Sunday, December 25, 2011

Time in the Word - Christmas 1

Collect for the Circumcision and Name of Jesus (1 January): Lord God, You made Your beloved Son, our Savior, subject to the Law and caused Him to shed His blood on our behalf. Grant us the true circumcision of the Spirit that our hearts may be made pure from all sins; through Jesus Christ, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.

Collect for the Commemoration of St Stephen (26 December): Heavenly Father,  in the midst of our sufferings for the sake of Christ, grant us grace to follow the example of the first martyr, Stephen, that we also may look to the One who suffered and was crucified on our behalf, and pray for those who do us wrong; through Jesus Christ, our Lord.

Collect for the Commemoration of St John (27 December): Merciful Lord, cast the bright beams of Your light upon Your Church that we, being instructed in the doctrine of Your blessed apostle and evangelist John, may come to the light of everlasting life;

Collect for the Commemoration of the Holy Innocents of Bethlehem (28 December): Almighty God, the martyred innocents of Bethlehem showed forth Your praise not by speaking but by dying. Put to death in us all that is in conflict with Your will that our lives may bear witness to the faith we profess with our lips; through Jesus Christ, our Lord,

Prayer for the New Year: Eternal God, we commit to Your mercy and forgiveness the year now ending and commend to Your blessing and love the times yet to come. In the new year, abide among us with Your Holy Spirit that we may always trust in the saving name of our Lord Jesus Christ,

Prayer for grace to receive the Word: Blessed Lord, You have caused all Holy Scriptures to be written for our learning. Grant that we may so hear them, read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest them that, by patience and comfort of Your holy Word, we may embrace and ever hold fast the blessed hope of everlasting life; through Jesus Christ, our Lord,

Prayer before the study of God’s Word: Almighty God, our heavenly Father, without Your help our labor is useless, and without Your light our search is in vain. Invigorate our study of Your holy Word that, by due diligence and right discernment, we may establish ourselves and others in Your holy faith; through Jesus Christ, our Lord,

Circumcision, the covenant God made with Abraham and his Seed, sealed His promises and blessings in the flesh, but it also signified the burden of the Law. When the Lord Jesus came in the flesh to redeem His people, He subjected Himself to that Law in order to fulfill the Law and release all people from its bondage. “He was called Jesus” (Luke 2:21), because He came to save His people from their sins. Jesus first shed His blood on our behalf when “He was circumcised” (Luke 2:21), thus foreshadowing His shedding of blood as He sacrificed Himself upon the Cross. We are “justified by faith” in His blood (Gal. 3:24). Therefore, we “are Abraham’s offspring, heirs according to promise” (Gal. 3:29), not by the circumcision of our flesh, but in the flesh and blood of Christ Jesus, the true Seed of Abraham. “Baptized into Christ,” we belong to Him and are clothed and covered by His righteousness (Gal. 3:27). Holy Baptism is the true circumcision made without hands, by which the Lord Jesus puts His Name on us and blesses us (Num. 6:22, 27).

Monday, 26 December 2011Psalm 40:6–8; antiphon, Psalm 40:16—Jesus has come in the flesh and fulfilled the entire Law for us, beginning with His fulfilling of the Law of Circumcision. Neither are animal sacrifices necessary any longer, for these were only meant to point to the One who became the supreme, once-for-all Sacrifice for the sins of the world; hence, David writes: In sacrifice and offering you have not delighted, but you have given me an open ear. Burnt offering and sin offering you have not required. What is required for salvation is faith, received by the ear which God opens and into which He speaks His saving Gospel message.

Tuesday, 27 December 2011Psalm 8Psalm 8 is a song of great praise to God for all the mighty works He has done in creating the universe, the earth, and all that is in them. But the greatest work of all, is that He sent His Son into the world to assume flesh, the uncreated One becoming part of the creation, that He might redeem creation from the curse under which it fell when Adam and Eve first sinned. The Son of God, Creator of all things, it is He who has been made a little lower than the heavenly beings; yet, because of His work of salvation, He has been crowned with glory and honor.

Wednesday, 28 December 2011Numbers 6:22–27—The Old Testament reading for next week is the well-known Aaronic benediction. The word benediction comes from the Latin word that means to bless. It is called the Aaronic benediction, because it was first given, here in Numbers, to the High Priest Aaron, brother of Moses, to bless the Children of Israel. Note that it is pure blessing; it makes no demands of the people, but simply is a declaration of God’s benefit to them. They had been given His Name, and thus received a blessing.

Thursday, 29 December 2011Galatians 3:23–29—As God declared in the Old Testament reading, He had put His Name on the people and they received His blessing. Likewise, He has put His Name on us, too, and, consequently, we also receive His blessings. In Holy Baptism, we were given the gift of faith and the forgiveness of sins. Baptized into the name of Christ, we are heirs and recipients of all of God’s blessings: forgiveness, life, and salvation.

Friday, 30 December 2011Luke 2:21—Next Sunday’s Gospel reading is very short—only one verse! It tells of the circumcision and naming of Jesus on the eighth day of His life. Fulfilling the Law of Moses with regard to circumcision, He first shed His blood for us. Receiving the name which had been told to Mary by the angel Gabriel, it reflects who He is and what He came to do; for the name JESUS means the Lord (Yahweh) saves. Jesus is true God, come down from heaven for one purpose: the salvation of as many as will believe in Him.

Saturday, 31 December 2011—The hymn of the day, Jesus! Name of Wondrous Love (LSB #900), extols the Name that was given to the Savior at His circumcision, the Name that St Paul says is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth (Philippians 2:9–10).

Lectionary summary on front page from LCMS Commission on Worship
Artwork Julius Schnoor von Carolsfeld  ©  WELS 
Prayers from Lutheran Service Book © 2006 Concordia Publishing House
This week’s Time in the Word is written by The Revd Jeffrey M. Keuning, Pastor of St John's Evangelical Lutheran Church Casey, IA and Zion Lutheran Church, Dexter, IA

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