Thursday, December 31, 2009


So how shall we pronounce this new year of 2010? According to an NPR radio interview with a linguistic specialist the correct pronunciation is “two thousand ten” unless it is used to as a proper noun which would be “twenty ten”. Thus we can say 1.1.2010 will be the first day of the year two thousand ten and we can begin discussion on which team is better the nineteen eighty five Chicago Bears or the twenty ten Indianapolis Colts or the nineteen eighty one Hoosiers or the twenty ten Boilers. Now you know.

New Year's Eve

When our children read in history books concerning the year of our Lord 2009 what shall be recounted as significant? On January 20, 2009 Barack Obama was sworn into office as the 44th president of the United States. On that day the Dow closed at 7,943. The Dow fell to 6,594 on March 19th but by mid October had risen to just over 10,000 points. The economy continued to make headlines as the House and Senate soon after Obama’s inauguration signed into law a trillion dollar stimulus bill to help boost the nation’s financial system. Both GM and Chrysler filed for bankruptcy and restructuring in the 2nd quarter. In summer the temperatures were unseasonably cool across the Hoosier heartland. 2009 would be the coolest July on record. Only four days during the month reached average or above-average temperatures, but after the August recess in Washington things began to heat up as debate started over reforming the nation’s health care system. The college freshmen class set to graduate in 2013 had this unique distinction – never in their lives had they not known of a time when Americans were not fighting a war in Iraq.

Tonight we look back on a year gone by. We look bat at this past year and realize triumphs as well as failures. We see both disappointments and blessings; we find pains as well as pleasures. And yet, as we look at time that seems to fly by so quickly we see that our Lord Jesus remains timeless. In fact, what's more He never changes. Jesus remains consistent beyond time.
I. Jesus Christ has been right by our side in the past.
There was never a time in the past year when He didn't know of your situation or circumstance.
1. He's all knowing
2. He's all seeing
3. He's ever present
He has never left you down
1. There have been times when we have left Him down.
2. There have been times when we would not listen to His Word
Transition: But He remains changeless and that is why in the beginning even before time began before this world existed He established an eternal plan to save and redeem you.
II. He is with us right now.
A. To forgive us our sin
1. Establishing us as His own
2. Drawing us to Himself
3. Ever guiding and leading us
B. Where there is the forgiveness of sins there is also life and salvation.
1. Jesus said: "I have come that they might have life and have it abundantly…"
2. Salvation, having peace with God is a byproduct of this forgiveness.
III. As He has never left us down in the past and is actively involved in our lives at the present we can be assured that He will go with us in this New Year.
A. Changes might come our way in the New Year of 2010
1. Our Lord has some things to teach us.
2. All this is to draw us closer to Himself.
B. No matter what comes our way He's mighty enough to handle any problem we might have.
1. This is the only way we'll survive in this often-unpredictable world.
2. We can depend on Jesus our Savior.
CONCLUSION: We live in an ever increasing world of change. But in the midst of change Jesus remains changeless. He will be with us as He has in the past and will continue to be so even in the New Year. In His hands we will rest safe and secure.

Schnorr von Carolsfeld, woodcuts © WELS Permission to use these copyrighted items is limited to personal and congregational use

Tuesday, December 29, 2009



Monday, December 28, 2009

Time in the Word - Christmas 2

Because of the calendar, Christmas 2 is not often observed. By the second Sunday after Christmas many of the decorations are already down, the festivities are over, the gifts have been put away, and Christmas is over and almost forgotten. Now that the hub-bub is over, we can get down to a serious consideration of the meaning of the Incarnation of Jesus Christ. In Christ God blesses us with spiritual blessings and has made us sons and daughters through grace. We pray for wisdom as we enter a new year. The Savior entered time and space at Christmas. He will continue to guide our path and direct our steps throughout this New Year. Thus we are moved to pray, “Almighty God, You have filled us with the new light of the Word who became flesh and lived among us. Let the light of our faith shine in all that we do.”

Collect for Christmas 2Almighty God You have poured into our hearts the true Light of Your incarnate Word. Grant that this Light may shine forth in our lives; through Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, One God, now and forever. Amen

Monday, December 28 2009Psalm 147:1, 5, 11-12- The Antiphon, is taken from John 1:14 The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen His glory the glory of the One and only who came from the Father, full of grace and truth. — During this season of Christmas we see the full impact of Christ’s coming into this world. The Word existed before He became a man. Yet He comes to make his dwelling with us. He literally “tabernacles” with us. In Exodus 40:34-35 the Tent of Meeting was filled with the glory of God. Now He comes to dwell with us.

Tuesday, December 29 2008Psalm 119:97-104—This section of psalm 119 is dedicated to the Hebrew letter “Mem” Meditating on God’s revelation yields the highest wisdom. As we meditate on the Lord’s words and promises we grow into a deeper understanding of the Lord. Are you thinking of making a new year’s resolution? Will you keep it? The Lord always keeps His promises. He has bound Himself to His Word.

Wednesday, December 30 20091 Kings 3:4-15— As King Solomon begins his rule over Israel he asks the Lord for an understanding heart. He could have asked for anything and received it, yet as he begins his reign as king he asks the Lord for discretion and discernment. See how the Lord responds in verse 13 “I will give you what you have not asked for.” See Jesus’ promise in Luke 12:31

Thursday, December 31 2009Ephesians 1:3-14— Paul would remind us that Christ, the Word, blesses the faithful with sonship and wisdom. Verses 3-6 deal with praise to God for spiritual blessings which come with the gift of the Spirit. From eternity we are destined to be sons and daughters of God through the grace of Christ.

At Christmas we receive blessings. What is the nature of these blessings? We often feel blessed if the whole family got together, if the meals were plentiful, and if the gifts were abundant. Paul describes blessings of a Christian as “spiritual.” They are the blessings received in Christ and because of Christ. Some of the blessings are our being chosen as sons of God to be holy and blameless, faith in Christ, and love for others.

God has a destiny for you. He predestines us not to condemnation or hell but to life as His sons through Christ. It is God’s will for all of us to be saved, to have life, and to go to heaven. This was God’s will even before the world was created. To accomplish this, He sent His Son to the world to die for us that we might by faith become people of God. Though this is our divine destiny, we may reject God’s will and refuse sonship.

Friday, January 1, 2009Luke 2:40-52— Imagine the horror Mary and Joseph went through as they spent three days searching for Jesus. Having traveled to Jerusalem for the feast of Passover the streets of the capital city were filled with the throng of people. It took three days to locate the boy; one day traveling away from Jerusalem, a second traveling back and a third looking for Him. Yet they found Jesus in the temple in the Father’s house. Jesus pointed to His personal duty to His Father in heaven. Even at the age of twelve He was aware of His unique relationship to God. He was also obedient to His earthly parents. A new year has begun. May we dedicate this year to the study of Scripture, weekly attendance at Bible study, worship and frequent reception of the Sacrament. We want to grow in the faith. The degree to which this can be accomplished is determined by the extent to which we use and expose ourselves to Christ’s Word. Notice that Jesus grew in wisdom and stature and in favor with God and men. As our youth mature they need to grow physically, cognitively, as well as spiritually.

Saturday, January 2, 20091 Timothy 3:16; 1 Corinthians 2:7-10 - The hymn of the day for Christmas 2, Within the Father’s House (LSB 410) Paul mentions “mystery of godliness.” This phrase means the “revealed secret of true piety” that is the secret that produces piety in people. This secret is none other that Jesus Christ. His incarnation is the source of genuine piety. Has Jesus been born in you this Christmas season? By faith He dwells within you.

Prayers for a New YearO Lord Christ, our Savior dear, Be Thou ever near us. Grant us now a glad new year. Amen. Jesus hear us!

Lord God, You made Your beloved Son, our Savior, subject to the Law and caused Him to shed His blood on our behalf. Grant us the true circumcision of the Spirit that our hearts may be made pure from all sins; through Jesus Christ our Lord we pray.

Most merciful God, You gave Your eternal Word to become incarnate of the pure Virgin. Grant Your people grace to put away fleshly lusts that they may be ready for Your visitation; through Jesus Christ, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.

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

For blessing on the WordLord 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, my Lord.

A prayer before we study the WordAlmighty God, our heavenly Father, without Your help our labor is useless, and without Your light our search is in vain. Invigorate the study of Your holy Word that, by due diligence and right discernment, we may establish ourselves and others in Your holy faith.

There is no other Savior against sin and death, no one else to help in heaven or earth, than this singular child of the Virgin Mary named Jesus. Good works are to be done, but they are not Jesus, do not save, cannot rescue from death. This child, however, saves and rescues from death.

When we’re assaulted by ordinary earthly misfortunes, we can counter them most likely with the usual human resources. But when we lie at death’s door, then let go of all else, look only to this Savior, and say, “I know one doctor, advocate, emperor, king, pastor —namely, the child Jesus. He can and will save me from eternal death.
” (Martin Luther)
LUTHERAN SEVICE BOOK © 2006 Concordia Publishing House, St. Louis, MO

Luther’s Works: American Edit Edition. 55 volumes. (Volumes 1 ion. 1-30, Concordia Publishing House; volumes 31 31-55, Fortress Press)

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Christmas 1

Father in heaven, creator of all, You ordered the earth to bring forth life and crowned its goodness by creating the family of men. In history’s moment when all was ready, You sent Your Son to dwell in time, obedient to the laws of life in our world. Teach us the sanctity of human love, show us the value of human life, and help us to live in peace with all men that we may share in Your life for ever. We ask this through Christ our Lord. Amen

This is the last Sunday service in this church for the year of our Lord – 2009. We will close out the old year. How apprehensive are we as we contemplate what the New Year might bring? In our Gospel lesson for today Simeon and Anna are very old and desire to depart this life and remain in glory with their Lord. As we have come into a new relationship with Jesus Christ we, like Anna and Simeon of old can face the future no matter what might come our way in the New Year.

Christmas is a time for secrets: the secret of what we are giving each other. A mother admonished her child, “Now, don’t tell Daddy what we bought him for Christmas!” One sees a strange package in the house, and a spouse asks, “What’s in the package? The other replies: “That’s a secret. Don’t open it!”

But now Christmas has come, the secrets are out to the joy of everyone. Christmas is clothed with mystery – what is the meaning of the virgin birth, the star in the East, an angel’s message to shepherds, a choir of angels singing in the night? Now is the time to see what it is all about. Simeon and Anna in their final years see the secret that explains all in a child less than six weeks old being carried into the temple for dedication to God. Simeon and Anna serve as models for us today to understand the true meaning of Christmas – go gain the secret of Christmas, we, like Simeon and Anna must.

1. Be looking for the Savior – Now there was a man in Jerusalem called Simeon, who was righteous and devout. He was waiting for the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was upon him Vs. 25
A. Simeon and others had been waiting for the consolation of Israel.
1. They were waiting for that time when God would come to redeem and save His people.
2. When the Messiah was to come He would take their burdens and cares joys and sorrows to Himself.
B. Jesus is this hope and consolation so long hoped for.
1. But those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint. - Isaiah 40:31
2. Then you will know that I am the LORD. Those who hope in me will not be disappointed. Isaiah 49:23

Transition: Simeon was looking for the Lord. At just the right time and place the Lord’s will was reviewed to him.

2. Be in the right place – Moved by the Spirit, he went into the temple courts. When the parents brought in the child Jesus to do for him what the custom of the Law required Vs.27
A. Simeon entered the temple at the Spirit’s prompting.
1. This was no mere coincidence. It was God directed.
2. Recall those moments in your life and in our life together here within our Friedheim family in which the Lord acted at just the right moment. We were at the right place and at the right time because God was moving among His people. May He continue to shape and mold our lives in the New Year.
B. Joseph and Mary were doing what the Law required for them to do.
1. Although He was the eternal son of God Jesus was at the same time human.
2. Here we find the Father’s perfect substitute for you. Jesus will willingly fulfill every requirement the Law demands. Every detail will be followed. Even at eight days of age Jesus is beginning to “fulfill all righteousness” for you.

Transition: Aged Simeon was waiting for the Savior, He was at the right place and receptive to the Lord’s prompting.

3. Be spiritually receptive – It had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not die before he had seen the Lord’s Christ Vv. 26
A. God had given Him a wonderful promise.
1. He would see the Lord’s Christ before He died.
2. We too by faith have had numerous encounters with Jesus and will continue in the next New Year.
a. In the waters of Baptism
b. In His meal
c. In His declaration of forgiveness
d. Whenever His Word is put to use. When it is read, shared, taught, proclaimed.
B. Simeon knew that God could be trusted at His word.
1. God has bound Himself to His Word. This is where His promises are found.
2. Count on them. Trust them. Be strengthened and assured by them.

Transition: Simeon’s life and faith is a model for our living today.

4. Be guided by the Spirit – Moved by the Spirit, he went into the temple courts. Vs.27
A. He was a man of faith.
1. Faith is nothing more then trusting God
2. Trusting God is nothing more then taking Him at His Word.
B. This must be our manner of living.
1. To trust the Father’s will to be just and right.
2. To cling to His promises and to rely on His grace.

It had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not die before he had seen the Lord’s Christ. So, how long did Simeon live until the Lord called Him? Did he pass from grace to glory that night? Scripture doesn’t tell us. It doesn’t really matter. Having seen the Lord’s Christ his life was fulfilled. He was ready – to be received for His life was complete. Is your life complete or is there still some unfinished business? If we model Simeon of old we can depart from this life knowing ours has been a life well lived – lived not by our own agendas plans and schemes but according to the Father’s will. May He continue to shape our life as He orders our days and directs out path.

Schnorr von Carolsfeld, woodcuts © WELS Permission to use these copyrighted items is limited to personal and congregational use

Friday, December 25, 2009

Christmas Day

Almighty God, grant that the birth of Your only-begotten Son in the flesh may set us free from the bondage of sin; through Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amem
Father, we are filled with the new light by the coming of Your Word among us. May the light of faith shine in our words and actions. Grant this through our Lord Jesus Christ, Your Son, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, One God, for ever and ever. Amen

Just about everybody greets the other with the phrase, “Merry Christmas!” Yet, for many, Christmas is not merry but miserable. Social workers report that their intake numbers increase around the holidays then at any other time of the year. Alcohol and drugs are taken in record amounts either to have a merry Christmas or to avoid a miserable Christmas. For many a merry Christmas depends on the quantity and cost of gifts, the family gathering, and the Christmas party. Few experience the true joy of Christmas because they have not heard the good news told by an angel to shepherds. The source of our joy is found in verse 11.

1. Who is born – “To you is born this day a Savior.” This is good news to those who need a Savior. Who is this new baby? What will he amount to? Christmas should be a time for reflection and meditation. For some Christmas is over in a day and then life goes on as before. If so, Christmas is only a mad rush and a state of confusion. For those who “ponder,” Christmas is a meaningful experience.

A Savior comes to rescue people in danger, preserve those who are threatened by harm, and protect his people from the troubles that surround them. That's what saviors do! That's what Jesus came to do for us. Do not be afraid because God has sent a Savior to us -- Jesus Christ the Lord. He is the One who will never leave us or forsake us. He is the one who will supply all our needs according to his riches in glory. He alone will add to us all the things we need as we seek him and his Kingdom.

2. When is He born? –“This day.” Christmas is a contemporary experience, not an historical observance of an ancient event. It is a bold proclamation of the Gospel at the very hour of Jesus' birth. The time has come for the fulfillment of the prophetic expectation of the Messiah's coming. Fear not. The shepherds' fear is turned to joy as they hear news that a Savior is born. The Messiah! In Bethlehem, the city of David himself!
And so they run down the hillsides into the town and hurry from stable to stable until they find the Child in the manger, just as they have been told. Tucked in that manger, wrapped in swaddling clothes against the cold, is the Savior himself.
3. To whom He is born? – “To you The angels said, “To you is born this day...a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.” The emphasis is on “you.” That’s good, because we really do need saving. —Not just the suffering people in Judea back then... Not just the oppressed and impoverished people of Africa... Not just the war weary people of Iraq, the Sudan, and Afghanistan... —but us! And we need not just some “savior figure.” We need the real one, the One whose birth is the reason we’re here today. We need Him in ways our ancestors would never have imagined.

Here are some reasons why: The timeless message of Christmas is this: God believes in you. That’s right. God believes in you. He risked Himself on you. He entered our world as a dependent child, born to a poor girl from Galilee over 2000 years ago. And He is still “God who is with us”.... God who will not forsake us and leave us to seek a substitute salvation in consumerism, drugs, entertainment, political power or some other idol we might choose. It is not Christmas for you unless Christ is re-born in you. As the carol reminds us, “Cast out our sin and enter in, be born in us today.”
The Real Christmas message is this: God has sent a Savior for you. To save you from your sins and to help you in this life -- to lift your burden and ease your fears. That's it! A Savior who is Christ the Lord -- God himself! The world is gripped by fear. But fear's hold has been broken in those of us who believe the angel's words: "Fear not ... for a Savior is born to you -- Christ the Lord!"
“Almighty God, you have made this holy light shine with the brightness of the true Light. Grant that here on earth we may walk in the light of Jesus’ presence and in the last day wake to the brightness of his glory.”
photo found on Pr. F Eckert's blog

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Christ is Born

A Little Child, We Praise We Sing - M Praetorius (1571-1621)

A little Child, His praise we sing,
Is born to us, our thanks we bring.
From virgin maid, so pure and fair,
He comforts all, who burdens bear.
Had He, this little Child, not been born,
We surely would be lost, forlorn.
He brings to us salvation!
Oh, Thou, dear Savior, Jesus Christ!
Thou are born for all mankind,
Protect us from all evil.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Our God will come

Behold! In gloomy stable stall
There lies the Ruler of us all;
Where once the hungry oxen fed
The Virgin finds her Child a bed
From his Christmas Oratorio in simple yet magnificent words J. S. Bach explains for us the significance of what has just transpired outside an inn at Bethlehem. The creator of the entire universe, the Lord and ruler of us all becomes human.

Yet how does He choose to make Himself known? Not in pomp and circumstance, not with grand fanfare and a flourish of light and sound. Instead, He chooses to be placed in a manger; the feeding trough of the animals. He is born in a stable where beasts are kept. Not the place you would go searching to find the redeemer and savior of the world.

But this is the amazing thing about our Savior. He chooses to be found in those places the world would least expect. He chooses to reveal Himself in those places the world considers unimportant. He chooses to exert His power in what an unbelieving world considers weak and of little consequence.

The cruel cross of Calvary looms ahead of us even at Christmas. Does the death of a condemned man seem compelling enough to offer atonement? Could His life and sacrifice really save you? The surroundings and the circumstances of His birth predict His death. They are the means by which we find peace with God and absolution for our sin.

Ah! Dearest Jesus holy Child
Make Thee a bed soft undefiled,
Within my heart, that it may be
A quiet chamber kept for Thee.

Schnorr von Carolsfeld, woodcuts © WELS Permission to use these copyrighted items is limited to personal and congregational use.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Time in the Word - Christmas 1

The Firstborn Son of God Is Our Redemption from Sin and Death
When the Lord destroyed the firstborn sons of Egypt, He spared the sons of Israel by providing a lamb in their stead. Hence, all the firstborn sons belong to Him. Every firstborn male animal was sacrificed, and every firstborn son of man was redeemed (Ex. 13:12–13). Therefore, the parents of Jesus brought Him up to Jerusalem to present Him to the Lord (Luke 2:22). However, He is not redeemed from priestly service but is consecrated for the redemption of Jerusalem and the consolation of Israel (Luke 2:25, 38). For God the Father did not spare His only-begotten Son, but offered Him up as the true Passover Lamb, in order to redeem His people from bondage. His Cross has caused many to stumble and fall, but His blood atoned for the sins of the world and delivers us from death. We now depart in the peace of Christ because we are also raised with Him. As we receive His body and blood, we join Simeon and Anna in giving thanks to God the Father through Him, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, including the Nunc Dimittis, with thankfulness in our hearts (Luke 2:28–32, 38; Col. 3:15–17).

Monday, 21 December 2009Psalm 98:1–4; Antiphon, Isaiah 52:10—The Introit for Sunday speaks of the salvation of the Lord. The antiphon proclaims all the ends of the earth shall see the salvation of our God. Salvation has been made known; salvation can be seen—seen in the incarnate Son of God, the infant Child born in Bethlehem 2,000 years ago. Because of the steadfast love and faithfulness of our God, the Christ was born to be the salvation of all the world. This gives cause to Make a joyful noise to the Lord, all the earth; break forth into joyous song and sing praises!

Tuesday, 22 December 2009Psalm 111—Psalm 111 is a song of the highest praise. In the original Hebrew, every line of the psalm starts with a successive letter of the alphabet, a form of Hebrew poetry which serves to highlight the content of the psalm. The Lord is praised for all His great works, culminating in the fact that He sent redemption to his people. This He did by sending His Son into the world to be our substitute, to take upon Himself our sins, that we might receive the inheritance of the nations, namely eternal life with Him.

Wednesday, 23 December 2009Exodus 13:1–3a, 11–15—God commanded that the firstborn sons of the Israelites be consecrated—set apart—for special service to Him as a reminder of His grace and mercy toward His people. 1,440 years later, the only-begotten Son of God would be born into this world and consecrated for service to the Lord. He would render His service to His Father by rendering service to us in redeeming us from the curse of sin.

Thursday, 24 December 2009Colossians 3:12–17—Christ came into the world and became a man, that He might save man. By Baptism we have been incorporated into Him. How should we new creatures live? St Paul gives guidelines, which can be summarized by saying that our lives ought to reflect Christ. The only way that this is possible is for us to let the peace of Christ rule in our hearts, and to let the word of Christ dwell in us richly.

Friday, 25 December 2009Luke 2:22–40—Ancient Simeon had been promised that he would see the Lord’s salvation before he died. When Mary and Joseph presented Jesus in the temple, that promise was fulfilled, and Simeon sang a song of praise, the Nunc Dimittis. It is fitting that we sing this same song after receiving the body and blood of our Lord in the Sacrament of the Altar, for we have seen—and partaken— of the salvation of the Lord, and are prepared for eternity with Him.

Saturday, 26 December 2009—The hymn of the day, Let All Together Praise Our God (LSB 389), praises God for the gift of His Son, Jesus, who has opened the gates of heaven for all who believe in Him.

Collect for the First Sunday after ChristmasO God, our Maker and Redeemer, You wonderfully created us and in the incarnation of Your Son yet more wondrously restored our human nature. Grant that we may ever be alive in Him who made Himself to be like us; through Jesus Christ, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.

Collects for Christmas Eve (24 December): O God, You make us glad with the yearly remembrance of the birth of Your only-begotten Son, Jesus Christ. Grant that as we joyfully receive Him as our Redeemer, we may with sure confidence behold Him when He comes to be our Judge; through the same Jesus Christ, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.

O God, You make this most holy night to shine with the brightness of the true Light. Grant that as we have known the mysteries of that Light on earth we may also come to the fullness of His joys in heaven; 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.

Collects for the Feast of the Nativity of Our Lord (25 December): Most merciful God, You gave Your eternal Word to become incarnate of the pure Virgin. Grant Your people grace to put away fleshly lusts, that they may be ready for Your visitation; through Jesus Christ, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.

Almighty God, grant that the birth of Your only-begotten Son in the flesh may set us free from the bondage of sin; through Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.

Collect for the Feast of St Stephen, Martyr (26 December): Heavenly Father, in the midst of our sufferings for the sake of Christ grant us grace to follow the example of the first martyr, Stephen, that we also may look to the One who suffered and was crucified on our behalf and pray for those who do us wrong; through Jesus Christ, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.

Collect for the Feast of St John, Apostle and Evangelist (27 December): Merciful Lord, cast the bright beams of Your light upon Your Church that we, being instructed in the doctrine of Your blessed apostle and evangelist John, may come to the light of everlasting life; for You live and reign with the Father and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.

Prayers from Lutheran Service Book, © 2006 Concordia Publishing House.
Woodcut by Baron Julius Schnoor von Carolsfeld, 1794-1872, a distinguished German artist known especially for his book, Das Buch der Bücher in Bilden [The Book of Books in Pictures])

This week's Time in the Word was written by Pr. Jeffrey Keuning who serves St. John, Casey and Zion, Dexter, IA

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Advent 4

Lord, fill our hearts with Your love, and as You revealed to us by an angel the coming of Your Son as a man, so lead us through His suffering and death to the glory of His resurrection, for He lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

When Mary visited Elizabeth she is called by her cousin blessed as the child inside of her leapt for joy as the sound of Mary’s voice. Ever see football players leap for joy at the time of a touchdown? Ever see a child jump up and down at the sight of the gift of a new puppy? How many of us are leaping for joy that the Christ-child is coming this Christmas? Elizabeth’s unborn child, John the Baptizer, leaped for joy in her womb when Mary with the unborn Jesus entered the room.

How many are leaping for joy this Christmas season? Many are not. Luke reminds us that the unborn child John the Baptist leapt for joy when Mary entered the room.

On this last Sunday in Advent, we are on the threshold of Christmas, a time of joyous celebration. Are we happy at Christmas for the right reasons? Are we happy because of gifts, family and friends gathering together, parties, vacation from school? True Christmas joy is based upon two realities.

1. Trust Christmas joy is found in who is being born:
A. Christ the Lord.
1. He is the eternal God.
2. Who created all things.
3. He is Lord of all.
B. The Lord whom we have offended.
1. As the all knowing and all seeing God He know our faults.
2. Our crimes our sins committed against Him in thoughts, words, and deeds rise up against us.

Transition: What shall we do? We can’t deny our sinfulness. We can’t ignore them. We can’t deny them. Instead we plead for mercy as we run into His welcome arms and welcome Him the Advent/Christmas season. This is where true joy is found as we consider.

2. What He is going to accomplish: “A Savior who is Christ the Lord”
A. He came to die in our stead
B. He came to take our punishment.
C. He came to be our Savior.

Some folks these days find it difficult to get into the holiday mood. They want to but the joy simply is not there. It is easy to be overwhelmed with life. For us our joy is found not in how we feel but on what God has objectively done for us. Christ has come to enter our world. He has come to bear our sin and be our Savior. Because He has visited His people we receive life in His name. It is for this reason that you can celebrated and find true peace and joy.

Schnorr von Carolsfeld, woodcuts © WELS Permission to use these copyrighted items is limited to personal and congregational use.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Advent - mid week 3

Father, may the coming celebration of the birth of Your Son bring us Your saving help and prepare us for eternal life. Grant this through our Lord Jesus Christ, Your Son, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, One God, now and forever.

The prophet Zephaniah calls us to rejoice for God is in her midst. The theme of rejoicing is found in this third week of Advent. The theme says, ‘Joy to the world, for the lord is Coming” Christmas joy happens at the coming and the appearing of Jesus Christ. We rejoice in anticipation of His coming. It is a time of excitement of the one who is to come. The prophet encourages us

1. To sing and shout!
A. You have the victory – Vs.15a
B. You have God with you – Vv.15b, 17a
C. You have no fear – Vv.15c, 16b
2. God is Happy with you!
A. Because you are His people
B. Because you love and serve Him
C. Because you do His will
3. Our reasons to rejoice – God is in your midst!
A. God is with you
B. God is for you
C. God is in you

Monday, December 14, 2009

Time in the Word - Advent 4

The theme for the Fourth Sunday in Advent is How God Sent His Son. Next Sunday, we turn our attention toward the Nativity of Our Lord. With Mary we await the coming of the Christ, her Son, conceived in her womb by the Word and Spirit of God. As the Lord dealt graciously with her and did great things for her (Luke 1:48–49), so also he manifests Himself and His glory to us in mercy and gentleness. He comes to rule His people in peace, to “shepherd His flock in the strength of the Lord.” He comes forth not from the great capital city of Jerusalem, but from lowly little Bethlehem (Mic. 5:2, 4). He comes to sacrifice Himself, in fulfillment of His Father’s will, for the salvation and sanctification of His people (Heb. 10:10). He who once visited Elizabeth while hidden in the womb of Mary (Luke 1:39–45), now comes to visit us today, hidden in the lowliness of simple water, bread and wine.

Monday, 14 December 20091 Samuel 2:1b, 2, 5b–7; Antiphon, Luke 1:46b–47—As the birth of our Lord draws near, the sense of anticipation and expectation is heightened. The antiphon is taken from the Magnificat, the song of the blessed Virgin when she visited and was blessed by Elizabeth, and the as-yet-unborn John leaped in Elizabeth’s womb in joy of being in his Savior’s presence. The entire antiphon looks forward to the salvation of the Lord, the salvation made concrete when the Son of God assumed flesh, and the salvation which was accomplished when He died on the cross. By His death and resurrection, He has brought us to life, made us rich, and exalted us.

Tuesday, 15 December 2009Psalm 80:1–7—Twice in this section (and thrice in the entire psalm), the refrain beseeches the Lord, Restore us, O God; let your face shine, that we may be saved! The immediate context of the psalm was the dark days which had fallen upon the Northern Kingdom of Israel, the people and her kings having forsaken the true God and lapsed into idolatry. For us, the darkness is that of sin, which we desire to be put away and atoned for. Such has been accomplished for us by the Savior of the world, God in man made manifest to us: Jesus Christ. He has saved and restored us.

Wednesday, 16 December 2009Micah 5:2–5a—Seven hundred years before the birth of our Lord, the prophet Micah was sent by God to rebuke the people for their idolatry and prophesy about the coming Christ. Here, he tells where the Savior is to be born: Bethlehem, the city of David (who was from the clan of Ephrathah). In his Gospel, St Matthew cites this prophecy as fulfilled in Christ Jesus.

Thursday, 17 December 2009Hebrews 10:5–10—Christ came as a tiny Baby born in a manger in Bethlehem, but let us take care not to romanticize the scene too much. He came for one purpose, and that was to do His Father’s will by offering up His body as a sacrifice for us, so that we—who could never please God, whether by our conduct or by any sacrifices which we ourselves could offer—so that we might be saved and made holy through the sacrifice of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.

Friday, 18 December 2009Luke 1:39–45 (46–56)—The Gospel for Sunday tells of the Visitation, when the blessed Virgin Mary visited her cousin Elizabeth, who was pregnant with John the Baptist. Both John and Elizabeth were jubilant to be in the presence of the Son of God, even while He was in the womb of His mother. John leaps, Elizabeth blesses Mary, and Mary responds by singing the Magnificat.

Saturday, 19 December 2009—The hymn of the day, Once in Royal David’s City (LSB 376), was designed by composer by Cecil Frances Alexander as a catechism hymn, to go along with the Second Article of the Creed: I believe in…Jesus Christ…conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the Virgin Mary. It tells the story of the birth of Jesus in a stable in Bethlehem, Royal David’s City, as foretold by the prophet Micah.

Collect for the Fourth Sunday in Advent: Stir up Your power, O Lord, and come and help us by Your might, that the sins which weigh us down may be quickly lifted by Your grace and mercy; for You live and reign with the Father and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.

The Magnificat:
My soul magnifies the Lord,and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,
for he has looked on the humble estate of his servant.For behold, from now on all generations will call me blessed.
For he who is mighty has done great things for me,and holy is his name.
And his mercy is for those who fear himfrom generation to generation.
He has shown strength with his arm;he has scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts;
He has brought down the mighty from their thronesand exalted those of humble estate;
He has filled the hungry with good things,and the rich he has sent away empty.
He has helped his servant Israel,in remembrance of his mercy,
as he spoke to our fathers,to Abraham and to his offspring forever.
Glory be to the Father and to the Sonand to the Holy Spirit;
as it was in the beginning,is now, and will be forever. Amen.

Prayer for newness of life in Christ: Almighty God, give us grace that we may cast away the works of darkness and put upon ourselves the armor of light now in the time of this mortal life in which Your Son, Jesus Christ, came to visit us in great humility, that in the Last Day, when He shall come again in glorious majesty to judge both the living and the dead, we may rise to life immortal; through Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen.

Prayers from Lutheran Service Book, © 2006 Concordia Publishing House.
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This week's Time in the Word is written by Pr. Jeffrey Keuning who serves Zion, Dexter and St. John, Casey, IA of the Iowa West District of the LCMS

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Advent 3

Almighty God, through John the Baptist, the forerunner of Christ, You once proclaimed salvation; now grant that we may know this salvation and serve You in holiness and righteousness all the days of our lives; through Jesus Christ, our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, One god, now and forever.

Our anxiety over life in a broken world gives way to the joy inside of our tears – as Christians we can experience real and lasting joy mid tears and sadness. We truly expect and actually prepare for the reception of God’s peace in the Christ child, a peace that passes all human understanding. The prophet Zephaniah announces the joy and demonstrates God’s presence in our midst while Luke shows us how the Holy Spirit helps us prepare by cleansing the way and anticipating the consummation of all things.

1. Joyful tears make now our patience before people.
A. Patience recognizes that the Lord is near. Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near (Vs.5)
B. This patience petitions God. Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God (V.6)
1. We offer prayer and supplication.
2. We offer it with thanksgiving.
C. Patience keeps our hearts and minds in the peace of God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus (V.7)

2. Joyful tears show our imitation of Christ.
A. We imitate His qualities. Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things (v.8)
1. We receive these qualities in Baptism, when we become “Christ’s”
2. They are detailed in the Beatitudes of the Sermon on the Mount. You, dear friend are blessed. The Kingdom of Heaven is yours! You shall see God for you are called the sons of God - for you belong to Christ. (Matthew 5:1-12)I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death. (Philippians 3:10)
1. We suffer in our fight against opponents of the Gospel. For it has been granted to you on behalf of Christ not only to believe on him, but also to suffer for him, since you are going through the same struggle you saw I had, and now hear that I still have (Philippians1:29-30)

2. We suffer with the same mind of Christ detailed by Paul when he encouraged us
Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death— even death on a cross! Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father (Philippians 2:5-11)
C. We imitate the apostolic tradition, which assures us that the God of peace will be with us. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you. (Philippians 4:9)
1. We recount what we have learned, received, heard, and seen from the apostles.
2. We proclaim the incarnate Word, whose birth we celebrate at Christmas.
3. We celebrate God’s peace in Communion.
The God of peace will be with you. Now that’s true comfort – comfort we need as we live in the midst of tears and sadness.

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Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Mid-week Advent 2

All powerful Father, as we await the healing power of Christ Your Son let us not be discouraged by our weakness as we prepare for His coming. Keep us steadfast in Your love for we ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, Your Son, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever.

In our preparations for the celebration of Christmas we prepare also our attitudes concerning our giving. In the book of Malachi God promises to send a messenger who would prepare the way of the Lord. The prophet asks a telling question “but who can endure the day of His coming?” (vs.2)

1. Can you take Christmas?
Who can take the coming of Christ at Christmas? Each year Christmas is becoming more and more difficult to endure it seems with the buying and exchanging of gifts and their cost. Social agencies report that at Christmas there are more stressors than at any other time of the year. There is more loneliness, more heartache, and more disappointments.

A. Can you endure the secularization of Christmas?

B. Can you endure the refiner’s fire of cleansing of sins? (3:3)

C. Can you endure the holy presence of Christ?

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Monday, December 7, 2009

Time in the Word - Advent 3

The Coming of Jesus Enables Us to Rejoice

The Third Sunday in Advent has traditionally been called by the Latin word, Gaudete, meaning ‘Rejoice!’ For as you are called to repentance, so also are you urged to rejoice in the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ. By His own Cross, He has accomplished salvation for you; He has cleared away your enemies, taken away the judgments against you, and has come to reign in your midst. Indeed, He rejoices over you with gladness! (Zeph. 3:15–17). Therefore, even from prison St. Paul encourages us to rejoice in the Lord always, knowing that the peace of God will guard and keep us in Christ Jesus (Phil. 4:4, 7). We find an example and encouragement in the case of John the Baptizer. As he languishes in prison, he calls upon Jesus and is strengthened by the Word of the Gospel that he receives. The same good news is preached to you, by which all things are made new and even the dead are raised up (Luke 7:22). Do not be offended by the cross, therefore, but let your life be one of prayer and thanksgiving (Luke 7:23; Phil 4:6).
Monday, 7 December 2009—Psalm 146:5–8; Antiphon, Philippians 4:4—On this Gaudete (‘Rejoice’) Sunday, the antiphon urges us to Rejoice in the Lord always! We rejoice because the Lord has set the prisoners free, even we who are in bondage to the lusts of our fallen flesh. We rejoice because He opens the eyes of the blind, even we who are blinded by sin. We rejoice because He lifts up those who are bowed down, even we who are bowed down by our guilt. We rejoice because the Lord loves the righteous, even we who are righteous, not by our deeds, but by our faith in Jesus Christ, the Savior of mankind.
Tuesday, 8 December 2009—Psalm 85—The antiphon, v. 2, proclaims You forgave the iniquity of your people; you covered all their sin. This is the reason that we sinners can rejoice; in Christ, God has forgiven all our sin. The psalm reflects the fact that, even after we are forgiven, we again fall into sin must seek forgiveness. Because of the steadfast love of the Lord, He indeed revives us again, that we may rejoice in Him.
Wednesday, 9 December 2009—Zephaniah 3:14–20—The people of Israel—the people of God—are summoned to rejoice and exult because the Lord has taken away all judgments. He has done this for us—the people of God—by the Lord God who is in our midst: Christ, who came to earth as a man, and lived, died, and rose again for us. He still is in our midst, coming to us in His means of grace, Word and Sacrament, the mighty one who saves us.
Thursday, 10 December 2009—Philippians 4:4–7—Rejoice in the Lord always, says St Paul. Why? Jesus Christ, by His death and resurrection, has taken away the reproach of God for sin. We are now at peace with God, peace that surpasses all our understanding, for we can never fully understand the mystery of God assuming flesh, becoming sin for us, and dying to redeem us from the curse of our sin. We can only rejoice in the Lord that He has done so because of His grace and mercy.
Friday, 11 December 2009—Luke 7:18–28—‘Is Jesus the long-expected Messiah and Savior?’ ask John’s disciples. What do you see? The blind see, the lame walk…the dead are raised, and so on. Only God can do this, foreshadowing the restoration of fallen creation, which will be completed at the Second Coming of Christ. In the meantime, we who are spiritually poor have the Good News of the forgiveness of sins preached to us. Jesus Christ is the promised One, who by His death has healed us of the disease of iniquity and has raised us to life, who were dead in our trespasses and sins.
Saturday, 12 December 2009—The hymn of the day, O Come, O Come, Emmanuel (LSB 357), is an ancient hymn based upon seven even more ancient antiphons (called the ‘O’ Antiphons) which were used in the Office at Vespers (the evening office) during the last seven days of Advent. Each antiphon and each hymn stanza refers to a different title for Christ: Wisdom, Adonai (‘Lord’), Root (or Branch) of Jesse, Key of David, Dayspring, King of Nations, Emmanuel (‘God with Us’).
This week's Time in the Word is written by Pr. Jeffrey Keuning who serves St. John Dexter and Zion, Casey, IA
Schnorr von Carolsfeld, woodcuts © WELS Permission to use these copyrighted items is limited to personal and congregational use.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

St. Nicholas Day

He had a reputation for secret gift-giving, such as putting coins in the shoes of those who left them out for him, and thus became the model for Santa Claus, whose English name comes from the German Sankt Niklaus. His reputation evolved among the faithful, as is common for early Christian saints.[2] In 1087, his relics were furtively translated to Bari, in southern Italy; for this reason, he is also known as Nicholas of Bari.

The historical Saint Nicholas is remembered and revered among Catholic and Orthodox Christians. He is also honoured by various Anglican and Lutheran churches. Saint Nicholas is the patron saint of sailors, merchants, archers, and children, and students in Greece, Belgium, Romania, Bulgaria, Georgia, Russia, the Republic of Macedonia, Slovakia, Serbia and Montenegro. He is also the patron saint of Barranquilla, Bari, Amsterdam, Beit Jala, and Liverpool. In 1809, the New-York Historical Society convened and retroactively named Sancte Claus the patron saint of Nieuw Amsterdam, the Dutch name for New York City.[3] He was also a patron of the Varangian Guard of the Byzantine emperors, who protected his relics in Bari.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Messiah sing-along

At Quenn of Angels Catholic Church, 1500 W State Blvd, Fort Wayne, IN @ 2 pm 12/06/2009 The joy of singing Messiah is open to everyone in this Fourth Messiah Sing-Along with Thomas Remenschneider directing. If you have never been to an event like this, it is tons of fun. Brush up on your singing with members of the Bach Collegium. Bring your own score or borrow a copy we will have available for you. Holiday cookies and coffee will be served. Of course since I can NOT sing I will be doing it all in my head!

Advent 2

God of power and mercy, open our hearts in welcome. Remove the things that hinder us from receiving Christ with joy so that we may share His wisdom and become one with Him when He comes in glory, for He lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, One God for ever and ever. Amen

The person and activities of John the Baptist are part and parcel of the “gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God” (Mark 1:1) He is the Advent figure par excellence, serving as a paradigm of the church’s responsibility at the start of a new church year; namely, to concentrate on preparing the hearts and minds of its members for the approach of their Lord and Savior. We shall, therefore, celebrate this season of Advent with our ears attuned to Luke’s account of the public appearance of John as marking a signal moment in God’s dealings with us who are His people.

1. The setting for Christ’s coming.

A. Political institutions are decaying.

1. In 9 BC the political leaders of Asia Minor had issued a decree expressing their conviction that the great Augustus (Luke 2:1) had inaugurated a new ear of hope for all humanity. But Augustus was followed by Tiberius (3:1) who managed to ascend the throne by scheming and manipulation and soon turned into a madman. All five political figures named by Luke in 3:1 not only fix the moment of John’s prophetic activity but also remind us of the breakdown of Roman power. In the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar—when Pontius Pilate was governor of Judea, Herod tetrarch of Galilee, his brother Philip tetrarch of Iturea and Traconitis, and Lysanias tetrarch of Abilene—

2. We have begun a new church year amid the debris of many familiar political structures, on some which we have come to depend for a measure of stability and integrity. Yet some wonder if the world we have become accustomed to is coming apart at the seams. As we enter the month of December 2009 we have now been at war in Iraq longer then we were at war in Viet Nam.

B. Religious corruption is rampant.

1. Luke speaks of one high-priestly office but lists two names: Annas and Caiaphas. This is the evangelist’s way of indicating to what depths that office had fallen. Annas was able to get five of his sons as well as Caiaphas, his son-in-law, into an office established by God to be occupied by the successors of Aaron for the lifetime of each one. Annas it seems was the power broker who had much control within the temple and the Sanhedrin court.

2. We live in a day of brash blasphemy. Many have fallen prey to the occult, to various cults, to the worship of Satan, to Eastern religions of all kinds. Doctrinal disarray prevails almost everywhere in mainline Christian churches.

C. Yet, it is into such conditions of decay and darkness that God sends His prophetic Word. The Lord of the church asks us to take on the world as it is to prepare people for the coming of Jesus Christ. We are asked to serve as a light to a darkened world.

1. In the days of John there was a yearning to liberation. The people were waiting expectantly and were all wondering in their hearts if John might possibly be the Christ. (vs.15)

2. Many sheep “look up but are not fed.” They need to hear the prophetic Word.

2. Its significance.

A. It is an example of recapitulation.
1. As the old Israel was turned into God’s special people by water (Red Sea), in the desert, and by the Voice from Mt. Sinai, so John was called into the desert as the prophetic voice to baptize with water.

2. Advent serves to remind us that the church (as now the new Israel) lives, as it were, in a desert, sustained by water and the voice of prophet and apostle. For I do not want you to be ignorant of the fact, brothers, that our forefathers were all under the cloud and that they all passed through the sea. They were all baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea. They all ate the same spiritual food and drank the same spiritual drink; for they drank from the spiritual rock that accompanied them, and that rock was Christ. Nevertheless, God was not pleased with most of them; their bodies were scattered over the desert. Now these things occurred as examples to keep us from setting our hearts on evil things as they did. (1 Corinthians 10:1-6)

B. It is a call to repentance.

1. John calls on Jews to repent even though by descent they were children of Abraham.
a. “Repentance” was a familiar term in that day, but the teachers put it like this: “Repent; then the kingdom of God will come.”
b. John turned the formula around. John said, “Repent; for the kingdom of God is upon you.” (Matthew 3:2)

2. We who are God’s children are to repent because God, in Baptism, has appropriated to us the forgiveness of sins.

C. It is a call to administer the Sacrament of Holy Baptism.

1. John baptized for the remission of sins. He went into all the country around the Jordan, preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. (Luke 3:3)

2. Christian baptism has even greater significance; it takes us back into the crucifixion and resurrection of our Lord. Or don’t you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life. If we have been united with him like this in his death, we will certainly also be united with him in his resurrection. (Romans 6:3-5).

3. By Baptism we become members of Christ’s body, which is the church.
For we were all baptized by one Spirit into one body—whether Jews or Greeks, slave or free—and we were all given the one Spirit to drink. (1 Corinthians 12:13)

3. The Sequel.

A. “Fruits” worthy of repentance are called for. Produce fruit in keeping with repentance. And do not begin to say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our father.’ For I tell you that out of these stones God can raise up children for Abraham (Luke 3:8).

1. John spoke in harsh words of judgment over the Israel of his day But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees coming to where he was baptizing, he said to them: “You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the coming wrath? Produce fruit in keeping with repentance. (Matthew 3:7-8) and uttered words of promising salvation. And all mankind will see God’s salvation (Luke 3:6)

2. In the same way Advent invites us to examine ourselves in light of God’s Law so that we may fully understand the measure of His grace.

B. By the Spirit’s power, changes take place in people’s lives.

1. John’s proclamation changes the life-style of many persons so radically that his work could be likened to leveling the mountains (of pride) and filling in the valleys (of humility). The words of Isaiah (40:3-5) were fulfilled in John as the voice in the desert.

2. The church’s Advent message aims to move us to bring forth more bountifully then ever what Paul calls “the fruit of the Spirit” (Galatians 5:22)

What today’s Gospel tells us of God’s signal moment in history, the season of Advent addresses to us in terms of our personal life with God. Before our baptism we belonged to the realm of darkness. Now we belong to the kingdom of light. Amid the growing darkness of the moment in which we live, let us, like John, testify to the true Light that came into this world to “enlighten every man” (John 1:9)

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Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Mid-Week Advent 1

Lord our God, grant that we may be ready to receive Christ when He comes in glory and to share in the banquet of heaven, where He lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever. Amen

As we begin our preparation for the celebration of Christmas through the season of Advent we anticipate Christ’s Second Advent – His return visibly to this earth as judge and king. In the Old Testament through the prophet Jeremiah we are told that God would send us His Messiah to execute justice and righteousness on this earth. God promises to send a Branch from David.

1. God promises to fulfill his promiseThe days are coming,’ declares the LORD, ‘when I will fulfill the gracious promise I made to the house of Israel and to the house of Judah Vs. 14

a. Was not this promise fulfilled in Christ? Ultimately, they are combined in the highest sense in Christ and are yet to be fulfilled in His reign on earth. (cf. Ps 110:4) The Psalmist David under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit could look into time and see the coming Savior Jesus coming to assume His throne as a royal priest under a divine order. Says David, The LORD has sworn and will not change his mind: “You are a priest forever, in the order of Melchizedek.

b. There is still a promise to be fulfilled. That will come at the end of days. (Parousia) When Jesus breaks into time and space for a second time then all honor authority dominion will be given to Him when He returns as judge and king.

c. Has the promise been fulfilled in you? What is needed now, more then ever, is a personal experience with Jesus Christ. How does that happen? It happens when we meet Him where He will be found; in the waters of Holy Baptism, in His meal, in His word which is read, proclaimed, taught, shared. His desire is to grow deeper in a relationship with you.
True, the preparation for the season of Christmas is filled with its own hectic pace and its own agendas and plans. To this night, while it is still early in the Advent season, make an intentional plan to meet the Lord where He can be found so that you may grow in faith in this season.

2. Who then is the One who is coming?

a. He is the Son of David – royalty – vs.15 In those days and at that time I will make a righteous Branch sprout from David’s line; he will do what is just and right in the land. Jeremiah's picture of the coming Messiah is varied and unique. Those days" are the messianic times. It is through the Lord’s Messiah, the righteous One, that the restoration and attendant blessings will be realized.

b. His work; justice and righteousness vs.15b – he will do what is just and right in the land. This is the purpose of His coming. He chose to break into time and space to begin the work of your redemption. That plan was to restore the earth back to the Father. And how did He do this? Through the shedding of innocent blood. Through His sacrifice for sin. Through His innocent suffering and death. That, you might be His own and live before Him in righteousness and innocence forever.

c. Result of His coming – salvation – vs.16 - In those days Judah will be saved and Jerusalem will live in safety. This is the name by which it will be called: The LORD Our Righteousness.
Salvation and safety are in store for Judah and Jerusalem because of the presence of justice and righteousness personified in the person of Jesus Christ.

God promises to send a Branch from David. That Branch came in the person of Jesus Christ. His coming will result in new beginnings.

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Monday, November 30, 2009

Time in the Word - Advent 2

The Preaching of Repentance Prepares Usfor the Coming of the Lord
The preaching and baptism “of repentance for the forgiveness of sins” (Luke 3:3) prepare us for the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ. The historic work of John the Baptizer was completed with the first Advent of our Lord Jesus in the flesh, but the ministry of the Forerunner continues in the preaching of Law and Gospel and in Holy Baptism. Through His messengers, the Lord calls people of all nations to “see the salvation of God” (Luke 3:6). Our haughtiness is removed, and our mountains of pride are brought low, but the Lord humbles us in order to exalt us in His mercy; He fills up our valleys with His peace. As the Lord has begun this good work of repentance in us, so also does he perfect it by His Word and Holy Spirit, and He “will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ” (Phil. 1:6). He purifies us to be His priestly people, precious in His sight, abounding in faith and love, so that our very lives are offered in righteousness to the Lord (Mal. 3:3–4).

Monday, 30 November 2009—Psalm 81:8, 10–11, 13; Antiphon, Luke 3:4b—The children of Israel had been delivered by the Lord out of their bondage in Egypt, and yet rejected Him. The antiphon for Sunday’s Introit exhorts us to heed John the Baptist, who came to prepare the way of the Lord by preaching repentance. During this pœnitential season, let us examine ourselves, repent of our sins, and prepare to meet our Savior who comes to us.
Tuesday, 1 December 2009—Psalm 66:1–12—A song of praise to the Lord for all of His benefits to His people. All the earth worships You and sings praises to You; they sing praises to Your Name. is echoed in a later Christian hymn which we sing in the Office at Mains, the Te Deum Laudamus.
Wednesday, 2 December 2009—Malachi 3:1–7b—Four hundred years before the birth of Christ, Malachi prophesies about Him (the Lord whom you seek and the messenger of the covenant) and His fore-runner, John the Baptist (my messenger). Jesus will usher in the last judgment and will judge between the self-righteous who simply pay lip service to Him and those who worship Him in truth and purity, trusting not in their own efforts, but in the Savior who alone can gain our salvation.
Thursday, 3 December 2009—Philippians 1:2–11—In Advent, we look forward to the coming of Christ, not only as the holy infant born in Bethlehem, but also His Second Coming. In the epistle for Sunday, St Paul speaks of the increasing sanctification of the Philippians as that day comes nearer. His prayer for their preparation is also his prayer for ours: that our love may abound more and more, that we have knowledge and discernment, and that we may be filled with the fruit of righteousness.
Friday, 4 December 2009—Luke 3:1–14—The Gospel reading tells of the work of the fore-runner of Christ, John the Baptist, in preparing for the coming Savior. John’s message was simple: ‘Repent.’ That is his word to us, also, every day, but especially in this pœnitential season. The life of the baptized is always one of repentance and the subsequent bringing forth of fruits in keeping with repentance, as we confess in our Small Catechism: the Old Adam in us should, by daily contrition and repentance, be drowned and die…and a new man daily come forth and arise, who shall live before God in righteousness and purity forever.
Saturday, 5 December 2009—The hymn of the day, O Bride of Christ, Rejoice (LSB 335), expresses the joy that Christ’s Church has as she waits in expectation of His coming, not only into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday, but especially at the day of glory foretold in ancient story, the Last Day, when He comes to judge the world and take all believers to eternity in heaven.
Collect for the Second Sunday in AdventStir up our hearts, O Lord, to make ready the way of Your only-begotten Son, that by His coming we may be enabled to serve You with pure minds; through the same Jesus Christ, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.
Prayers from Lutheran Service Book © 2006 and Lutheran Worship © 1980 Concordia Publishing HouseSchnorr Von Carolsfeld woodcuts © WELS permission granted for personal and congregational use
This week's edition was written by Pr. Jeffrey Keuning who serves St. John Dexter and Zion Casey, IA

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Advent 1

All powerful God, increase our strength of will for doing good that Christ may find an eager welcome at His coming and call us to His side in the kingdom of heaven, where He lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen

The theme for this the 1st Sunday in Advent is the return of Christ. You and I are encouraged to watch and pray as preparation for the sudden return of Christ. At the start of a new church year it is useful to be reminded of the sobering fact that some day soon the world, with all its history, will be bought to a sudden halt by the return of our Lord in glory. As that old song sings - “soon and very soon we are going to see the King!” At that point the future will no longer be an extension of the present. Instead, it will offer us a glorious alternative to all the sorrow of and anguish of this present existence.

With that prospect before us we shall do well to take up a portion of Scripture that deals with the sings that immediately precede the end of all things. Jesus says to us this day – remain ready to stand.

1. Remain ready to stand amid growing chaos. “There will be signs in the sun, moon and stars. On the earth, nations will be in anguish and perplexity at the roaring and tossing of the sea. Men will faint from terror, apprehensive of what is coming on the world, for the heavenly bodies will be shaken.” (Vv.25-26)

A. Sun, moon, and stars were set by the Creator to rule the day and the night. God set them in the expanse of the sky to give light on the earth, to govern the day and the night, and to separate light from darkness. And God saw that it was good. (Genesis 1:17-18) As “powers of the heavens” they keep reminding us of the order and stability that God built into the universe at the time of creation.

1. But just before the Lord’s return to bring the course of history to its end, even these steady elements in our cosmos will begin to show signs of breaking up. The prophets of the Old Testament predicted these events as we approach the coming Day of the Lord.
a. The rising sun will be darkened and the moon will not give its light Isaiah 13:10
b. I will cover the sun with a cloud, and the moon will not give its light. Ezekiel 32:7-8
c. The sun and moon are darkened, and the stars no longer shine Joel 2:10

2. The sea is a symbol on Scripture of nations churning in turmoil (Daniel 7:2) but kept under control by God’s providence and power (Psalm 65:7). But there, too forces and events will be allowed to become unhinged, as it were.

B. People exhibit a twofold reaction to these awesome signs.

1. Panic, anxiety and dismay grip those who do not know the Son of Man.

2. New courage and a fresh heart characterize those who recognize the signs as the prelude of God’s mighty act of deliverance.
C. The followers of Jesus Christ will recognize the signs of God’s kingdom coming in glory.

1. After these cosmic disturbances people everywhere will see the Son of Man returning by way of the kind of cloud with which He was taken up into glory. After he said this, he was taken up before their very eyes, and a cloud hid him from their sight. (Acts 1:9)

2. He will come in power and great splendor. The era of his “veiled” activities in grace will end.

D. Jesus description of the growing chaos in the universe summarily dismisses false dreams.

1. Rejected are people’s dreams of creating their own utopias here on earth. This text is a reminder that no new social or political structures will bring in a perfect setting, as liberation theology and Marxism proclaim.

2. Equally unacceptable is every type of expectation that a millennium will precede the Parousia.

2. In the presence of the Son of Man. Be always on the watch, and pray that you may be able to escape all that is about to happen, and that you may be able to stand before the Son of Man.” (Luke 21:36)

A. Knowledge of Jesus Christ as the Son of Man prepares us to stand in His presence. Jesus Himself preferred to use this title during His earthly ministry, a ministry in which He demonstrated its meaning.

1. The Son of man has authority to do what is the prerogative of God alone; to forgive sins. But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins . . . .” He said to the paralytic, “I tell you, get up, take your mat and go home.” (Mark 2:10)

2. The Son of Man is the Suffering Servant of Isaiah 53 ready to go into death. “We are going up to Jerusalem,” he said, “and the Son of Man will be betrayed to the chief priests and teachers of the law. They will condemn him to death and will hand him over to the Gentiles, who will mock him and spit on him, flog him and kill him. Three days later he will rise.” (Mark 10:33-34)

3. The Son of Man is the celestial figure of Daniel 8:23, who has received power and dominion to rule for His church as its Head. “And you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Mighty One and coming on the clouds of heaven.” (Mark 14:62)

B. Christians are called to live a life that readies them for the return of the Son of Man.

1. We cling to Jesus’ words because they will never pass away, they remain steady and sure and all chaos and disruption. Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away (Luke 21:33)

2. We stay alert in prayer always. Be always on the watch, and pray that you may be able to escape all that is about to happen, and that you may be able to stand before the Son of Man. (v.36), asking for a way to escape with “the skies fall in.”

3. We avoid hangovers from yesterday’s debauchery, the drunkenness that is expected to drown today’s sorrows, and the worries dealing with tomorrow’s problems. Be careful, or your hearts will be weighed down with dissipation, drunkenness and the anxieties of life, and that day will close on you unexpectedly like a trap. (v. 34)

4. We recognize the announced cosmic disasters as ushering in the time of release from the oppression and affliction that often beset God’s children. When these things begin to take place, stand up and lift up your heads, because your redemption is drawing near (v.28)

The first Sunday in Advent serves us well as an occasion to recall the why and the how of being ready always to stand up straight amid the debris of history and in the face of the coming judgment. For “that day” will be hard on those who “sit on the face of the earth” (v.35) in pursuit of their own comfort and convenience. Therefore, be ready to stand.
Schnorr von Carolsfeld, woodcuts © WELS Permission to use these copyrighted items is limited to personal and congregational use.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Thanksgiving Day

Have you ever helped someone who showed no appreciation? That’s probably where the phrase “no good deed goes unpunished” comes from, or, at least is derived from. When that happened to you, you were of course disappointed. Jesus had a similar experience. Ten men were miraculously healed. But only one returned to give thanks. Jesus question reveals His disappointment – what happened to the nine?

1. This question points to the common failure to give thanks.
A. The nine who did not return to give thanks had faith enough to ask but not to thank.
1. They looked to Jesus for help. “…they called out in a loud voice, “Jesus, Master, have pity on us!” (Vs.13)
2. They obeyed Jesus’ word without question. When he saw them, he said, “Go, show yourselves to the priests.” And as they went, they were cleansed.” (Vs.14)
3. They were glad to be healed but felt little gratitude to the healer.
B. Are we inclined to ask more often than to thank?
1. When we were delivered from a calamity we perhaps cried out, “Thank God!” but did we continue to live each day in conscious gratitude to God for fulfilling His gracious purpose in our lives?
2. If things have gone well for us, have we remembered to thank God for those pleasant and successful days?
3. If things have gone badly for us, have we been able to thank God for the good that can come to us even through trials?

Where are the nine? What happened to them? Then and now this question points to the common failure to give thanks. We so easily begin to take God’s’ blessings for granted. In our lives there is more petitioning than praising.

2. This question reminds us that there is reason to give thanks.
A. Jesus healed all 10 from an incurable disease. (Vs.14)
1. The Samaritan understood better than the others the meaning of the healing.
2. He looked beyond the healing to the healer (Vv. 15-16)
3. He grasped the greatness of Jesus (V.19)
B. Jesus has not healed us from leprosy, but for all of us He has done something greater.
1. As the Christ of God He died for us to deliver us from Satan, sin, and hell and then rose form the dead to prove His deliverance.
2. He creates and sustains our faith in Him by means of the Word and Sacraments.
C. Jesus gives us man other things that we request, as well as things for which we may not be asking.
1. He gives us health or strength to endure illness.
2. He gives us worldly possessions, if we have little in the way of worldly goods we must nevertheless acknowledge that He supplies our daily needs.
3. He gives us a family in which we give and receive love, friends who support us, and work that fulfills us.
4. He has given us a country in which we enjoy political freedom and also the freedom to worship Him in the way our conscience directs.

Where are the nine? What happened to them? This question reminds us that there is reason to give thanks. What we are and have as redeemed people and as citizens of this country we owe to God. Oh, give thanks to the Lord, for He is good.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Thanksgiving Eve

Lord God, You have revealed Your kindness to all people. Gather the nations into Your Church, that in all the various tongues of this world one hymn of praise may be offered to You; through Your Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.

Psalm 117 is the shortest psalm in the Psalter it is also the Bible's central chapter. It is the very center of the 1,189 chapters found in Genesis 1 through Revelation 22. Whereas Psalm 115 was national and Psalm 116 personal, this one is global. and His disciples sang this psalm following the Last Supper prior to going out to the Garden of Gethsemane. God’s kindness and faithfulness has been shown in the past and of this we can be sure it will continue forever. This Psalm is the inspiration for such great hymns as “From all that dwell below the skies” and “Praise to the Lord the Almighty”

1. The Call to PraisePraise the Lord, all you nations; laud Him, all you peoples. (vs.1) This word can be translated as “sing praise.”
A. The world in its totality is lovingly invited to praise Him. God has and will continue to show Israel His kindness and faithfulness. God commands praise from all peoples.
B. The world by its tribes is loudly invited to adore Him. The Lord’s faithful love prevails over all.
C. Father, help me be a witness through my praise for You.
D. Lord, save people from all the nations.

2. The Cause for praiseFor His loving-kindness toward us is great, and the faithfulness of the Lord endures forever. (Vs.2 a-b)
A. The loving triumph of the Lord. The salvation of God’s people is the reason for universal praise. The gospel of Christ is ordered to be preached to all nations, and by him those that were afar off are made nigh. We are among the persons to whom the Holy Spirit here speaks, whom he calls upon to join his ancient people in praising the Lord.
B. The lasting truth of the Lord.
C. Thank You Lord for Your steadfast faithfulness toward Your people.
D. In God's kindness there is mercy, because,
1. Our sin deserves the reverse of kindness.
2. Our weakness requires great tenderness.
3. Our fears can only be so removed.

The Command to praise – Hallelujah! (vs.2c) Thus, we have thanksgiving! In His attribute—He is always faithful. In His revelation—He is always infallible. In His action – it is always according to His promise.