So here’s something that happens in Lutheran services just before Holy Communion:
Pastor: The Lord be with you.
Congregation: And also with you.
Pastor: Lift up your hearts.
Congregation: We lift them to The Lord.
Pastor: It is indeed good, right and salutary …
The pastor continues with a prayer about how fortunate we are to be able to receive the blood-wine-flesh-bread of Jesus, which is wonderful, but my concern is about the word ‘salutary’. I’ve been attending Lutheran services for 20+ years and the word ‘salutary’ (producing a beneficial effect), gets mentioned maybe one third of the time even though
clearly written. Why do Lutheran pastors ignore the word ‘salutary’ two thirds of the time even though
clearly written on the page? Is this a product of Seminex*?
The hymns we sang were “Let Us With Talents and Tongues Employ“, “Rock of Ages, Cleft For Me“, “What Feast of Love“, and finishing with “A Bride, O Dearest Jesus“. Thank you, Karl.
After our opening hymn we confessed our sins. God heard our cries and sent ‘The Holy Ghost to change us and to empower our lives in the world’. Forgiven.
My wife, Susan, read the scripture reading, Isaiah 53:4-12. Macitajs Lazdins read The Gospel of Mark 10:35-45. They are copied below.
My sister, Linda-loo, read the church prayers. We prayed for nature; our abilities to use the gifts given us by God; that our political leaders use wisdom and clarity of thought; to help persons with illnesses, injuries, disabilities and emotional struggles. But the most endearing prayer was this:
Fill creation from mountain peaks to the deepest valleys with your invigorating Spirit. Give strength and provision to animals that prepare for colder weather.
I have never before prayed for animals to grow proper fur and collect needed food for winter weather. This just makes me happy!
And we participated in Holy Communion. Macitajs gave us each a blessing of forgiveness, then a wafer, and finally a drink from the communion cup.
Today’s sermon centered on Mark 10:35-45. It begins with two of His disciples, the brothers John and James (otherwise nicknamed by Jesus, “The Sons of Thunder”) asking Jesus for a favor. They want Him to treat them favorably by allowing them to have the seats of honor in Heaven to the right and left of Jesus. Jesus responds by asking them,
“Can you drink the cup I drink or be baptized with the baptism I am baptized with?”
James and John must have thought to themselves, ‘Well, how simple does that sound? Can we drink wine and be baptized in water? That sounds ridiculously easy!’. Of course!, they tell Jesus. Jesus continues by telling them that they will drink from His cup and be baptized the way He will be baptized. Jesus was referring to the difficult road He must follow ending in a humiliating death on the cross. James and John couldn’t have known this since The Spirit hadn’t yet given them knowledge of it. Jesus ended their question by telling them it wasn’t His decision who would sit next to Him in glory.
When the other ten disciples heard this they were outraged by the brothers’ request but were probably more upset somebody asked of Jesus what they themselves wanted to ask Jesus for. The Lord took time to explain to His disciples that the road to glory lay not in the worldly ways of the strong leading the weak the way a military general might rule over his vanquished by force. Or that leadership was the result of a royal bloodline passed down to a firstborn whether he wanted the responsibility or not. Neither did leadership come from education or sharp business acumen. Jesus told them true leadership was the result of true servant-hood. What better way is there to show a person you understand his issue than by helping them out of their ordeal? Or even by living their situation? Mother Teresa adopted a life of poverty as she lived with and tended to the sick and dying in Calcutta. Clara Barton was a nurse in the Civil War who followed battles to deliver needed goods and medical help to the wounded. General George Washington was known to help his soldiers perform duties but under the guise of a common man. Jesus, did the most humiliating thing God could do and that was to become incarnate and live with humans. He did this, in part, to fully appreciate and know what is was to feel pain, joy, tears and tiredness. With this knowledge He could speak properly to his disciples, to you and to me. Jesus took the time and healed the sick, washed His disciples’ feet, and eventually died the death of a sinner on a cross to pay the ransom for our sins.
What does it mean to serve Jesus today? Must you live in a ghetto having given up luxuries in life? For some, yes, but not most people. For most of us, Jesus wants us to treat others with respect, dignity but mostly with love. When someone needs help, help them. If someone needs a meal, feed them. If someone needs a coat, give him a coat. How hard is that? Unfortunately, we usually find a reason to be somewhere else.
Surely he took up our pain
and bore our suffering,
yet we considered him punished by God,
stricken by him, and afflicted.
5 But he was pierced for our transgressions,
he was crushed for our iniquities;
the punishment that brought us peace was on him,
and by his wounds we are healed.
6 We all, like sheep, have gone astray,
each of us has turned to our own way;
and the Lord has laid on him
the iniquity of us all.
7 He was oppressed and afflicted,
yet he did not open his mouth;
he was led like a lamb to the slaughter,
and as a sheep before its shearers is silent,
so he did not open his mouth.
8 By oppression[a] and judgment he was taken away.
Yet who of his generation protested?
For he was cut off from the land of the living;
for the transgression of my people he was punished.[b]
9 He was assigned a grave with the wicked,
and with the rich in his death,
though he had done no violence,
nor was any deceit in his mouth.
10 Yet it was the Lord’s will to crush him and cause him to suffer,
and though the Lord makes[c] his life an offering for sin,
he will see his offspring and prolong his days,
and the will of the Lord will prosper in his hand.
11 After he has suffered,
he will see the light of life[d] and be satisfied[e];
by his knowledge[f] my righteous servant will justify many,
and he will bear their iniquities.
12 Therefore I will give him a portion among the great,[g]
and he will divide the spoils with the strong,[h]
because he poured out his life unto death,
and was numbered with the transgressors.
For he bore the sin of many,
and made intercession for the transgressors.
Then James and John, the sons of Zebedee, came to him. “Teacher,” they said, “we want you to do for us whatever we ask.”
36 “What do you want me to do for you?” he asked.
37 They replied, “Let one of us sit at your right and the other at your left in your glory.”
38 “You don’t know what you are asking,” Jesus said. “Can you drink the cup I drink or be baptized with the baptism I am baptized with?”
39 “We can,” they answered.
Jesus said to them, “You will drink the cup I drink and be baptized with the baptism I am baptized with, 40 but to sit at my right or left is not for me to grant. These places belong to those for whom they have been prepared.”
41 When the ten heard about this, they became indignant with James and John. 42 Jesus called them together and said, “You know that those who are regarded as rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. 43 Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, 44 and whoever wants to be first must be slave of all. 45 For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”
*Seminex is the widely used abbreviation for Concordia Seminary in Exile (later Christ Seminary-Seminex) that existed from 1974 to 1987 after a schism in the Lutheran Church–Missouri Synod (LCMS). The seminary in exile was formed due to the ongoing Fundamentalist–Modernist Controversy that was dividing Protestant churches in the United States. At issue were foundational disagreements on the authority of Scripture and the role of Christianity. During the 1960s, the LCMS church laity grew concerned about the direction of education at their flagship seminary, Concordia Seminary. Professors at Concordia Seminary had in the 1950s and 1960s begun to utilize higher criticism with the Historical-Critical Method to analyze the Bible rather than the orthodox method that considered scripture to be the inerrant Word of God.
Personal note: There’s no denying that our congregation, as well as most ethnic-centered churches in the United States, is slowly shrinking through death, assimilation into American society and spouse-preferred other churches which provide services and missions beyond the scope of Indianapolis Latvian Lutheran but rest assured that regardless of attendance, until the doors shut, it will always be available for when you need it.