Wednesday, January 19, 2022

Morning Prayer #71

 


Birth of John the Baptist Foretold


In the days of Herod, king of Judea, there was a priest named Zechariah,[a] of the division of Abijah. And he had a wife from the daughters of Aaron, and her name was Elizabeth. 6 And they were both righteous before God, walking blamelessly in all the commandments and statutes of the Lord. 7 But they had no child, because Elizabeth was barren, and both were advanced in years.

 


Now while he was serving as priest before God when his division was on duty, 9 according to the custom of the priesthood, he was chosen by lot to enter the temple of the Lord and burn incense. 10 And the whole multitude of the people were praying outside at the hour of incense. 11 And there appeared to him an angel of the Lord standing on the right side of the altar of incense. 12 And Zechariah was troubled when he saw him, and fear fell upon him. 13 But the angel said to him, “Do not be afraid, Zechariah, for your prayer has been heard, and your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you shall call his name John. 14 And you will have joy and gladness, and many will rejoice at his birth, 15 for he will be great before the Lord. And he must not drink wine or strong drink, and he will be filled with the Holy Spirit, even from his mother's womb. 16 And he will turn many of the children of Israel to the Lord their God, 17 and he will go before him in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just, to make ready for the Lord a people prepared.”

 

18 And Zechariah said to the angel, “How shall I know this? For I am an old man, and my wife is advanced in years.” 19 And the angel answered him, “I am Gabriel. I stand in the presence of God, and I was sent to speak to you and to bring you this good news. 20 And behold, you will be silent and unable to speak until the day that these things take place, because you did not believe my words, which will be fulfilled in their time.” 21 And the people were waiting for Zechariah, and they were wondering at his delay in the temple. 22 And when he came out, he was unable to speak to them, and they realized that he had seen a vision in the temple. And he kept making signs to them and remained mute. 23 And when his time of service was ended, he went to his home.

 

24 After these days his wife Elizabeth conceived.

 

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

 

Illustration from a woodcut by Baron Julius Schnoor 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). © WELS used by permission for personal and congregational use.

Thursday prior to Epiphany 3

 

1 Corinthians 12:12-31a—The Christian finds his purpose in the body of Christ. By the Spirit Christians are members of one body. The unity of the church is the unity of Christ. We are one in Christ, as members of the body of Christ. Regardless of our differences, Jews, Greeks, bond, or free, we are all one. Last names cease when we enter the church door. We are one in the Lord Jesus Christ.

Paul will remind us in verse 13, “For by one Spirit we were baptized into one body – and all were made to drink of one Spirit.” The church is not a human institution held together by its leaders and members’ contributions. If that were the case, the church would have died long ago. The Spirit calls, gathers, enlightens, sanctifies, and preserves the church from age to age.

Whereas the emphasis in 1 Corinthians 12:1-11 is on the individual and the diversity of spiritual gifts that God bestows on “each one” (Vv. 7,11) this lesson which incorporates most of the remainder of chapter 12, is Paul’s instruction about the unity of these varied individual gifts in the body of Christ. This body, the church in its broadest sense, is to be well organized and smooth running. Paul illustrates this by the analogy of the human body. Individual members are to use their divinely ordained and bestowed firs so that the body may function as intended.

Our spiritual gifts, no matter what they may be are valuable. They find value only as they are used in concert with the whole body of Christ.

Many today seem to want to be or dreams about being the proverbial quarterback. We like the glory of being able to stand out. But as any employer or coach will tell us, it is the multitude of people doing their tasks well behind the scenes that make success possible. Thus we look to Christ who works through His people the church to do these things as outline in our lesson for today.

A prayer for steadfast faith –Almighty God, our heavenly Father, of Your tender love towards us sinners You have given us Your Son that, believing in Him, we might have everlasting life. Continue to grant us Your Holy Spirit that we may remain steadfast in this faith to the end and come to life everlasting.[2] -20 January 2022


[1] Schnorr Von Carolsfeld woodcuts “Ezra Reads the Torah” copyright © WELS permission granted for personal and congregational use
[2] Collect for steadfast faith, Lutheran Service Book © 2006 Concordia Publishing House, St. Louis

Tuesday, January 18, 2022

Wednesday prior to Epiphany 3

 

Nehemiah 8:1-3, 5-6, 8-10–Notice how the worship practices of Ezra and Nehemiah are quite similar to ours today. Ezra the scribe reads the Book of the Law in the presence of the people. After they heard the word, they responded in two ways. First they feasted. Delicious festive food prepared with much fat. The fat of sacrificial animals was offered to God as the tastiest element of the burnt offering, the fellowship offering, the sin offering, and the guilt offering. The fat was not to be eaten in these cases. They also remembered the poor and those less fortunate on these joyous occasions. Likewise, we today respond in two ways. We come to a worship service to hear the Word. We eat the sacrifice of Christ in the Sacrament and then we respond in sacramental living. In service, we worship God. We respond by reaching out to our neighbors and especially to those whose need is great. We respond as the Word of the Lord has taken root in our lives.

When Jesus opens His mouth to preach, gracious words flow from His lips. The Scriptures are, indeed, fulfilled in your hearing (Luke 4:21–22). For Christ was anointed by the Spirit of the Lord “to proclaim good news to the poor,” “to proclaim liberty to the captives,” and “to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor” (Luke 4:18–19).

By this proclamation, Christ releases His people from captivity and gathers them to Himself in His Church. So it was when the Lord released His people from Babylon and returned them to Jerusalem. “Ezra the priest and scribe, and the Levites who taught the people,” sanctified the whole congregation by the reading and preaching of the Law (Nehemiah 8:8–9). [2]

Collect for Epiphany 3 – Almighty and everlasting God, mercifully look upon our infirmities and stretch forth the hand of Your majesty to heal and defend us; through Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns with  You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. [3] – 19 January 2022


[1] Schnorr Von Carolsfeld woodcuts “Ezra Reads the Torah” copyright © WELS permission granted for personal and congregational use
[2] Lectionary Summary, LCMS Commission on Worship
[3] Collect for Epiphany 3, Lutheran Service Book © 2006 Concordia Publishing House, St. Louis

Monday, January 17, 2022

Morning Prayer #78

 

Matthew 2
Select verses

The flight into Egypt

Now when they had departed, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and said, “Rise, take the child and his mother, and flee to Egypt, and remain there until I tell you, for Herod is about to search for the child, to destroy him.” 14 And he rose and took the child and his mother by night and departed to Egypt 15 and remained there until the death of Herod. This was to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet, “Out of Egypt I called my son.”

 

Herod Kills the Children


Then Herod, when he saw that he had been tricked by the wise men, became furious, and he sent and killed all the male children in Bethlehem and in all that region who were two years old or under, according to the time that he had ascertained from the wise men. 17 Then was fulfilled what was spoken by the prophet Jeremiah:

 

18 “A voice was heard in Ramah,

    weeping and loud lamentation,

Rachel weeping for her children;

    she refused to be comforted, because they are no more.”

 

The Return to Nazareth

19 But when Herod died, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared in a dream to Joseph in Egypt, 20 saying, “Rise, take the child and his mother and go to the land of Israel, for those who sought the child's life are dead.” 21 And he rose and took the child and his mother and went to the land of Israel. 22 But when he heard that Archelaus was reigning over Judea in place of his father Herod, he was afraid to go there, and being warned in a dream he withdrew to the district of Galilee. 23 And he went and lived in a city called Nazareth, so that what was spoken by the prophets might be fulfilled, that he would be called a Nazarene.

 

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


Tuesday prior to Epiphany 3

 

Psalm 19: (1-6) 7-14; key verse, verse 14—May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing in Your sight O Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer. These words are quite familiar – they are often uttered by the pastor before the sermon. By these words the preacher is asking that he only proclaim God’s Words and not his own. By these words the hearer asks that these words of the Lord penetrate the heart and mind so that faith may be strengthened and nourished. May the Word of the Lord give us both direction and encouragement not only this coming Sunday but throughout this New Year.

The Heavens, the Word, and the Glory of God

The title tells us both the author and the audience of the psalm: To the Chief Musician. A Psalm of David. Some believe that the Chief Musician is the Lord GOD Himself, and others suppose him to be a leader of choirs or musicians in David’s time, such as Heman the singer or Asaph (1 Chronicles 6:33, 16:5-7, and 25:6).

This Psalm reflects, more than any other, the beauty and splendor of the Hebrew poetry found in the Psalter. C.S. Lewis wrote, ‘I take this to be the greatest poem in the Psalter and one of the greatest lyrics in the world.’” (Willem VanGemeren)

Let the words of my mouth, and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in Your sight: David closed this glorious psalm with a humble surrender of his mouth and heart to God. He knew that real godliness was not only a matter of what a man did, but also of what he said and thought in his heart.

This was not a proud proclamation that David knew he was innocent and blameless; it was a plea to be made so by the transforming power of God.

 

Acceptable in Your sight: “The psalm ends, not on the note of avoiding sin, but on that of offering back to God the mind’s fitting response to His own words, as a pure sacrifice (cf. Hosea 14:2). This is the probable implication of acceptable, a term often found in sacrificial contexts.” (Kidner)

O LORD, my strength and my Redeemer: King David looked to the Lord GOD to be his strength and redemption. He knew that he needed a Redeemer, and that the faithful God would rescue him.

Strength can also be translated as Rock. God’s strength is like a mighty rock that rescues us and gives us a firm standing place.

Redeemer is that great Hebrew word goel, the kinsman-redeemer. It was the goel who bought his relative out of slavery, who rescued him in bankruptcy and total loss. King David looked to God Himself as his kinsman-redeemer.

If our Rock were not our Redeemer, we should be without hope. If our Redeemer were not our Rock, still might we be afraid. It is good that we never forget the mutual interpretation of these two revelations of God.” (Morgan)

This psalm has run a glorious course. It begins with recognizing the glory of God in creation, and then the glory of His written revelation. Next to this great God and His great works, David knew himself to be small and sinful. Yet this great God would also be David’s strength and Redeemer as David put his trust in Him.[2]

Collect for Psalm 19: Heavenly Father, you have filled the world with beauty. Open our eyes to see your gracious hand in all your works, that rejoicing in your whole creation, we may learn to serve you with gladness, for the sake of him through whom all things were made, your Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.[3]


[1] Schnorr Von Carolsfeld woodcuts “Ezra Reads the Torah” copyright © WELS permission granted for personal and congregational use
[2] https://enduringword.com/bible-commentary/psalm-19/
[3] Collect for Psalm 19, For All the Saints, A Prayer Book For and By the Church, Vol. I © 1994, The American Lutheran Publicity Bureau, Delphi, NY


Sunday, January 16, 2022

Morning Prayer #77

 


The Visit of the Magi
Matthew 2 


Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold, wise men [a] from the east came to Jerusalem, 2 saying, “Where is he who has been born king of the Jews? For we saw his star when it rose [b] and have come to worship him.” 3 When Herod the king heard this, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him; 4 and assembling all the chief priests and scribes of the people, he inquired of them where the Christ was to be born. 5 They told him, “In Bethlehem of Judea, for so it is written by the prophet:

 

6 “‘And you, O Bethlehem, in the land of Judah,

    are by no means least among the rulers of Judah;

for from you shall come a ruler

    who will shepherd my people Israel.’”

 

7 Then Herod summoned the wise men secretly and ascertained from them what time the star had appeared. 8 And he sent them to Bethlehem, saying, “Go and search diligently for the child, and when you have found him, bring me word, that I too may come and worship him.” 9 After listening to the king, they went on their way. And behold, the star that they had seen when it rose went before them until it came to rest over the place where the child was. 10 When they saw the star, they rejoiced exceedingly with great joy. 11 And going into the house, they saw the child with Mary his mother, and they fell down and worshiped him. Then, opening their treasures, they offered him gifts, gold and frankincense and myrrh. 12 And being warned in a dream not to return to Herod, they departed to their own country by another way.

 

Footnotes:

Matthew 2:1 Greek magi; also verses 7, 16

Matthew 2:2 Or in the east; also verse 9

 

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


Monday prior to Epiphany 3

 

Psalm 102:18-22, Antiphon, Psalm 102:13 – You will arise and have pity on Zion; it is the time to favor her; the appointed time has come. The antiphon is the centerpiece of the entire psalm. The psalmist’s distress was occasioned by the Babylonian exile. Yet, he sees an appointed time – a time set by God for judgment and deliverance to come. As we pray this prayer, we too look for a time of deliverance to come. We pray that deliverance might come to us now and ultimately on the last great day, that day when we shall live beyond time and space.

The Theme for Psalm 102 is Afflicted But full of Trust

The title of this psalm is A Prayer of the afflicted, when he is overwhelmed and pours out his complaint before the LORD. This afflicted one borrowed his tone and some of his phrasing from Job, who is the Old Testament’s greatest example of affliction. Many phrases also match others in the psalms.

This psalm describes Jerusalem (Zion) in a state of ruin. If this is taken as literal ruin, the psalm may have been written by those in exile who mourned over both their personal and national affliction. Adam Clarke followed this thinking and suggested the author could be Daniel, Jeremiah, or Nehemiah. However, it may be that the ruin of Zion described is more poetic in nature and the psalm is pre-exilic.

In traditional Christian liturgy, this has been regarded as one of the seven penitential psalms (along with Psalms 6, 32, 38, 51, 130, and 143).

You will arise and have mercy on Zion. Though in deep affliction, the psalmist had steadfast confidence that God would act and show mercy to Jerusalem once again.

Yes, the set time, has come. At God’s appointed time, Jerusalem would be the object of God’s favor. He had a set time for their restoration and would not forever leave them in ruin.

If this psalm describes the time in exile, the set time points to the 70 years set by God for Israel’s captivity (Jeremiah 25:11-13 and 29:10).[2]

The Theme for Epiphany 3 is “The Purpose of Your Life.” In the Old Testament lesson (Nehemiah 8:1-3, 5-6, 8-10) Ezra the scribe reads the Book of the Law in the presence of the people. Reading from the Book of the Law brought tears to the people. Their purpose was to be directed by the Word of the Lord. In the Epistle lesson (1 Corinthians 12:12-31a) Paul reminds us that by the Spirit Christians are members of one body. In the Gospel lesson, (Luke 4:16-30) Jesus finds His purpose in Isaiah’s words. The Hymn of the Day ( Let us Ever Walk with Jesus 685 LSB) is a prayer asking the Christian to ever walk near to the Lord.

Collect for Psalm 102: LORD, while our days vanish like shadows and our lives wear out like a garment, you remain undisturbed by change. Although our earthly lives come to an end, help us to live in Christ’s endless life and at length attain our home, the heavenly Jerusalem, where he lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, now and forever.[3]- 17 January 2022


[1] Schnorr Von Carolsfeld woodcuts “Ezra Reads the Torah” copyright © WELS permission granted for personal and congregational use
[2] https://enduringword.com/bible-commentary/psalm-102/
[3] Collect for Psalm 102, For All the Saints, A Prayer Book For and By the Church, Vol. 1 © 1994 The American Lutheran Publicity Bureau, Delhi, NY