bled and died, and let us truly depart in peace and with the full assurance of forgiveness.

 

Quotes taken from http://www.lcms.org/page.aspx?pid=1116

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