March 21, 2018
Death to Resurrection: The Wilderness to the Promised Land
The journey through a desolate place causes concern. It the midst of a desert, we wonder if we have enough water and food. In the middle of a drive across the wilderness of the western plains, we repeatedly check the fuel gauge. We know that death awaits the unprepared in the wilds and woolies. Indeed, the wilderness has always been considered a place of death and separation, a place of exile from all that we long for and hold dear, even our life. A journey through the wilderness is dangerous, but what waits for those who arrive at the other side? New life, a resurrection, a promised land where the Lord provides all good things, all life-giving and life-sustaining things; these are the blessings that come to the people of God from the hand of God as He brings us out of the wilderness of sin and into the paradise purchased by His Son. From the wilderness to the promised land—from death to life—a return from exile!
Vespers normally does not have an opening hymn. After the bells ring, we begin with the Opening Versicles.
1When the Lord restored the fortunes of Zion,
we were like those who dream.
2Then our mouth was filled with laughter,
and our tongue with shouts of joy;
then they said among the nations,
“The Lord has done great things for them.”
3The Lord has done great things for us;
we are glad.
4Restore our fortunes, O Lord,
like streams in the Negeb!
5Those who sow in tears
shall reap with shouts of joy!
6He who goes out weeping,
bearing the seed for sowing,
shall come home with shouts of joy,
bringing his sheaves with him.
We Are Exiles from the Garden
© 2017 Concordia Publishing House. Used by permission.
Old Testament Reading
1Then Joshua rose early in the morning and they set out from Shittim. And they came to the Jordan, he and all the people of Israel, and lodged there before they passed over. 2At the end of three days the officers went through the camp 3and commanded the people, “As soon as you see the ark of the covenant of the Lord your God being carried by the Levitical priests, then you shall set out from your place and follow it. 4Yet there shall be a distance between you and it, about 2,000 cubits in length. Do not come near it, in order that you may know the way you shall go, for you have not passed this way before.” 5Then Joshua said to the people, “Consecrate yourselves, for tomorrow the Lord will do wonders among you.” 6And Joshua said to the priests, “Take up the ark of the covenant and pass on before the people.” So they took up the ark of the covenant and went before the people.
12Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own. 13Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, 14I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. 15Let those of us who are mature think this way, and if in anything you think otherwise, God will reveal that also to you. 16Only let us hold true to what we have attained.
17Brothers, join in imitating me, and keep your eyes on those who walk according to the example you have in us. 18For many, of whom I have often told you and now tell you even with tears, walk as enemies of the cross of Christ. 19Their end is destruction, their god is their belly, and they glory in their shame, with minds set on earthly things. 20But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, 21who will transform our lowly body to be like his glorious body, by the power that enables him even to subject all things to himself.
Because standing for the reading of the Gospel has historically been connected with the presence of Christ in the Eucharist (Holy Communion), the traditional rubric for the Vespers is to remain seated during all of the readings, even those from the Gospels.
13Then Jesus came from Galilee to the Jordan to John, to be baptized by him.
1Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. 2And after fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry.
(Click on link above to hear the sermon.)
The Offering, gathered at the entrace to the service, is now presented to the Lord.
C Our Father who art in heaven,
Thy kingdom come,
Collect of the Day
P Father, in the cross You assign to each of Your Son’s followers, we pass through fire and through water. Give us grace to be faithful even to the point of death, that in the end we may enjoy with all the faithful the marriage feast of the Lamb in His kingdom, which has no end; through the same Jesus Christ, our Lord.
Additional Collects of Intercession and Thanksgiving
P Father, in Your Son, You have called us to be strangers and pilgrims on this earth. Give us grace to see Your Son with the eyes of faith as He is revealed to us in the Holy Scriptures, that we may follow Him faithfully all our days until we reach the place of our true and blessed citizenship; through the same Jesus Christ, our Lord.
Collect for Peace
L O God, from whom come all holy desires, all good counsels, and all just works, give to us, Your servants, that peace which the world cannot give, that our hearts may be set to obey Your commandments and also that we, being defended from the fear of our enemies, may live in peace and quietness; through Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.
I Walk in Danger All the Way
5 I walk with Jesus all the way,
6 My walk is heav’nward all the way;
Unless otherwise indicated, all scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version, copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
Created by Lutheran Service Builder © 2006 Concordia Publishing House.