Thursday, March 22, 2018

Thursday of Lent 5

Thursday of Lent 5, March 22, 2018 Genesis 17:1-8

Abram’s name is changed to Abraham as the Lord gives him the covenant of circumcision. The covenant is God’s. God calls it “my covenant” as He initiates and established it. God has covenanted to keep His promises. The Lord gives us His pledge to be the protector of His people and the One who provides for their well-being and guarantees their future blessings.   

The Lord calls Abraham to walk before Him and be blameless. We do this today through our adoption into the family of God by faith in Christ.  

Hymn: A Multitude Comes from the East and the West (Lutheran Service Book 510:1)
A multitude comes from the east and the west
To sit at the feast of salvation
With Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, the blest,
Obeying the Lord’s invitation.
Have mercy upon us, O Jesus!

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. Amen. 1

O God, You have called us to be Your children, and have promised that those who suffer with Christ will be heirs with him of Your glory: Arm us with such trust in him that we may ask no rest from his demands and have no fear in his service; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever. Amen 2

1. Collect for the blessing of the Word, Lutheran Service Book © 2006 Concordia Publishing House, St. Louis
2. Collect for Thursday of Lent 5,

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

IN MEMORIUM - Laurena Conrad

Laurena Conrad
Born 2.18.1922
Baptized 2.26.1922
Confirmed 4.5.1936
Married 12.27.1941
With Christ in Peace 3.18.2018
Committal 3.21.2018

Blessed are they that die in the Lord

Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” Isaiah 41:10

How firm a foundation, Ye saints of the Lord,
Is laid for your faith in His excellent Word!
What more can He say, than to you He has said
Who unto the Savior for refuge have fled?

When through fiery trials your pathway will lie,
My grace, all sufficient, will be your supply.
The flames, will not hurt you; I only design
Your dross to consume and your gold to refine.[1]

Death is so limited…
It has not crippled love,
It has not shattered hope,
It has not corroded faith,
It has not eaten away peace
   Nor destroyed confidence.

It has not killed friendship,
It has not shut out memories,
It has not silenced courage,
It has not invaded the soul,
   Nor reduced eternal life.
It has not quenched the Spirit,
It cannot, has not,
 Nor will not lessen the power of the resurrection![2]

Death…has not shut out memories… There are a flood of memories we have each shared these past days. As we remember Laurena and the impact she has had on us. Laurena was a gifted photographer. In early fall, the first year our family arrived here, as we were making plans to refurbish our worship space, Laurena gave me a photograph. Laurena had taken a picture of the large maple tree which stands at the intersection of Winchester Rd. and 900 North. Dave and Terry, it’s not too far from where your house sits. And she told me, “This is the first tree that turns color in the fall.”She wanted me to have that picture as a reminder of where she had come from and where we had landed. And sure enough, each fall, that’s the first tree which turns color around mid-September. Every year. When I see that tree. I think of Laurena.

Sam mentioned yesterday, “We’ve missed the essence of her strong personality for almost a decade while she suffered from the effects of Alzheimer’s. It’s comforting to know she’s finally in a place of less confusion.”

And that’s the point. We’re living in a broken world. Outside of Eden. We’re living in a world in which memories may fade, where confusion and fear often beset us. 

And yet, Christ always remembers. Christ always understands. When there is a rainbow in the clouds, the Lord, “remembers the everlasting covenant He made with every living creature of all flesh.”[3] He remembers the covenant with Jacob. He remembers the covenant with Isaac. He remembers the covenant with Abraham.[4]

And He promises, “I will be merciful toward their iniquities, and I will remember their sins no more.”[5] The LORD has remembered us; He will bless us.”[6]

He has remembered His loving-kindness and His faithfulness to the house of Israel; All the ends of the earth have seen the salvation of our God.”[7]

In fact, the Lord reassures us that He specializes in bringing order out of chaos. He explains to us plainly, in His Word, how He can give clarity in all the confusion in this troubled life.

 That’s why we have been intentional as we have planned this service. Laurena remembered the words of the opening hymn, “Drum sag ich, noch einmal” She’d say it over and over. “Therefore I’ll say again, God loves me dearly.”

Soon, we will pray together Luther’s Morning Prayer. The last prayer we prayed together. On Saturday.  A prayer Laurena remembered. We will recite together the Lord’s Prayer. A prayer she remembered. As we ask, “Lord, remember us in Your kingdom as You have taught us to pray.

The Lord remembers. On the day of her confirmation these words were spoken over Laurena, ““Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” - Isaiah 41:10

And so, the church sings,
Fear not I am with you, O be not dismayed,
For I am your God and will still give you aid;
I’ll strength you, help you, and cause you to stand,
Upheld by My righteous omnipotent hand.”

Look not around in terror” the Lord promises. Because I have attached Myself to you in baptism. And the right hand of My righteousness. Will strengthen you. Wherever you go.

Now we are in Lent. But we are always Easter people.  

The Scriptures remind us, “The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law; but thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.”- 1 Corinthians 15:16-17

Yes, there is something more lasting. More powerful. And greater than your sin. It is the love and compassion Jesus has for us sinners. While each of us were lost and steeped in sin, God our Father had a plan. A plan. Which was in place. Way before the dawn of time.

What God did not become. He could not save. And so, Christ came into the world as one of us. To save us. Jesus came into the world. To be counted with sinners. To save sinners.

At the right time, God our heavenly Father would send His only Son. Jesus would enter into our world. Breaking into time and space. He came to be your substitute. He would live the perfect life for you. He would die the death that you deserve.

And there, at a cross, He would trade your sin, your misery, your guilt and shame to exchange it for His perfection. And work out what you and I could never, ever do!

Yes, Jesus has done for you better than what you could ever do for yourself. When settling the issue with sin, Jesus acts alone. He dealt with the issues of your brokenness Himself. Period. With no help from anyone. The Father sends His own Son to the cross. Jesus bore your sin. He carried it alone. – To the cross of Calvary. There He died for you.

There He wins salvation for the entire world. And on the third day. He rose from the dead to prove to you that this freedom. This forgiveness. This new life. Has been credited to you.

God is completely responsible for your salvation. From front to back! You don’t one-day wake up and decide to follow Jesus – Rather, He plants the seed of faith in your heart in Holy Baptism by the power of His Holy Spirit.

He then nourishes that faith by giving you His eternal Word, which is able to make you wise unto salvation. This is what St. Paul reminds us when he tells us in Ephesians 2:8-9 “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith – and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God- not by works, so that no one can boast.”

Laurena understood grace. She attempted to live gracefully among us. Summed up for us by St. Paul in his letter to the Galatians. “I have been crucified with Christ. That is, in Him I have shared His crucifixion. It is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body I live by faith. By adhering to.  Relying upon.  And completely trusting in the Son of God. Who loved me. And gave Himself up for me.”
Because Jesus lives. Laurena lives in Him. Because Jesus reigns. Laurena reigns with Him. Because Jesus holds all things. He will hallow you. In the palm of His hands.
Words –1,345
Passive Sentences – 3%
Flesch-Kincaid Reading Level – 3.9
Luther’s Seal © Higher Things

[1] How Firm a Foundation Lutheran Service Book © 2009 Concordia Publishing House, St. Louis
[2] Unknown source, © Common Domain
[3] Genesis 9:16
[4] Leviticus 26:42ff
[5] Hebrews 8:12
[6] Psalm 115:12
[7] Psalm 98:3

mid-week Lenten homily

Psalm 23:6

"Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever.

The good Shepherd shares the secrets of a happy eternity

21 March 2018 

King David in this much-loved Psalm gives us an insight to a life lived well. He gives us the secret to happy life, a happy death and now a happy eternity. David concludes our Psalm for this Lenten season by reminding us: “Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever.” -Psalm 23:6 (KJV) How can we be assured of a happy eternity?  By this verse David gives two directions of thought; the preservation of our life and a place of eternal security.

I. David assures us of the Preservation of our life – “Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life

A. “Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me...” Goodness – God’s goodness consists of righteousness, holiness, justice, kindness, grace and love. Goodness is also one of the fruits of the Spirit which characterizes Christian behavior. {Galatians 5:22}  Christians are called to goodness even as God the Father is perfect and good. Jesus says in the Gospel of Matthew: "Therefore you are to be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.” (Matthew 5:48)

There is a problem, however; you know the problem. It’s a problem found in all of us. It’s a problem with sin. Because of our sinful nature our goodness fails to measure up to the Father’s standard of perfection. What are we to do?

B. We trust in the mercy of Almighty God. “Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me...” What is the mercy of God? Mercy is that aspect of God’s love, which causes Him to help those who are miserable. Those who are miserable may be so either because they have broken God’s law or because they find themselves in circumstances beyond their control.

What are we to do when we find ourselves to be in such circumstances? We rely and fall upon the Savior’s amazing grace, which, of course, is that aspect of God’s love that moves Him to forgive those who are guilty.

God shows mercy on those who have broken His law. Daniel 9:9 reminds us: “To the Lord our God belong compassion and forgiveness, for we have rebelled against Him

God’s mercy is given to us although it is undeserved. Paul reminds us in Romans 9:16: “So then it does not depend on the man who wills or the man who runs, but on God who has mercy.”  No wonder we cry out to god when we pray the Kyrie: “Lord, have mercy upon us. Christ, have mercy upon us. Lord, have mercy upon us.”

Especially when we poor sinners find ourselves in circumstances beyond our control the Savior reaches down to us with His mercy. Jesus had mercy when He healed the blind men {Matthew 9:27-31; 20:29-34} and when He cleansed the lepers. {Luke 17:11-19}   Because God is merciful, He expects us, His children to be merciful. “Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy” Jesus says in Matthew 5:7 In James 1:27 we are reminded: “This is pure and undefiled religion in the sight of god our Father; to visit orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself unstained by the world

Transition:  Not only will the Good Shepherd provide for the preservation of our lives; He will also bring us to a place where we will live and reign with Him.

II.     The Good Shepherd gives us a place of eternal security.

A.     David reminds us: “...and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.”

United by God’s election and salvation through Jesus Christ our Good Shepherd we are included in the Father’s household of faith. St. Paul explains it this way: “So them, while we have opportunity let us do good to all men – especially those of the household of faith” (Galatians 6:10) “We will dwell with God in heaven, the dwelling place of God; the dwelling place of the righteous” (Ephesians 2:19)
This is how the Good Shepherd shares the secrets of a happy eternity; in goodness, mercy, and security.

Lord Jesus Christ, shepherd of Your Church, You give us new birth in the waters of baptism, You anoint us with oil, and call us to salvation at Your table. Dispel the terrors of death and the darkness of error. Lead Your people along safe paths, that they may rest securely in You and dwell in the house of the Lord now and forever, for Your name's’ sake. Amen

Words –795
Passive Sentences – 5%
Readability – 72.3%
Reading Level – 6.6
Image © Google Images

Wednesday of Lent 5

Wednesday of Lent 5, March 21, 2018 Psalm 90:13-17

Psalm 90 is a psalm written by Moses, and is a great comfort in times of sadness. It starts out with a confession that the Lord abides with us always; “Lord, you have been our dwelling place in all generations.” Verses 12–17 are a prayer for the continuation of God’s favor, and the wish that He would carry out His work of salvation and bless His people’s undertakings to that end.

In Mark 10:17–22 A rich young man was off in his thinking from the very start, when he asked, “What must I do to inherit eternal life?” Inheriting eternal life is not a matter of our doing; it is a gift of grace. Jesus tried to show the man that he could not earn his salvation, by directing him to the commandments. Yet, the young man persisted in his self-righteousness by proclaiming that he had kept them all from his youth. Still, Jesus looked on him with love and compassion, as a wayward sheep. He directs the man to the First Commandment, by asking him to give up all he had. This young man loved the things of the world more than the things of God, and so he went away sorrowful. How can any person enter the Kingdom of God? Not on his own merits, for with man it is impossible…but all things are possible with God.

Hymn: The Head that Once Was Crowned With Thorns (Lutheran Service Book 532:6)
The cross He bore is life and health;
Through shame and death to Him;
His people’s hope, His people’s wealth,
Their everlasting theme.

Keep us, O Lord, from one generation to another, and let not us, who have clung to Thy foundation, be carried away with this present world, but arise to be our Comforter in trouble, and by the bestowal of joy wipe away our sorrows; 

Almighty God, our heavenly Father, renew in us the gifts of Your mercy; increase our faith, strengthen our hope, enlighten our understanding, widen our charity, and make us ready to serve You; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever. Amen 2

1 © 2005 Lutheran Liturgical Prayer Brotherhood
 2 Collect for Wednesday of Lent 5,

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Tuesday of Lent 5

Tuesday of Lent 5, March 20,  2018    Numbers 21:4-9

Moses guides God’s people in the direction of the Red Sea, away from the primary objective of the Promised Land. Rebellion begins anew. Our lives also persist in a pattern of rebellion, repentance and restoration. Those in Israel who repented received God’s salvation by looking at the sign of His mercy in faith. (v.9) What an excellent precursor of God redemption through the cross. Those who look upon the cross in faith are saved. 1   

The people name their sin and then ask Moses to pray for them. This role as intermediary is what Moses does best: facilitating communication between God and God’s people. In this story, God does not give the people what they ask for. They want Moses to get God to “take away the serpents from us” (Numbers 21:7). But the serpents do not go away, nor do they stop biting. Instead, God instructs Moses on how to heal the people who are bitten; they are still bitten, but they live. Deliverance does not come in the way that they expect.

Hymn: Jesus, in Your Dying Woes (Lutheran Service Book 447:15)
May we thirst Your live to know.
Lead us in our sin and woe
Where the healing waters flow;
Hear us, holy Jesus.

Gracious Lord, send Your Holy Spirit to deepen our faith in Christ; that we live by daily repentance and faith in Your Son.

Almighty God, through the incarnate Word You have caused us to be born anew of an imperishable and eternal seed: Look with compassion upon those who are being prepared for Holy Baptism, and grant that they may be built as living stones into a spiritual temple acceptable to You; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever. Amen  2

1. Lutheran Study Bible, © 2009 Concordia Publishing House, St. Louis
2. Collect for Tuesday of Lent 5,

Monday, March 19, 2018

Monday of Lent 5

Monday of Lent 5, March 19, 2018       2 Kings 4:32-37

The Shunammite woman passionately seeks the Lord’s help for her son by seeking out Elisha. When you seek the Lord in prayer, pour out your heart to Him. Bow before Him and make your petitions known. The Lord has made His heart known for you in the life, death and resurrection of His only-begotten Son our Savior.  1

In the Gospel from John, Jesus also started with loaves of barley to feed the hungry.  We also see that while Elisha fed one hundred, Jesus fed five thousand, and the text quantifies the amount left over as enough to fill twelve baskets.  The reading from the epistle to the Ephesians proclaims that this God is one who is able to do more than we ask or imagine (Ephesians 3:20).  The specific example from Kings is that God is able to provide food to people who are hungry and in need, according to God's word.

Hymn: In Peace and Joy I Now Depart (Lutheran Service Book 938:1)
In peace and joy I now depart
Since God so wills it.
Serene and confident my heart;
Stillness fits it.
For the Lord has promised me
That death is but a slumber.

Hear me, O Lord, when I cry to You. Answer me according to Your mercy. Amen 

Be gracious to Your people, we entreat you, O Lord, that they, repenting day by day of the things that displease you, may be more and more filled with love of You and of Your commandments; and, being supported by your grace in this life, may come to the full enjoyment of eternal life in Your everlasting kingdom; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever. Amen 2

1. Lutheran Study Bible, © 2009 Concordia Publishing House, St. Louis 
2. Collect for Monday of Lent 5,

Sunday, March 18, 2018

Time in the Word - Palm Sunday

Prayer for the Lent 5:  Almighty and everlasting God, who hast willed that Thy Son should bear for us the pains of the cross that Thou mightest remove from us the power of the adversary, help us so to remember and give thanks for our Lord’s Passion that we may obtain remission of sins and redemption from everlasting death; through the same Jesus Christ, Thy Son, our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with Thee and the Holy Ghost, ever one God, world without end. Amen.

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

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

A Prayer for humility: O God, You resist the proud and give grace to the humble. Grant us true humility after the likeness of Your only Son that we may never be arrogant and prideful and thus provoke Your wrath but in all lowliness be made partakers of the gifts of Your grace; through Jesus Christ, our Lord.

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. Amen.

Time in the Word
19-24 March, 2018
Preparation for next week, Palm Sunday

The theme for Palm Sunday reminds us that Lent is a time of opportunity. Our lessons ask us to come to a decision as we ponder who is this Jesus who comes riding on a donkey through the streets of Jerusalem.  In the Old Testament lesson (Zechariah 9:9-10), our king comes with a promise. In the Epistle lesson (Philippians 2:5-11), in humility, Christ came to earth to die. In the Gospel lesson (John 20:20-43), Christ came to Jerusalem to be king. The Psalms and hymn for the day fill in to round out this basic theme. On Sunday Christ is hailed as King and Lord. By Friday He would be dead. Yet in His rejection do we find life eternal, peace, and rest. We are preparing for the most important week of the Church Year. The cross is coming into clear focus. What do you think of Jesus? How you answer this question will determine your destiny.

Monday, 19 March 2018Psalm 24:7-10; antiphon, Psalm 118:26In the antiphon the Psalmist echoes the cries of the crowd on that first Palm Sunday, “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.” The long sought after King has finally arrived. Along with the children and crowd, we hail Jesus as King and God forever.

Tuesday, 20 March 2018Psalm118:19-29 key verse, verse 26Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord. From the housed of the Lord we bless you. The one who with God’s help has defeated the enemies is blessed. Yet as we look deeper at this passage we will see that it is written in the plural and, of course, this makes it a reference to God and to Christ in particular. When the crowd would quote these verses upon Christ’s triumphal entry into Jerusalem on the first Palm Sunday, we see Divine prophecy being fulfilled.

Wednesday, 21 March 2018Zechariah 9:9-12— Israel shall rejoice over the coming of a humble, victorious, and peaceful king.  God’s judgment is coming upon Israel’s wicked neighbors, but God as King will come to Israel. This is cause for loud rejoicing. He is coming as a humble king, symbolized by His riding on an ass. He is coming to conquer Israel’s enemies, and peace will result. In fulfillment of this, Jesus rides into Jerusalem on an ass and presents Himself to the nation as their king to the waving of palms and to the tune of hosannas.

Holy week with its horrors and tragedies begins with a shout of joy – “Rejoice”…”Shout aloud.”  Even in the depth of pain and gore, there is a joy. Jesus endures the cross for the joy that was set before Him. The joy is that the Savior is coming to die for our sins and to assume kingship over our lives.

The Messiah comes on an ass, not on a mighty horse. An ass is a humble animal and symbolizes peace. The ass carried the Christ to the people. Today we can serve as asses to carry Christ to the world. To do so, we must be humble. 

Thursday, 22 March 2018Philippians 2:5-11—Jesus’ humiliation and God’s exaltation of Him.  Paul is pleading for unity in the Philippian congregation. He uses Jesus as an example of humility. In this passage Paul shows the dual reality of the humanity and divinity of Jesus. His deity is indicated in the words “in the form of God” and “equality with God.”

His humanity is expressed in the phrases, “emptied himself,” “the likeness of men,” “in human form,” “obedient unto death.” 

This humility, obedience, and self-renunciation led to Christ’s exaltation by God who gave him a name above all names – “Lord.”   It is God’s will that every tongue confess that Jesus is Lord.

As a result of this horrible death, God honors Jesus with not a name but with “the name.”  In Biblical thinking a name denotes the nature and character of the person. The name given to Jesus was “Lord” which every tongue is to confess and before which every knee is to bow. 

Paul claims that Jesus, before the Incarnation, was on an equality with God – “very God of very God,” as the Creed says. If He were equal with God, there was no need for Jesus to grasp any honor, authority, or power. This is a confession of the deity of Jesus Christ.

Friday, 23 March 2018John 12:12-19—This is the accounting of Christ’s entry into the city of Jerusalem.  Prophecy is being fulfilled. The King is being hailed. The very stones cry out if the crowd is silenced. The religious authorities will have nothing of it. They will see to it that Jesus is destroyed and His praises silenced. Soon His sufferings will begin but for this day we shall worship Him along with the crowd as our Savior and Lord.  

Saturday, 24 March 2018Psalm 24:7-9—The hymn of the Day is All Glory, Laud and Honor– {LSB 442}.  The Lord Almighty, the Lord mighty in battle, has triumphed over all His enemies and comes now in victory to His own city. This is what Jesus proclaimed on the day of His triumphal entry into Jerusalem. Tomorrow we worship our Savior as Lord, Christ, and King. Worship at its best happens when Christ is the focal point of our praise.

Collect for Palm SundayAlmighty and everlasting God the Father, who sent Your Son to take our nature upon Him and to suffer death on the cross that all mankind should follow the example of His great humility, mercifully grant that we may both follow the example of our Savior Jesus Christ in His patience and also have our portion in His resurrection; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.

Prayers from Lutheran Service Book © 2006 Concordia Publishing House.
Lectionary Preaching Workbook Series B John Brokhoff © 1981 CSS Publishing Lima, OH
Illustration from a woodcut by Baron Julius Schnorr von Carolsfeld, 1794-1872, a distinguished German artist known especially for his book, Das Buch der B├╝cher in Bilden (The Book of Books in Pictures).
© Google Image "Palm Sunday"

Sunday of Lent 5

Fifth Sunday in Lent, March 18, 2018             Psalm 126

May God give us the expectation that times of sudden refreshment will come from Him. Perhaps now you are in a time of sowing with bitter tears. Do not despair of His grace. Trust in His power to do the unimaginable through overflowing kindness.1  

Augustine interprets the title, "A Song of Degrees, i.e. a Song of drawing upwards", of the drawing (going) up to the heavenly Jerusalem. This is right, inasmuch as the deliverance from the captivity of sin and death should in an increased measure excite those feelings of gratitude which Israel must have felt on being delivered from their corporeal captivity; in this respect again is the history of the outward theocracy a type of the history of the church. --Augustus F. Tholuck, 1856.

Hymn: Dear Christians One and All Rejoice (Lutheran Service Book 556:8)
Though he will shed My precious blood,
Me of My life bereaving,
All this I suffer for your good;
Be steadfast and believing.
Life will from death the vict’ry win;
My innocence shall bear your sin,
And you are blessed forever.

By faith we rejoice God Lord in the sowing of Jesus body on Good Friday and the harvest of blessing He prepared on Easter morn.

Comfort Thy people, O Lord, and deliver us from the evil captivity of sin, that what we sow here in tears, we may reap in joy through Thy bounty; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with Thee and the Holy Ghost, One God, world without end. Amen

Almighty God, You alone can bring into order the unruly wills and affections of sinners: Grant Your people grace to love what You command and desire what You promise; that, among the swift and varied changes of the world, our hearts may surely there be fixed where true joys are to be found; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen 3

1. Lutheran Study Bible, © 2009 Concordia Publishing House, St. Louis
2. © 2005 Lutheran Liturgical Prayer Brotherhood
3. Collect for the 5th Sunday in Lent,

Saturday, March 17, 2018

Lent 5

Lent 5
22 March 2018
Series B

Almighty God, by Your great goodness mercifully look upon Your People that that we may be governed and preserved evermore in body and soul; through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Jesus catechizes His disciples. Instructing them. In the way of the cross. Revealing that He will be condemned and put to death “and after three days he will rise.Mark 10:33–34

But the Twelve do not understand. Instead, they argue among themselves about who will be the greatest, with James and John requesting the places of honor on either side of Jesus in His glory.
Jesus has come to make Himself the “slave of all” and “give his life as a ransom for many.” He shares the true glory of His cross. With all who are baptized with His Baptism and with those who drink His cup of salvation; the New Testament in His blood. By these Holy Sacraments, the Lord makes Himself known to all His people, forgiving their sins “from the least of them to the greatest.” [1]Though He is the very Son of God, “he learned obedience through what he suffered[2] and so became our great High Priest, that we may enter His glory by the way of His sacrifice.
Jesus predicts His death for the third time...
And they were on the road; going up to Jerusalem. And Jesus was walking ahead of them. And they were amazed. And those who followed were afraid. And taking the twelve again, He began to tell them what was to happen to him. - Mark 10:32
Jesus is leading them to Jerusalem. Remember, throughout Jesus’ passion He's always in charge. As for the disciples, they follow begrudgingly. There is fear and confusion in the ranks. They know what is happening...He's leading them to their death. He's talking about it. They, at least, are willing to die with Him.  This is the message of the cross.
Jesus reminds them, "See, we are going up to Jerusalem, and the Son of Man will be delivered over to the chief priests and the scribes, and they will condemn him to death and deliver him over to the Gentiles. - Mark 10:33
These disciples. They don't need to reset their gaze. “Look, right now.” Says Jesus, “It’s happening!”      
And they will mock him and spit on him, and flog him and kill him. And after three days he will rise." - Mark 10:34 This is how Jesus replaces fear with faith.
Jesus is being specific with the spitting and scourging. He's said it already before - And he began to teach them that the Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders and the chief priests and the scribes and be killed, and after three days rise again.” - Mark 8:31
The request of James and John
James and John, the sons of Zebedee, came up to him and said to him, "Teacher, we want you to do for us whatever we ask of you." - Mark 10:35
We request of You to do for us. They are taking Jesus at His word, "whatever you ask in My name I will grant it."  To wag our finger at James and John places us with the ten. Their request is sincere. Even if they don’t know exactly what they are asking. They are being honest and truthful. But not fully cognizant of what they are asking. 
Jesus was going the way of the cross. But not by means of glory. This kingdom is won by loosing. The leader goes ahead as the troops desert. Abandon. Abscond and flee. Jesus points to glory by doing it backwards.

The world says, "Come back with your shield or on it!" This was supposed to be the parting cry of mothers to their sons as the Spartans went off to war. Mothers whose sons died in battle openly rejoiced, mothers whose sons survived hung their heads in shame.[3] James and John desire to sit in glory. They desire their best life now. They covet glorious living.  Jesus defines glory. Glory is gained through the cross and suffering.

  And He said to them, "What do you want me to do for you?" - Mark 10:36
Jesus gives the unexpected answer, 'what do you want?' Jesus responds to this request spoken in faith.
And they said to him, "Grant us to sit, one at your right hand and one at your left, in your glory." - Mark 10:37
Was this an ongoing discussion? Certainly it was. Earlier, Mark reminds us, “And they came to Capernaum. And when he was in the house he asked them, “What were you discussing on the way?” But they kept silent, for on the way they had argued with one another about who was the greatest.” - Mark 9:33-34
Jesus said to them, "You do not know what you are asking. Are you able to drink the cup that I drink, or to be baptized with the baptism with which I am baptized?" - Mark 10:38
Jesus shows us the character of His kingdom. “Wait until you see what I'm talking about.” He alone will drink the cup and be baptized. So, no, they can't be granted a glorious reign. But yes, they will reign in glory. But first they must enter the valley of suffering. 
Notice the Sacramental overtones of drinking and baptism. You participate also with Jesus. James would remind us, Consider it pure joy, my brothers, when you encounter trials of many kinds,”[4] while St. Paul will explain, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out His love into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, whom He has given us.[5]
That is why, for the sake of Christ, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” [6]
And they said to him, "We are able." And Jesus said to them, "The cup that I drink you will drink, and with the baptism with which I am baptized, you will be baptized,” - Mark 10:39

Jesus’ words will be fulfilled in the lives of these sons of Zebedee. James will be the first of the twelve to be granted martyrdom.  John will be the last disciple standing – exiled on an island.
As for you. Yes, you! You will suffer these things also. This suffering. These crosses. Will come to you. It will happen. As you have been baptized into Christ you were buried with Him in His death. In baptism you were raised to life. And you also glory in your current sufferings. They may only last for a season. Yet you will experience these tests and trials. The way of the cross is a time of testing, trials and suffering.
 As a fellow partaker of Christ's suffering, Peter would encourage us, “Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you.  Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. Resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world. And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you.”- 1 Peter 5:6-10
Remember who you are and whose you are. As children we can come to our Father and ask, "Why?" As children ask their parents, “why is this happening to me?” so you too can come to your heavenly Father asking Him.  Read the Psalms. They are replete with such cries of lament. If you have been taught to put on a happy face, to let a smile be your umbrella, to keep your complaints to yourself, then the Psalms offers a welcome corrective. It’s worth noting that the book of Psalms contain more psalms of lament than any other form. So cry out to your heavenly Father. Ask. Seek. Knock. This is also the battle within each of us.
“…but to sit at my right hand or at my left is not mine to grant, but it is for those for whom it has been prepared.[7] - Mark 10:40
Remember – the Father is the director of Christ’s Passion. He is the invisible hand behind the scene. Yet, He sustains your life. He orders your days. He directs your path.
The response of the ten. 
Jesus will yell at the rest of the disciples for being indignant. But not John and James.
And when the ten heard it, they began to be indignant at James and John.” - Mark 10:41 
The ten are indignant but Jesus answers positively. The ten have false humility. Which is pernicious pride.
The ten are indignant of James and John.  It's the same response as Farris Bueller’s sister. “Why should he get to do whatever he wants, whenever he wants? Why should everything work out for him? What makes him so special?[8]  The ten are angry because James and John dared to ask of Jesus in faith.
Jesus called them to Himself and said to them, "You know that those who are considered rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones exercise authority over them. - Mark 10:42
The one's considered chief lord it. “This is how you are acting,” warns Jesus - wanting to exercise and achieve authority. “But it shall not be so among you. But whoever would be great among you must be your servant, and whoever would be first among you must be slave of all.” - Mark 10:43-44
Not thus among you” warn Jesus. Whoever wants to be great shall be your deacon. The great ones among us must be slave of all.
For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many." - Mark 10:45
The Psalmist reminds us, “And he will redeem Israel from all his iniquities.” - Psalm 130:8 Search the Scriptures. They speak of a suffering servant - One who will die for the sins of men.
Christ came to be an atoning sacrifice for men. His death is payment for your sin. You are joined with Christ. Thus you can say with St. Paul, “I have been crucified with Christ, and it is no longer I that live, but Christ living in me. That life which I now live in the flesh, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself up for me.”  – Galatians 2:20
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[1] Jeremiah 31:33–34
[2] Hebrews 5:8–10
[4] James 1:2
[5] Romans 5:3-4
[6] 2 Corinthians 12:10
[7] the word “prepared” is passive