Tuesday, December 31, 2013

New Year's Eve

New Year’s Eve
31 December 2013
Our God Our Help in Ages Past
Psalm 90

O GOD, You make us glad with the yearly remembrance of the birth of Your only Son Jesus Christ.  Grant, that as we joyfully receive Him as our Redeemer, so we may with sure confidence behold Him when He shall come to be our Judge on the Last Great Day; who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.

We've come to the end of yet another year. 365 days have passed. What will be said of this the year, the year of our Lord  - 2013 - when the history books are written and this chapter of our lives is read?

It's been a significant year for this our Friedheim family. 175 years of mission and ministry! What a year it has been!

Like other years, there were births. Infants were born into this world. They too were claimed to be "children of light" as they were born again, through the Sacrament of Holy Baptism. Still others were born into Glory. As they took a walk. From one end of the Father's kingdom to the other. From the kingdom of Grace.  Into the Kingdom of Glory.

So, how do we measure one year that is past? With all of its experiences, it's  memories? What impression will this past year place upon your life?

And what do you say about the New Year, which is about to begin? How do we plot our future as we recall our past? Our hymn verse helps put all things into perspective.

Our God our Help in ages past. If you are ever admitted into a hospital, the first thing you need to do is remove your watch. You won’t need it. Hospital time is NOT regular time! The two are different! There is no time in a hospital. Time…is just a suggestion!  There were moments this past year when time seemed to stop. Now they are in the past.  Yet, forever they remain with us.
There are moments in our lives that are frozen in time. We make it a habit of marking time. Glance at your calendar. It reminds you when you first planted corn and cut your first field of beans. It marks the first snowfall and the first 90-degree day. It recalls you of your child’s first tooth, and their first steps. It remembers your first kiss. The day you got out of debt. They day you landed that big account. The day your child walked across the graduation stage. The day you entered retirement. Each of us can remember those significant moments of this past year. They are forever in our memory.
 God was in the midst of each of these days. Moses reminds us in Psalm 90, “Lord, thou hast been our dwelling place in all generations. Before the mountains were brought forth, or eve thou hast formed the earth and the world, even from everlasting to everlasting, thou art God. –Psalm 90:1-2      
Moses will later write, “May the favor of the Lord our God rest on us; establish the work of our hands for us, yes establish the work of our hands.” – Psalm 90:17 It is important to remember that any of our accomplishments in our lifetime are really not much unless their directions come from our Heavenly Father. The importance of “His” work is greater than what this world holds as important.

Jesus remains, Our Hope for years to come. How do we face the next 365 days? What will befall us in the New Year? We simply do not know. But one thing we do know, “From everlasting to everlasting, You are God.” –Psalm 90: 2  

We pray that our Lord would direct us. “Heavenly Father, You have called us to ventures of which we cannot see the ending, by paths as yet untrodden, through perils unknown... give us faith to go out with good courage, not knowing where we go but only that Your hand is leading us and Your love supporting us.[1]   

Because our Lord is with us. Because He has promised to lead us. Because He is our Good and faithful Shepherd we know our Lord remains, Our Shelter from the stormy blast. Calamities. Tragedies. Disasters. They make the headlines. There were plenty this past year. From a pipe bomb at the Boston Marathon to an F-4 tornado that left New Minden, IL in shambles.  2013 saw the fewest weather disasters in recent history. Yet, the Red Cross responded to 932 events this past year.

From the Arab Spring to the North Korea missile threats. They remind us we are living outside of Eden. Yet we do not loose heart.  St. Paul would remind us, “We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair;  persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed.  We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body.  For we who are alive are always being given over to death for Jesus' sake, so that his life may be revealed in our mortal body.” -  2 Corinthians 4:8-11   

We do not loose heart because we really don’t belong here. 0ur eternal Home! Is with the Lord. In this coming year there will be baptisms and there will be funerals. Infants will be welcomed into the family called the Church. Dear saints will hear the words, “Well done, good and faithful servant!” We pray in the Te Deum “May we numbered with Thy saints, in glory everlasting.” The old song sings, “Soon and very soon, we are going to see the King.” And yes! It will be.  We will see the King! It could happen this year. The Lord might appear. The Lord might receive us. In His own perfect timing, all will be made right at the end of days.

Rejoice then this night. Your Savior remains timeless. The old year is gone. A new one dawns. The past year is over. Another takes its place. Jesus remains the same, Yesterday, today, and yes, forever. Your times are in His hands. Fare Thee well child of God. Fare thee well. From this year unto the next. Jesus remains the same, yesterday, today, and forevermore.


[1] Collect for Courage, Lutheran Service Book  © 2006 Concordia Publishing House, St. Louis

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Time in the word - Christmas 2

The Lord Jesus Is Found in the Temple of His Church

The Lord Jesus “grew and became strong” (Luke 2:40); He “increased in wisdom and in stature and in favor with God and man” (Luke 2:52). As His body grew and developed, His mind also increased in knowledge and understanding. For as our brother in the flesh, that we might “have redemption through His blood” (Eph. 1:7), He lived by faith in the Word of His Father. Thus, He was catechized by His parents, who took Him up “to Jerusalem every year at the Feast of the Passover” (Luke 2:41); and when He was of age, He gave attention to the Holy Scriptures in His Father’s house (Luke 2:46, 49). Christ Jesus is still found in His Church, in “the Word of truth, the Gospel,” by which we are adopted by His Father and sealed with His Spirit (Eph. 1:5, 13). Thus do we gain “an understanding mind” to go about our vocations, discerning “between good and evil” (1 Kings 3:9). And so do we also go up to Jerusalem, to stand “before the ark of the covenant of the Lord” (1 Kings 3:15), that is, in the Holy Communion of His body and blood.

Collect for the Second Sunday after ChristmasAlmighty God, You have poured into our hearts the true Light of Your incarnate Word. Grant that this Light may shine forth in our lives; through the same Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.
Collect for the Feast of 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 rules with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.

Collect 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, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.

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, who lives and reigns with Your and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.
Monday, 30 December 2013 Psalm 147:1, 5, 11–12; Antiphon, John 1:14—The antiphon proclaims the mystery of the Incarnation: The Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen His glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth. In the original Greek, the word ‘dwelt’ is derived from word for ‘tabernacle’. That is, the God who dwelt with His people in the tabernacle in the wilderness, who delivered them from bondage in Egypt and brought them into the Promised Land—He is the same God that assumed flesh and dwelt with us as the God-man Jesus Christ, the same one who delivered us from our bondage to sin, and will, at the Last Day, take us into our Promised Land, eternal life with Him in heaven.

Tuesday, 31 December 2013Psalm 119:97–104—Psalm 119 is an example of Hebrew poetry, which is different than English poetry. First, the psalm is an acrostic: that is, every line of each section starts with the same Hebrew letter, in this case ‘mem’ (מ). Another characteristic of Hebrew poetry is parallelism, where the two halves of each line complement each other in some way. Here, we see that the second half of each line serves to amplify the thought in the first half. The psalmist proclaims that the Word of God is the source of wisdom; it rewards the one who meditates on it by making him wiser than my enemies and having more understanding than all my teachers. So, too, let us not fail to immerse ourselves in the study of God’s Word, for it is sweeter than honey to my mouth.

Wednesday, 1 January 2014 1 Kings 3:4–15—In the tale of Aladdin’s lamp, Aladdin desires and receives great riches from the genie in the lamp. If you could have anything your heart desired, what would it be? Power? Wealth? Long life? Solomon humbly asked the LORD for wisdom to rule God’s people well. His request was granted, and Solomon became the wisest man ever to have lived. Because of his altruistically wise request, the LORD also gave Solomon what he did not ask for: great riches and honor, far beyond any other king.
We can benefit from Solomon’s wisdom in the books of Ecclesiastes and Proverbs. We can benefit from the wisdom of God in all 66 books of the Holy Bible.

Thursday, 2 January 2014Ephesians 1:3–14—Even if we seem to be lacking in worldly wealth or wisdom, we are assured that we, the elect of God, have a treasure far greater than anything on earth. We have the salvation planned by in eternity by God and won in time by Jesus Christ, who has redeemed us with His blood and forgiven us of our trespasses. Furthermore, He has bestowed upon us His Holy Spirit as a guarantee of our inheritance until the Last Day, when all His promises will be fulfilled.

Friday, 3 January 2014 – Luke 2:40–52—The Jewish rabbis were astounded by the teaching of this young Boy. How could such a One expound the Scriptures as He did? The antiphon from the Introit proclaims it well: The Word became flesh and dwelt among us. The Word made flesh expounded the written Word to these great teachers. We have not only the written Word (Old Testament) that they had, but we also have the benefit of the Holy Gospels, the record of the words and the deeds of the Incarnate Word. Let us never take God’s Word for granted, but diligently ‘read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest’ it, so that ‘by patience and comfort of [God’s] holy Word, we may embrace and ever hold fast the blessed hope of everlasting life.’

Saturday, 4 January 2014 –Luke 2:41-52 - The Hymn of the Day is Within the Father’s House (Lutheran Service Book #410) It recounts the Gospel reading of the Boy Jesus in the temple, and then offers up a prayer in stanzas 5 and 6 that we, by grace, might grasp and hold to the mysteries of the Incarnation and the Holy Trinity till they are at last made fully known to us on that great day when our Lord returns in majesty and glory.


Sources: Prayers from Lutheran Service Book © 2006 Concordia Publishing House
Collect for Pentecost 24 from Lutheran Worship © Concordia Publishing House
Lectionary Preaching Workbook Series C by John Brokhoff © 1979 CSS Publishing Lima OH
Schnorr von Carolsfeld woodcuts © WELS permission granted for personal and congregational use


Saturday, December 28, 2013

Christmas 1


 Christmas 1
December 29. 2013


Matthew 2:13-15; 19-23
God protects from danger
Joseph the friend of children

Introduction: In the afterglow of Christmas day, we confront the trauma of suffering, death-threats, and persecution of the helpless and innocent. Each of the Lessons for today remind us of just what kind of world to which Jesus came — a hostile world that did not only want him, but tried to kill him. In the Gospel, the holy family was forced to flee to Egypt to avoid death by King Herod.

The holy family flees to Egypt and returns to Nazareth. Matthew sees Jesus as the second Moses. He went to Egypt and by the direction of God was brought back to Galilee. Matthew emphasizes the fact that what happened to Jesus was a fulfillment of prophecy.

In today’s Gospel lesson Joseph proved to be a friend of the little child Jesus. What would have happened to the baby if Joseph had not been a willing worker for God? Here we see a great and profound truth: God’s concern compassion and aid come through cooperative believers. In today’s world of cruelty to and exploitation of children, God is still concerned about the threatened and the oppressed little ones. He works through His obedient servants to be friends to afflicted children.

Today we observe the marks of a friend of children. A true friend of children is one who…

1.      One who is open to God’s guidance – Vv. 13, 19-20 – “When they had gone, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream, ‘Get up,’ he said, ‘take the child and his mother and escape to Egypt. Stay there until I tell you, for Herod is going to search for the child to kill him.”   “After Herod had died, an angel of the Lord appear in a dream to Joseph in Egypt and said, ‘Get up, take the child and his mother and go to the land of Israel for those who were trying to take the child’s life are dead.”

Is not fleeing a bad situation and an act of cowardice? Why not take a stand, confront the enemy and fight it out? If Jesus is the Messiah, none other than the Son of God, why should he flee from a worldly king? Does God not have legions of angels to protect his newborn Son? There is a time to flee and a time not to flee. When Jesus was grown, friends urged him to flee from Herod who sought his life. But, Jesus refused to run and said, “Tell that fox....” In this case to flee was the right thing to do. There was no way at that time to oppose Herod. But, there will come a day, a day of return to battle the enemy. In World War II, MacArthur had to flee from the Philippines only to return later to conquer.

The king was determined to kill the baby Jesus. It tells us the kind of world a baby enters. It is a hostile world into which we are born, a world out to get us. Today a child faces “death” in terms of child pornography, child abuse by parents and adults, and incest. It is a rough and tough world with tyrants, murderers, and molesters.

The holy family stayed in Egypt until Herod “died.” Rulers come and go, but God remains. When ruthless dictators straddle the earth, the day is coming when they are no more. Where are those who frightened and cursed the earth in the twentieth century — Hitler, Stalin, Mussolini, and Tojo? “This too shall pass” — things will get better if we have the patience to wait.

Transition: A true friend of children is one who…

2.      One who is aware of the world’s threats – V. 22 - “But when he heard that Archelaus was reigning in Judea in place of his father Herod, he was afraid to go there. Having been warned in a dream, he withdrew to the district of Galilee…

Archelaus was the son of Herod the Great. He ruled over Judea and Samaria for only ten years. He usually cruel and tyrannical and so was deposed.  Judea then became a Roman province, administered by prefects appointed by the emperor.

Jesus was born in a hostile world. Not only was there no room in the inn for his birth, but before he was two years old, he had to be carried to Egypt to escape death at the order of King Herod. Again, because Herod’s successor, Archelaus, was equally as dreadful, the family had to settle in Nazareth.

Transition: A true friend of children is one who…

3.      One who immediately obeys God – V. 14 - “So he got up, took the child and his mother during the night and left for Egypt.

The prophet Hosea {11:1} reminds us, “Out of Egypt I have called my son.”` Originally God called the nation of Israel out Egypt in the time of Moses.  But Matthew, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit apples it also to Jesus. Matthew sees the history of Israel (God’s son) condensed in the life of Jesus (God’s unique Son)  Just as Israel as an infant nation wend down into Egypt, so the child Jesus went there. And as Israel was led by God out of Egypt, so also was Jesus.

Conclusion: The First Sunday after Christmas seems to tell us that, like Jesus, we are born in a hostile and threatening world, but that God is with us and will use the suffering for our good. We know that the Lord works through means. Joseph and Mary were the means by which Jesus was protected.  Thank God there are people in our own community, mind you, in this very congregation who like Joseph and March watch and work on behalf of others – true friends and guardians of children.


The Lord suffers in all the afflictions of His people. Because of His love, He feels what we feel, He hurts when we hurt, He suffers when we suffer. When the Lord called Moses, He said that He heard the cries of His enslaved people in Egypt. No one ever suffers alone, no one ever walks alone, no one ever dies alone. “In all their afflictions He was afflicted.”

Holy Innocence & Martyrs

Almighty God, the martyred innocents of Bethlehem showed forth Your praise not be 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.


Woodcuts by Baron Julius Schnoor von Carolsfeld © WELS

Friday, December 27, 2013

St John

Merciful Lord, cast the beams of Your light upon Your Church that we, being instructed in the doctrine of Your beloved apostle John, may come to the light of everlasting life; through Jesus Christ our Lord. 

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Stephen


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 may also look to the One who suffered and was crucified on our behalf and pray for those who do us harm; through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Monday, December 23, 2013

“O God with Us”


O Emmanuel, our King and lawgiver, for whom the nations wait, their only Savior, come Thou, O Lord our God, be our salvation.

P:
Drop down ye heavens from above, and let the skies pour down righteousness;
C:
Let the earth open and bring forth salvation.

The Collect


P:
Stir up, we beseech Thee, O Lord, give ear to our prayers and lighten the darkness of our hearts by Thy gracious visitation; through Jesus Christ Thy Son, our Lord.
C:
Amen.

The congregation sings:

                O Come, O Come EMMANUEL,
                And ransom captive Israel,
                That mourns in lonely exile here,
                Until the Son of God appear.
                Rejoice!  Rejoice!  Emmanuel

                Shall come to thee, O Israel.

Christmas Day



Christmas Day
December 25, 2013
Isaiah 9:6
What’s in a name?

INTRODUCTION: What’s in a name? A name identifies the character of a person. For example, first child baptized this anniversary year was Jack Michael Deitemyer. Jack is a form of John, which means, “God is Merciful” 

The word Maclynn, the name of the first girl baptized this year, is taken from the word Linda. A variant of the Irish word, “Lann,” meaning “House” and “Church”. 

Liam means “Determined Guardian”. Miles means “Soldier”.  Austin, is from the word Agustin, meaning “Revered, Exalted”.  Dylan, is translated “Faithful”. Cassidy, indicates “Cleverness”. “Karrie, suggests “Pure in Heart”. Callen connotes a Dove”. Hannah, implies “the Grace of God”. Hailey, is English and suggests “a hay meadow”. Paige, is “A Youthful Assistant”, and Drew is Greek meaning, “Courageous; strong; trustworthy.[1]   

In Biblical thought you are a name. The son born on Christmas is no ordinary person.  Consider the name given to Him. What’s in a name especially His name? Consider Jesus’ title.

I.  Counselor-

A.         He guides us into the ways of truth, divine and eternal truth.

B.         He is a helper – who came to rescue us from our greatest peril. The powers of sin, death and the Devil.

C.         Advocate – Paul put it this way, “God was in Christ rec0onciling us to the Father, not counting our sins against us. And He has given us this ministry of reconciliation.”

II.   Mighty God-

A.         The transcendent One – who created this universe in six days and rested on the seventh. He created a vast universe for us to explore, to profit from ($1 spent in exploration translates into $17 in return) Yet He is the one who governs our days and orders our universe.

B.         Totally other – One whose will was to be born in human likeness who for us men and our salvation came down from heaven and was incarnate by the Holy Ghost and was made man. Conceived by the Spirit and born of the Virgin He is our Savior from sin, death, and the devil.

III.   Everlasting Father

A.         Warm – who has loved us with an everlasting love.

B.         Tender – who speaks to us favorably through His inspired Word.

C.         Caring – Who in love has reached down to us to save us from our sins.

D.         The Compassionate God- Who broke into time and space to be our Savior – who took on flesh to dwell among us, to take the burden of our guilt and sin.

IV.  Prince of Peace

A.         The creator of our peace with God. He is the source of every blessing. Our peace comes only from Him.

B.         The one who will bestow His abiding peace on those who are called by His saving Gospel. This is why we share His story with the world so that souls might be won for Him.

CONCLUSION: What’s in a name? There’s plenty. The child whose birth we celebrate this day has been given the name “Jesus” for “He will save His people from their sins.” And save us is what He has done. No wonder the angels who announced His birth would exclaim, “there is now peace on earth and good will toward men”! A Blessed Christmas in Jesus’ Name. Amen




[1] http://www.thenewparentsguide.com/baby-names-c.htm

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Time in the Word - Christmas 1


The first Sunday after Christmas is the last Sunday of the Calendar year. The old year is ending. A New one will be with us very soon. The theme of Christmas 1, the goodness of god, is appropriate for the end of a year. The Old Testament lesson is especially relevant. “I will recount the steadfast love of the Lord.” At the end of the year, it is wise to take inventory and count our blessings of the past year.

We see that God is good. He protects us from danger, redeems us from affliction and welcomes us into His family the Church.

Collect for Christmas 1O 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; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives, and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.

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, who lives and rules with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.

A Prayer for the Morning: Faithful God, whose mercies are new to us every morning, we humbly pray that You would look upon us in mercy and renew us by Your Holy Spirit. Keep safe our going out and our coming in, and let Your blessing remain with us throughout this day. Preserve us in Your righteousness, and grant us a portion in that eternal life which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Prayer of Thanksgiving at the end of the day: Gracious Lord, we give You thanks for the day, especially for the good we were permitted to give and receive. The day is now past, and we commit it to You. We entrust to You the night and rest in Your peace, for You are our help, and You neither slumber nor sleep. Hear us for the sake of Your name.

Monday, 23 December 2013—Jeremiah 31:5-17; Hosea 11:1 he prophet reminds us, “When Israel was a child I loved him, and out of Egypt I called my son.” This verse coincides with the Gospel lesson. As Jesus enters into Egypt and then returns to Nazareth, we recall the nation of Israel called by God to leave Egypt into the Promised Land.

Almighty God, You have poured into our hearts the true Light of Your incarnate Word. Grant that this Light may shine forth in our lives; through the same Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord, who lives, and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.
  
Tuesday, 24 December 2013Psalm 111; key verse, 9aHe sent redemption to His people.” At Christmas, we see the redemption, which is ours in Jesus Christ. The eternal Son of God entered our time and space. He came to be our substitute. His humble birth is an indication of how He will live and what He will do for you. The world rejoices this night. Salvation has come. The Father has sent redemption to His people.

O God, You make us glad with the yearly remembrance of the birth of Your only-begotten Son, Jesus Christ. Grant that, as we joyfully receive Him as our Redeemer, we may with sure confidence behold Him when He comes to be our Judge; through the same Jesus Christ, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.

Wednesday, 25 December 2013— Isaiah 63:7-9 – Recounting the love and goodness of God to His people. This coming Sunday is the last Sunday of the calendar year. Another year has passed. During this week, review in your mind the past year. Recount the good things that come from God.
Almighty God, grant that the birth of Your only-begotten Son in the flesh may set us free from the bondage of sin; through Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.

Thursday, 26 December 2013Galatians 4:4-7 – At the right time god sent His Son that we might become sons and daughters of God. What is the real significance of Christmas?
How is your life affected by the birth of Christ? Your whole status with God depends on the one who has entered our world.

Collect for St. Stephen, Martyr - 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, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.

Friday, 27 December 2013 – Matthew 2:13-15, 19-23 –The flight to Egypt and the return to Nazareth. The Lord suffers in all the afflictions of His people. Because of His love, He feels what we feel, He hurts when we hurt. He suffers when we suffer. When the Lord called Moses, He said that He heard the cries of His enslaved people. No one suffers alone. No one walks alone. No one dies alone. “In all their afflictions He was afflicted.”

Collect for St. John, the EvangelistMerciful 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; for You live and reign with the Father and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.

Saturday, 28 December 2013— Luke 2:1-20 – Sunday’s hymn of the Day is “Let All Together Praise Our God” Now that Christmas has come we can seriously think about the meaning of Christ’s coming into our world and our time.  Even in troubled times God is with us.
Sources: Prayers from Lutheran Service Book © 2006 Concordia Publishing House
Collect for Pentecost 24 from Lutheran Worship © Concordia Publishing House
Lectionary Preaching Workbook Series C by John Brokhoff © 1979 CSS Publishing Lima OH
Schnorr von Carolsfeld woodcuts © WELS permission granted for personal and congregational use


O King of Nations



O King of Nations and their great desire, thou cornerstone who makest one of twain, as Thou has formed man from the ground, come now and save him.

P:
Behold, the Lord shall come and all His saints with Him.  Alleluia!
C:
And in that day the light shall be great.  Alleluia!

 

The Collect


P:
Stir up, we beseech Thee, O Lord, Thy power and come, that they who trust in Thy mercy may speedily be delivered from all adversity; through Jesus Christ, Thy Son, our Lord.
C:
Amen.

The congregation sings:

                O Come, DESIRE OF NATIONS bind,
                In one the hearts of all mankind,
                Bid Thou our sad divisions cease,
                And by Thyself our King of Peace,
                Rejoice!  Rejoice!  Emmanuel

                Shall come to thee, O Israel

Saturday, December 21, 2013

“O Rising Sun”




O rising orb of day, splendor of light eternal and sun of righteousness, come and enlighten those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death.

P:
Out of Zion, the perfection of beauty, God hath shined.
C:
Our God shall come, Alleluia!

The Collect


P:
Stir up, we beseech Thee, O Lord, our hearts to prepare the way of Thine only-begotten Son; that by His Advent we may be enabled to serve Thee with purified minds; through the same Jesus Christ, Thy Son, our Lord.
C:
Amen.

The congregation sings:

                                O Come, Thou DAYSPRING from on high,
                                And cheer us by Thy drawing nigh;
                                Disperse the gloomy clouds of night,
                                And death’s dark shadow put to flight.
                                Rejoice!  Rejoice!  Emmanuel
                                Shall come to Thee, O Israel.

Advent 4


December 22, 2013
Advent 4
Matthew 1:18-25
The High Cost of Christmas

Introduction: Christmas is a costly even for many Americans. To buy gifts, they go into debt with is not paid off for months. Though Christmas may be costly to us, think of the cost to God. Jesus was a precious gift. It cost God His all while for us it only costs money!

Consider the high cost of Christmas –

I.    Cost Himself – “Emmanuel, God who is with us” V. 23 Throughout the course of his Gospel Matthew will quote the Old Testament. This is the first of 47 times Matthew will consult the Old Testament to tell us about the Savior. This quotation is from the prophet Isaiah (7:14)

At the time this prophecy was given originally it was spoken to king Ahaz as a sign not only that the Lord was with him but as a testimony that the Lord Himself would rescue king Ahaz from all of his enemies – even those who threatened to take his life.

The Lord who directed all of the affairs of His people sent His own Son into the world as the final fulfillment of all prophecy, for it was “God with us” in the fullest sense who came to be our substitute, to bear our sin, to die a death that we deserved.

God is very much involved in your salvation. He is not an absentee, runaway, Father. He does not abandon His people. To the contrary He has your well-being at stake. He involves Himself in your salvation. He orders your days and directs your path. He is very much involved in the lives of His children.

Says the Psalmist, “O LORD, you have searched me and you know me. You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar. You discern my going out and my lying down; you are familiar with all my ways. Before a word is on my tongue you know it completely, O LORD.  My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place. When I was woven together…your eyes saw my unformed body. All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.”[1] 

Even before your parents knew you existed your heavenly Father knew all about you.  Your life is like a novel and the Father’s handwriting is on every page. The Lord knows your yesterdays and is planning your tomorrows. That’s how concerned He is with you.

Transition: How much did cost the Father at Christmas? It cost Him Himself. It cost Him humility.

II.     Cost humility – born of a virgin –V. 18 “This is how the birth of Jesus Christ came about. His mother Mary was pledged to be married to Joseph. But before they came together she was found to be with child through the Holy Spirit.”

There was no physical union during the Jewish period of engagement but it was a much more binding relationship then a modern engagement and could be broken only by a certificate of divorce. Although they were “pledged to be married” Matthew uses the terms “husband” and “wife” of Mary and Joseph before they were married. Finding his fiancée pregnant, Joseph, being a righteous man, planned to divorce Mary quietly. However, in a dream an angel explained to Joseph that Mary’s child was conceived by the Holy Spirit.

Before her marriage to Joseph, Mary was “found” to be with child. In Mary’s day, it was a bombshell! It meant a divorce by the betrothed resulting in public shame and disgrace. The family of the girl would lose face in the community. The adulteress could have been stoned to death. It took an angel’s visit to get Joseph to accept a pregnant bride. In light of this, we must appreciate and admire the courage and devotion of Mary in consenting to be the mother of Christ. She took God at His word. He didn’t hesitate in becoming the Lord’s handmaiden. In humble obedience she submitted to the Father’s will.

Transition:  What was this divine cost at Christmas? How much did cost the Father at Christmas? It cost Him Himself. It cost Him humility. It came at the cost of a cross.

III.   Cost the cross – “He will save His people from their sin” – V. 21 The name Jesus (“Joshua”) means "God is Savior" The son of Mary was rightfully called that, because "He will save His people from their sins" - Matthew 1:21

This Jesus would do by saving them... From the GUILT of sin.

By offering His blood as the atonement for their sins - But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.  Since we have now been justified by his blood, how much more shall we be saved from God’s wrath through him!  Romans 5:8-9

When one is washed by the blood of Jesus, He truly is their Savior. All of their sins, all of their transgressions, all of the faults and failings are forgiven and gone.

From the POWER of sin -

By sending His sanctifying Spirit to help His people break sin's dominion. Without the Holy Spirit in your life it is impossible to please Him. But with His Spirit active and alive in you He is able to accomplish all that He desires for your.  You, dear children, are from God and have overcome them, because the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world. 1 John 4:4

Paul writes of this in Romans 8.  “Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, Therefore, brothers, we have an obligation—but it is not to the sinful nature, to live according to it.  For if you live according to the sinful nature, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live, because those who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God.”  Vv.1,12-14

From the CONSEQUENCE of sin -

From the wrath of God to come on the last day.

Since we have now been justified by his blood, how much more shall we be saved from God’s wrath through him! - Romans 5:9;

Wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead—Jesus, who rescues us from the coming wrath.”  1 Thessalonians 1:9-10

Ultimately, from the PRESENCE of sin -

When we depart to "be with the Lord" whether it is on the last day when He comes in glory or when He takes us by the hand and calls us individually to be with Him in glory.

After this I looked and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and in front of the Lamb.  They were wearing white robes and were holding    palm branches in their hands. And they cried out in a loud voice:  “Salvation belongs to our God, who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb.”  Revelation 7:9-10

Conclusion: How much did it cost the Father at Christmas? It cost Him everything – yet it was priceless.  For in doing so He has won the world and redeemed everything in it. 



[1]  Psalm 139:1-5, 13

St Thomas

Almighty and ever-living god, You strengthened Your apostle Thomas with firm and certain faith in the resurrection of Your son.Grant us such faith in Jesus Christ, our Lord and our God, that we may never be found wanting in Your sight; through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Friday, December 20, 2013

O Key of David


O Key of David and Scepter of the House of Israel, who closeth portals and no one can open them, come thou and from his cell lead forth the captive who sits in darkness and in the shadow of death.

P:
Come, O Lord, and make no tarrying;
C:
Loosen the bonds of the people Israel.

The Collect


P:
Stir up, we beseech Thee, O Lord, the wills of Thy faithful people that they, plenteously bringing forth the fruit of good works may of Thee be plenteously rewarded; through Jesus Christ, Thy Son, our Lord.
C:
Amen.
The congregation sings:

                                O Come, Thou KEY OF DAVID, Come,
                                And open wide our heav’nly home
                                Make swift the way that leads on high
                                And close the path to misery.
                                Rejoice!  Rejoice!  Emmanuel
                                Shall come to thee, O Israel.


Katharine von Bora Luther







O God, our refuge and strength, You raised up Your servant Katharina to support her husband in the task to reform and renew Your Church in the light of Your Word. Defend and purify the Church today and grant that, through faith, we may boldly support and encourage our pastors and teachers of the faith as they proclaim and administer the riches of Your grace made known in Jesus Christ, our Lord, who live and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. 

Artwork by Ed Riojas © Higher Things