Sunday, December 17, 2017

Time in the Word ~ Advent 4

Time in the Word
Advent 4
December 18-23, 2017

The Lord Builds a House for David:
Jesus Christ Who Comes in the Flesh

When King David “lived in his house and the Lord had given him rest from all his surrounding enemies,” he piously supposed that he would build a house for God (2 Sam. 7:1–2). But the Lord would turn it around: He would establish a house for David, and an everlasting throne. This He has done, not only for David, but also for all His people, in the Son of David, Jesus Christ, “conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the Virgin Mary” (Apostles’ Creed). That holy Child, the incarnate “Son of the Most High,” receives “the throne of His father David” and begins to reign “over the house of Jacob forever” (Luke 1:32–33). Having given Himself as a sacrifice for the sins of the world, His Body is the true and eternal Temple of God in which His people have their own place of peace and rest. That is “the Mystery that was kept secret for long ages” but is now “made known to all nations, according to the command of the eternal God” in order that we may have faith and life in Christ (Rom. 16:25–26). 

Collect for the Fourth Sunday in Advent: Stir up Your power, O Lord, and come and help us by Your might, that the sins which weigh us down may be quickly lifted by Your grace and mercy; for You live and reign with the Father and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.

Collect for the First Sunday in Advent: Stir up Your power, O Lord, and come, that by Your protection we may be rescued from the threatening perils of our sins and saved by Your mighty deliverance; for You live and reign with the Father and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. 

Prayer of adoration, praise, and supplication: Almighty and eternal God, we adore You as the God and Father of our Lord and Savior Jesus, and with the whole Church on earth and all the hosts of heaven we ascribe to You honor and blessing, thanksgiving and praise. Holy, holy, holy are You, Lord God Almighty; heaven and earth are full of Your glory. You created us in Your own image and redeemed us with the precious blood of Your Son. By Your Spirit You sanctified us and called us out of darkness into Your marvelous light.

Grant that we may with thankful hearts receive these great mercies and express our gratitude, not only with our lips but also in our lives as we give ourselves to Your service and walk before You in holiness and righteousness all our days. Deliver us from sin and error, from the frailties of the flesh, the allurements of this present age, and the temptations of the devil. Give us faith that works in love, hope that never disappoints, kindness that never fails, confidence in You that never wavers, patience that does not grow weary, and courage always to be ready to confess Christ, that we may live in Your mercy and die in Your peace; through the same Jesus Christ, our Lord, who lives and reigns . . . 

Prayer for a right knowledge of Christ: Almighty God, whom to know is everlasting life, grant us perfectly to know Your Son, Jesus Christ, to be the way, the truth, and the life, that following His steps we may steadfastly walk in the way that leads to eternal life; through the same Jesus Christ, our Lord, who lives and reigns . . .

Prayer for blessing on the Word: Lord God, bless Your Word wherever it is proclaimed. Make it a word of power and peace to convert those not yet Your own and to confirm those who have come to saving faith. May Your Word pass from the ear to the heart, from the heart to the lip, and from the lip to the life that, as You have promised, Your Word may achieve the purpose for which You send it; through Jesus Christ, our Lord, who lives and reigns . . .

Monday, 18 December 2017Psalm 19:1, 4c, 5–6; Antiphon, Isaiah 45:8a, b—The antiphon asks that God would open the heavens and ‘let the clouds rain down righteousness,’ and that, correspondingly, He would open the earth, ‘that salvation and righteousness may bear fruit.’ Both of these things have come to pass. When the Son of God assumed flesh, and came to earth to be born a man, righteousness rained down. And this was not without effect, for He brought salvation which bears fruit in believers, as they live out their righteousness in Christ.

Tuesday, 19 December 2018Psalm 89:1–5—What is the believer’s response to all that the Lord has done for us through Christ? ‘I will sing of the steadfast love of the Lord, forever; with my mouth I will make known your faithfulness to all generations.’ In doing so, we join the throngs in heaven (v. 5), just as we say in the Preface to the Lord’s Supper, ‘with angels and archangels, and with all the company of heaven, we laud and magnify Your glorious name, evermore praising You . . . ’

Wednesday, 20 December 20172 Samuel 7:1–11, 16—King David’s desire was to build a permanent structure for the Ark of the Covenant, that is a permanent place for God to reside with His people. But the Lord tells David that He will establish a ‘house’ and a kingdom for David, which shall have no end. We are not to look to Israel for fulfillment of God’s promise, but to David’s Descendant, Christ Jesus, who has established His throne of dominion forever, by His defeat of sin, death, and the devil at Calvary.

Thursday, 21 December 2017Romans 16:25–27—A fitting end to the book of Romans, in which St. Paul has so clearly proclaimed Christ as the Savior of the world, apart from works, this doxology (hymn of praise) is especially appropriate during this Advent season, as we prepare for the coming of Jesus Christ, who ‘has now been disclosed and through the prophetic writings has been made known to all nations.’

Friday, 22 December 2019Luke 1:26–38—What a shock it must have been for this pious young woman to learn that she, not having known a man, would give birth to a baby boy. And no ordinary boy, but God Himself, the second Person of the Trinity! Due to the miracle wrought through the Holy Spirit, Child born would be ‘true God, begotten of the Father from eternity, and also true man, born of the Virgin Mary.’ The Blessed Virgin is, therefore, truly the Mother of God, and her Son, the Savior of mankind, is properly named ‘Jesus,’ that is, ‘Yahweh saves.’

Saturday, 23 December 2017—The hymn of the day, O Come, O Come, Emmanuel (LSB #357), is an ancient hymn based upon seven even more ancient antiphons (called the ‘O’ Antiphons) which were used in the Office at Vespers (the evening office) during the last seven days of Advent. Each antiphon and each hymn stanza refers to a different title for Christ: Wisdom, Adonai (‘Lord’), Root (or Branch) of Jesse, Key of David, Dayspring, King of Nations, Emmanuel (‘God with Us’).

Lectionary summary on front page from LCMS Commission on Worship
Artwork by Julius Schnoor von Carolsfeld, ©WELS.
Prayers from Lutheran Service Book © 2006 Concordia Publishing House

Saturday, December 16, 2017

Advent 3

Advent 3 – 17 December 2017 – John 1:6-8, 19-28

Before a witness is to give his testimony in a court, for example, he is asked to swear to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. John the Baptist was one who told the truth concerning Jesus. Likewise, a Christian is a witness. The need for more witnessing is demonstrated by the facts of a declining church membership in many parts of our country.

While our congregation has been blessed with new members in many places across our great country this is not happening. It is estimated that close to a third of the adult population in the U S remain un-churched. [1] This has prompted our own Missouri Synod to declare the United States as a mission field. And yet, what we see happening at the same time is a decline in the number of foreign missionaries.

Yet, by the grace of God, opportunities to share the good news of Jesus Christ are all around us. You do not have to travel overseas to be a part of the Lord’s mission, the very fact that you are a follower of Jesus Christ makes you His witness. -  We are not asked to be successful. We are only asked to witness and be faithful. -  What does it mean to be a witness for Jesus Christ?

1. To be a witness for Christ means that we accept the call to witness. Recall the words of our text for today. John tells us, “A man came – God sent him- his name was John. He came to tell the truth about the Light to help everyone believe. He was not the Light but came to tell the truth about the Light.” [John 1:6-8 Wm. Beck translation]

Each of us actually is just like John the Baptist. We are not called to be God but to be a witnessed for God. We are called simply to tell others what we have seen and heard. Some might say, “But I don’t know everything that is in the Bible, how can I possibly be a witness?” That may be true, that you don’t know everything in the Bible but you do know Him who has saved you and Him who has called you to faith. All we are called to do is share with others what we have come to know as truth. We are called to witness of what you have heard and seen. In fact, the early followers of Jesus Christ would have only one message, “we cannot stop talking about what we have seen and heard.” [2]

2. As a witness we are simply to confess the truth. “John confessed; ‘I am not the promised Savior.” (Vs. 20) We are called to simply tell the truth. That is what we are to confess. John did not claim to be God, nor did he claim to be superior to others but instead he told people around him the truth of what he knew that Jesus was the promised Savior, the one who was coming into the world.

In this season of Advent at no other time in the year are our witness and our confession of the truth so clear. Everywhere you go you can hear carols sung and the word Jesus is on everyone’s lips. He’s the reason for this season. As we speak of the birth of the one that we celebrate this year, we have an excellent opportunity to tell others about the Savior who has come to set us free from sin, death and the power of the devil.

3. Because you are a Christian you really are a witness. This is John’s point. To be a witness for Christ means only to know Christ personally. Listen again to John’s words. “I baptize with water John answered them. There is standing before you someone you don’t know, the One who is coming after me. I’m not good enough to untie His shoe strap.” Vv.26-27 [Beck translation]

Jesus tells us that when we are to speak for Him at that very hour the Holy Spirit will give you the very words you are to speak. Because you know Christ personally, you have a relationship with Him. As we confess and witness for Him we speak of a relationship which is our by faith. We speak of Him who loves us. We speak of Him whose birth we celebrate one week  from now.

The voice of the earth Christians, “we cannot stop talking about what we have seen and heard” is good advice. These are our marching orders. May that be our confession as we wait the days before the celebration of Christmas. Rejoice for Christ has come. In Him, we have life. In Him, we make a good confession.
Words -800
Passive Sentences -16%
Readability -82.3%
Reading Level -5.3

[1] A new survey released by The Barna Group, which has been tracking America’s religious behavior and beliefs since 1984, reveals that one out of every three adults (33%) is classified as unchurched - meaning they have not attended a religious service of any type during the past six months
[2] Acts 4:20

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Mid-week Advent 2

Mid-week Advent #2
December 13, 2017
Luke 1:26, 31-33
To Whom Does Jesus Come?

INTRODUCTION: In the Gospel of Luke the birth of Jesus is foretold. The Lord sends a messenger who comes to Mary the very peasant girl who will give Him birth. To whom does Jesus come?  Jesus comes with comfort to him who waits.

In Luke 1:26  we read: “In the sixth month, God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a town in Galilee,”  The mention of Elizabeth's "sixth month" establishes a link between Jesus and the prophet John the Baptist. Nazareth was a small town off the main trade routes. Its insignificant size contrasts with Jerusalem, where Gabriel's previous appearance had taken place. Jn 1:46 records the negative Judean opinion of Nazareth. “What good ever came out of Nazareth?”  

Likewise, the region of Galilee contrasts with Judea. Surrounded as they were by Gentiles, the Galileans were not necessarily irreligious but many were somewhat lax regarding strict Jewish traditions. And what really is the point? Jesus did not come to the high and mighty, the religious. He came from a region of sinners and a family of sinners to redeem sinful people.

What can we say concerning this Savior? Let’s see what the angel has to say:
“You will be with child and give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever; his kingdom will never end.”  Luke 1:31-33
Mary’s Son was to be infinitely greater than John.

(a) His name was to be Jesus, ‘Jehovah is salvation’ (31).

(b) He would be great (32), a title which, unqualified, is usually reserved for God Himself.

(c) As heir to David’s throne He will reign over God’s people (33).

(d) His kingdom will be eternal (33).

CONCLUSION: To whom does Jesus come? He comes to comfort those who wait patiently for Him.

Sunday, December 10, 2017

Time in the Word - Advent 3

Time in the Word
Advent 3 
December 11-16, 2017

Monday, 11 December 2017Psalm 85:8–9, 12–13; Antiphon, Psalm 85:7—During this season of preparation by way of repentance, we pray that, even as we break with the sins of our past, the Lord would not let us turn back to folly. Our sin is persistent, and we can never conquer it by our own doing. Our only hope is in the Lord, who will speak peace to His people and will give what is good. He does this through our Savior, Jesus, for righteousness goes before Him.

Tuesday, 12 December 2017Psalm 126—This psalm was composed when the Israelites returned from the Babylonian Exile. When God delivered them, their mouths were initially filled with laughter and their tongues with shouts of joy.

But the hardships they faced upon return tested their faith in the Lord’s promise to restore the fortunes of Zion. This psalm provides comfort that those who sow in tears shall reap with shouts of joy! Likewise, when we face unexpected hardships and suffering, we can take comfort that the Lord has done great things for us. The greatest thing He has done is restored us by the death of our savior, His Son, Jesus Christ
Wednesday, 13 December 2017Isaiah 61:1–4, 8–11—God’s anointed messenger is here proclaimed. He will proclaim the good news of relief and release to the poor, the brokenhearted, the captives, those who are bound, and those who mourn. All these things describe us in our sinful state: We are poor, lacking the riches of fellowship with God, and thus brokenhearted; we are captives of, and in bondage to sin, and thus can only mourn our condition. But the One whom the messenger proclaims will give us the oil of gladness instead of mourning, the garment of praise instead of a faint spirit, that we may be called oaks of righteousness.

Thursday, 14 December 20171 Thessalonians 5:16–24—What is our response to and our witness of Christ has accomplished for us? That we rejoice always, pray without ceasing, and give thanks in all circumstances. This we can do, because we are no longer in our former state, as people who have no hope, in bondage to sin. Christ has set us free, and gives us His gifts of Word and Sacrament, that our whole spirit and soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Friday, 15 December 2017John 1:6–8, 19–28—When the priests and Levites confronted John the Baptist, asking him who he was, he responded that he was the fulfillment of the prophecy of Isaiah in the Old Testament reading. John is the man sent from God, the voice of one crying out in the wilderness. He went before the Lord Jesus, to prepare the way for Him, to bear witness to Him. John baptized and preached a message of repentance. Likewise, we still heed John, and prepare ourselves for the celebration of the coming of Christ in the flesh by repenting of our sins.

Saturday, 16 December 2017—The hymn of the day, Hark! A Thrilling Voice Is Sounding (LSB 345), tells of the work of John the Baptist. His voice is thrilling to believers, for his voice heralds the coming of our Savior, Jesus.

Collect for Third Sunday in Advent: Lord Jesus Christ, we implore You to hear our prayers and to lighten the darkness of our hearts by Your gracious visitation; for You live and reign with the Father and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.

Prayer for deliverance from sin: Almighty God, our heavenly Father, You desire not the death of a sinner, but rather that we turn from our evil ways and live. Graciously spare us those punishments which we by our sins have deserved, and grant us always to serve You in holiness and pureness of living; through Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns . . .

Prayer for grace and forgiveness: Spare us, O Lord, and mercifully forgive us our sins. Though by our continual transgressions we have merited Your chastisements, be gracious to us. Grant that all these punishments which we have deserved may not come upon us, but that all things may work to our everlasting good; through Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns . . .

Prayer at nightfall: We praise and thank You, O God, for You are without beginning and without end. Through Christ You are the creator and preserver of the whole world; but above all, You are His God and Father, the giver of the Spirit, and the ruler of all that is, seen and unseen. You made the day for the works of light and the night for the refreshment of our weakness. O loving Lord and source of all that is good, mercifully accept our evening sacrifice of praise. As You have conducted us through the day and brought us to night's beginning, keep us now in Christ; grant us a peaceful evening and a night free from sin; and at the end bring us to everlasting life through Christ, our Lord; through Him be glory, honor, and power to You in the Holy Spirit now and always forever and ever.

Prayer for catechumens: Almighty God and Father, because You always grant growth to Your Church, increase the faith and understanding of our catechumens that, rejoicing in their new birth by the water of Holy Baptism, they may forever continue in the family of those who You adopt as Your sons and daughters; through Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns . . .

Lectionary summary on front page from LCMS Commission on Worship
Artwork by Julius Schnoor von Carolsfeld, ©WELS.
Prayers from Lutheran Service Book © 2006 Concordia Publishing House

Saturday, December 9, 2017

Advent 2

Advent 2 – 10 December 2017 –Mark 8:1-8

Prepare for the Savior’s coming by Repentance

Should Christmas Be Banned?

In Mark’s Gospel, there is no Christmas! It begins with an adult Son of God. After John, the Baptist’s preparation for Jesus He simply appears as a thirty-year-old adult seeking baptism.

If it were up to Mark, quite possibly, we would have no Christmas celebration. Should we follow Mark as the Puritans did in the 17th Century – by banning Christmas? Some would feel at home with such an idea. Now, to totally outlaw any celebration of Christmas might be stretching things a bit. However, in light of the materialism of our modern day maybe we should simply skip all of the Christmas “sell-a-bration”! It is imperative that we come to an honest understanding of what Christmas really means for this world.

What is Christmas all about?

1.            Which is not simply an understanding of how He was born but we need to understand who was born in Bethlehem and for what reason He came to this earth. All of us are quite familiar with the birth of Jesus Christ. We are familiar with the story of His birth we know of the manger, the angels, and the star.

A.            All these things are important. They point to an undisputed fact that Jesus was born, that He became a human being.

1.            These facts points that Jesus was a man. Hardly anyone would dispute these events as fact. Most people are not offended to say that Jesus was born, that He became human.

2.            To make the point that He came in history is all somewhat to say about Jesus. This is the all some are willing or comfortable to go with respect to the birth of Christ. To them “little baby Jesus’ is simply all they care to know concerning Christ. They will attest to the fact that a baby was born and that is it – nothing less and certainly nothing more!

B.            If we get hung up on just His birth, we may lose out.

1.            The reason for His birth is what is important. Why did He come? The Lord of life entered time and space to be our redeemer. He entered our world to bear our sin. He came to this earth to reconcile us back to the Father.

2.            He is not simply a “cute baby” a little lamb. He is the eternal Son of God. Yes, He entered this world as you did for He came to be your substitute. He came to live a perfect life for you. He came to fulfill the law for you. He came to fulfill and keep every requirement the Father requires of you. To be your substitute He had to be perfect in every respect so that His sacrifice would be complete.

2. Jesus, the child who was born – He is “The Son of God”

A.                  Very God.

1.            He is the Creator of us all. In Him is all life. He is the one who was with the Father from the foundations of the earth.

2.            He is the all-powerful One by Him and for Him all things were made. Mark will begin his gospel with a powerful and bold confession. Jesus is the Son of God. This is Gospel and good news.

B.            In Him is what all the prophets had written
1.            Over 800 prophecies concerning the Savior were written in the Old Testament. Mark quotes from Malachi and Isaiah to show that John was not an ordinary man nor was Jesus. Mark was the predicted forerunner of the Messiah. John prepared the way for Jesus by calling the people to repent, confess their sins, and be baptized.

2.            Jesus fulfilled each of these prophecies. He fulfilled every one of them. Every single prediction concerning the Christ was fulfilled in Jesus Christ. Each has been fulfilled in His birth, life, suffering, death and resurrection.

3. Why He was born – He is “The Christ”
A.            He is the One who came to save us

1              We could never save ourselves. Our sin condemns us. Our works are soiled with sin. Our attempts at being good fall short. We need a Savior. Only Christ will do.

2.            Sin has separated us from God. Sin has caused a huge wedge to separate us from God, and from our neighbor. In Jesus’ life, passion, death and resurrection that which has caused separation has been removed.

B.                  By His suffering and death, we are saved and redeemed.

1.            In Baptism we are brought into His family. Paul reminds us “When we were baptized into Christ Jesus we were baptized into His death. We were buried with Him by our baptism into death so that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father we too should live a new life. For if, we have been united with Him in a death like His we shall certainly be reunited with Him in a resurrection like His. Your baptism is both a death certificate and a birth certificate. In your baptism, you died to sin and became alive in Christ forever.

2.            Through this covenant of Baptism we are kept in faith. He calls, gathers, enlightens, sanctifies and keeps you forever in the faith. He gives us His Holy Spirit. As He calls you, He plants the seed of faith into your heart. He enlightens you causing growth toward the light of the Gospel. He sanctifies you so that your works may flower and show the fruit of a genuine faith. He keeps you watering and nurturing your faith so that it remains active and effective, as He has promised to use you in His kingdom.

So, should Christmas be banned? By no means! When we look past the trappings, we see the One who has come to redeem and save us. He is God in the flesh our Savior, King and Redeemer.

Words – 1,000
Passive Sentences – 12%
Readability – 78.8%
Reading Level – 5.2
 Woodcut by Julius Schnoor von Carolsfeld, © WELS

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Mid-week Advent 1

December 6, 2017
Luke 1:18-20
 “The Promised Savior”
To Whom Does Jesus Come?

INTRODUCTION:  To whom does Jesus come? Does He come only to those who are rich in faith? Does He come only to those who have everything figured out? Does He come only to those who are secure in their beliefs?  What about the Scrooges of this world? Does Jesus come to them also? These Scrooges…they want to believe. They want to get all caught up in the merriment of this holiday season and yet they are reserved… There are those people who simply haven’t finally gotten a full grasp of the Christmas story. Now don’t get me wrong, they know the story inside and out which might be their downfall. They don’t necessary doubt but they have questions. Could the Savior really be born in Bethlehem, in a stable, to a Virgin?  As we consider the question: to whom does Jesus come we will find that Jesus comes with proof to him who has questions.

Ah yes, there are plenty of questions in the Christmas story. The man we will focus on this night is an old man by the name of Zachariah.

We know a little concerning Zachariah the father of John the Baptist. We know that Zachariah was a priest, whose lot it had fallen to offer up prayers at the Temple in Jerusalem.

The Jewish exile into Babylon had interrupted the original lines of descent; so once returning to Israel the divisions were regrouped, most of them corresponding to the original in name only. Each of the twenty-four divisions served in the temple for one week, twice a year, as well as at the major festivals.
An individual priest, however, could offer the incense at the daily sacrifice only once in his lifetime since there were so many priests. Therefore this was the climactic moment of Zechariah's priestly career, perhaps the most dramatic moment possible for the event described to have occurred. God was breaking into the ancient routine of Jewish ritual with the word of His decisive saving act and nobody could believe it!

The suddenness of the appearance of the angel in the Holy Place is in agreement with other supernatural events in the Christmas story. Consider the heavenly host that visited the shepherds. (cf. 2:9, 13).

Only a heavenly being had the right to appear in that place with the priest. Zechariah's startled and fearful reaction is not only a natural reaction to such an appearance but is also consistent with what the Gospels say about the response of the disciples and others to the presence of the supernatural. They are - startled and to say the least - apprehensive at best, - doubtful and the worst.

This is the first indication of prayer on the part of Zechariah. The specific petition probably refers to both his lifelong prayer for a child (probably a son) and his just-offered prayer in the temple for the messianic redemption of Israel. Actually, the birth of his child was bound up with redemption in a way far beyond anything Zechariah expected.

As he prays for a son his prayer will be answered. As he prays for the redemption of Israel through the coming of the promised Savior his prayer will be answered!
That the prayer included a petition for a son is substantiated by the further description of the child, beginning with his name "John" (meaning "The Lord is gracious"). John being named before his birth stresses God's amazing mercy and grace in choosing John to be His servant.

To question does not mean doubt! Mary’s question arises from faith (v.45). Mary simply inquired as to the way God would work; Zechariah questioned the truth of the revelation. Zachariah's question, “How can I be sure of this? I am an old man and my wife is well along in years.” Luke 1:18 seems oh so innocent, but  it was asked in doubt. In contrast to Mary's question- - "How can I be sure of this?" apparently was a request for a sign. Though we are told that Zechariah was devout (v.6), his quest for confirmation was perilously close to the attitude described by the skeptics, who in Luke 11:29 are searching for confirmation of Jesus’ ministry but find nothing to their satisfaction. “As the crowds increased, Jesus said, “This is a wicked generation. It asks for a miraculous sign, but none will be given it except the sign of Jonah.”  

In the midst of his skepticism, disbelief, uncertainty and doubt the Lord speaks to Zachariah through the messenger Gabriel. “The angel answered, “I am Gabriel. I stand in the presence of God, and I have been sent to speak to you and to tell you this good news.  And now you will be silent and not able to speak until the day this happens, because you did not believe my words, which will come true at their proper time.” Luke 1:19-20

There you have it! Zachariah is dumbfound by the news and staggers at the very thought that he would be a father in his old age. Thus he will live in silence until the child is born. Yet, the mighty acts of God will be fulfilled in Zachariah’s lifetime. He will have a son, and the promised Savior will be born. John will be His prophet and the holy one of Israel will come to deliver His people. It will happen all as Gabriel had promised.

The Christmas story is just as difficult to imagine as is the birth of John, born to parents well beyond years and yet it all happened as it has been recorded to us in sacred Scripture.

The fact that Zachariah had difficulty believing what his ears were hearing does not mean it is impossible. To the contrary, it reminds us that what is impossible for man is all God’s doing!  If an old couple could cradle in their arms their own son could not God give us His own Son to be conceived of a Virgin, to be born, suffer, be crucified, die and then rise from the dead on the third day?  If you have difficulties grasping the wonder of the Christmas story your in good company with the likes of Zachariah and Thomas and even Peter.   To whom does Jesus come? He comes with proof to him who questions.

Sunday, December 3, 2017

Time in the Word ~ Advent 2

Time in the Word
Advent 2
December 4-9, 2017

The dominant theme of this coming Sunday is preparation for Christ’s coming. John the Baptist is sent to prepare the people for Christ’s first coming by preaching a Baptism of repentance. In the Old Testament lesson, the Lord calls for a way to be prepared for His coming. The Epistle lesson deals with the Second Coming and the end of the world. Christians are to prepare by living blameless lives. The suggested Psalm of the day indicates that righteousness shall precede God’s coming. As we focus on John the Baptist’s words, he calls on us to prepare our hearts for Christ’s coming. On Advent 1 we were assured that Jesus is coming again. This Sunday we prepare for His coming. As the Gospel suggests He may be coming to some for the first time; for all He will be coming a second time at the end of time.

Monday, 4 December 2017Psalm 80:1, 8a, 9b, 7; Antiphon, Psalm 80:3— “Restore us, O God; make Your face shine upon us, that we may be saved.” The whole purpose of Jesus coming into this world was to save us. In these weeks counting down to Christmas, we remember that Jesus entered time and space to be our Savior. As He came at just the right time to redeem us, He will appear at the right time to receive us into glory. His timing is impeccable; His ways are perfect. 

The psalmist prays for the restoration of God’s people, remembering the deliverance God wrought through Joseph. In Advent, we, too, pray for restoration—restoration from the bondage of sin. The vine out of Egypt of verse 8 recalls the flight of the Christ-child into Egypt to avoid Herod’s persecution. That Vine has taken deep root and filled the land and it is through Christ, who is the Vine, that we have been restored.

Tuesday, 5 December 2017Psalm 85—Another psalm asking God for restoration, Psalm 85 recounts the forgiveness of the Lord in the past, and prays that He might once again make known His steadfast love, or mercy.

With confidence, the psalmist can say, ‘Surely his salvation is near to those who fear him, that glory may dwell in our land.’ For the steadfast love and faithfulness of the Lord do meet in the coming of Jesus Christ in the flesh; there, righteousness and peace kiss each other (verse 10).

Wednesday, 6 December 2017Isaiah 40:1–11—‘Comfort, comfort my people,’ the Lord instructs Isaiah. Release from the bondage of sin is at hand. The voice crying in the wilderness shall prepare the way for the glory of the Lord to be revealed. The Word of God, which stands forever, shall assume flesh in order to bring comfort to the people by removing the blot of iniquity. Then He shall ‘tend his flock like a shepherd.’

Thursday, 7 December 20172 Peter 3:8–14—Isaiah wrote his prophecy of the coming of Christ seven hundred years before He came. It must have seemed an interminable amount of time for those who lived during those years, wondering when God would fulfill His promises. But the Apostle Peter reminds us that the Lord has His own timetable, and a good purpose for accomplishing things in His own time. He further admonishes us to be ready for the Lord’s Second Coming at any time, and to live lives of holiness and godliness waiting for that day.

Friday, 8  December 2017Mark 1:1–8—In fulfillment of the words of the prophets Isaiah and Malachi, John the Baptist comes to prepare the people for the coming of the promised One. The coming of Jesus Christ is Good News (Gospel), Mark proclaims boldly at the outset of his Gospel, but we must be prepared for His coming. John the Baptist prepared the world in his day, and continues to do so in our day, by calling people to repentance, urging them to confess their sins, be baptized.

Saturday, 9 December 2017—The hymn of the day, On Jordan’s Bank the Baptist’s Cry (LSB 344), recounts the Old Testament and Gospel readings of the work of John the Baptist. It closes with a doxological stanza which proclaims the Good News that Jesus’ ‘advent sets Thy people free.’ This is Good News, indeed!

Stir up our hearts, O Lord, to make ready the way of Your only-begotten Son, that by His coming we may be enabled to serve You with pure minds; through the same Jesus Christ, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.

Collect for Advent 2Stir up our Your power, O Lord, and come and help us by Your might, that the sins which weigh us down may be quickly lifted by Your grace and mercy; for You live and reign with the Father and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.

Stir up your power, O Lord, and come. Protect us by your strength and save us from the threatening dangers of our sins, for you live and reign with the Father and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.

Almighty and everlasting God whose will it is to restore all things to your beloved Son, whom you anointed priest forever and king of all creation: Grant that all people of the earth, now divided by the power of sin, may be united under the glorious and gentle rule of your Son.

Some thoughts concerning our worship life together

The Lord’s Prayer is the chief prayer of the Christian Church and it is prayed here at the chief event of the Divine Service.  As children of God, we call upon “Our Father” as we prepare to encounter Jesus in His Supper, acknowledging that in the Sacrament He will answer our petitions. The congregation prays, “Thy kingdom come,” then receives the kingdom of God in the coming of Christ in His body and blood. We pray, “Thy will be done,” then witness salvation being distributed. We pray for forgiveness of sins and hear Christ’s own Word proclaiming that in His death He has accomplished everything needed to “forgive us our trespasses.”

LUTHERAN SEVICE BOOK © 2006 Concordia Publishing House, St. Louis, MO
Schnorr von Carolsfeld, woodcuts © WELS Permission to use these copyrighted items is limited to personal and congregational use.
Worshiping with Angels and Archangels – An Introduction to the Divine Service by Scot Kinnaaman © 2006 Concordia Publishing House, St. Louis p. 35