September 21, 2021
Greetings in the name of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ,
Today is known as the feast of St. Matthew, Apostle and Evangelist. I have chosen the hymn, “Jerusalem, My Happy Home.” LSB 673“The afflictions of the Christian are numerous. One could easily lose heart if one did not also look forward to what is to come and deem such afflictions on earth as being light, as St. Paul wrote in II Corinthians 4:17-18: ‘For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.’ This hymn takes such teaching and forms it into a prayer; it makes a patient though firm, request that the singer be allowed to see the eternal joys of the heavenly Jerusalem. Such a request accords well with Luther’s teaching in the Small Catechism on the Seventh Petition of the Lord’s Prayer:
But deliver us from evil. What does this mean?We pray in this petition, in summary, that our Father in heaven would rescue us from every evil of body and soul, possessions and reputation, and finally, when our last hour comes, give us a blessed end, and graciously take us from this valley of sorrow [vale of tears] to Himself in heaven.
Stanzas 2 through 4 describe the heavenly Jerusalem in terms of paradise. Stanza 2 is a description of heaven, derived from Revelation 7, where the saints worship the Lamb and every tear is wiped from their eyes. Drawing upon the description of the new Jerusalem in Revelation 22, with its river of life and tree of life, the hymn describes Jerusalem as having ‘pleasant soil’ (stanza 2) with lush garden walks (stanza 3), where ‘trees forevermore bear fruit’ (stanza 4). In the new heaven and the new earth, with the Garden of Eden restored, the people of God in Christ displayed as the new Jerusalem will live eternally with their Lord; they will never be tempted by evil, or fall into sin and death, or be cast out as happened to Adam  and Eve (Genesis 3), but will remain forever in the state of grace and righteousness and innocence.
Stanza 5, which is reminiscent of the Te Deum laudamus, is a summary of several stanzas of two early versions. Stanzas 23-28 of Prid’s poem present servants, angels, citizens, prophets, apostles, martyrs, confessors, and the like joining in hymns of praise in Jerusalem. Stanzas 22 through 25 by F. B. P. describe in turn King David, Mary singing her Magnificat (Luke 1:46-55) along with all the virgins, Ambrose and Augustine singing the Te Deum while Simeon and Zechariah also sing (presumably the Nunc Dimittis [Luke 2:29-32] and Benedictus [Luke 1:68-79]), and Mary Magdalene, no loner moaning over her sins or in sorrow after Jesus’ death, but singing along with happy saints in ringing harmony. This hymn, like the Book of Revelation, describes the heavenly Jerusalem as a place of loud, joyful singing to the Lamb, and the poetry is so endearing and quaint. . . .
Stanza 6 is a prayer for Christ to continue to prepare the saints for the heavenly Jerusalem. Thus, the prayer for deliverance from evil in stanza 1 is seen in light of Christ’s work. Lutherans confess that God prepares His people for ‘that bright home of love’ through His preached Gospel, Holy Baptism, Holy Absolution, and Holy Communion.” LSB Companion to the Hymns
1. Jerusalem, my happy home, when shall I come to Thee?When shall my sorrows have an end? Thy joys when shall I see?
2. O happy harbor of the saints, O sweet and pleasant soil!In thee no sorrow may be found, no grief, no care, no toil.
3. Thy gardens and thy gallant walks continually are green;There grow such sweet and pleasant flow’rs as nowhere else are seen.
4. There trees forevermore bear fruit and evermore do spring;There evermore the angels dwell and evermore do sing.
5. Apostles, martyrs, prophets, there around my Savior stand;And soon my friends in Christ below will join the glorious band.
6. O Christ, do Thou my soul prepare for that bright home of loveThat I may see Thee and adore with all Thy saints above.
God’s peace,Trudy J. SchmalzDirector of Music
+ St. Matthew, Apostle and Evangelist +

21 September

“I desire mercy, and not sacrifice. For I came not to call the righteous, but sinners.”  – Matthew 9:13b, c

St. Matthew, also known as Levi, identifies himself as a former tax collector, one who was therefore considered unclean, a public sinner, outcast from the Jews. Yet it was such a one as this whom the Lord Jesus called away from his occupation and wealth to become a disciple (Matthew 9:9–13). Not only did Matthew become a disciple of Jesus, he was also called and sent as one of the Lord’s twelve apostles (Matthew 10:2–4). In time, he became the evangelist whose inspired record of the Gospel was granted first place in the ordering of the New Testament. Among the four Gospels, Matthew’s portrays Christ especially as the new and greater Moses, who graciously fulfills the Law and the Prophets (Matthew 5:17) and establishes a new covenant of salvation in and with His own blood (Matthew 26:27–28). Matthew’s Gospel is also well-known and beloved for its record of the visit of the Magi (Matthew 2:1–12); for the Sermon on the Mount, including the Beatitudes and the Our Father (Matthew 5-7); and for the institution of Holy Baptism and the most explicit revelation of the Holy Trinity (Matthew 28:16–20). Tradition is uncertain where his final field of labor was and whether Matthew died naturally or a martyr’s death. In celebrating this festival, we therefore give thanks to God that He has mightily governed and protected His Holy Church through this man who was called and sent by Christ to serve the sheep of His pastures with the Holy Gospel.  – Treasury of Daily Prayer

O Son of God, our blessed Savior Jesus Christ, You called Matthew the tax collector to be an apostle and evangelist. Through his faithful and inspired witness, grant that we also may follow You, leaving behind all covetous desires and love of riches; for You live and reign with the Father and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.

Praise, Lord, for him whose Gospel
Your human life declared,
Who, worldly gain forsaking,
Your path of suff’ring shared.
From all unrighteous mammon,
O raise our eyes anew
That we in our vocation
May rise and follow You.

LSB 518:25

Calling the Apostle Matthew by A.N. Mironov (2010)