June 7, 2020
SERVICE OF THE WORD
This service offers the congregation a form of worship that focuses on the proclamation of God’s Word. Believers respond to this divine gift with prayer, praise, and thanksgiving. The service begins on page 38 in the front of the hymnal.
M: We worship today in the name of our Triune God— God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit.
Confession of Sins
M: We have come into the presence of God, who created us to love and serve Him as His dear children. But we have disobeyed Him and deserve only His wrath and punishment. Therefore, let us confess our sins to Him and plead for His mercy.
C: Merciful Father in heaven, I am altogether sinful from birth. In countless ways I have sinned against you and do not deserve to be called your child. But trusting in Jesus, my Savior, I pray: Have mercy on me according to your unfailing love. Cleanse me from my sin, and take away my guilt.
M: God, our heavenly Father has forgiven all your sins. By the perfect life and innocent death of our Lord Jesus Christ, He has removed your guilt forever. You are His own dear child. May God give you strength to live according to His will.
Prayer and Praise
M: In the peace of forgiveness, let us praise the Lord.
C: Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good. Blessed are they who take refuge in Him. Your Word, O Lord, is eternal; it stands firm in the heavens. Your faithfulness continues forever. Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good. Blessed are they who take refuge in Him.
PRAYER OF THE DAY
M: Let us pray.
Almighty God and Father, dwelling in majesty and mystery, filling and renewing all creation by your eternal Spirit, and manifesting your saving grace through our Lord Jesus Christ: in mercy cleanse our hearts and lips that, free from doubt and fear, we may ever worship you, one true eternal God, with your Son and the Holy Spirit, living and reigning, now and forever.
FIRST LESSON – Genesis 1:1-2:3
By His command, God created our universe in six ordinary days. Although the work of creation is primarily ascribed to God the Father, we know that “the Word” and “the Spirit of God” were also active in the creation.
In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters. And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light. God saw that the light was good, and he separated the light from the darkness. God called the light “day,” and the darkness he called “night.” And there was evening, and there was morning—the first day. And God said, “Let there be an expanse between the waters to separate water from water.” So God made the expanse and separated the water under the expanse from the water above it. And it was so. God called the expanse “sky.” And there was evening, and there was morning—the second day. And God said, “Let the water under the sky be gathered to one place, and let dry ground appear.” And it was so. God called the dry ground “land,” and the gathered waters he called “seas.” And God saw that it was good. Then God said, “Let the land produce vegetation: seed-bearing plants and trees on the land that bear fruit with seed in it, according to their various kinds.” And it was so. The land produced vegetation: plants bearing seed according to their kinds and trees bearing fruit with seed in it according to their kinds. And God saw that it was good. And there was evening, and there was morning—the third day. And God said, “Let there be lights in the expanse of the sky to separate the day from the night, and let them serve as signs to mark seasons and days and years, and let them be lights in the expanse of the sky to give light on the earth.” And it was so. God made two great lights—the greater light to govern the day and the lesser light to govern the night. He also made the stars. God set them in the expanse of the sky to give light on the earth, to govern the day and the night, and to separate light from darkness. And God saw that it was good. And there was evening, and there was morning—the fourth day. And God said, “Let the water teem with living creatures, and let birds fly above the earth across the expanse of the sky.” So God created the great creatures of the sea and every living and moving thing with which the water teems, according to their kinds, and every winged bird according to its kind. And God saw that it was good. God blessed them and said, “Be fruitful and increase in number and fill the water in the seas, and let the birds increase on the earth.” And there was evening, and there was morning—the fifth day. And God said, “Let the land produce living creatures according to their kinds: livestock, creatures that move along the ground, and wild animals, each according to its kind.” And it was so. God made the wild animals according to their kinds, the livestock according to their kinds, and all the creatures that move along the ground according to their kinds. And God saw that it was good. Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, in our likeness, and let them rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air, over the livestock, over all the earth, and over all the creatures that move along the ground.” So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. God blessed them and said to them, “Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air and over every living creature that moves on the ground.” Then God said, “I give you every seed-bearing plant on the face of the whole earth and every tree that has fruit with seed in it. They will be yours for food. And to all the beasts of the earth and all the birds of the air and all the creatures that move on the ground—everything that has the breath of life in it—I give every green plant for food.” And it was so. God saw all that he had made, and it was very good. And there was evening, and there was morning—the sixth day. Thus the heavens and the earth were completed in all their vast array. By the seventh day God had finished the work he had been doing; so on the seventh day he rested from all his work. And God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it he rested from all the work of creating that he had done. (NIV1984)
PSALM OF THE DAY – Psalm 150
Praise God in His sanctuary;
praise Him in His mighty heavens.
Praise Him for His acts of power;
praise Him for His surpassing greatness.
Praise Him with the sounding of the trumpet,
praise Him with the harp and lyre,
praise Him with tambourine and dancing,
praise Him with strings and flute,
praise Him with the clash of cymbals,
praise Him with resounding cymbals.
Let everything that has breath praise the LORD.
Praise the LORD.
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
SECOND LESSON – 2 Corinthians 13:11-14
St. Paul closes his epistle to the Corinthians with the encouragement to live in harmony with one another and openly to express unity in faith.
Finally, brothers, good-by. Aim for perfection, listen to my appeal, be of one mind, live in peace. And the God of love and peace will be with you. Greet one another with a holy kiss. All the saints send their greetings. May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all. (NIV1984)
VERSE OF THE DAY
Alleluia. Holy, holy, holy is the Lord Almighty; the whole earth is full of His glory. Alleluia. (Isaiah 6:3b)
C: Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia! These words are written that we may believe that Jesus is
the Christ, the Son of God. Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia!
GOSPEL LESSON – Matthew 28:16-20 (Sermon Text)
By “baptizing them” and “teaching them,” all nations receive the sonship of the Father, the redeeming work of the Son, and the joyful confidence of the Holy Spirit.
Then the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus had told them to go. When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted. Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” (NIV1984)
C: Praise be to you, O Christ!
SERMON Safe in the Arms of the Triune God!
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ,
One of the simplest yet most powerful ways to convey feelings and emotions from one person to another is by wrapping our arms around them. When someone is sad and we don’t know what to say, the very best thing we can do is just put our arms around them and say absolutely nothing. When someone is bubbling over with happiness, we can join in their joy by just wrapping our arms around them. When someone is lonely or afraid, when someone is leaving on a journey or coming home from a journey, we wrap our arms around them for support and celebration.
Could any of you use a hug right about now? Because of the Shelter-in-Place order that we have been living under for over two months now we are required to stay six feet away from anyone and everyone who does not live in the same house as we do. I’m sure all of us would agree that “air-hugs” are just not the same, are they. And even after the Shelter-in-Place order is lifted, even after we are allowed to gather together in God’s house once again— which hopefully will be very soon!— hugs are going to be off limits along with handshakes and even fist-bumps. This particular strain of coronavirus is definitely putting a strain on expressing our personal relationships with both our family and our friends!
Because we could all use a big hug and because it might be a while before we can go back to our normal “hugging habits” I thought that today would be a very good day for us to remember that there is Someone who freely and safely gives us the best hugs of all, our Triune God! With that picture in mind let’s study this very familiar portion of Scripture under the theme: Safe in the Arms of the Triune God! There are three points we want to glean from this text. First let’s see that we are safe in the arms of the Triune God because of the “authority” He possesses. Then let’s see that we are safe in the arms of the Triune God because He has graciously given to us His precious Means of Grace. Finally let’s see that we are safe in the arms of the Triune God because He has promised to always be with us.
Our text for today takes place some time after Jesus’ physical resurrection from the dead and before Jesus’ physical ascension into heaven. Matthew writes, “Then the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus had told them to go. When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted. Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.’”
The very first question that might jump out at us comes from the words “but some doubted.” Personally, I can’t imagine that these words refer to any of the “eleven disciples”— which I understand as a reference to Jesus’ chosen Apostles. The apostle John reveals to us that Jesus had already appeared to the eleven Apostles at least two other times before the meeting recorded here in our text. (See John 20 & 21) There is the possibility that the words “but some doubted” may refer to 1 Corinthians 15:6 where the apostle Paul says that the resurrected Christ “appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers at the same time.” No matter who these “doubters” may have been their “doubts” concerning Jesus’ physical resurrection from the dead were now erased there on that mountain in Galilee!
The key point of these verses, the point that ties in with our sermon theme for today, is found in Jesus’ words “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.” Long before our Lord spoke these words it was clear to everyone that Jesus of Nazareth possessed an “authority” that was far superior to anything anyone had ever seen! Jesus’ “authority” was so unique that even the demons trembled before Him and did exactly what He commanded. (See Mark 1:21-28) Jesus’ “authority” was so astonishing that people were amazed at how He taught God’s Word. (See Matthew 7:28, 29) Jesus’ “authority” was so powerful that “Even the wind and the waves obey him!” (Mark 4:35-41) And, Jesus’ “authority” was and still is so comprehensive that He even has the “authority” to heal illness and forgive sin! (See Matthew 9:1-8; Luke 8:40-56)
Because Jesus possesses “all authority in heaven and on earth” we are safe in His arms! Could one little virus be “too much” for Jesus’ “authority” to handle? Impossible! Then why? Why has our Triune God allowed this pandemic to sweep all across the world? Obviously, the Bible does not give us a specific answer to that specific question. But, based on what the Bible does tell us we are led to ask: Could this virus be included in the “pestilence” that Jesus said would signal that the end of the world is getting closer? (See Luke 21:11) Could this virus be a reminder to us that while death is not a natural part of life it is an inevitable part of life? Could this virus be God’s warning to people that they/we need to daily repent of our sins and trust in Jesus for forgiveness? (Pointing to the cross) Could this virus be an opportunity for you and for me to reassess our priorities in life, an opportunity to make sure that we stay close to our loved ones and our friends, an opportunity to make sure that we stay even closer to our Triune God because we never know how much time we have left here on this earth? No matter how you may answer those questions, my friends, one thing is clear: We are safe in the arms of our Triune God, the God who possesses “all authority in heaven and on earth”!
Now let’s turn to the next portion of our text. Jesus, the One who possesses “all authority in heaven and on earth,” says to you and to me, “Therefore (on the basis of My authority) go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.”
Not only does this portion of our text contain the Great Commission which the risen Christ has given to His Church here on this earth, but this portion of our text contains one of the clearest proclamations in the Bible concerning the truth that the one and only true God is the Triune God. While we could have based our entire sermon on just these two verses, in keeping with my goal for this sermon let’s see how these two verses of Scripture assure us that we are safe in the arms of the Triune God because He has graciously given to us His precious Means of Grace.
While we were still young— probably still a newborn infant— someone loved us enough to hold us safely in their arms and carry us to the baptismal font where we were baptized into “the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.” At that moment the Triune God lovingly took us in His arms and declared, “I have summoned/called you by name; you are mine” (Isaiah 43:10. Over the course of our formative years someone loved us enough to hold us safely on their lap and teach us our very first prayers, “Now I lay me down to sleep…” and “Come Lord Jesus, be our Guest….” They may have even taught us our very first hymns, “Jesus loves me this I know…” and “I am Jesus’ little lamb.” And as we got older there were people in our lives— Sunday school teachers, grade school teachers, pastors— who loved us enough to start us on the path which fulfills Jesus’ command, “…teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you”— a path that we are still on to this very day! As we continue along that path our Triune God still wraps His arms around us to keep us safe. How? Through His precious Means of Grace— the Message of the Gospel of Jesus Christ as it comes to us in God’s holy Word and Sacrament.
What we considered “normal” back in February no longer exists and what our “new normal” might be like still waits to be seen. This also holds true for our church life as well. “Going to church” no longer automatically means getting in our car and driving. For the last few months “going to church” has meant turning on our computer, clicking on a Zoom invitation and worshiping “together” in a way like we have never worshiped before. All of this has served as a very vivid reminder to us of how important it is to daily sit down with our Bible and let our Triune God come to us through His holy Word and hold us safely in His arms.
Through His holy Word the Triune God comes to us and comforts us with the assurance that we are His dearly beloved, adopted and baptized children. Through His holy Word our Triune God comes to us and gives us the confidence of knowing that even in the midst of this pandemic we can trust in His promise, “So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand” (Isaiah 41:10). Through His holy Word our Triune God comes to us and fills us with the joy and the hope that enables us to say along with the apostle Paul, “’Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?’ The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Corinthians 15:55-57). And so yes, my friends, we are indeed safe— safe in the arms of the Triune God who has graciously given to us His precious Means of Grace, the Gospel of Jesus Christ in both Word and Sacrament.
That leaves us just one more truth to glean from this text: We are safe in the arms of the Triune God because He has promised to always be with us! That promise is found in these well-known words, “And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” A very literal translation of this promise would go like this: “And behold I am with you all the days until the completion of the age.”
Because of our own weaknesses and because of our own doubts there are days when we might feel all alone and completely helpless. Because of other people’s weaknesses and because of other people’s doubts there are going to be days when we feel like they have let us down, days when they leave us with the feeling that we are all on our own. We may have experienced even more days like this over the course of the past couple of months. It is especially on those days that we need to remember this promise of our God, “I am with you all the days until the completion of the age.” Until the very end of time we have the comfort of knowing that we are safe in the arms of the Triune God. There is no enemy seen or unseen, no uncertainty, no virus, no pandemic that can snatch us from the safety of the One who possesses “all authority in heaven and on earth,” the One who has promised to be with us “all the days until the completion of the age.” As long as this earth as we presently know it is still standing our Triune God will hold us safely in His loving arms.
I think we are all at the point where we could use a nice, big, warm hug. I think we all have individuals in our lives whom we would love to go up to and just wrap our arms around them. While it may be a while yet before our hugging habits go back to normal, let’s take this opportunity to remember and to rejoice in knowing that we are always safe in the arms of the Triune God!
To Him be the glory!
THE ATHANASIAN CREED
This creed is named after St. Athanasius, a staunch defender of the Christian faith in the fourth century. It was prepared to assist the Church in combating two errors that undermined Bible teaching. One error denied that God ’s Son and the Holy Spirit are of one being or Godhead with the Father. The other error denied that Jesus Christ is true God and true man in one person. The Athanasian Creed continues to serve the Christian Church as a standard of the truth. It declares that whoever rejects the doctrine of the Trinity and the doctrine of Christ is without the saving faith.
Whoever wishes to be saved must, above all else, hold to the true Christian faith.
Whoever does not keep this faith pure in all points will certainly perish forever.
Now this is the true Christian faith:
We worship one God in three persons and three persons in one God,
without mixing the persons or dividing the divine being.
For each person—the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit—is distinct,
but the deity of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit is one,
equal in glory and coeternal in majesty.
What the Father is, so is the Son, and so is the Holy Spirit.
The Father is uncreated, the Son uncreated, the Holy Spirit uncreated;
the Father is infinite, the Son infinite, the Holy Spirit infinite;
the Father is eternal, the Son eternal, the Holy Spirit eternal;
yet they are not three who are eternal, but there is one who is eternal,
just as they are not three who are uncreated, nor three who are infinite,
but there is one who is uncreated and one who is infinite.
In the same way the Father is almighty, the Son is almighty, the Holy Spirit is almighty;
yet they are not three who are almighty, but there is one who is almighty.
So the Father is God, the Son is God, the Holy Spirit is God;
yet they are not three Gods, but one God.
So the Father is Lord, the Son is Lord, the Holy Spirit is Lord;
yet they are not three Lords, but one Lord.
For just as Christian truth compels us to confess each person individually to be God and Lord,
so the true Christian faith forbids us to speak of three Gods or three Lords.
The Father is neither made nor created nor begotten of anyone.
The Son is neither made nor created, but is begotten of the Father alone.
The Holy Spirit is neither made nor created nor begotten,
but proceeds from the Father and the Son.
So there is one Father, not three Fathers; one Son, not three Sons;
one Holy Spirit, not three Holy Spirits.
And within this Trinity none comes before or after; none is greater or inferior,
but all three persons are coequal and coeternal,
so that in every way, as stated before, all three persons are to be worshiped as one God
and one God worshiped as three persons.
Whoever wishes to be saved must have this conviction of the Trinity.
It is furthermore necessary for eternal salvation truly to believe
that our Lord Jesus Christ also took on human flesh.
Now this is the true Christian faith:
We believe and confess that our Lord Jesus Christ, God’s Son,
is both God and man.
He is God, eternally begotten from the nature of the Father, and he is man, born in time
from the nature of his mother, fully God, fully man, with rational soul and human flesh,
equal to the Father as to his deity, less than the Father as to his humanity;
and though he is both God and man, Christ is not two persons but one,
one, not by changing the deity into flesh, but by taking the humanity into God;
one, indeed, not by mixture of the natures, but by unity in one person;
for just as the rational soul and flesh are one human being,
so God and man are one Christ.
He suffered for our salvation, descended into hell, rose the third day from the dead.
He ascended into heaven, is seated at the right hand of God the Father almighty,
and from there will come to judge the living and the dead.
At his coming all people will rise with their own bodies
to answer for their personal deeds.
Those who have done good will enter eternal life,
but those who have done evil will go into eternal fire.
This is the true Christian faith.
Whoever does not faithfully and firmly believe this cannot be saved.
During this time of uncertainty we still want to bring our thank offerings to our dear Lord and Savior. We ask that you continue to set your offerings aside so that when we are able to come together again in God’s House we will be able to place our offerings on His altar.
PRAYER OF THE CHURCH
Holy, holy, holy is your Name, O Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Our hearts sing the praise of your Name, dear heavenly Father, for you are our Creator and Preserver. We especially rejoice in your great love, the love that led you to send your own Son and offer Him up on the cross for our eternal redemption. Our hearts sing the praise of your Name, dear Savior Jesus Christ, for the love with which you loved us in suffering and dying for our sins. In you, the true Son of God and the true Son of Man, we find hope, joy and peace— yes, eternal salvation! Our hearts sing the praise of your Name, dear Holy Spirit, for you have revealed God’s Truth to all mankind and through it have called us to faith and granted us forgiveness. Without your continual sanctifying work in us through the power of the Gospel we could neither grow in our faith nor walk in a way that is pleasing to God by keeping His Commandments. O Triune God, Father Son and Holy Spirit, we praise you now and forever for your marvelous works and for the undeserved love and mercy which you continually show toward us.
Dear Triune God, hear us when we pray and keep us safe in your almighty and all-loving arms. Forgive our countless sins for the sake of Him who has redeemed us. Forgive us for failing to worship and serve you as we ought. Let your hand of blessing be open to us when we call upon you in truth. Nourish us lest we become faint. Strengthen us lest we become weak. Cheer us lest we become depressed with the troubles of life. Hold us up lest we stumble beneath the burdens that afflict us. Direct our physical and spiritual footsteps lest we falter and choose the wrong way. Bring us sweet relief from pain and illness. Where encouragement is needed apply your soothing Word to our soul. When we need patience in bearing our crosses teach us to look to our Savior’s own example of enduring suffering. Refresh our memories with all the good things that you continually do for us and open our lips to praise you for them. Lead us to daily search your Word that we might be warned and instructed by its precepts and our souls inspired with its message of divine grace and salvation. Be ever near us to guard us from sin and unbelief that the devil, the world and our own sinful flesh may not have power over us. Yes, make us victorious Christians who are ever faithful your Word, faithful to our calling and faithful to you! Impart all needful blessings to both our bodies and our souls and do not an account of our sins withhold your help from us.
C: Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name, thy kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread; and forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us; and lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. For thine is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever and ever. Amen.
M: O Lord God, our heavenly Father, pour out the Holy Spirit on your faithful people. Keep us strong in your grace and truth, protect and comfort us in all temptation, and bestow on us your saving peace, through Jesus Christ, our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.
M: Brothers and sisters, go in peace. Live in harmony with one another. Serve the Lord with gladness.
The Lord bless you and keep you. The Lord make His face shine on you and be gracious to you. The Lord look on you with favor and give you peace.