Friday, February 5, 2016

Jacob, patriarch of Israel

Lord Jesus, scepter that rises out of Jacob, Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world, rule our hearts through Your suffering cross and forgive us our sins, that we may become partakers of Your divine life; for You live and reign with the Father and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.

Woodcuts by Baron Julius Schnoor von Carolsfeld © WELS

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

The Purification of Mary and the Presentation of our Lord

Almighty and ever-living God, as Your only-begotten Son was this day presented int he temple in the substance of our flesh, grant that we may be presented to You with pure and clean hearts; through Jesus Christ our Lord. 

Woodcuts by Baron Julius Schnoor von Carolsfeld © WELS

Sunday, January 31, 2016

Farewell to Alleluia

We are mourning exiles who long to be in the heavenly Jerusalem, here referred to as "joyful mother." During Lent, the Church refrains from songs of "alleluia"

Alleluia, song of gladness, Voice of joy that cannot die;
Alleluia, is the anthem Ever raised by choirs on high'
In the house of God abiding Thus they sing eternally.

Alleluia, thou resoundest, True Jerusalem and free
Alleluia, joyful mother, All thy children sing with thee,
But by Babylon's sad waters Mourning exiles now are we.

Alleluia cannot always, Be our song while here below;
Alleluia, our transgressions, Make us for a while forgo;
For the solemn time is coming When our tears fore sin must flow.

Therefore in our hymns we pray Thee, Grant us, blessed Trinity,
At the last to keep thine Easter With Thy faithful saints on high;
There to Thee forever singing Alleluia joyfully. 

Alleluia, Song of Gladness - Lutheran Service Book © 2006 Concordia Publishing House
Woodcut by Julius Schnoor von Carolsfeld, a nineteenth-century German artist known especially for his book Das Buch der Bücher in Bilden (‘The Book of Books in Pictures’), ©WELS.ime in the Word Transfiguration

Time in the Word - Transfiguration

A Study for Transfiguration Sunday
“The Vision Glorious”
1-6, February, 2016

 Prayer for aid against temptation: O God, You justify the ungodly and desire not the death of the sinner. Graciously assist us by Your heavenly aid and evermore shield us with Your protection, that no temptation may separate us from Your love in Christ Jesus, our Lord. Amen.

Prayer in times of temptation: Almighty and everlasting God, through Your Son You have promised us forgiveness of sins and everlasting life. Govern our hearts by Your Holy Spirit that in our daily need, and especially in all time of temptation, we may seek Your help and, by a true and lively faith in Your Word, obtain all that You have promised; through the same Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen.

Prayer for patience: O God, by the patient endurance of Your only-begotten Son You beat down the pride of the old enemy. Help us to treasure rightly in our hearts what our Lord has borne for our sake that, after His example, we may bear with patience those things that are adverse to us; through Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen.

Prayer for steadfast faith: Almighty God, our heavenly Father, because of Your tender love toward us sinners You have given us Your Son that, believing in Him, we might have everlasting life. Continue to grant us Your Holy Spirit that we may remain steadfast in this faith to the end and finally come to life everlasting; through Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen.

Prayer of hope of eternal life in Christ: Almighty, everlasting God, Your Son has assured forgiveness of sins and deliverance from eternal death. Strengthen us by Your Holy Spirit that our faith in Christ may increase daily and that we may hold fast to the hope that on the Last Day we shall be raised in glory to eternal life; through Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen.

Prayer for Transfiguration - O God, in the glorious transfiguration of Your only-begotten Son You once confirmed the mysteries of the faith by the testimony of the ancient fathers, and in the voice that came from the bright cloud You wondrously foreshowed our adoption by grace. Therefore mercifully make us coheirs with our King of His glory, and bring us to the fullness of our inheritance in heaven; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, One God, now and forever. Amen.

Monday, February 1, 2016 - Acts 2:42 - We celebrate the Transfiguration of our Lord on the last Sunday in the season of Epiphany. For our verse for today, I have used to describe what we are trying to accomplish here at Zion. Luke gives us a description of the 1st Century church and this is what is needed as we enter the 21st Century. We are to be one in doctrine, fellowship, sacramental living, and in prayer. These are the four legs upon which the table is set. All that we do at Friedheim needs to relate to this verse. God has blessed us greatly these past 178 years. May He continue to bless us mightily in the years to come.

Tuesday, February 2, 2016 - Deuteronomy 34:1-12 - Moses sees God face to face and the promised land - Just before his death, Moses climbs Mount Nebo and from there is shown the Promised Land. He would not be permitted to cross over, but he was able to see it. Moses had faithfully led the people of Israel, and at last his work was done. He had done all he could, his time had come, and it was time for him to cross over to an even greater land than that which his eye beheld.  The Scriptures remind us that Moses’ eye was not dim – he had perfect vision. What secret did Moses possess? Verse 10 gives us a clue. Moses was a man “whom the Lord knew face to face.”  Moses was able to make keen decisions because he kept his eye on God. May that be our legacy, to keep our focus on God.  May that be our vision for our parish, to keep our focus on Christ.  

Wednesday, February 3, 2016 - 2 Corinthians 4:3-6 – Christians see the glory of God in Jesus - Who is this Jesus? That is the question the world has been asking for close to 2,000 years.  Paul reminds us that by faith we are able to see the glory of God in Jesus Christ. He is more than just a mere man. He is more than just a prophet. He is, as Thomas will confess in the Easter season, “My Lord and My God.”  The world wants Jesus to be anything but God.  A true confession calls for us to say that above anything else He is the Lord of life.

Thursday, February 4, 2016 - Luke 9:28-36 – The Disciples see the glory of God - The disciples early on might have had some misgiving of just who or what to make of this Jesus. After the Transfiguration, there wasn’t any doubt in their minds. They knew that He was the promised Savior of the world.  There on the mountain Jesus manifested all of His glory as the Father spoke His approval of His only begotten Son. But why Moses and Elijah? Both came from a storied history of God’s people of old. In Moses’ time, the people followed willingly as they escaped Egypt. At the time of Elijah, only 7,000 were left who had not bowed down to Baal.  These two men represent high and low points of God’s people of Israel. There have been highs and lows in our parish history; yet One remains constant to this day. His Name is Jesus. May Christ Jesus remain the center of all that we do here at Zion.

Friday, February 5, 2016 - Psalm 77 – David reminds us that he cries out to God. David cries out loud and God promised that He would hear. What a wonderful promise. What a wonderful picture of prayer. Why do we pray? We pray because of our need and the Father’s promise to answer our cry. Need we any other reason to pray?  Zion, Friedheim, is a unique and special place. God has been good to us. No, we are not perfect and, yes, there have been times in which we have had to cry out to God. But every time we needed Him, He has always been there for us. One hundred seventy five years is a long time. It’s nothing to God. He has not changed and will not change. Cry to Him. He is near to hear your prayer and to answer you according to His good and gracious will. 

Saturday, February 6, 2016 - Matthew 17:4 – “It’s great to be here!”  That’s how Peter put it. Maybe it wasn’t the most eloquent way of expressing himself, but again, Matthew reminds us that Peter, “Didn’t know what to say.” As we consider both the wonder of Christ’s glorious Transfiguration and the many blessings we have been permitted to experience here at Zion Friedheim these 178 years, it is good, it is great to be here!  May the Lord continue to shower down His blessings upon us as we enter our 175th year of mission and ministry and as we take a pilgrimage into Lent to the cross and empty tomb. Yes, ‘tis good, Lord, to be here!

Prayers from Lutheran Service Book © 2006 Concordia Publishing House

Woodcut by Julius Schnoor von Carolsfeld, a nineteenth-century German artist known especially for his book Das Buch der Bücher in Bilden (‘The Book of Books in Pictures’), ©WELS.ime in the Word Transfiguration

Saturday, January 30, 2016

Epiphany 4

For with authority and power He commands the unclean spirits, and out they come!” (Luke 4:36)

Jesus was sent to “preach the good news of the kingdom of God” (Luke 4:43). His preaching is an epiphany or manifestation of God, because His Word reveals the authority of His Cross and Resurrection, by which He has atoned for the sins of the world. By the preaching of His Gospel in every place, He silences the unclean spirits and casts out demons, heals the diseases of body and soul, and restores life and health to His creation (Luke 4:40–41). For the sake of His divine love, He is “patient and kind” toward us; He “bears all things,” “endures all things,” and “delivers up His body” to save us (1 Cor. 13:3–4, 7).

Jesus goes to Capernaum, the center of His Galilean ministry. The crowds are astounded at the authority of His teaching. They are amazed at the power demonstrated in his healing. Who is this Jesus? To what extent is he our authority, our standard for truth? What do we known of his power?

Jesus enters into His Father’s house and He begins teaching the people the Good News about the kingdom. But unlike the Pharisees and teachers of the law who quote the teachings of Moses and the Prophets, Jesus speaks by His own authority. Rather than speaking the teachings of others, Jesus speaks the Word Himself. With this speaking, He fulfills His role as the great High Priest.

Satan being cast down upon the earth in disobedience, hatred and spite has one of his demons take possession of a man in the synagogue. He recognizes Jesus as the One who has supreme authority and power. He cries cried out with a loud voice, “I know who you are— the Holy One of God.”

The evil spirit’s possession of the man is a direct assault upon the Father and His work of creation. Jesus as the great High Priest came to destroy the works of the devil. Jesus had the right, to set free the man held captive. Satan still considers it an infringement of his rights when God frees a “sinner” from bondage and destroys his influence. He still remains spiteful, malignant like a cancer - poisonous like a serpent - spreading his anger. He’s vicious. Striking out at all who come too close.

This demon was no different than his master. Still spiteful, though obliged to obey the divine will of God, the demon submits because he had to, not because he chose to. He exerted his last power, inflicting all the pain he could, and then bowed to the Son of God and came out.

Jesus came down from heaven in love and obedience to His Father. Jesus came to earth for the very purpose of paying the bills owed to the Father for your iniquity disobedience and sin. Jesus took the bills of your sin and paid the cost with His very own body and blood so that you could be free from the guilt over your iniquity and to relieve you from the burden of your sin. 

When you humbly turn to Jesus in faith, believing that His death on the cross accomplished your salvation, you are enabled to confess your sins and ask that your debts be forgiven. He freely gives you pardon and peace. His gifts He offers to all who love Him. Jesus enables you to stand upright before Him as He removes your sin so that you are free to serve Him. In doing this, Jesus makes you Holy. 

He made you holy in your Baptism. This is what our students learned in Morning Prayer this past week. What does Baptism with water signify? “It indicates that the Old Adam in us should by daily contrition and repentance be drowned and die with all sins and evil desires, and that a new man should daily arise to live before God in righteousness and purity forever.”

You are now free to live the life the Father intended for you to live. Your heavenly Father does not mean for you to live for yourself. You now live giving glory to God, as you serve your neighbor in the time given to you.

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

John of Chrysostom

O God, You gave Your servant John of Chrysostom grace to proclaim the Gospel with eloquence and power. As bishop of the great congregations of Antioch and Constantinople, John fearlessly bore reproach for the honor of Your name. Mercifully grant to your church pastors who are like John in preaching and fidelity in their ministry of the Word to Your people, and grant that we all be partakers of the divine nature through Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord, who lives and rules with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. 

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

St. Titus, Pastor and Confessor

Almighty God, You called Titus to the work of pastor and teacher. Make all shepherds of Your flock diligent in preaching Your holy Word so that the whole world may know the immeasurable riches of our Savior Jesus Christ, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.

Lutheran Service Book © 2006 Concordia Publishing House St. Louis