Sunday, January 15, 2017

Time in the Word ~ Epiphany 3


Time in the Word
16-22, January, 2017
Preparation for next week, Epiphany 3


The Ministry of Light

The Epiphany theme of light is evident in both the Gospel and the Old Testament lesson — “have seen a great light.” Jesus is the fulfillment of the promise of that light. In Christ is the Epiphany (manifestation) of light. Epiphany deals with the revelation of the glory of God in Jesus. God’s glory is seen in the ministry of Jesus — he brings the kingdom to people through his three-fold ministry of preaching, teaching, and healing; a ministry to the whole person: soul, mind, and body. Paul sees the glory of God revealed in the cross — the means of deliverance from the oppression of sin, Satan, and death.

Since the Epistle lesson is given in-course and deals with the problem of internal church division, it does not harmonize with the theme of the other Lessons. The Gospel fulfills the promise of a light coming to the people of Galilee. This fulfillment is in the beginning of Jesus’ ministry in Galilee. It is cause for celebration. By His ministry of preaching, teaching, and healing, Jesus brings the light of truth and grace to the world. Psalm 27 harmonizes with the theme of light — “The Lord is my light....” The Prayer asks for us to have a similar ministry of light.

Monday, 16 January 2017Psalm 22:27-31; antiphon, Psalm 22:22—In the Introit for Sunday, we pray, I will tell of Your name to my brothers, in the midst of the congregation I will praise You. Psalm 22 stands alone by itself. No other psalm pointed beyond itself so fully to the circumstances of Jesus at his crucifixion. John and Matthew will quote from this psalm as they give their accounts of Christ’s passion (see Matthew 27:46; 35, 39, 43 and John 19:23-24, 28). They proclaim the passion of Jesus as the fulfillment of this cry of the righteous sufferer. The author of the book of Hebrews placed the words of verse 22 on Jesus’ lips on Hebrews 2:12. No other psalm is quoted more frequently in the New Testament.   

Tuesday, 17 January 2017Psalm 27:1-9—The words of these choice verses are David’s triumphant confidence in God to deliver him from all those who conspire to bring him down. His prayer presupposes the Lord’s covenant with David. David’s confidence in his Lord introduces the prayer David will pray in verses 7-12. The conclusion of the prayer (verses 13-14) echoes the confidence of verses 1-6 and asks the reader to wait patiently for that which is sure although not yet seen.

Wednesday, 18 January 2017 Isaiah 9:1-4When Isaiah wrote these words, there was darkness in the land. Assyria conquered Zebulon and Naphtali and carried off the people to bondage. There was the darkness of oppression, homelessness, and forced labor. In today’s world there is also much darkness: loneliness, pain, bereavement, poverty, and addiction to drugs or alcohol. We rejoice that in Christ the light has begun to shine as Jesus begins His ministry. What is the joy of a Christian? It is basically the joy of having Christ. He is the Light of the world. To have Christ is to be free from the power and condemnation of sin and from the consequences of sin — death. Joy is a by-product of Jesus’ preaching the good news of salvation, His teaching the truth of God, and His ministry of healing to our bodies and minds.

Thursday, 19 January 20171 Corinthians 1:10-18—Fractions, dissensions, and cliques existed in the Corinthian church because there was a party spirit. A pastor (Apollos, Paul, Peter) was placed above Jesus. It was not Christ’s church but Dr. So-and-So’s church. Unity in a church is based upon the pre-eminence of Christ, not the personality of the pastor. Paul did not make a practice of baptizing people in order to avoid anyone’s claim he belonged to Paul rather than to Christ. Baptism tends to establish a loyalty between the pastor and the candidate. Often it is heard, “He baptized me,” in the sense of adulating the pastor. The closer people get to Christ, the closer they get to each other in harmony and peace.

Friday, 20 January 2017Matthew 4:12-25—Matthew sees Jesus beginning His ministry as a fulfillment of the Isaiah promise that deliverance would come to those taken captive by the Assyrians in Zebulon and Naphtali. Fulfillment implies that Jesus was more than a man, a prophet, or a teacher; He was the Son of God, the Messiah. Repentance (verse 17)—For John the Baptist, repentance was a condition for entering the kingdom of God. For Jesus, repentance was accepting the salvation already offered and present. Repentance is not a condition of grace but a response to it. Repentance is acknowledging God’s forgiveness and acceptance; it is a turning to God to accept his grace by faith. 

Saturday, 21 January 20171 Peter 1:20-23; Hebrews 7:25; John 13:34-35—Sunday’s Hymn of the Day is Son of God, Eternal Savior (LSB #842). This hymn is a prayer asking the Savior to direct us. We pray that He in love and pity would heal our wrongs and help our need. Each of us have burdens cares and struggles. Take these needs to your Savior in prayer. He knows your situation. He is more than able to address your need. 

 Collects for Epiphany: Lord God, on this day you revealed your Son to the nations by the leading of a star. Lead us now by faith to know your presence in our lives and bring us at last to the full vision of your glory.

Father, You revealed Your Son to the nations by the guidance of a star. Lead us to Your glory in heaven by the light of faith. We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, Your Son, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, One God, forever and ever.

Father, You make known the salvation of humankind at the birth of Your Son. Make us strong in faith and bring us to the glory You promise. We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, Your Son, who lives, and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever.

Collects for Epiphany 3: Almighty and everlasting God, mercifully look upon our infirmities and stretch forth the hand of Your majesty to heal and defend us; through Jesus Christ, Your Son our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.

Almighty God, you sent your Son to proclaim your kingdom and to teach with authority. Anoint us with the power of your Spirit,  that we, too, may bring good news to the afflicted, bind upon the brokenhearted, and proclaim liberty to the captives.

Collect for Psalm 27: Gracious Father, protector of those who hope in You: You heard the cry of Your Son and kept Him safe in Your shelter in the day of evil. Grant that Your servants who seek Your face in times of trouble may see Your goodness in the land of the living, through Your Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.  

Collect for the Confession of St. Peter (January 18): Heavenly Father, You revealed to the apostle Peter the blessed truth that Your Son Jesus is the Christ. Strengthen us by the proclamation of this truth that we too may joyfully confess that there is salvation in no one else; through Jesus Christ, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, One God, now and forever. 

Sources:
Prayers from Lutheran Service Book © 2006 Concordia Publishing House
Lectionary Preaching Workbook Series A by John Brokhoff © 1980 CSS Publishing Lima OH
For All the Saints A Prayer Book for and By the Church Vol. II © 1995 by the American Lutheran Publicity Bureau, Delhi, NY
Luther’s Seal comes courtesy of the Higher Things organization










Saturday, January 14, 2017

Epiphany 2


Epiphany 2 - Series A
15 January 2017
Isaiah 49:1–7
1 Corinthians 1:1–9
John 1:29–42a

God Reveals His Glory in Christ and His Cross
The Lord, the Redeemer of Israel” calls forth “his Holy One” (Isaiah 49:7), Jesus, the Christ, “from the womb” of His mother (Is. 49:1). The incarnate Son of God is revealed as the Savior, for not only Israel but also “as a light for the nations” whose salvation reaches “to the end of the earth” (Isaiah 49:6). 




John came “baptizing with water” (John 1:31) to reveal Jesus as “the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world” (John 1:29) and who glorifies His God and Father by His atoning sacrifice upon the cross. When Jesus was baptized in the waters of the Jordan, the Holy Spirit descended “from heaven like a dove” and “remained on him” (John 1:32). By our Baptism, we are anointed by the same Spirit, adopted by God the Father and “called into the fellowship of his Son, Jesus Christ” (1 Corinthians 1:9). Therefore, we “are not lacking in any gift,” but we can trust Him who promises to sustain us to the end, “guiltless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Corinthians 1:7–8).

Collect for the Day: Almighty and everlasting God, who governs all things in heaven and on earth, mercifully hear the prayers of Your people and grant us Your peace through all our days; through Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.

Hymn of the Day: 402 “The only Son from heaven

When the song of the angel is stilled,
When the star in the sky is gone,
When the kings and princes are home,
When the shepherds are back with their flock,
The work of Christmas begins.

To find the lost--To heal the broken--To feed the hungry--
To release the prisoner--To rebuild the nations--
To bring peace among brothers and sisters--
To make music in the heart. [1]

So, who is this Jesus? And how can I know him?  How mighty you answer such questions? In this season of Epiphany, we are on a quest, a journey, a mission. To discover Jesus.  The disciples of John come seeking answers. Jesus will disclose for us answers concerning Himself.

Discovering Jesus the Christ.
1.       He is the Son of God.
2.       He is the Messiah.

1.       He is the Son of God.

A.      Christ ranks above any of the prophets such as John. John is quite clear. “He confessed, and did not deny, but confessed, “I am not the Christ.”   They asked him, “What then? Are you Elijah?” He said, “I am not.” “Are you the Prophet?” And he answered, “No.”( John 1:20-21)

B.      John said, “He was before me.” (v. 30, Christ’s pre-existence.) Jesus has the power to take away sins. Consequently, John calls Jesus “the Lamb of God”. This description of Jesus is unique to John’s Gospel. There is a difference between John and Jesus. John recalls the evidence that he witnessed as proof of Jesus’ stature and significance. “And I have seen and have borne witness that this is the Son of God." - verse34

John is a model for evangelists--and disciples--in every age, including today. He points toward the One who is salvation rather than drawing attention to himself. He even watches two of his own disciples leave him and follow Jesus.

One of the challenges of discipleship is not to lose sight of the true center and focus of our ministry: Jesus. It's easy for our focus to become "all about us" or “all about the building”, or “all about the program”.  Above all, it is not about loss, right?

True, we want to grow. To gain. To expand. And yet, we hear that discipleship costs. What losses are we willing to suffer for the sake of the gospel? Making a plan for your life does not work. You don’t control your life. Plan as we may, we are not the architect of our destiny. John’s message ring true, “He must increase…I must decrease.” – John 3:30   C. S. Lewis said it this way: “True humility is not thinking less of yourself; it is thinking of yourself less.”[2]

C.      We need a Savior who tenderly approaches us in our needs but who also has the divine power and love to raise us up through our problems. This is why Jesus came into this world. “Behold, right in front of you, is the Christ, bearing and removing the SIN of the world.” This is Jesus’ ongoing activity. He continues to shoulder the world's sin. John bears witness. Jesus will carry the world’s sin Himself to the cross of Calvary. This was John’s consistent theme. His message never changed.  It remains your constant prayer, “O, Christ, Thou Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world, have mercy and grant us Your peace.”   

Transition: As the Son He came into this world as the Father’s chosen one. The Messiah.
 
2.       He is the Messiah.

A.      John revealed the priestly office of Jesus to Israel.  (v. 31)

1.       John said, “For this purpose I came baptizing with water. “ (v.31) John preached repentance. He preached the urgency of the kingdom of God. He preached the forgiveness of sins.

2.       The purpose of Christ’s coming was “that He might be revealed to Israel” (v.31) and later to you. Think of it this way…179 years ago there was no church in Adams County. There was no Christian community.  And yet, there was a man, sent by God.  His name was Jesse Hoover. He ventured into our neighborhood with the message of Jesus Christ.  That message continues to this day in the way in which you network with your family, neighbors, and the people with whom you engage. You might be the only Bible a person ever reads. Continue to share Christ. Connect with them. Gossip the Gospel. Become a sermon in shoes!

B.      The priestly office of Jesus consisted in offering Himself up as the Lamb of God in your place. “Behold the Lamb of God…” (Vv. 29, 36)

When John identifies Jesus, he calls Him "the Lamb of God." Lambs were used for the Passover sacrifice, which remembers the liberation and deliverance of the people by God.  "As the Passover Lamb, Jesus liberates the world from slavery to sin by bringing the world into new and fresh contact with the presence of God, so that human alienation from God can end."[3]

John does not say that Jesus is sort of like the Lamb of God. He is the Lamb of God. His mission defines His essence. We cannot be sort of like Christians. We must be Christian. The mission defines our essence… our lives, full-time, all the time. Until the Father gathers us home, we live in the sacrifice of the Lamb. And in it you are saved… you are forgiven… you are loved.

How this liberation and deliverance from alienation happen is the story of the Gospel. It is the heart of the gospel message. It defines you. It’s what makes this life that you live significant, important and yes, relevant. It you wish this world to be the good you hope it to be it must find its essence in the person and work of Jesus Christ, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world.

Words- 992
Passive Sentences –7%
Readability – 80%
Reading Level – 4.6









[1] Poem by Howard Thurman
[2] Mere Christianity, Book 3, Chapter 8, “The Great Sin,” Kindle location 1665

[3] John Commentary by Gail R. O'Day, Susan E. Hylen by permission of Westminster John Knox Press. Copyright.


Sunday, January 8, 2017

Time in the Word ~ Epiphany 2



Called to Witness

The Epiphany season has three festivals: The Festival of the Epiphany (January 6), The Baptism of Our Lord (Epiphany 1), and The Transfiguration of Our Lord (Last Sunday after The Epiphany). Unlike other seasons, it opens and closes with a festival. The Sundays in between (Epiphany 2-8) are called “Ordinary” Sundays. 

The Old Testament lessons harmonize with the Gospel Lesson. Four of the seven Lessons are taken from Isaiah. The Epistle Lessons are given in semi “in-course” fashion from 1 Corinthians 1:1—4:5. Consequently, the Epistle is not intended to harmonize with the theme of the Gospel and the Old Testament lesson. The Epistle lends itself to a series of sermons on the church. The Gospel lesson lays the groundwork of Jesus’ public ministry, a transition from the ministry of John to the ministry of Jesus. Beginning with Epiphany 4, we will have an in-course (verse after verse) series on the fifth chapter of Matthew, the first of three chapters constituting the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5:1-48).  Because Easter falls in late April this year, the season of Epiphany will last eight weeks in 2011.

In the Gospel the story of God is manifested in Jesus as the Messiah. John the Baptist refers to Jesus as the Lamb who is baptized by the Spirit and who baptizes with the Spirit. In the Old Testament Lesson, the Epiphany can be seen in God’s servant, Israel, who is to bring the light of salvation to the nations. Epiphany deals with the light and with the spreading of the light to the whole world. God is glorified in His servant (verse 3) who witness. In the Epistle Lesson, the glory of Christ can be seen in the power of the Gospel to make believers as in Corinth.

Monday, 09 January, 2017Psalm 19:1-4; antiphon, Psalm 19:4—In the Introit for Sunday, we pray, Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in your sight, O Lord, my rock and my redeemer. These words are commonly prayed by the pastor before the sermon is delivered. The silent heavens speak, declaring the glory of their Maker to all who are on the earth. The heavenly lights are not divine nor do they control or disclose man’s destiny. Their glory testifies to the righteousness and faithfulness of the Lord who created them. For further reading and meditation, see Romans 1:19-20, Psalm 89:4-8, and Psalm 97:6.

Tuesday, 10 January, 2017Psalm 40—The psalm is a prayer for help when troubles abound. While the cause of David’s distress is not specified, David acknowledges that they are occasioned by his sin. The prayer begins with praise of God for His past mercies (verses 1-5) and as testimony to the king’s own faithfulness to the Lord (verses 6-10).  These form the ground for his present appeal for help (verses 11-17).

Wednesday, 11 January 2017Isaiah 49:1-6—Witnessing to all nations. The Lord calls His servant, Israel, to bring the light of salvation to the nations. Here we have the second of the servant songs in Isaiah. The servant tells how the Lord called and chose him before he was born. For the task of restoring Israel, he was equipped with a mouth “like a sharp sword” and was made like “a polished arrow.” Yet, he feels that his labor was in vain. Then the Lord speaks to him and becomes his strength. However, the Lord has broadened his task to bring light and salvation not only to Israel but also to the whole world.

Thursday, 12 January 20171 Corinthians 1:1-9Witnessing produces the church. Paul thanks God for the grace given to the Corinthian church. In these opening verses of Paul’s Corinthian correspondence, he identifies himself in terms of spiritual gifts. Paul reminds them of “the church of God.” Their church is a part of the ecumenical church “called to be saints together with all those who in every place....”  Moreover, in these opening sentences, Paul puts his finger on the problem in the Corinthian church: spiritual gifts such as “all speech and knowledge” which most probably meant Gnosticism and Glossolalia.


While they are waiting for the return of Christ on the last great day, Paul assures them of God’s faithfulness in sustaining and purifying them.

Friday, 13 January 2017 John 1:29-41—Witnessing to Christ as the Messiah.  John the Baptist witnesses to Jesus as the Son of God. This is the closest John comes to reporting the baptism of Jesus. As Jesus comes to him, John the Baptist hails Him as the Lamb of God. He reports
seeing the dove of the Spirit coming upon Jesus at the baptism. John confesses that Jesus is greater than he is because Jesus baptizes with the Spirit while he baptizes only with water. Out of this personal experience John the Baptist declares that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God.

The Epiphany theme comes to the forefront in today’s Gospel. John the Baptist witnesses to Jesus as the Messiah. Here is a revelation coming forth: this simple peasant from Nazareth is understood as Son of God, the promised Deliverer, Savior. When we deal with Jesus, we are dealing with God.


Saturday, 14 January 2017Galatians 4:4-5; 2
Timothy 1:10; 1 John 4:9; Luke 1:30-35—
Sunday’s Hymn of the Day is “The Only Son from Heaven” (LSB #402).  Who is Jesus? This is the question the world must address. The answer to this question is addressed in the season of Epiphany. St. Paul reminds us that at just the right time, a time set by the Father, He sent His Son, to be born of a woman. Jesus was truly human; He was born under the law to be subject to the Jewish law. Now those who are called by the Gospel are incorporated into the family of faith. Outside the weather might be cold and gloomy. The landscape appears to be lifeless. Yet new life is granted to us as we see Jesus who entered our world to be our Savior to win us back to full favor with the Father.

 Collects for Epiphany: Lord God, on this day you revealed your Son to the nations by the leading of a star. Lead us now by faith to know your presence in our lives and bring us at last to the full vision of your glory.

Father, You revealed Your Son to the nations by the guidance of a star. Lead us to Your glory in heaven by the light of faith. We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, Your Son, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, One God, forever and ever.

Father, You make known the salvation of humankind at the birth of Your Son. Make us strong in faith and bring us to the glory You promise. We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, Your Son, who lives, and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever.

Collects for Epiphany 2: Lord God, you showed your glory and led many to faith by the works of your Son. As he brought gladness and healing to his people, grant us these same gifts and lead us to perfect faith in Him.

Almighty and everlasting God, who governs all things in heaven and on earth, mercifully hear the prayers of Your people and grant us Your peace through all our days; through Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.

Collect for Psalm 40: Lord Jesus Christ, You became obedient to death and Your name was exalted above all others. Teach us always to do the Father’s will, so that, made holy by Your obedience and united to Your sacrifice, we can know Your great love in time of sorrow and sing a new song to our God now and forever.
Sources:
Prayers from Lutheran Service Book © 2006 Concordia Publishing House
Lectionary Preaching Workbook Series A by John Brokhoff © 1980 CSS Publishing Lima OH
For All the Saints A Prayer Book for and By the Church Vol. II © 1995 by the American Lutheran Publicity Bureau, Delhi, NY
Luther’s Seal comes courtesy of the Higher Things organization

Saturday, January 7, 2017

Epiphany 1 - The Baptism of our Lord



THE BAPTISM OF OUR LORD
(The First Sunday after the Epiphany)
8 January 2017
Isaiah 42:1–9
Romans 6:1–11
Matthew 3:13–17
The Holy Triune God Is Manifested and Reveals Himself to Us in Holy Baptism

Hymn of the Day: LSB #466 To Jordan Came the Christ our Lord

Collect for the Day: Father in heaven, at the Baptism of Jesus in the Jordan River You pro claimed Him Your beloved Son and anointed Him with the Holy Spirit. Make all who are baptized in His name faithful in their calling as Your children and inheritors with Him of everlasting life; through the same Jesus Christ, our Lord, who lives, and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.

The Baptism of our Lord is an “epiphany” of the one true God in the flesh and blood of Jesus. He is the chosen servant of the Lord, anointed with the Spirit for the rescue of God’s people and to “bring forth justice to the nations” (Isaiah 42:1). Thus, He makes all things new, and He is given “as a covenant for the people, a light for the nations” (Isaiah 42:6). In the waters of the Jordan, He takes His place with sinners and takes all the sins of the world upon Himself. He undergoes the Baptism of repentance in order to “fulfill all righteousness” for us (Matthew 3:15). He submits Himself to the curse of sin and death in order to redeem us. We are baptized with a Baptism like His, thereby dying and rising with Him, so that “we will also live with him” (Romans 6:8). Indeed, all of us who are baptized into Christ Jesus are anointed with His Spirit and named by His Father as beloved and well-pleasing sons and daughters.

The few weeks since Christmas are short compared to the approximately thirty years between Jesus’ birth and His baptism by John.  Yet many in our day have already forgotten why His birth was so important. Others wait with eager or curious expectation. To see what He mission in life will be. The baptism of Jesus “begins” His public ministry.

In just twelve days, our next president will deliver his inaugural address. He will outline for us his vision for our country. He will tell us what we must expect in the months and years to come.  In today’s Gospel Matthew gives us Jesus’ credentials and His anticipated program for the coming years. Now that Christmas is past, and the Messiah is here, what is His mission all about? The baptism of Jesus begins His public ministry.  At His “inauguration”, Jesus is baptized and thus begins His walk - from Galilee to Golgotha.  Yes, He is the one send by the Father. He is the Father’s Son – sent to suffer.  Jesus has come. To fulfill all righteousness. This means, He will avoid all detours. Nothing will stop Him until He arrives at the cross. Calvary is the goal. Nothing will deter Him.  – So, who and what is this Christ?

1. The Messiah identifies with the past.
2. The Messiah identifies with the present (at His time)
3. The Messiah’s mission points to the future.

1.       The Messiah identifies with the past.
A.      He identifies with all people. From Adam to John. Who “need” to be baptized for forgiveness.
B.      He claims a heritage with God’s covenant people of Israel. Indeed, He is Israel (and all God’s people) “reduced to one.”
C.      Thus, His mission involves forgiveness. Not for Himself. But, for the sin of all others. He is baptized for you. He identified Himself with the faults and failures, the pains and problems, of all the broken people who had flocked to the Jordan River. By wading into the waters with them, He takes His place beside them. He identifies with sinners. To be the cure for sin.

2.       The Messiah identifies with the present (at His time).
A.      In the baby of Bethlehem God has sent “His Son” (see Psalm 2:7) “I will tell of the decree: The LORD said to me, “You are my Son; today I have begotten you.
B.      This Messiah is also the “chosen servant” foretold by Isaiah, with whom God is “well pleased,” that is, whom God has accepted by grace to be His sacrifice for sin. There can be no other.
C.      Jesus is baptized “to fulfill all righteousness,”  “for now.” The fulfillment of God’s plan has begun. But Jesus’ mission moves from the Jordan to Jerusalem. It does not end here. It is only the beginning. It will end at the cross. Where He will suffer and die for the sin of the people.  

3.       The Messiah’s mission points to the future.
A.      He has come primarily to suffer and die so that by repentance and forgiveness through His righteousness, the kingdom of God may come.
B.      In your Christian Baptism, you participate in the death of Christ. (Romans 6) You identify with the “New Israel.” Saved by baptismal grace.
C.       The Epiphany season stands between our celebration of Christ’s birth and His Passion. We remember. He came to manifest God’s good favor (grace) by humbly offering Himself for the sins of the world.
 

Words –665
Passive Sentences –5%
Readability –73.9 %
Reading level –5.4
Image: Schnorr von Carolsfeld woodcuts © WELS for private and congregational use

Sunday, January 1, 2017

January 2017




January 2017

January 1             Christmas 1        Divine Service Setting 3 Pg. 184
                                Matthew 2:13-15, 19-23 - “God’s Promises fulfilled
O God, our Maker and Redeemer, You wonderfully created us and in the incarnation of Your Son yet more wondrously restored our human nature. Grant that we may ever be alive in Him who made Himself to be like us;

January 8             The Baptism of our Lord - Matins Pg. 219
                                Matthew 3:13–17 – So who and what is this Christ?
Father in heaven, at the Baptism of Jesus in the Jordan River You pro claimed Him Your beloved Son and anointed Him with the Holy Spirit. Make all who are baptized in His name faithful in their calling as Your children and inheritors with Him of everlasting life;

January 15           Epiphany 2          Divine Service Setting 4 Pg. 203
                                John 1:29–42a - God Reveals His Glory in Christ and His Cross
Almighty and everlasting God, who governs all things in heaven and on earth, mercifully hear the prayers of Your people and grant us Your peace through all our days;

January 22           Epiphany 3 - Prayer and Preaching Page 260
                                Matthew 4:12–25 – God’s Kingdom Comes
Almighty and everlasting God, mercifully look upon our infirmities and stretch forth the hand of Your majesty to heal and defend us;

January 29           Epiphany 4 -       Divine Service Setting 1 Page 151
                                Matthew 5:1–12 – The Demands and Rewards of the Kingdom
Almighty God, You know we live in the midst of so many dangers that in our frailty we cannot stand upright. Grant strength and protection to support us in all dangers and carry us through all temptations;

We enter a new year. 2017. It will be a year of adjustment. On 20 January, we will witness the inauguration of a new president. After a contentious election year, he will be summoned to lead our nation. Will he be able to lead us effectively? Can he bring this country together or will America be further divided?  What challenges will come our way?

 The following prayer, from Billy Graham, written for The Saturday Evening Post nine years ago in 2008, is just as relevant this year.

Our Father and our God, as we stand at the beginning of this new year we confess our need of Your presence and Your guidance as we face the future.

We each have our hopes and expectations for the year that is ahead of us—but You alone know what it holds for us, and only You can give us the strength and the wisdom we will need to meet its challenges. So help us to humbly put our hands into Your hand, and to trust You and to seek Your will for our lives during this coming year.

In the midst of life’s uncertainties in the days ahead, assure us of the certainty of Your unchanging love.

In the midst of life’s inevitable disappointments and heartaches, help us to turn to You for the stability and comfort we will need.

In the midst of life’s temptations and the pull of our stubborn self-will, help us not to lose our way but to have the courage to do what is right in Your sight, regardless of the cost.

And in the midst of our daily preoccupations and pursuits, open our eyes to the sorrows and injustices of our hurting world, and help us to respond with compassion and sacrifice to those who are friendless and in need. May our constant prayer be that of the ancient Psalmist: “Teach me, O Lord, to follow your decrees; then I will keep them to the end” (Psalm 119:33).

We pray for our nation and its leaders during these difficult times, and for all those who are seeking to bring peace and justice to our dangerous and troubled world. We pray especially for Your protection on all those who serve in our armed forces, and we thank You for their commitment to defend our freedoms, even at the cost of their own lives. Be with their families also, and assure them of Your love and concern for them.

Bring our divided nation together, and give us a greater vision of what You would have us to be. Your Word reminds us that “Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord” (Psalm 33:12).

As we look back over this past year we thank You for Your goodness to us—far beyond what we have deserved. May we never presume on Your past goodness or forget all Your mercies to us, but may they instead lead us to repentance, and to a new commitment to make You the foundation and center of our lives this year.

And so, our Father, we thank You for the promise and hope of this new year, and we look forward to it with expectancy and faith. This I ask in the name of our Lord and Savior, who by His death and resurrection has given us hope both for this world and the world to come.

The new year stands before us. A blank page. What will be written upon it concerning your life? The following hymn I find appropriate.

Son of God, eternal Savior,
Source of life and truth and grace,
Word made flesh, whose birth among us
Hallow all our human race,
You our Head, who, throned in glory,
For Your own will ever plead:
Fill us with Your love and pity,
Heal our wrongs, and help our need.
© Lutheran Service Book #842

Together we face the future. May the Savior direct our path and carry us as we enter this new year.