Stewardship 2 – 2018 LSB #’s 707, 578:1-2, 4, 6, 696:1-2, 4, 6
Text – Isaiah 40:8
The grass withers, the flower fades, but the word of our God will stand forever.
Thy Strong Word
This is the 2nd week of our emphasis titled “Embracing Great Commission Stewardship.” Today’s focus is “Embracing a Commitment to God’s Word.” Yahweh’s strong word will stand forever. God’s strong word cleaves the darkness! Praise to Thee Who light dost send! That’s a forceful hymn isn’t it?
Given its power, similar to “A Mighty Fortress,” you may guess that it came out of the Reformation. Surprisingly it was written not too long ago. It’s not as old as many of us are. This hymn, written in 1961, by a man named Martin Franzmann, highlights two things we’re focusing on in this morning’s theme.
The 1st is the topic for today’s Stewardship emphasis: “Embracing a Commitment to God’s Word.” Point 2 is for us to celebrate & embrace our Lutheran schools, child care centers, high schools, Universities, & our two seminaries. Embrace God’s Word. Embrace Lutheran Schools. God’s strong word cleaves the darkness! Praise to Thee Who light dost send!
You should readily see the connection in this hymn to God’s Word: it’s in the title of the hymn. But what is the connection to Lutheran Schools? Well, the man who wrote the lyrics to this hymn was a Lutheran school teacher. And he used the motto of his Lutheran school as the theme for the hymn.
Martin Franzmann was a Lutheran school teacher, but he was called ‘professor’ because he taught at Concordia Seminary in St Louis. The motto of that seminary is Anothen to Phos, which means “light from above.” That motto was his inspiration for writing the hymn “Thy Strong Word.” Thy Strong word did cleave the darkness! Praise to Thee Who light dost send!
In the six stanzas of this hymn, a Lutheran school teacher summarizes all of Scripture beautifully & poetically. If you have a hymnal it’s number 578.
Stanza one – Creation from His strong Word.
Thy strong word did cleave the darkness;
At Thy speaking it was done.
For created light we thank Thee,
While Thine ordered seasons run.
Stanza two – The Fall & the Promise of a Savior from His strong Word.
Lo, on those who dwelt in darkness,
Dark as night and deep as death,
Broke the light of Thy salvation,
Breathed Thine own life-breathing breath.
Stanza 3 – New creation in Baptism & in Jesus righteousness, literally through THE strong Word.
Thy strong Word bespeaks us righteous;
Bright with Thine own holiness,
Glorious now we press toward glory,
And our lives our hopes confess.
Stanza 4 – The most amazing statement in all of history – It is finished! The strongest Word delivered from Christ crucified that brought Light to all.
From the cross Thy wisdom shining
Breaketh forth in conquering might;
From the cross forever beameth
All Thy bright redeeming light.
Stanza 5 – Until now it was all about what God had done for us. In this stanza, it is the Church’s response: let that Gospel Light shine as you share it with those still in darkness.
Give us lips to sing Thy glory,
Tongues thy mercy to proclaim,
Throats that shout the hope that fills us,
Mouths to speak Thy holy name.
And then finally Stanza 6 – We look forward to that good, glorious & light-filled day when we will stand & bask in the Light of our Triune God in a new creation, void of any darkness of sin, death or the devil!
God the Father, light-creator,
To Thee laud and honor be.
To Thee, Light of Light begotten,
Praise be sung eternally.
Holy Spirit, light-revealer,
Glory, glory be to Thee.
Mortals, angels, now and ever
Praise the holy Trinity!
God’s Strong word cleaves the darkness! Praise to Thee Who light dost send! Embrace God’s Word. Embrace Lutheran Schools. Let’s have a quick show of hands. Who here has attended a Lutheran school, or taught in one, or has a family member who has attended one? Look at all those hands.
It’s easy for us to embrace our Lutheran schools: we love them. They are such a blessing where God’s Light shines & His Word is taught… daily. But here is a more difficult question to ask. Who here has studied the Bible daily, every day in this year? Not so many hands now are there, including mine. Why is it so difficult for us to embrace the Word of God?
Why do we struggle to embrace these words from God our Father in heaven? All Scripture is breathed out by Yahweh. Why don’t we constantly want to inhale this breath, this LIFE, of God? The answer is that while we truly are holy saints of God, we are also poor miserable sinners. That is why we struggle to embrace the Word of Life.
My encouragement on this 2nd week of our stewardship emphasis is that you truly make an effort to embrace this Word, this breath, this light of God on a daily basis. And when you fall short, which will happen, come back again & embrace this strong, forgiving Word again & again. The grass withers, the flower fades, but the Word of our God will stand forever.
For the Word of God is living & active, sharper than any two-edged sword or maybe to tie into this message – sharper than any cleaver. It will cleave the darkness. God promises that. Living & active words – it truly is the case. These words breathed out by the Spirit of God through more than 30 individuals over a period greater than 1500 years compiled in 66 different books. As I write sermons I am so often reminded of how these words still speak loudly to us today. They frequently cut to my heart bringing death & then life at the same time. The words of God truly are living & active; they truly are “a lamp to your feet & a light to your path.”
God’s Strong word cleaves the darkness! Praise to Thee who light dost send! And all God’s people said: Amen.
The peace of God that surpasses all human understanding, & cleaves all darkness from your soul, will guard your hearts & minds in the light of Christ Jesus. Amen.
Pastor Dean R. Poellet