Rocklin, California

Tag: Liturgy

Fall 2016 Bible Class on the Liturgy

Why do we worship the way we do? Where do all the sights, sounds, smells, and things that we Liturgy Poster 2016do come from? How come our worship practices are so different from Adventure down the road, or even many other Lutheran churches today? And do we learn any of these things in the bible, or are they simply tradition that we receive from our parents and their parents?

These questions and more will be address in our special fall bible study: The Liturgy, Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow. In this video series, led by renowned scholar and pastor, Dr. Arthur Just, we will explore the Old Testament roots of worship, how the early church adapted what they had received, and where all of this fits into our worship practices today.

I hope you will join us, bring your questions, and let’s try to answer them together and learn more of who we are in Christ and what great gifts our Lord brings to us every Sunday!

Classes begin on Sunday, September 11th at 9:15 in the morning. See you there!

In Christ,

Pastor Peperkorn

The Song of Simeon (Christmas 1, 2012)

Holy Cross Lutheran Church
Rocklin, California
Rev. Todd Peperkorn
Christmas 1 (Dec. 30, 2012)
Luke 2:22-32

TITLE: “The Song of Simeon”

Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord, Jesus Christ. Our text for today is from the Gospel just read from St. Luke chapter 2. Let us pray:

O God, our Maker and Redeemer, You wonderfully created us and in the incarnation of Your Son yet more wondrously restored our human nature. Grant that we may ever be alive in Him who made Himself to be like us; through Jesus Christ, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.

I’ve always liked this reading after Christmas. It is the picture of a man who is waiting to die. Now don’t think of this as morbid. Simeon was given a promise by God that he would not die until he had seen the Lord’s anointed one. So like so many others we heard about this past Advent, Simeon was waiting. He was waiting for the “consolation of Israel,” our text says. In fact, this whole Song of Simeon is packed with rich, Gospel words. So let’s take a look at them. In fact, open your hymnal up to page 165 so that you can follow along.

This translation has us starting with “let go in peace.” When I was growing up, it was “Depart in peace.” We still sing it that way in Divine Service 3. Really none of those quite get it. The word means release. It’s also the word we often translate as “forgive.” God’s forgiveness is tied up with our desire to let go of this fallen world and embrace the resurrection of the dead. Like Simeon, we need not fear anything, not even death itself. Why? Because God has released us from the bonds of sin and death in this little babe of Bethlehem.

Next we see the word “salvation”. Now that is a good church word, isn’t it? But what does it mean? Salvation. Literally, it means healing. Can you see the word “salve” in “salvation”? Salvation, save, heal, they are all one and the same idea. God has prepared the healing of the nations in the sight of the whole world. The babe, our Lord Jesus Christ, He is presented here before the whole world as the medicine of immortality. He is salvation, for only in Him can we receive the healing that we need.

The next word is “revelation”. Jesus is the light of the world that the darkness cannot understand. He is the one that enlightens us. He is the only one that can give true understanding. We by nature are, well, we’re in the dark. We don’t get it. We don’t understand how God can both love the world and be so intolerant of sin. We don’t understand death, and everything that flows from it. There is so much we don’t get. There is so much we don’t understand. But in Christ we have revelation. We hear in the book of Hebrews, “In many and various ways God spoke to his people of old by the prophets, but now in these last days he has spoken to us by his son.” What this means is that everything we need to know about God we can find in Jesus. He is the light. I don’t look in the sunset or the tsunami. I look to Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith. For that is enough.

The last one is the word “glory”. If ever there was a misunderstood church word, this is it. When I think of glory, I usually think of the wonder and amazement and hero-worship that goes along with winning a football game. Or maybe a war. Glory and pride seem to go together in our world. Glory and might or power also seem to go together.

But here, glory doesn’t mean that. It really means the gracious presence of God with His people. God’s glory in the Old Testament was in the cloud on Mt. Sinai, in the Tabernacle and later in the Temple. God’s glory meant that if you wanted to know where to find God, you don’t look in your heart, you looked right there, in the Temple. That’s where He promised to be.

And that’s where He is in our reading. Jesus is God in the flesh. Mary is, in a sense, the Temple preparing for the Temple not made with hands. In her womb the very glory of God dwelt.

And this isn’t the first time we’ve seen this word in the Christmas story, is it? We also heard the angels sing it to the shepherds. Glory to God in the highest and peace to His people on earth. God’s glory here is His holy and gracious presence with His people.

But notice who is on the receiving end of the glory in our text. Israel. Or the Church, if you will. We are the ones who receive the glory, the victory, the gracious presence of God. We sing “glory be to the Father” and then He turns around and gives the glory right back to us in His own body and blood.

This old man, Simeon, must have had quite the twinkle in his eye when he beheld our Lord in his lap. Heaven and earth could not contain His majesty and glory, yet here he is. The mystery of the word made flesh is right before his very eyes. Depart, salvation, revelation, glory. It’s all right there:

Depart in the peace of the forgiveness of sins.
Salvation or healing in the person of Jesus.
Revelation or understanding that can only come from God. And
Glory where God gives us the credit for all of his great work.

This, beloved, is why there is so much joy to be found in these words of Simeon. And we sing them every single week. These words, as our Epistle puts it, dwell in us richly. In these words we give thanks to God for all He has given to us in His Son.

It is an almost uniquely Lutheran tradition to sing the Song of Simeon at the end of our Holy Communion liturgy. But it is a really, really good one. For Simeon confesses for the whole church everything that we receive by eating his body and drinking his blood.

So come, receive the Christ-child this day, and sing with saints and angels, with Simeon and Anna and Mary and Joseph and all of heaven and earth. Christ our Lord has come to us even now. Rejoice and be glad!

Believe it for Jesus’ sake. Amen.

And now the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, keep your hearts and minds in true faith to life everlasting. Amen.

CS Lewis on the Liturgy & Prayer

from a letter written by C.S. Lewis on April 1, 1952 …

The advantage of a fixed form of service is that we know what is coming.  Ex tempore [] public prayer has this difficulty; we don’t know whether we can mentally join in it until we’ve heard it—it might be phony or heretical.  We are therefore called upon to carry on a critical and a devotional activity at the same moment: two things hardly compatible.  In a fixed form we ought to have “gone through the motions” before in our private prayers; the rigid form really sets our devotions free.  Also find the more rigid it is, the easier it is to keep one’s thoughts from straying.  Also it prevents getting too completely eaten up by whatever happens to be the preoccupation of the moment (i.e. war, an election, or what not).  The permanent shape of Christianity shows through.  I don’t see how the ex tempe method can help becoming provincial, and I think it has a great tendency to direct attention to the minister rather than to God.

Augustine on the Liturgy

“We firmly believe, brethren, that the Lord has died for our sins, the just for the unjust, the master for the slaves, the shepherd for the sheep and, still more astonishingly, the Creator for the creatures.

“He has preserved what he was from eternity; what he was in time he has sacrificed. God hidden in the guise of a visible man, giving life with his strength and dying in his weakness “was put to death for our sins and raised for our justification.”

“All of that happened once and for all, as you know well enough. And yet, we have the liturgical solemnities which we celebrate as, during the course of the year, we come to the date of particular events.

“Between the truth of the events and the solemnities of the liturgy there is no contradiction, as if the latter were a lie.

“The historical truth is what happened once and for all, but the liturgy makes those events always new for the hearts that celebrate them with faith.

“The historical truth shows us the events just as they happened, but the liturgy, while not repeating them, celebrates them and prevents their being forgotten.

“Thus, on the basis of the historical truth, we say that Easter happened once only and will not happen again, but, on the basis of the liturgy, we can say that Easter happens every year.

“Thanks to the liturgy, the human mind reaches the truth and proclaims its faith in the Lord.”
(Augustine: Sermons, 220 (PL38, 1089)