Thursday, April 30, 2020

April 30, '20 – Parish Devotional – Thursday prior to Easter 4


1 Peter 2:19-25The sheep suffer like the Shepherd. In the second reading, Peter calls people straying sheep. Sheep are associated with straying and wandering off from the shepherd and the flock until they get lost and in danger of their lives. It is our nature to wander into sin, to carelessly leave the leadership of God, and to go our own way. Modern people are known for their mobility, insecurity, restlessness, a lack of roots, and loneliness.

Righteous living in the face of injustice demonstrates reliance on God’s mercy and grace. Christians who suffer for the sake of the Gospel find favor with God and they witness to His power.  


There are, of course, wounds and pains we each endure.   Separation which leads to divorce produces a broken heart. A Cancer diagnosis makes us feel weak and helpless. We may react to the news of the death of a loved one with anger. All these losses cause us to question “why did I deserve this?

This loss. This brokenness. The separation from those we love, the hurt we experience, the pain we feel is all summed up when Paul says in his letter to the Romans, “For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 6:23)

Christ died so we could be reconciled with God.  Christ died not for the godly, but the ungodly.

The Lord calls Christians to live out their faith in the midst of suffering. Christ also suffered for you. Our sufferings pale in comparison to what Christ suffered for us. Christ first and foremost is our redeemer and savior. As you bear the cross, in Him you find strength. He is your sufficiency. 

Death is the consequence for sin.  Christ’s death was for our sin yet He bore them in his body as His own.  Because of Christ’s crucifixion believers are now dead the sin so they may live new lives for Him presenting themselves to God as instruments of righteousness. Peter will declare, “by His wounds we have been healed. We find life and forgiveness because of Christ’s sufferings. 

Luther has commented, “We crucified Him with our sin. We are still far from suffering what He suffered. Therefore if you are a pious Christian, you should tread in the footsteps of the Lord and have compassion on those who harm you. You should also pray for them and have ask God not to punish them. For they do far more harm to their souls than they do to your body. If you take this to heart, you will surely forget about your own sorrow and suffer gladly. He we should be mindful of the fact that formerly we, too led that find of unchristian life that they lead, but that we have now been converted through Christ.” (Luther’s Works 30:86 copyright © Concordia Publishing St. Louis Fortress Philadelphia, 1955-86 American Edition)

Thank You Lord that You truly are the Father of mercies and God of all comfort and I pray that just as You have used many of Your children to draw alongside me and accompany me through those troubled times, that You would take my life and use me as a vessel of comfort and solace to others, who are facing similar difficulties and are themselves in need of comfort and help. Use me I pray to comfort others who are suffering affliction, with the godly comfort with which I myself has been comforted by You. I ask this in the name of Jesus,  

- Schnorr Von Carolsfeld woodcuts, ‘The Crucifixion of our Lord’ copyright © WELS permission granted for personal and congregational use


Morning Prayer Reading 131 Romans 3:21-26


The Righteousness of God Through Faith

21 But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law, although the Law and the Prophets bear witness to it— 22 the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction: 23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24 and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, 25 whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God's righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins. 26 It was to show his righteousness at the present time, so that he might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.

English Standard Version (ESV)
The Holy Bible, English Standard Version. ESV® Text Edition: 2016. Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.

Wednesday, April 29, 2020

April 29, '20 – Parish Devotional - Wednesday prior to Easter 4



Acts 2:42-47The sheep witness to the Shepherd

In our first lesson, we have the issue of leadership in the 1st  Century Church. What are the qualifications for church leadership? The early church faced the problem of choosing seven leaders. The apostles gave the people three criteria for their selection: good reputation, good common sense, and spirituality. 

The early church was a blessed church. She had the favor of God and man. It was a growing church – new members were received daily. What was the formula for the church See verse 42. This verse should sound familiar to us. It is the chief verse for our Mission Philosophy and Vision statement.  
Let’s review:

Preamble: The birthday of Mission occurred on the day of Pentecost circa AD 30 in the city of Jerusalem. On February 25, 1838, Zion-Friedheim Lutheran Church was chartered to be a House of Peace, a Haven of Hope for those who suffer and a Harbor of Light in this sin-darkened world. As followers of Jesus, we are Christ’s ambassadors – commissioned by Him who has reconciled the world to Himself to be salt and light. 

The Mission of Zion Evangelical Lutheran Church - Friedheim is to be “A 21st Century Parish with a 1st Century Faith” 

The Philosophy of Zion Evangelical Lutheran Church – Friedheim is recorded in Acts 2:42 “And they continued steadfast in the Apostles’ doctrine, and in fellowship, and in the breaking of bread, and in prayer” 

The Vision of Zion Evangelical Lutheran Church - Friedheim is to be one with respect to four specific objectives of mission and ministry. 

The Apostles Doctrine” Being one in unity and faith. Basing our lives on God’s Holy Word as He speaks clearly to us through that Word.

Fellowship” Being one in the Lord Jesus Christ. Experiencing true joy in Christ. Living at peace with each other and enjoying one another.

The Breaking of Bread” Sacramental living. Experiencing daily the forgiveness of sins, life and salvation as Christ comes to us in and through the Sacraments.

Prayer” Upholding one another. Taking our needs burdens joys and sorrows to the throne room of grace. Being thankful as the Savior answers each petition.

O Lord, Keep Your family the Church continually in the true faith that relying on the hope of Your heavenly grace that we may ever be delivered by Your mighty power;  through Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen

-Prayer for the Church copyright © 2006 Lutheran Service Book Concordia Publishing House, St. Louis  

Tuesday, April 28, 2020

April 28 - Parish Devotional for Tuesday prior to Easter 4


– Psalm 23:4-6 The Psalm portion for this coming week is the much-loved Shepherd Psalm. The benefits of have Jesus as our Shepherd-King is that both goodness and love will literally pursue us. We are given the hope and promise of life with God eternally. We will dwell in the house of the Lord forever. Our future has been guaranteed. Because the Shepherd-King Jesus lives forever, we have the hope and guarantee of dwelling with Christ throughout the years of our life.

Notice how highly David magnifies the Lord. He recalls how gracious God has been. Consider what the Lord has bestowed on him (v. 5): "Thou preparest a table before me;”

David says in essence: “Lord, You have provided me with everything pertaining both to life and godliness.” All things needed for both the body as well as the soul are given by the Shepherd’s caring hand.  His benefits are not only for this life they spread well into eternity.  Such a bountiful benefactor is God to all His people; and because these blessings come from God David is called upon to utter thanks for His great goodness.  David acknowledges two realities:

That he had food conveniently given to him; a table spread, a cup filled, meat for his hunger, drink for his thirst. What is it that Christ has given to you? Luther explains in the explanation to the 1st Article of the Apostles Creed: 

I believe that God has made me and all creatures; that He has given me my body and soul, eyes, ears, and all my members, my reason, and all my senses, and still preserves them; also, clothing and shoes, meat and drink, house and home, wife and children, fields, cattle, and all my goods; that He richly and daily provides me with all that I need to support this body and life, that He protects me from all danger, and guards  and preserves me from all evil; and all this out of pure, fatherly, divine goodness and mercy, without any merit or worthiness in me; for all which I owe it to Him to thank, praise, serve, and obey Him. This is most certainly true.” 

David acknowledges that the Shepherd had this table carefully and readily provided for him. His table was not spread with any thing that came haphazardly; rather God prepared everything for him. 

The Shepherd provided for all of his needs and prepared it before him. 

Under the heading “daily bread” Luther lists just some of the gifts and blessings the Good Shepherd provides for us each and every day: 

What is meant by daily bread? Everything that belongs to the support and wants of the body, such as meat, drink, clothing, shoes, house, home, field, cattle, money, goods, a pious spouse, pious children, pious servants, pious and faithful rulers, good government, good weather, peace, health, discipline, honor, good friends, faithful neighbors, and the like.” 

One question many ask during this time of uncertainty is simply, “how will we get thought this?”  We get through all this together. The Lord does provide but He does it through means – He does it through you. As you watch out for those in your circle; especially those closest to you family, neighbors, friends. May you continue to be the hands, the feet, the fingers and toes of Jesus and He provides through your acts of mercy and charity.

Lord God, You have called Your servants to ventures of which we cannot always 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; through Jesus Christ, Your Son our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen 
 _______________________
Image of the Risen Savior copyright © Ed Riojas, Higher Things
Collect from Lutheran Service Book copyright © 2006 Concordia Publishing House, St. Louis

Monday, April 27, 2020

April 27, 2020 – Parish Devotional for Monday prior to Easter 4 “Good Shepherd Sunday”



Though he has risen in glory and is soon to ascend to the Father, Christ continues with us as a shepherd on earth, a shepherd who knows, cares, leads, and protects his sheep. Though risen in glory and absent in the body, Jesus continues as an abiding presence to care for his people. He is the good shepherd who died for his sheep to rescue them from the wolves. His resurrection confirms his victory and he continues to live as the shepherd of our souls.

 – Psalm 23:1-3 The Antiphon for this coming  Sunday’s Introit is taken from Vs.1, “The Lord’s my shepherd I shall not want.” The term “Shepherd” is a widely used metaphor used for Kings. David as King acknowledges that the Lord is his Shepherd-King. Jesus as the shepherd of His people is expressed most plainly in our Gospel lesson for this coming week. John 10:1-10

By these words David illustrates God's care of his people; and to this our Savior refers to Himself when He says, “I am the shepherd of the sheep; the good shepherd,” (John. 10:11). He is the shepherd of Israel, and of the whole church in general: “Oh, give ear, Shepherd of Israel, Thou who dost lead Joseph like a flock; Thou who art enthroned {above} the cherubim, shine forth!” (NAS Psalm 80:1), 

He is the shepherd of every particular believer; even the meanest is not below His awareness, “Like a shepherd He will tend His flock, in His arm He will gather the lambs, and carry {them} in His bosom; He will gently lead the nursing {ewes.}” (NAS Isaiah. 40:11).

We are sheep who have gone astray. Lost in the rebellion of sin we have become wayward sheep. Isaiah the prophet explains in Isaiah 53:6 “All of us like sheep have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way; but the LORD has caused the iniquity of us all to fall on Him.”

As the Good Shepherd Jesus rescues the sheep. He takes them into His fold, and then takes care of them, protects them, and provides for them, with more care and devotion than any shepherd can. He makes it his business to keep the flock.  Thus, we pray in Luther’s Morning and Evening prayers: “into Thy hands I commend myself {placing} my body and soul and all things {into Your care...}

Sheep cannot do one thing to provide for themselves. They need a shepherd who will provide for them. Of themselves, they can do nothing. They are lost, confused and would soon be destroyed without Him. Thus the Good Shepherd will provide for all that we need to support our body and life; both physical but especially spiritual necessities.

When the Christian considers that God is his shepherd, he can boldly say, “I shall not want!” We need not fear. We don’t have to worry about starving; God upon finding us supplies all our needs. We have Him as our feeder. 

More is implied than is expressed in this little phrase. Not only can David say: “I shall not want”, but also, "I shall be supplied with whatever I need. If I have not everything I desire, I may conclude it is either not fit for me or not good for me currently or I shall have it in due time."

David, a king of his own right acknowledges that the Lord is his Shepherd-King. Jesus, who suffered and died on Calvary’s cross, has become our good shepherd. We walk with Him as we observe His Passion. We need not worry about being in want. To the contrary, we will enjoy goodness and mercy each day of our lives. As we begin the discipline of Lent walk with the Good Shepherd. -He guides and directs your path.

A Prayer for Agriculture as another planting season is upon us: Almighty God, You blessed the earth to make it fruitful, bringing forth in abundance whatever is needed for the support of our lives. Prosper; we implore You, the work of farmers, especially in this planting season. Grant them seasonable weather that they may gather in the fruits of the earth and thus proclaim Your goodness. May we see by this noble vocation that by Your aid we are helping to feed the world and cause all who give thanks over their food to treat those who produce it with honor and respect.
___________________
Image of the Lost Sheep copyright © Ed Riojas, Higher Things
Collect for Agriculture, Lutheran Service Book copyright © 2206 Concordia Publishing House, St. Louis
                               




Morning Prayer Reading 130: The Conversion of Saul



Acts 9 
(Selective Verses)


9 But Saul, still breathing threats and murder against the disciples of the Lord, went to the high priest 2 and asked him for letters to the synagogues at Damascus, so that if he found any belonging to the Way, men or women, he might bring them bound to Jerusalem. 3 Now as he went on his way, he approached Damascus, and suddenly a light from heaven shone around him. 4 And falling to the ground, he heard a voice saying to him, “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?” 5 And he said, “Who are you, Lord?” And he said, “I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting. 6 But rise and enter the city, and you will be told what you are to do.” 7 The men who were traveling with him stood speechless, hearing the voice but seeing no one. 8 Saul rose from the ground, and although his eyes were opened, he saw nothing. So they led him by the hand and brought him into Damascus. 9 And for three days he was without sight, and neither ate nor drank.

10 Now there was a disciple at Damascus named Ananias. The Lord said to him in a vision, “Ananias.” And he said, “Here I am, Lord.” 11 And the Lord said to him, “Rise and go to the street called Straight, and at the house of Judas look for a man of Tarsus named Saul, for behold, he is praying, 12 and he has seen in a vision a man named Ananias come in and lay his hands on him so that he might regain his sight.” 13 But Ananias answered, “Lord, I have heard from many about this man, how much evil he has done to your saints at Jerusalem. 14 And here he has authority from the chief priests to bind all who call on your name.” 15 But the Lord said to him, “Go, for he is a chosen instrument of mine to carry my name before the Gentiles and kings and the children of Israel. 16 For I will show him how much he must suffer for the sake of my name.” 17 So Ananias departed and entered the house. And laying his hands on him he said, “Brother Saul, the Lord Jesus who appeared to you on the road by which you came has sent me so that you may regain your sight and be filled with the Holy Spirit.” 18 And immediately something like scales fell from his eyes, and he regained his sight. Then he rose and was baptized; 19 and taking food, he was strengthened.

Saul Proclaims Jesus in Synagogues
For some days he was with the disciples at Damascus. 20 And immediately he proclaimed Jesus in the synagogues, saying, “He is the Son of God.” 21 And all who heard him were amazed and said, “Is not this the man who made havoc in Jerusalem of those who called upon this name? And has he not come here for this purpose, to bring them bound before the chief priests?” 22 But Saul increased all the more in strength, and confounded the Jews who lived in Damascus by proving that Jesus was the Christ.

English Standard Version (ESV)
The Holy Bible, English Standard Version. ESV® Text Edition: 2016. Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.

Schnorr Von Carolsfeld woodcuts © WELS permission granted for personal and congregational use

Sunday, April 26, 2020

Easter 4 Series A


Easter 4 Series A


FOURTH SUNDAY OF EASTER
3 May 2020

Acts 2:42–47
1 Peter 2:19–25
John 10:1–10

The Crucified and Risen Lord Jesus Christ Is Our Good Shepherd

Although we “were straying like sheep,” the Lord Jesus Christ has willingly suffered and died for us, bearing our sins “in his body on the tree” (1 Peter 2:24–25). We are healed by His wounds (1 Peter 2:24), and in His resurrection He gathers us to Himself as our Good Shepherd, by whose righteousness we “have life and have it abundantly” (John 10:10). Now through other shepherds whom He calls and sends in His name, He guards and keeps us in the green pastures of His Church, leading us beside the quiet waters of our Baptism and spreading the feast of His Table before us. Since He has called us by the Gospel to be His own dear sheep, we also “hear his voice” and “know his voice” (John 10:3–4) in the faithful preaching of His Gospel, and we follow Him by faith. When we receive His Gospel, we have the abundant life and common unity of the entire flock under one Good Shepherd, in “the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship” and in “the breaking of bread and the prayers” (Acts 2:42).

John 10:1
Ἀμὴν ἀμὴν λέγω ὑμῖν, ὁ μὴ εἰσερχόμενος διὰ τῆς θύρας εἰς τὴν αὐλὴν τῶν προβάτων ἀλλὰ ἀναβαίνων ἀλλαχόθεν ἐκεῖνος κλέπτης ἐστὶν καὶ λῃστής• 
"Truly, truly, I say to you, he who does not enter the sheepfold by the door but climbs in by another way, that man is a thief and a robber. - The only relationship we have with people is through Christ.
Thief's and robbers know not the sheep 

John 10:2 
ὁ δὲ εἰσερχόμενος διὰ τῆς θύρας ποιμήν ἐστιν τῶν προβάτων.
But he who enters by the door is the shepherd of the sheep. What every pastor should be...no def. article..."a" shepherd...

See Acts 20:28ff

John 10:3
τούτῳ ὁ θυρωρὸς ἀνοίγει, καὶ τὰ πρόβατα τῆς φωνῆς αὐτοῦ ἀκούει καὶ τὰ ἴδια πρόβατα φωνεῖ κατ’ ὄνομα καὶ ἐξάγει αὐτά
To him the gatekeeper opens. The sheep hear his voice, and he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out.

To this one...the pastor... We are shepherds He is the chief shepherd do not add adjectives to pastors...

John 10:4
ὅταν τὰ ἴδια πάντα ἐκβάλῃ, ἔμπροσθεν αὐτῶν πορεύεται, καὶ τὰ πρόβατα αὐτῷ ἀκολουθεῖ, ὅτι οἴδασιν τὴν φωνὴν αὐτοῦ• 
When he has brought out all his own, he journeys goes before them, and the sheep follow him, for they know his voice.

We follow Jesus through suffering through donkey tracks and skid marks. We walk by faith and not through sight

John 10:5 
ἀλλοτρίῳ δὲ οὐ μὴ ἀκολουθήσουσιν ἀλλὰ φεύξονται ἀπ’ αὐτοῦ, ὅτι οὐκ οἴδασι τῶν ἀλλοτρίων τὴν φωνήν.
A stranger they will not follow, but they will flee from him, for they do not know the voice of strangers."

Know. By the word spoken...

John 10:6
ταύτην τὴν παροιμίαν εἶπεν αὐτοῖς ὁ Ἰησοῦς• ἐκεῖνοι δὲ οὐκ ἔγνωσαν τίνα [e]ἦν ἃ ἐλάλει αὐτοῖς
This figure of speech Jesus used with them, but they did not understand what he was saying to them.

Not a parable but a figure of speech, spoken to the Pharisees who don't get it because they don't want to be dependent. 

John 10:7 
Εἶπεν οὖν πάλιν αὐτοῖς ὁ Ἰησοῦς• Ἀμὴν ἀμὴν λέγω ὑμῖν [g]ὅτι ἐγώ εἰμι ἡ θύρα τῶν προβάτων.
So Jesus again said to them, "Truly, truly, I say to you, I am the door of the sheep. 

Spoken to the Pharisees who hate him.

John 10:8 
πάντες ὅσοι ἦλθονπρὸ ἐμοῦ κλέπται εἰσὶν καὶ λῃσταί• ἀλλ’ οὐκ ἤκουσαν αὐτῶν τὰ πρόβατα.
All who came before me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not listen to them.

All who came before me...under priests, and false prophets - who were taking advantage of the people through theft - (see Malachi) - they were impostors - 

John 10:9
ἐγώ εἰμι ἡ θύρα• δι’ ἐμοῦ ἐάν τις εἰσέλθῃ σωθήσεται καὶ εἰσελεύσεται καὶ ἐξελεύσεται καὶ νομὴν εὑρήσει.  
I am the door. If anyone enters by me, he will be saved and will go in and out and find pasture.

John 10:10 
ὁ κλέπτης οὐκ ἔρχεται εἰ μὴ ἵνα κλέψῃ καὶ θύσῃ καὶ ἀπολέσῃ• ἐγὼ ἦλθον ἵνα ζωὴν ἔχωσιν καὶ περισσὸν ἔχωσιν.
The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.


-The Greek New Testament: SBL Edition. Copyright © 2010 by Society of Biblical Literature and Logos Bible Software
-ESV® Text Edition: 2016. Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.
-Schnorr Von Carolsfeld woodcuts, ‘The Resurrection of our Lord’© WELS permission granted for personal and congregational use
-LCMS Lectionary notes © 2018 Concordia Publishing House, St, Louis
-Lutheran Service Book © 2006 Concordia Publishing, St,. Louis

Time in the Word - Easter 4


The People of God
Easter 4 Series A
April 27 –May 2, 2020

What does Easter 4’s theme of sheep and shepherd have to do with the Easter season’s message of the resurrection? On the surface, there seems to be no connection. Why couldn’t this theme of Jesus as shepherd serve to assure us of the nature of the risen Lord? Though he has risen in glory and is soon to ascend to the Father, Christ continues with us as a shepherd on earth, a shepherd who knows, cares, leads, and protects his sheep. Though risen in glory and absent in the body, Jesus continues as an abiding presence to care for his people. He is the good shepherd who died for his sheep to rescue them from the wolves. His resurrection confirms his victory and he continues to live as the shepherd of our souls.

Collect for Easter 4: Almighty God, merciful Father, since You have wakened from death the Shepherd of Your sheep, grant us Your Holy Spirit that, when we hear the voice of our Shepherd, we may know Him who calls us each by name and follow where He leads; 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.

A Prayer for Agriculture: Almighty God, You blessed the earth to make it fruitful, bringing forth in abundance whatever is needed for the support of our lives. Prosper; we implore You, the work of farmers, especially in this planting season. Grant them seasonable weather that they may gather in the fruits of the earth and thus proclaim Your goodness. May we see by this noble vocation that by Your aid we are helping to feed the world and cause all who give thanks over their food to treat those who produce it with honor and respect.

Collect for St. Philip & James (May 1): Almighty Good, Your Son revealed Himself to Philip and James and gave them knowledge of everlasting life. Grant us perfectly to know Your Son, Jesus Christ to be the way, the truth and the life, and steadfastly to walk in the way that leads to eternal life; through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Morning Prayer Readings for the coming week:

April 27 Monday The Conversion of Saul, Part 1 – Acts 9
April 28 Tuesday The Conversion of Saul, Part 2 – Acts 9
April 29 Wednesday Chapel
April 30 Thursday Romans 3:21-26
May 01 Friday          Romans 5:1-11

Catechism Review:Where is this written?”; "What do you believe according to these words?”; “What is the Sacrament of the Altar?”; Psalm 23
Monday, 27 April, 2020Psalm 23:1-3 The Antiphon for next Sunday’s Introit is taken from Vs.1, “The Lord’s my shepherd I shall not want.” Shepherd is a widely used metaphor used for Kings. David as King acknowledges that the Lord is his Shepherd-King. Jesus as the shepherd of His people is expressed most plainly in our Gospel lesson for this coming week.


Tuesday, 28, 2020Acts 2:42-74 –The sheep witness to the Shepherd. In our first lesson, we have the issue of leadership in the 1st Century Church. What are the qualifications for church leadership? The early church faced the problem of choosing seven leaders. The apostles gave the people three criteria for their selection: good reputation, good common sense, and spirituality. Can these requirements be improved — character, judgment, and faith?

Wednesday, 29 April, 20201 Peter 2:19-25 – The sheep suffer like the Shepherd. In the second reading, Peter calls people straying sheep. Sheep are associated with straying and wandering off from the shepherd and the flock until they get lost and in danger of their lives. It is our nature to wander into sin, to carelessly leave the leadership of God, and to go our own way. Modern people are known for their mobility, insecurity, restlessness, a lack of roots, and loneliness.


Thursday, 30 April, 2020John 10:1-10 –The sheep follow the Shepherd to life eternal. In next week’s Gospel lesson Verses 7 and 9 teach that Jesus is the door to life and salvation. He is not one of a series of doors to God. In today’s world, the emphasis is upon pluralism — one religion being as valid as the next one. Christianity is considered one of many ways to God. This passage contradicts pluralism. The door to life, to God, to salvation, is Jesus. Is this not the basis for evangelism and missions to non- Christian people? It is not done in the interests of building up a monolithic religious organization in the hope of getting a monopoly, but of sharing good news of salvation through Christ. Jesus says in verse 10 that he came to bring abundant life to all people. What is life? Our existence only makes sense when Jesus is at the center

Friday, 01 May, 2020Psalm 23:4-6 The Psalm portion for this coming week is the much-loved Shepherd Psalm. The benefits of have Jesus as our Shepherd-King is that both goodness and love will literally pursue us. We are given the hope and promise of life with God eternally. We will dwell in the house of the Lord forever. Our future has been guaranteed. Because the Shepherd-King Jesus lives forever, we have the hope and guarantee of dwelling with Christ throughout the years of our life.

Saturday, 02 May, 2020John 21:15 -This verse is the inspiration for the hymn “I am Jesus’ Little Lamb“{LSB 740} Three times Peter denied his Lord. Three times Jesus asks the question “Peter…do you love me more then these? Thus, the Savior asks us today, “Do you love Me?” “Do we love Jesus more than people, more than your occupation, more than things? (In the case of Peter, these things were the tools of his trade – fishing gear.) The Savior calls us to discipleship, to take up His cross and follow Him. In this Easter season, we are directed by the Savior to affirm the new life He gives us and to share with others the hope that we have in Him. Scripture reminds us “in a twinkling of an eye” we will all be gone – What shall be said of us then? May it be said of us that we remain a sheep of His fold, a lamb of His flock, a sinner of His own redeeming.

________________________
Sources: 
THE LUTHERAN HYMNAL © 1940 Concordia Publishing House, St. Louis, MO
LUTHERAN WORSHIP © 1982 Concordia Publishing House, St. Louis, MO
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. 
LECTIONARY PREACHING WORKBOOK A by John Brokhoff © 1980 CSS Publishing, Lima OH
Images of "The Good Shepherd" copyright © Google Images


Saturday, April 25, 2020

Easter 3



Easter 3
26 April 2020
Luke 24:13-35
Social Distancing


While they were talking and discussing together, Jesus himself drew near and went with them.” -Luke 24:15

Daughter Lydia has been quarantined in her apartment in Queens for now…eight weeks. A friend asked her, “How can you stand it? This isolation!” 

Her response, “Where I grew up ‘social distancing’ is a way of life!”

You’ve heard the definition of ‘social distancing’ Hoosier style?  The required six feet of distance between two persons can be defined as follows:

1. The wing span of a turkey buzzard.
2. A stalk of corn.
3. Two Wal-mart shopping carts.
4. Bobby Knight.

As they walked. Did these two; Cleopas and his traveling companion follow safe social distancing as they walked the road? We do not know. 

Did Jesus violate their space? When He appeared to them?  We don’t know that either. 

What we do know is that, “their eyes were kept from recognizing him.” –v. 16 

Jesus was present. But they did not realize Him? They could not acknowledge Him. For they could not comprehend nor, could they understand the specter that Jesus was walking with them. 

It is a rather strange tale. These two companions. Look directly at Jesus but do not recognize Him. 
The Risen Jesus joins them as a fellow-traveler. “Something” prevents them from recognizing Him. What was that “something”? Was it their presumption that Jesus was still dead? Was it their pre-conceived idea of what Jesus should look like?

Seeing their obvious despondency and disillusionment, Jesus asks what they are talking about. With delicious irony they say, “You must be the only person staying in Jerusalem who does not know the things that have been happening there these last few days.”

Jesus plays them out a little more with a totally innocent-sounding, “What things?” He wants to hear their version of what had happened. To them, death was the failure of Jesus’ mission. They refer to him as a “prophet” as if, after the debacle of his death, they could not see in Jesus the Messiah they had earlier acknowledged. 

We were hoping (ἠλπίζομεν elpizomen,) 1 that he would be the one to set Israel free.” 2  

Again the irony of their own words is lost on them. For them, freedom meant liberation from the tyranny of foreign domination. And perhaps. The inauguration of the Kingdom of God as they understood it. 3   

The death and resurrection did not change Jesus’ physical appearance. The wounds were still there. The print of the nails was in plain sight. Yet the physical appearance did not help them to recognize the resurrected Jesus.

This is a comfort for us. Today we must look elsewhere than the physical body to know Jesus has risen from the dead. Today you are invited to meet the risen Christ.  He comes to you as He has promised. He comes to you in those specific places where He has promise to be found. He comes to you in His Word, His meal, and in His promises.

1. What keeps people from seeing Him?

A. Their demeanor was downcast – vs. 17 “And he said to them, "What is this conversation that you are holding with each other as you walk?" And they stood still, looking sad.

Why were they returning back to Emmaus?  Because they wanted to forget all the things that had happened in Jerusalem.  Because they wanted to return to their normal lives after this tragedy they had experienced. 

And has this not been the conversation of so many this past month? Conversations of uncertainty and doubt. “When shall we return back to normal?” “Will there be a new – normal to our lives?”  And, “what shall our life be after Covid-19 is behind us?”

B. Despair – vs.21 “But we had hoped that he was the one to redeem Israel. Yes, and besides all this, it is now the third day since these things happened.”  

What they could not get out of their head were these two realities. First, their redeemer had been crucified. And now, beside all this, today is the third day since these things were done. 

The third day, Jesus had told them, would be the day of His triumphant return to them. And, strangely enough, on the early morning of this third day, something did happen - which had stirred, excited, and perplexed them. Certain women of their company, who had been early to the grave of the Master. They had every intention to embalm the corpse.  But they found the sepulcher empty. And they came back reporting how they had seen a vision of angels there, who told them their Master lived. What did it all mean?

2. What enables you to know Jesus is alive? 

A. The Word – Scriptures – Vs. 32 “They said to each other, "Did not our hearts burn within us while he talked to us on the road, while he opened to us the Scriptures?"

1. And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself.” – V. 27 Jesus pointed to the Old Testament Scriptures and interpreted them that showed He was to suffer, die and rise again. 

He was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief; and as one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not. Surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted. But he was pierced for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his wounds we are healed. He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth; like a lamb that is led to the slaughter, and like a sheep that before its shearers is silent, so he opened not his mouth.  By oppression and judgment he was taken away; and as for his generation, who considered that he was cut off out of the land of the living, stricken for the transgression of my people? And they made his grave with the wicked and with a rich man in his death, although he had done no violence, and there was no deceit in his mouth.” – Isaiah 53 

This is what Paul preached to the church in Corinth. “For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures,  that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures,”  1 Corinthians 15:3-4   

2. Luke would remind us in t he book of Acts,, “As was his custom, Paul went into the synagogue, and on three Sabbaths he reasoned with them from the Scriptures, explaining and proving that the Christ had to suffer and rise from the dead. “This Jesus I am proclaiming to you is the Christ,” - Acts 17:3
  
3. It was these Scriptures which spoke of Him. The promise of a Servant who would bring us back to God. This Jesus taught plainly, “And as for the resurrection of the dead, have you not read what was said to you by God: ‘I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob’? He is not God of the dead, but of the living.” (Matthew 22:31–32;  Mark 12:26- 27; Luke 20:37-38)
  
4. This is what drove Jesus to the cross. It was a divine necessity. Jesus was driven to the cross. He asked, “Was it not necessary that the Christ should suffer these things and enter into his glory?” v. 26 

If Jesus is the Messiah, the cross and empty tomb were the Father’s way of reconciling you. Since reconciliation required a satisfaction of God’s wrath against sin, the sacrifice of Christ on the cross was necessary. This indicates that the cross was a divine project. It means that only the Father could remove the offense of sin. God in Christ satisfied His own justice resulting in the Father accepting and receiving you as forgiven children. 

B. Jesus was also present the Sacrament of the Lord’s Supper – Vv. 30, 31 “He took the bread and blessed and broke it and gave it to them. And their eyes were opened, and they recognized him. And he vanished from their sight.” 

As they walked, the Emmaus disciples knew of the fact of the empty tomb. Yet they still did not understand the resurrection. The women had report the empty tomb to the disciples. Some even checked out the story and found it to be the case. Yet, they did not believe Jesus rose from the dead. The empty tomb only makes sense in light of Scripture. These two Emmaus disciples experienced Jesus in the Word proclaimed and Sacraments shared.

C. His promise – of forgiveness and life is also for you. Last Sunday. John records for us the events in that took place as the disciples were staying in place that first Easter. “Jesus said to them again, ‘Peace be with you.’ As the Father has sent me, even so I am sending you. And when he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, ‘Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you withhold forgiveness from any, it is withheld.’” – John 20:21-23

To flatten the curve of this present virus we’ve been advised by medical experts to practice social distancing of six feet or more.  We stay apart now so that later we can come together. 

Your Lord Jesus is neither distant, isolated, nor far-off. He comes to you in the promises of His Word offering you His life in exchange for yours. As He walked with those Emmaus disciples and was welcomed into their home He has promised to be the ever-present yet unseen guest wherever you go. 

Walk with your Savior has He has promised to come to your through His Word of forgiveness and life.  In His Word you will recognize Him. In His Word; proclaimed, taught, read and shared you will hear His voice offering your pardon and peace.
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1  Only one occurrence. 
2  https://livingspace.sacredspace.ie/e1014g/
3  Today the quotation from Benjamin Franklin, “those who would sacrifice liberty for safety deserve neither.” is frequently used to argue all sorts of political agendas both on the right as well as the left.
"The Emmaus Disciples"©  copyright  Google Images


Words-1,175
Passive Sentences –9%
Readability –77.8%
Reading Level -5.3 

Friday, April 24, 2020

Family Life Center update


Construction continues on our Family Life Center...







Wednesday, April 22, 2020

Earth Day



In the spring, at the end of the day, you should smell like dirt."— Margaret Atwood


Today is Earth Day – soon our farmers will be working their fields preparing for another planting, growing and harvest season.  Thus far we’ve experienced cooler temperatures but we know warmer days are just around the corner. 

Especially in this community we take our responsibilities seriously to be good stewards of the land. Our natural resources are gifts from our Creator and we take pride in preserving them.

From the Catechism Luther explains in the explanation to the First Article of the Apostles Creed: “I believe in God, the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth.

What does this mean? I believe that God has made me and all creatures; that He has given me my body and soul, eyes, ears, and all my members, my reason and all my senses, and still takes care of them. He also gives me clothing and shoes, food and drink, house and home, wife and children, land, animals, and all I have. He richly and daily provides me with all that I need to support this body and life. He defends me against all danger and guards and protects me from all evil. All this He does only out of fatherly, divine goodness and mercy, without any merit or worthiness in me. For all this it is my duty to thank and praise, serve and obey Him.    

Commenting on the 4th Petition of the Lord’s PrayerGive us this day our daily bread,” Luther goes on to explain:  

What does this mean? God certainly gives daily bread to everyone without our prayers, even to all evil people, but we pray in this petition that God would lead us to realize this and to receive our daily bread with thanksgiving.

What is meant by daily bread? Daily bread includes everything that has to do with the support and needs of the body, such as food, drink, clothing, shoes, house, home, land, animals, money, goods, a devout husband or wife, devout children, devout workers, devout and faithful rulers, good government, good weather, peace, health, self-control, good reputation, good friends, faithful neighbors, and the like.

Job 26:8-9He binds up the waters in his thick clouds, and the cloud is not split open under them. He covers the face of the full moon and spreads over it his cloud.”

Author of Life, You wrap the waters in Your clouds, and the cloud does not burst under them without Your command. You obscure the face of the full moon and spread Your cloud over it at a perfect distance so that we are not blinded by its reflection of light. Lord, nature shows just a small fragment of Your beauty and Your complexity. I pray that You bless us with good weather this season so that we may appreciate Your beauty more and more each day, Amen.

Genesis 8:22 "While the earth remains, seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night, shall not cease."

Holy God, I magnify You Name because You hold the control over all Creation in Your hands. While the earth remains, seedtime and harvest, and cold and heat, and summer and winter, and day and night shall not cease unless You say so. Lord, I pray for good weather in this season, I pray that the days are great as well as the nights. I pray that nature pleases me in this season, Amen.

Proverbs 3:19-20  "The LORD by wisdom founded the earth; by understanding he established the heavens;  by his knowledge the deeps broke open, and the clouds drop down the dew."

Father of Lights, it is by Your wisdom that the earth was founded! It was by Your understanding that You established the heavens! By Your knowledge the deeps were broken up and the skies drip with dew. Worthy are You Lord, for You are the author of the intricacies seen within Creation. We pray that You order Creation to cater to us so that we can experience good weather this year, Amen.

Sunday, April 19, 2020

Easter 3 Series A


Easter 3 Series A

26 April 2020

Acts 2:14a, 36–41
1 Peter 1:17–25
Luke 24:13–35

The Risen Lord Jesus Is with Us in Holy Baptism and in “the Breaking of the Bread”

From “before the foundation of the world” until heaven and earth pass away, “the word of the Lord remains forever” (1 Peter 1:20, 25). This “living and abiding word of God” is the preaching of Christ Jesus, namely that God “raised him from the dead and gave him glory” (1 Peter 1:21, 23). By this living word, we “have been born again” to eternal life (1 Peter 1:23) and ransomed from our sinful and mortal life “with the precious blood of Christ” (1 Peter 1:18–19). This living word also calls us to repentance, to dying and rising in Holy Baptism “in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins” (Acts 2:38). In this, we receive the Holy Spirit “for you and for your children and for all who are far off” (Acts 2:39). Through the preaching of His cross and resurrection, Jesus draws near to bring us “into his glory” (Luke 24:26). As He opens the Scriptures, He opens our minds to comprehend “the things concerning himself” (Luke 24:27), and He brings us to know Him “in the breaking of the bread” (Luke 24:35).

Jesus Fulfilled Moses
Rev. Dr. Daniel J Brege

And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself (Luke 24:27).

Jesus presented the basic rule for studying the OT as He explained to the Jewish theologians, You search the Scriptures, because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is these that bear witness of Me (John 5:39).  This declaration of Jesus should cause one to seek Christ more diligently in the entire OT scriptures.  However while He walked this earth Christ guided His followers especially to the writings of Moses.  For example in John 5, after stating that the (OT) scriptures testify of Him, Jesus said, If you believed Moses, you would believe Me; for he wrote of Me (v 46). Again, in Christ’s parable of the rich man and Lazarus, the testimony of salvation is said to reside in Moses and the prophets. Note the priority of Moses. Then the parable concludes, If they do not listen to Moses and the Prophets, neither will they be persuaded if someone rises from the dead (Luke 16:31).  In Sunday’s resurrection account Christ explained the necessity of His death and resurrection—beginning with Moses (Luke 24:27). Jesus consistently directed people to view the writings of Moses as the primary beacon illuminating Himself.

A central topic of Moses’ writings—and indeed of the entire Old Testament—is sacrifice.   If the OT is about Christ, and if sacrificial talk is foundational to these OT books, it would be strange indeed if this sacrificial talk were not about Christ.  Clearly the New Testament (NT) testifies that Christ is the person in the portrait painted by the OT sacrificial rites—rites ordained in Moses’ books, the Pentateuch.

As clearly attested in the NT, Christ had to be the ultimate sacrifice, thus fulfilling this central feature of the writings of Moses.  Appropriately John the Baptist introduced Jesus by declaring, Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world (John 1:29, 36).  Christ-crucified is the world’s sacrifice. He is the sin offering, actually paying for sin. He is the burnt offering, establishing sanctification.  And His sacrifice creates the peace offering communion meal.  But what about Christ’s resurrection?

God’s Moses-ordained sacrificial system also taught resurrection.  It did this by the sacrificial blood.  Blood was always equated with the life of a creature (e.g. Lev. 17:11).  When that life-blood was neither burned nor eaten, but reverently placed on and around God’s altars, it conveyed the thought of continued life.  Yes the creatures were sacrificed, but their blood pointed to life after death.  Several scholars who have studied OT sacrifice have come to this conclusion.  One such scholar, S.C. Gayford, writes: The Hebrews regarded the life-blood almost as a living thing inside the body which it quickened; and not only was it the vitalizing life while it pulsated within the body, but it had an independent life of its own, even when taken from the body.  He Concludes:  ’Blood’ in sacrificial sense always means a ‘Risen’ life, one that has passed through death, but is alive. (Gayford, Sacrifice and Priesthood, 68, 170).   As another example, F.C.N. Hicks explains Christ’s work thus: The death is vital to the sacrifice, because it sets free the blood, which is the life.  But the victim is, in a true sense, operative, not as dead, but as alive ‘as it had been slain’... And again, “So St. Paul—brings out the backward look of death, as death, and the forward look of blood, as life—‘while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.  Much more then, being now justified by His blood, shall we be saved…’ (Hicks, The Fullness of Sacrifice, 18, 243).

So is it incidental that when Jesus asks, Was it not necessary that the Christ should suffer these things and enter into his glory, He begins with Moses to explain this necessity?  Indeed not!  The entire worship system instituted by God through Moses was directing OT believers to ultimately recognize—when it arrived—the centrality of the cross and the empty tomb!  Now do something forbidden in OT sacrifice: drink His blood; miraculously drink His life in the Sacrament of the Altar, for He is risen indeed!

- Luke 24:13-35

13 Καὶ ἰδοὺ δύο ἐξ αὐτῶν ἐν αὐτῇ τῇ ἡμέρᾳ ἦσαν πορευόμενοι εἰς κώμην ἀπέχουσαν σταδίους ἑξήκοντα ἀπὸ Ἰερουσαλήμ, ᾗ ὄνομα Ἐμμαοῦς, 
That very day two of them were going to a village named Emmaus, about seven miles from Jerusalem,

14 καὶ αὐτοὶ ὡμίλουν πρὸς ἀλλήλους περὶ πάντων τῶν συμβεβηκότων τούτων.
and they were talking with each other about all these things that had happened.

15 καὶ ἐγένετο ἐν τῷ ὁμιλεῖν αὐτοὺς καὶ συζητεῖν καὶ [b]αὐτὸς Ἰησοῦς ἐγγίσας συνεπορεύετο αὐτοῖς,
While they were talking and discussing together, Jesus himself drew near and went with them.

16  οἱ δὲ ὀφθαλμοὶ αὐτῶν ἐκρατοῦντο τοῦ μὴ ἐπιγνῶναι αὐτόν.
  But their eyes were kept from recognizing him.

17 εἶπεν δὲ πρὸς αὐτούς• Τίνες οἱ λόγοι οὗτοι οὓς ἀντιβάλλετε πρὸς ἀλλήλους περιπατοῦντες; καὶ [c]ἐστάθησαν σκυθρωποί.
And he said to them, "What is this conversation that you are holding with each other as you walk?" And they stood still, looking sad.

18 ἀποκριθεὶς δὲ εἷς ὀνόματι Κλεοπᾶς εἶπεν πρὸς αὐτόν• Σὺ μόνος παροικεῖς Ἰερουσαλὴμ καὶ οὐκ ἔγνως τὰ γενόμενα ἐν αὐτῇ ἐν ταῖς ἡμέραις ταύταις;
Then one of them, named Cleopas, answered him, "Are you the only visitor to Jerusalem who does not know the things that have happened there in these days?"

19 καὶ εἶπεν αὐτοῖς• Ποῖα; οἱ δὲ εἶπαν αὐτῷ• Τὰ περὶ Ἰησοῦ τοῦ Ναζαρηνοῦ, ὃς ἐγένετο ἀνὴρ προφήτης δυνατὸς ἐν ἔργῳ καὶ λόγῳ ἐναντίον τοῦ θεοῦ καὶ παντὸς τοῦ λαοῦ,
And he said to them, "What things?" And they said to him, "Concerning Jesus of Nazareth, a man who was a prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people,

20 ὅπως τε παρέδωκαν αὐτὸν οἱ ἀρχιερεῖς καὶ οἱ ἄρχοντες ἡμῶν εἰς κρίμα θανάτου καὶ ἐσταύρωσαν αὐτόν.
and how our chief priests and rulers delivered him up to be condemned to death, and crucified him.

21 ἡμεῖς δὲ ἠλπίζομεν ὅτι αὐτός ἐστιν ὁ μέλλων λυτροῦσθαι τὸν Ἰσραήλ• ἀλλά γε καὶ σὺν πᾶσιν τούτοις τρίτην ταύτην ἡμέραν ἄγει ἀφ’ οὗ ταῦτα ἐγένετο
But we had hoped that he was the one to redeem Israel. Yes, and besides all this, it is now the third day since these things happened.

22 ἀλλὰ καὶ γυναῖκές τινες ἐξ ἡμῶν ἐξέστησαν ἡμᾶς, γενόμεναι ὀρθριναὶ ἐπὶ τὸ μνημεῖον 
  Moreover, some women of our company amazed us. They were at the tomb early in the morning,

23 καὶ μὴ εὑροῦσαι τὸ σῶμα αὐτοῦ ἦλθον λέγουσαι καὶ ὀπτασίαν ἀγγέλων ἑωρακέναι, οἳ λέγουσιν αὐτὸν ζῆν.
and when they did not find his body, they came back saying that they had even seen a vision of angels, who said that he was alive.

24 καὶ ἀπῆλθόν τινες τῶν σὺν ἡμῖν ἐπὶ τὸ μνημεῖον, καὶ εὗρον οὕτως καθὼς καὶ αἱ γυναῖκες εἶπον, αὐτὸν δὲ οὐκ εἶδον
Some of those who were with us went to the tomb and found it just as the women had said, but him they did not see." -

25 καὶ αὐτὸς εἶπεν πρὸς αὐτούς• Ὦ ἀνόητοι καὶ βραδεῖς τῇ καρδίᾳ τοῦ πιστεύειν ἐπὶ πᾶσιν οἷς ἐλάλησαν οἱ προφῆται
 And he said to them, "O foolish ones, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken!

26 οὐχὶ ταῦτα ἔδει παθεῖν τὸν χριστὸν καὶ εἰσελθεῖν εἰς τὴν δόξαν αὐτοῦ
   Was it not necessary that the Christ should suffer these things and enter into his glory?"

27 καὶ ἀρξάμενος ἀπὸ Μωϋσέως καὶ ἀπὸ πάντων τῶν προφητῶν διερμήνευσεν αὐτοῖς ἐν πάσαις ταῖς γραφαῖς τὰ περὶ ἑαυτοῦ.
 And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself.

28 αὶ ἤγγισαν εἰς τὴν κώμην οὗ ἐπορεύοντο, καὶ αὐτὸς προσεποιήσατο πορρώτερον πορεύεσθαι. 
 So they drew near to the village to which they were going. He acted as if he were going farther,

29 καὶ παρεβιάσαντο αὐτὸν λέγοντες• Μεῖνον μεθ’ ἡμῶν, ὅτι πρὸς ἑσπέραν ἐστὶν καὶ κέκλικεν ἤδη ἡ ἡμέρα. καὶ εἰσῆλθεν τοῦ μεῖναι σὺν αὐτοῖς.
but they urged him strongly, saying, "Stay with us, for it is toward evening and the day is now far spent." So he went in to stay with them.

30 καὶ ἐγένετο ἐν τῷ κατακλιθῆναι αὐτὸν μετ’ αὐτῶν λαβὼν τὸν ἄρτον εὐλόγησεν καὶ κλάσας ἐπεδίδου αὐτοῖς
When he was at table with them, he took the bread and blessed and broke it and gave it to them.

31  αὐτῶν δὲ διηνοίχθησαν οἱ ὀφθαλμοὶ καὶ ἐπέγνωσαν αὐτόν• καὶ αὐτὸς ἄφαντος ἐγένετο ἀπ’ αὐτῶν.
And their eyes were opened, and they recognized him. And he vanished from their sight.

32  καὶ εἶπαν πρὸς ἀλλήλους• Οὐχὶ ἡ καρδία ἡμῶν καιομένη ἦνἐν ἡμῖν ὡς ἐλάλει ἡμῖν ἐν τῇ ὁδῷ,  ὡς διήνοιγεν ἡμῖν τὰς γραφάς;
They said to each other, "Did not our hearts burn within us while he talked to us on the road, while he opened to us the Scriptures?"

33 καὶ ἀναστάντες αὐτῇ τῇ ὥρᾳ ὑπέστρεψαν εἰς Ἰερουσαλήμ, καὶ εὗρον ἠθροισμένους τοὺς ἕνδεκα καὶ τοὺς σὺν αὐτοῖς,
And they rose that same hour and returned to Jerusalem. And they found the eleven and those who were with them gathered together,

34 λέγοντας ὅτι ὄντως ἠγέρθη ὁ κύριος καὶ ὤφθη Σίμωνι.
  saying, "The Lord has risen indeed, and has appeared to Simon!" 

35 καὶ αὐτοὶ ἐξηγοῦντο τὰ ἐν τῇ ὁδῷ καὶ ὡς ἐγνώσθη αὐτοῖς ἐν τῇ κλάσει τοῦ ἄρτου.
  Then they told what had happened on the road, and how he was known to them in the breaking of the bread. 


-The Greek New Testament: SBL Edition. Copyright © 2010 by Society of Biblical Literature and Logos Bible Software
-ESV® Text Edition: 2016. Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.
-Schnorr Von Carolsfeld woodcuts, ‘The Resurrection of our Lord’© WELS permission granted for personal and congregational use
-LCMS Lectionary notes © 2018 Concordia Publishing House, St,. Louis
-Lutheran Service Book © 2006 Concordia Publishing, St. Louis,

Time in the Word - Easter 3

According to God’s Plan
Easter 3 20-25 April 2020

On the Third Sunday of Easter, we consider the response to the resurrection. In the Gospel, the two followers of Jesus did not recognize the risen Christ until the breaking of bread. Three thousand people responded to Peter’s sermon dealing with the cross and resurrection with repentance and baptism. In the Epistle, we are told that because of the resurrection, the living Word, we are born anew in love and faith. Psalm 116 harmonizes with the theme of response: “What shall I render...?” The prayer and hymn continue with the resurrection theme.

Collect for Easter 3 - O God, through the humiliation of Your Son You raised up the fallen world. Grant to Your faithful people, rescued from the peril of everlasting death, perpetual gladness and eternal joys; through Jesus Christ, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever

A Daytime Collect for Eastertide - Almighty God the Father, through Your only-begotten Son Jesus Christ You have overcome death and opened the gate of everlasting life to us. Grant that we, who celebrate with joy the day of our Lord’s resurrection, may be raised from the death of sin by Your life-giving Spirit.

O Almighty and eternal God, now that You have assured us of the completion of our redemption through the resurrection of our Lord Jesus, give us the will to show forth in our lives what we profess with our lips; through Jesus Christ Your Lord our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one god, now and forever.

An Evening Collect for EastertideAbide with us, Lord, for it is toward evening, and the day is far spent. Abide with us and with Your whole Church. Abide with us in the end of the day, in the end of our life, in the end of the world. Abide with us with Your grace and goodness, with Your Holy Word and sacrament, with Your strength and blessing. Abide with us when the night of affliction and temptation comes upon us, the night of fear and despair when death shall come. Abide with us and with all the faithful through time and eternity.


Collect for St. Mark (April 25): Almighty God, You have enriched Your Church with the proclamation of the Gospel through the evangelist Mark. Grant that we may firmly believe these glad tidings and daily walk according to Your Word;

Morning Prayer Readings for the Coming Week:

April 20 Monday The Ascension Acts 1:1-11
April 21 Tuesday Pentecost Acts 2 
April 22 Wednesday Chapel
April 23 Thursday The Lame Beggar Healed Acts 3:1-10
April 24 Friday Stephen Acts 6-7

Catechism Review:What is Confession?";  "What sins should we confess?";  "What is the Office of the Keys?"

Monday, 20 April 2020Psalm 133– The Antiphon for next Sunday’s Introit is taken from Psalm 133:1, “Behold, how good and pleasant it is when brothers dwell in unity.”  After much conflict, the people of God came together. In the world today there appears to be much conflict. How do we achieve unity? Some claim that unity comes through diversity. We find unity when we are at one especially when there is agreement, especially when we consider the person of Christ.    

Tuesday, 21 April 2020Acts 2:14a, 26-41 – The apostolic church described in this lesson serves as a model of the true church. It is a community of faith in Christ. The church is characterized by the Word (teaching) and sacraments (breaking bread which “added to their number”). Worship was a regular activity — daily attendance at temple services and “prayers.” Fellowship was a part of their church — a fellowship in Christ, a fellowship of caring.

Wednesday, 22 April 20201 Peter 1:17-25 – God has a destiny for every person, even for Jesus. God had the cross in mind even before the creation of humanity. He knew of humanity’s upcoming fall. He knew of the disobedience and rebellion before humanity’s creation. God had a plan to restore us to fellowship before the sacrifice of Christ. It was the eternal destiny of Jesus to be the Messiah, to die, and rise again (verse 20). The question arises: If God knew in advance of humanity’s sin and the horrible death necessary on the cross, why did God bother to make us? Only God can answer that.


Thursday, 23 April 2020Luke 24:13-35 – Jesus was driven to the cross. He asked, “Was it not necessary that the Christ should suffer these things and enter into his glory?” (verse 26). 

If Jesus is the Messiah, a satisfaction of God’s wrath against sin, the sacrifice on the cross was necessary. 

This indicates that the cross was a divine project; also, it means that only God could remove the offense of sin. God in Christ satisfies his own justice resulting in God’s acceptance of us as forgiven children.

Friday, 24 April 2020Psalm 116:1-14– The Psalm portion for this coming week is centered on a question, “What shall I render to the Lord for all his bounty to me?” (verse 12) How can we repay the Lord when we consider all of the goodness He has showered down upon us? By offering to the Lord those expressions of devotion, which He desires. The Hebrew word for “goodness” occurs only here in the Old Testament but represents the same basic root as “has been good” in verse 7.

Saturday, 25 April 2020Mark 16:15 – This verse is the inspiration for the hymn “With High Delight let us Unite“{LSB #483}.Having experienced the Lord Jesus risen from the dead, we as the people of God reach out into the world proclaiming the good news. This is the response of Easter. The early Christians simply told others, “We are witnesses of these things.” Likewise, we share with others the good things the Savior has done for us. 
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Sources: 
THE LUTHERAN HYMNAL © 1940 Concordia Publishing House, St. Louis, MO
LUTHERAN WORSHIP © 1982 Concordia Publishing House, St. Louis, MO
LUTHERAN SERVICE BOOK © 2008 Concordia Publishing House, St. Louis, MO
LUTHERAN SEVICE BOOK LECTIONARY © 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. 
The Road to Emmaus, Icon for St. Mark, copyright © Google Images

Saturday, April 18, 2020

Easter 2


Easter 2

19 April 2020
John 20:19-31



Thomas - The Eeyore Apostle

Almighty God, grant that we, who have celebrated the Lord’s resurrection, may by Your grace confess in our life and conversation that Jesus is Lord and God; through the same Jesus Christ, Your Son, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.

The Apostle John begins this morning’s gospel with these words, “The disciples were together, with the doors locked for fear.” V. 19

Sound familiar?

The first Easter. All those years ago.  Where the faithful followers of Jesus - Were hunkered down at home. And who could blame them? They had been on a week-long rollercoaster with Jesus.

They had come to Jerusalem with Jesus. For the biggest festival of the year. They were greeted with shouts of praise. As Jesus rode into town. Then. In a matter of days. Their friend and teacher had been arrested. Beaten. Tortured. And crucified.

The man for whom they had left everything behind to follow was gone. And their own lives were at risk for having followed Him. They were confused and afraid. So they did the safest thing they could. They stay at home. Quarantined for fear. 

They were sheltered-in-place. And doing the safest thing they could. Staying home. Their whole world had been turned upside down in a matter of days. Life as they knew it was forever changed. And what once seemed unshakeable was suddenly uncertain. 

Recent events were hard to believe. And even harder to watch. News of death was overwhelming.  Their own lives were at risk. Confused and afraid. They sought refuge in the place where they felt safe. 

A warm and welcoming home? Hardly! They were under lock and key. Kept in a place from which they could not escape. Prisoners in their own house. They were petrified.  At home, hopeful to be protected from the chaos swirling on the other side of the door. 

Suddenly Jesus appears.  With His word of welcome. He stood among them and said to them, “Peace be with you!” 

We have just celebrated the feast of the Resurrection. We rejoice with the Easter greeting, “Christ is Risen! He is risen indeed, Hallelujah!” And yet for some, the resurrection is almost too difficult to believe. We’ve heard the critic’s charges before, “Virgins do not conceive. And dead men do not rise!”  

How do we respond to such criticisms? Especially within the backdrop and this context of hopelessness and fear in which all too many exhibit these days.  

To help us stand up to such criticism and doubt we have Thomas to thank.  Thomas is Easter’s version of a combination; a little bit Ebenezer Scrooge and a lot of Eeyore - that gloomy, depressed, old grey stuffed donkey who sighs and says, ““It’s all for naught.”


Says Thomas to that sheltered, gathered group, “Unless I see the nail marks in his hands and put my finger where the nails were, and put my hand into his side, I will not believe it.”  Consider Thomas’ demand for evidence. 

I too must be a witness.” 

 The claim of Jesus’ resurrection alone isn’t enough.





1.   It defies logic. By themselves the claims of Christ’s followers appear as idle words. In the vocabulary of our youth, “that’s bogus!

A.  Without the eye-witness testimony of the appearance of Jesus visibly from the dead the resurrection remains only a myth. Talk is cheap. Only a visitation of the resurrected Lord could convince Thomas.  Without Jesus’ appearance to Thomas personally He could not be considered a legitimate apostle.

B. Why Thomas?’ some could argue. ‘Why was he not granted such an audience with the risen Christ?’ The answer is simple. He wasn’t physically there. In that gated community.  He wasn’t present. He had already checked out.  

And who could blame him? At least he had the presence of mind to realize that the future outcome would not be good. [Remember, Thomas is the New Testament’s version of Eeyore – “Good Morning. If it is a good morning…which I doubt.”]

 When the going got tough – Thomas was gone!

C.    Could we really believe his word? Would you trust his word Thomas if he were to say to you, “I’ve never seen Jesus alive from the dead, others have, but not me.” We can almost hear that critical, cynical, response. “Ya, Right!” 

If seeing is believing. Yet you have never seen – why believe?  We do Thomas a disservice calling him “Doubting Thomas.” A better moniker would be “Demanding Thomas.”

"Unless I see the nail marks in his hands and put my finger where the nails were, and put my hand into his side, I will not believe it.” 

If Thomas is to have this apostolic faith – he must be convinced as the rest. He must touch and see as the others had. If his faith is to be legitimate; let alone trustworthy, he must examine the same tangible proof as they or else his faith and testimony would be highly suspect.  

Transition: Thomas needs to be a witness. He must examine the evidence with his own eyes.

II. “I must see His marks.

A.    There are plenty of false Christ’s in our world today. Solomon got it right. What has been is what will be, and what has been done is what will be done, and there is nothing new under the sun. – Ecclesiastes 1:9

1. False guides which lead to false hopes are a dime a dozen these days. Each promises a better way to know and experience ‘God.’  Each is a creation of man’s own wild imagination and dream which says you can have it your way, under your own rules under your own guiding principles whatever you choose, ‘your truth.’ The tempter’s false hope still echoes centuries later, “You will be like God.” Geneses 3:5

2.  These false Christ’s are not the Jesus of the Bible. Nor do they lead to salvation. Your Redeemer has promised, “I am the way, [the only way,] the truth [the only truth] and the life, [your only life is in Him]. No one comes to the Father except by Me.” John 14:6

B.      Upon seeing Jesus’ hands, feet, and side Thomas became convinced of the resurrection. Thomas beheld, “the true and only Christ.” Which is one of many reasons why we continue to recite the words of the Te Deum though out the weeks of our current shelter-in-place. 

This ancient hymn, The Te Deum, is not only the great Christian hymn of Thanksgiving. It has been sung for thousands of years (Yes, thousands of years by your sisters and brothers throughout time and in different cultures) after great victories or after delivery from catastrophe.1   

You are the Lord’s. As such, your only response is to praise Him even in the midst of uncertainty and doubt.   

Illustration: Have you any scars on your body? They tell a story. A hand that went through a storm door, a shin that got scrapped reminds us of past events.

Jesus’ scars tell the story of your redemption.

1. Thomas could now know that the same Jesus who suffered and died is the same Jesus who rose from the dead. He could see the scars. “Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here, and see my hands; and put out your hand, and place it in my side. Do not disbelieve, but believe.” John 19:27

2.  The scars on Jesus’ body which Thomas saw with his own eyes are comforting for you. This guarantees complete redemption!  His wounds guarantee that He suffered for you. That He took your sins as His own in His own body. His resurrection guarantees that your sins, though they are many, are gone. The resurrection proves that forgiveness is granted. The resurrection assures us that eternal life is your destiny and reality.

Transition: Thomas needs to be a witness. He must examine the evidence with his own eyes. Hearing his testimony these words are joy and bliss for you.

III.    These words are for you.

A.       Then Jesus told him, “Because you have seen me, you have believed.”

1. Seeing is believing. This has been the testimony of the early Church “for we cannot but speak of what we have seen and heard.” Acts 4:20;

 “That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we looked upon and have touched with our hands, concerning the word of life— the life was made manifest, and we have seen it, and testify to it and proclaim to you the eternal life, — that which we have seen and heard we proclaim also to you,” 1 John 1:1-3

a. This was necessary for the 1st Century disciples and believers. They would simply testify to what they had experienced first-hand.

b. If they saw Him dead they would have to see Him alive visibly.

2.  So convinced where they that each disciple, (with the exception of John,) would die for only one claim; “we have seen the Christ and we are witnesses of these things!” 

B.    The Savior still speaks. He speaks of you. And to your circumstance. “…blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”

1.  We don’t have the “advantage” of being 1st Century eye-witnesses. Where you there? No you weren’t. But this should not bother you. You weren’t there at Valley Forge. 

Nor were you there at Ford’s Theater on Good Friday 1865 or during the last Pandemic of 1918. Your great-grandparents lived through that scourge. This parish experienced it. They suffered greatly because of it. 2 And by the grace of God they endured.

These events happened. Even though you were not physically there. Your truth goes far beyond what you experience in the here and now. There is convincing and tangible truth which goes beyond your limited understanding.

2.    Place your trust in the Gospel which presents facts provided in Sacred Scripture by those who were eye-witnesses of those Easter events. They were witnesses. They wrote down their first hand experiences for you to witness and gain knowledge of what they lived through.

C.      This is why Jesus walked the earth for 40 days after the resurrection.

1.  40 is the number for completion –

a.  40 days/nights it rained at the time of Noah
b.  40 years the Israelites were in the desert
c.    40 years David reigned as King over Israel
d. 40 days Jesus was tempted in the wilderness
e.    The appearance of Jesus alive visibly for a period of 40 days is enough for you to trust in Him. 

The evidence is overwhelming.

John begins His Gospel with Jesus’ first miracle. Changing water into wine performed in Cana of Galilee. John remarks that Jesus performed these miracles “so that His disciple put their faith in Him.” (John 2:11) 

Notice how John concludes His gospel, “Jesus did many other miraculous signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not recorded in this book. But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.” {John 20:30-31}

Where you there? That’s quite a silly question. Of course not! Jesus died and rose 2,000 years ago. And yet, by the testimony of those early eye-witnesses and by faith produced by this gospel you now know and believe this truth to be sufficient. To give forgiveness and life. 

Those early Christ followers found themselves tucked away in a safe house. Hoping against hope no one would find them. Jesus entered and stood in their midst. Thomas beheld and believed. Through their eye-witness testimony – Jesus asked of Thomas, “Have you believed because you have seen me?” To you He says in confidence, “Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.” 

1. The "Te Deum" was written by the early fifth century bishop of Remesiana (now in Romania), Nicetas (335-414), a Greek bishop, theologian and composer of hymns
2. From the perspective of our own history - We had six funerals in December 1918 in the course of one week. The Pandemic returned,with a vengeance; in March of 1919. More perished. Pr. Prues’ personal experience – while ministering to parishioners his own daughter perished; the result of the influenza virus.


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Words – 2.065
Passive Sentences – 4%
Readability – 77%
Reading Level –4.9 
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i.Sara Beth Pannell sets the context for this morning’s homily – https://www.chathamnewsrecord.com/stories/the-disciples-were-together-with-the-doors-locked-for-fear,5132?
ii Thanks you Pr. Peter Brock for this excellent title and insight!
iii The Appearance of Christ to Thomas copyright © Google Images

iv Illustration for Easter 2 Series A, Pr. James Wetzsein, copyright ©  www.Agnusday.org