Peace Lutheran Church Sussex, Wisconsin

Congregation at Prayer: June 14, 2020

The Sacrament of Holy Baptism—Part III

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Catechesis Notes for the Week — Psalm 80—A Prayer for the Church’s Restoration—Psalm 80 depicts the Old Testament Church as “a vine that the Lord brought out of Egypt.” He cast out the nations before them and planted them in the promised land. He established His vine in the land and “the hills were covered with its shadow.” “She sent out her boughs to the Sea, and her branches to the River.”  But Israel rebelled against the Lord, so “He broke down her hedges, so that all who pass by the way pluck her fruit.” Because of her unfaithfulness, He permitted her to be uprooted by the unclean boar and the wild beasts. Psalm 80 is a metaphor for the New Testament Church. Unfaithfulness to the Lord’s Word often causes the Church to suffer oppression at the hands of the enemies of the Church who do not believe the Gospel. If the Church loses her distinctiveness as a people who preach the Word of God in all its fullness and who confesses that there is salvation in no one else but the Lord Jesus, she has nothing to offer the world and has lost her first love. Psalm 80 begins, therefore, as a prayer to the Lord for deliverance from the Church’s own shortsightedness and prays for the restoration of His vine.  It appeals to the Lord who met Israel for her salvation in the blood of atonement that was offered upon the mercy seat between the cherubim in the temple of the Lord. The Church looks to the blood of Christ—the location of God’s mercy and restoration. “Give ear, O Shepherd of Israel… Restore us, O God; cause Your face to shine, and we shall be saved! O Lord God of hosts, how long will You be angry against the prayer of Your people?”  Oppression, suffering, persecution, and distress often befall the New Testament Church to purge out unbelief and to establish a faithful vine from the remnant of the repentant faithful. Ultimately, the Church’s salvation is only found in “the Man of Your right hand, the Son of Man whom You made strong for Yourself.” The eyes of faith must look only to Christ for deliverance from our own shortsightedness and rebellion against God’s Word, “then we will not turn back from You; revive us, and we will call upon Your name … and we shall be saved!”CP200614