Wednesday, December 30, 2015

New Year's Eve

New Year’s Eve
December 31, 2015
New Year’s Eve
31 December 2015
Our God Our Help in Ages Past
Psalm 90

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

We've come to the end of yet another year. 365 days have passed. What will be said of this the year, the year of our Lord  - 2015 - when the history books are written and this chapter of our lives is read?

It's been a significant year for this our Friedheim family. 177 years of mission and ministry! What a year it has been!

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

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

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

Our God our Help in ages past. If you are ever admitted into a hospital, the first thing you need to do is remove your watch. You won’t need it. Hospital time is NOT regular time! The two are different! There is no time in a hospital. Time…is just a suggestion!  

There were moments this past year when time seemed to stop. Now they are in the past.  Yet, forever they remain with us.

There are moments in our lives that are frozen in time. We make it a habit of marking time. Glance at your calendar. It reminds you when you first planted corn and cut your first field of beans. It marks the first snowfall and the first 90-degree day. It recalls you of your child’s first tooth, and their first steps. It remembers your first kiss. The day you got out of debt. They day you landed that big account. The day your child walked across the graduation stage. The day you entered retirement. Each of us can remember those significant moments of this past year. They are forever in our memory.

 God was in the midst of each of these days. Moses reminds us in Psalm 90, “Lord, thou hast been our dwelling place in all generations. Before the mountains were brought forth, or eve thou hast formed the earth and the world, even from everlasting to everlasting, thou art God." –Psalm 90:1-2     

Moses will later write, “May the favor of the Lord our God rest on us; establish the work of our hands for us, yes establish the work of our hands.” – Psalm 90:17 It is important to remember that any of our accomplishments in our lifetime are really not much unless their directions come from our Heavenly Father. The importance of “His” work is greater than what this world holds as important.

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

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

Because our Lord is with us. Because He has promised to lead us. Because He is our Good and faithful Shepherd. We know our Lord remains, Our Shelter from the stormy blast. Calamities. Tragedies. Disasters. They make the headlines. There were plenty this past year.

From the spread of ISIS worldwide. From Attack on Charlie Hebdo in Paris, to mass shootings in our own country. From a magnitude-7.8 earthquake in Nepal to record setting rainfall in the month of June locally.  From preliminary presidential debates to shifts in the cultural and moral fabric of our nation- from the Supreme Court’s ruling on Marriage Equality…

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

We do not loose heart because we really don’t belong here. 0ur eternal Home! In this coming year there will be baptisms and there will be funerals. Infants will be welcomed into the family called the Church. Dear saints will hear the words, “Well done, good and faithful servant!” We pray in the Te Deum “May we numbered with Thy saints, in glory everlasting.” The old song sings, “Soon and very soon, we are going to see the King.” And yes! It will be. 

We will see the King! It could happen this year. The Lord might appear. The Lord might receive us. In His own perfect timing, all will be made right at the end of days.

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

Words –1,086
Passive Sentences –7%
Readability –84.1
Reading Level – 3.9

Monday, December 28, 2015

Holy Innocence & Martyrs

No sooner had the angels returned to heaven, and the shepherds returned to their flocks and fields, Joseph and Mary plan to return home from Bethlehem. Their plans are altered. An angel warns Joseph to take the mother and child and flee to Egypt. Hard on Joseph’s heels come Herod’s soldiers, killing every male child two years and under, both in Bethlehem, and in all the territory surrounding it.

This is not a good way to introduce an infant into the realities of a new world. But this is the kind of world our Savior would enter. The circumstances of His birth will indicate His death.

Those baby boys who were slaughtered in and around Bethlehem 2,000 years ago have a hope for the future. They shall come back to their own country. In the company of the Savior. For whose sake they were killed.

The Holy Innocents have a sure hope in Christ. Far exceeding their loss. And their hope is also yours.

Almighty God, the martyred innocents of Bethlehem showed forth Your praise not by speaking but by dying. Put to death in us all that is in conflict with your will that our lives may bear witness to the faith we profess with our lips; through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Sunday, December 27, 2015

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 2015Psalm 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 2015Psalm 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 20151 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 2015Ephesians 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, 2016Luke 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 a 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, 20161 Timothy 3:16; 1 Corinthians 2:7-10 - The hymn of the day for Christmas 2 is 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 Year O 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 Word – Lord God, bless Your Word wherever it is proclaimed. Make it a word of power and peace to convert those not yet Your own and to confirm those who have come to saving faith. May Your Word pass from the ear to the heart, from the heart to the lip, and from the lip to the life that, as You have promised, Your Word may achieve the purpose for which You send it; through Jesus Christ, 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


St. John, Apostle and Evangelist

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

Saturday, December 26, 2015

Christmas 1

Christmas 2
December 27, 2015
Luke 2:25-40
What an old man saw in a baby

One sign of growing old is failing eyesight. At a certain age –glasses are needed. Bifocals go with seniority in age. Simeon was old and next to death. Yet, his spiritual eyesight was excellent. He saw what few others saw in the infant Jesus.

Age is no criterion for insight even though insight comes with age and life experiences. Simeon had spiritual eyes to see. We find what Simeon saw through the eyes of faith as we consider what Simeon was led find in the Christ child.

What did Simeon see?

I.       Simeon saw the messiah who brought salvation. Listen again to V. 30 “My eyes have seen Your salvation.” The Lord had given Simeon a promise. It was a simple promise and at the same time extremely profound. The promise was before you die Simeon you will see the promised Savior. When Joseph and Mary entered the temple, with Jesus, this old man’s eyes were open and immediately Simeon knew it!  In this little baby was the promise of the Lord’s salvation.

It must have been an incredible thing for Mary and Joseph to behold. This aged man takes the infant and says, “Lord, I’m ready to die…my eyes have now seen Your salvation!”

By faith, you can also say these words. By faith, you believe these words of Simeon. Is it any wonder that after we have confessed our sin, heard the Lord’s promise of forgiveness and received it, that we can say these words also?

After receiving Jesus is there anything else that we need? By faith, these words of Simeon are your words. Lord, I have seen your salvation in Jesus Christ! So what did Simeon see in the infant Christ? 

II.    Simeon saw a salvation ready for all people. Listen to v.32, “A light to lighten the Gentiles and the glory of Your people Israel.”

This salvation was not just for Simeon and it isn’t just for you alone. It’s for everyone. It is for the Jew as well as the Gentile believer. It is for the members of your family, it’s for your neighbor, yes it is offered to the entire world.

Think of all of the people whose path you have met this past year. Who were they? Where they nameless, almost faceless people? No, they were people for whom the Savior came to save and redeem. In this next year – 2016 -consider that point when you meet a stranger. That one is a person for whom the Savior came to redeem and save. That one is the person for whom the Savior came to claim as His own. If by chance you would happen to strike up some sort of conversation – share with that person the Lord of Jesus Christ. As you live and witness share the compassion of Jesus Christ with all you meet.

Like Simeon may we see that Christ has come for all people. In these last days of 2015 may God forgive us our sins of omission where we have missed those opportunities to witness for Jesus Christ. But may He use us in the coming New Year to speak for Him who died for all that they may come to faith in Him. 

What did Simeon see in the infant Christ? He saw the messiah, which brings salvation. He saw salvation offered to all people. He saw Christ’s future suffering for the life of the world.

III. Simeon saw Jesus’ future suffering and death on the cross. “Simeon blessed His parents and said to Mary His mother. Behold, this child is set for the fall and rising again of many in Israel; and for a sign which shall be spoken against; (yea, a sword shall pierce through your own soul also) that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed.” Vv.34-35

When Simeon picked up this infant, he saw way into the future. What he saw was the passion, suffering and death of Jesus. Simeon saw into the future. You and I look back on the past. Yet we see the same image. We see the cross and death of Jesus Christ winning for us salvation and life. Simeon saw the same thing yet before it would happen.

Scripture does not tell us when Simeon passed into glory. We are not told whether Simeon died that night, the next morning, that week, or exactly when he was called. We know he was an old man and the time that he had was probably short. I would not be surprised however that during the time that Simeon had left of earth he spent that time telling everyone he knew that he had seen the Lord’s Christ.

Today is the last Sunday of 2015. Next Sunday we begin a New Year. Who knows what will befall us in the New Year. Yet if we use Simeon as an example for us we can learn how to experience a life which is well lived.  Having seen the Lord’s Christ, we are ready to depart this world whenever the Lord would call us.

Like Simeon, we have seen the Lord. We’ve see the cross and that salvation which the Savior brings. May we share Christ with others as the Lord permits. For we have seen the Lord’s salvation. That is why whenever our Lord calls us, like Simeon we can depart in serenity, security and peace. To God be the glory in all things; in our living, in our witness, and yes, even in our dying.

Words –940
Passive Sentences –5%
Readability – 79.1

Reading Level -5.2

Stephen, Martyr

Heavenly Father, in the midst of our sufferings for the sake of Christ, grant us grace to follow the example of the first martyr, Stephen, that, we may also look to the One who suffered and was crucified on our behalf and pray for those who do us harm; through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Friday, December 25, 2015

Christmas Day

Christmas Day
25 December 2015
Isaiah 9:2

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 Jesus Christ, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.

The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; they that dwell in the land of the shadow of death, upon them has the light shines.

It is significant that Jesus was born on a "Silent Night, a Holy Night" He came to a people who walked in darkness. He came as a light to eliminate the darkness. Jesus came to be a light to the people who walk in darkness.

1.     There is darkness. It is the darkness of the world - caused by sin - see 1 John 1:6-7 "If we say that we have fellowship him and walk in darkness, we lie, and do not have the truth. But if we walk in the light as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin".

From the time in which our first parents, Adam and Eve fell into sin, the people of this world have been living in a dream world.  That dream world consists in this; that the majority of people believe that they can please God even if they continue to walk in the darkness of sin.  This comes in various forms. Hardly any would believe that they are perfect.  Hardly a person on this earth will dare to believe that they are without sin.  But where people deceive themselves and live in denial is when they convince themselves that they can live a life of sin without any consequences.

They believe that God will either make up for their sins and shortcomings or they believe that God will somehow overlook and disregard their sin. But this does not stand the test of every man. How can we have fellowship with a holy and righteous God when we walk in the shadow and the night of sin? Thus, the evangelist John will remind us: "If we say that we have fellowship him and walk in darkness, we lie, and do not have the truth."

We can try to fool our neighbors, families, friends and ourselves thinking that all is well. But the testimony of the clear Word of God's Law and the conviction of our own conscience will tell us that we cannot stand before a holy and righteous God who is perfection and light.  If we are walking in the darkness of sin, we have no fellowship with God.

What can we do? We cannot deny the fact that we are sinners, try as we might we cannot resist and conquer sin. We are a people walking in darkness, and surrounded by the shadow of death.

Transition:  This is how the world has existed from the time of Adam. But God our Father who has given us His Word and promise has determined to dispel the darkness of sin and death as His light shines upon us. That light came at Christmas and continues to shine ever so brightly as Christ; the light of the world, has shined upon us. 

"When Jesus enters meek and lowly To fill the home with sweetest peace; When hearts have felt His blessing holy And found from sin complete release, Then light and calm within shall reign And hearts divided love again" {TLH #65 stanza 2}

2.     Jesus is the light of the world - The prophet reminds us: "The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; they that dwell in the land of the shadow of death, upon them has the light shines."

Christ has removed the darkness of sin. As He spoke the universe into existence with His Word saying "Let there be light" so He came into this world to shine His light upon a dark and sinful world to take away our sin and misery. 

He is the eternal light and has come to save us from our sin. He does not overlook our sin He eliminates it. He does not blink at sin, but He has entered time and space to be our substitute. He takes unto Himself all of the world's misery and sin and He will carry it to the cross where He will suffer, die and rise again to be victorious.  The miracle of Christmas is that God has made it clear that He is in the business of redeeming and saving His people. As light eliminates the darkness so the coming of Christ bring the dawn of a new day; full of light and life. Upon us, the light of Christ has shown brightly eliminating all darkness of sin and error.

The miracle of Christmas finds its basis in the truth that Christ has come to eliminate sin. As He began the world's creation by producing light on the first day, He has shown brightly on this earth once again. In glory, there is no need of sun, moon or stars for He will be the eternal light that lights up the entire city.  As He draws us toward His light once more on this Christmas morning may the brightness of Christ burn in your hearts ever more until we are each ushered into His glory.
Blessed Christmas!
Words – 940
Passive Sentences –2%
Readability –78.6

Reading Level -6.7  

Monday, December 21, 2015

St. Thomas

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

Sunday, December 20, 2015

Time in the Word - Christmas 1

The theme for the First Sunday after Christmas is The Savior has Come. Coming within just a few days after Christmas, it reflects the spirit and emphasis of Christmas day. Because of this, Christmas 1 tends to be anti-climatic, a let–down from Christmas. This Sunday affords us an opportunity to enter into depth on the meaning of Christmas. This is usually not possible on Christmas, because it is a service of celebration, narration, and special music with much singing of carols. At this service, we now have an opportunity to consider the message of the Incarnation. This will be the last Sunday of the calendar year. Some may be apprehensive of what a new year might bring. In the Gospel lesson Simeon and Anna are very old and desire to depart this life. In the Christ child we find new hope, new life, and the hope of a new year with Christ. 

Monday, 21 December 2015—Psalm 98:1-4; Antiphon, Isaiah 52:10—Christ has come. He has restored our human nature. Now we pray that we may ever be alive in Him as He has come to be obedient to the will of the Father by taking our nature to be our substitute and to follow the Law perfectly for us. We are called now to witness to the nations that they may see the salvation of our God.

Tuesday, 22 December 2015—In Psalm 98 David tells us "sing to the Lord a new song, for He has done marvelous things." This He has done. Jesus has done all things well. He has gotten for us the victory. What are we to do in light of these things? We are to join the Psalmist in His triumphant song. Sing to the Lord this week for He has done so many marvelous things!

Wednesday, 23 December 2015Jeremiah 31:10-13—God promises to restore captive Israel with prosperity and rejoicing.  Why is there peace and joy during this holiday season? Why is there such happiness? Actually it's quite simple. There is peace and joy today because Jesus has brought about God's salvation to us. Just as the people at the time of Jeremiah were promised that they would be restored back to their homes from a time of captivity we now are at home completely restored and forgiven in Christ.

Thursday, 24 December 2015—Hebrews 2:10-18—Christ identified with us that He might save us from sin and death.  There is only one way for us to receive reconciliation from God and that was for God Himself to identify with us. The writer to the Hebrews tells us how this all came about. It came about when Jesus Christ entered time and space. So what! A skeptical world might ask. Now sin has been dealt with as Christ has removed it once and for all. Now we have an advocate who will help us in our daily battles with sin and temptation in our day-to-day living. This is what makes the Christian faith practical. It works because Christ has worked everything out for us.

Friday, 25 December 2015Luke 2:25-28—Simeon and Anna recognize Christ in the baby Jesus. When God makes a promise, He is bound to keep it. The Father had promised Simeon that he would not die until he had seen the Lord's Christ.

The moment Mary and Joseph entered the temple, eight days after Jesus was born, Simeon's eyes were opened and he saw Jesus for what He was; He saw Jesus as His Redeemer and Savior. Do we see Jesus the same way that Simeon saw Jesus?  To fully appreciate Christmas we must have the same vision as this old, old man. May God grant us the faith to see Jesus as the only Savior of the world.

Saturday, 26 December 2015—Psalm 90—Psalm 90 is the text for our sermon hymn tomorrow. David reflects on the various stages through life and He concludes that God has been our dwelling place throughout all generations.  From age to age God remains in control. Throughout life God remains constant. In just a few days we will welcome in a New Year. What will transpire in the next year? Only God knows but of this we can be sure God will establish the work of our hands. All will go according to His plan.  Our only prayer needs to be: "Thy will be done Lord, Thy will be done!"

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

For the WeekDirect us, O Lord, in all our actions by Your gracious favor, and further us with Your continual help that in all our works, begun, continued, and ended in Your name, we may glorify Your holy name and finally by Your mercy receive eternal life; through Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, One God, now and forever.

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.

Prayer for December 24, 2012 – Christmas Eve – 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.

Prayer for December 25, 2012 – 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.

Prayer for December 26, 2012 – St. Stephen, Martyr – Heavenly Father, in the midst of our sufferings for the sake of Christ grant us grace to follow the example of the first martyr, Stephen, that we also may look to the One who suffered and was crucified on our behalf and pray for those who do us wrong; through Jesus Christ, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever  
Prayer for December 27, 2012 – St. John, the Evangelist – 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.


Prayers from Lutheran Service Book, © 2006 Concordia Publishing House.
Lutheran Worship, ©1980 Concordia Publishing House, St. Louis,
Lectionary Preaching Workbook Series C, © 1979 J Brokhoff CSS Publishing Lima OH

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

Katharine von Bora Luther

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

Saturday, December 19, 2015

Advent 4

Advent 4
December 20, 2015
Luke 1:39-45
“Blessed is the Woman”

Elizabeth extols the blessedness of Mary. Today there is a fight over Mary. Some want to make Mary equal to God others consider her of little value at all. Elizabeth considered her blessed. Why?

1.   Blessed because Mary was chosen as the mother of the Lord. V 42 “Blessed are you among women and blessed is the child you will bear.

Mary is just an ordinary girl. Yet, she is chosen by the Father to work His will in this world. Jesus is conceived by the Holy Spirit to fulfill the will of the Father. Jesus is born of a virgin to fulfill Scripture. Jesus came into this world according to a divine plan.  The story of Christmas reminds us that God is in control of all of these events that lead to the birth of Jesus. He is in control of the events of this world and especially is He in control of the events of your life – every single detail!  Nothing is left to chance. If He so orders the events of Mary's life, how much more will He be more then able to order our days to bring them to completion according to His perfect will?   

Transition: Mary is blessed because she has been chosen to be the Mother of Jesus – this is no ordinary child – He is the Savior of the world!

2.      She’s blessed because Mary’s child is the Lord! V 43 – But why am I so favored that the mother of my Lord should come to me?

As soon as she learns from the angel Gabriel that she will carry Jesus, Mary leaves the tiny village of Nazareth. She leaves to visit her cousin Elizabeth who is expecting. Elizabeth will give birth to John the Baptist. This is not a chance meeting. Everything goes according to plan, the Father's plan. Although we might not be able to see it, there is obviously something miraculous happening here. God is directing these events. Mary, who at this moment is less than a few days pregnant, is caring the Savior of the world within her.

When Mary's voice reaches the ears of the Baptist, John leaps for joy; for he is in the very presence of the holy Son of God. What a miracle, what a blessing for us today. If John can hear the voice of Mary and recognize her voice; if John can recognize the presence of Christ before he is born, should we be surprised that infants today can recognize the voice of their Savior even before they are born?

3.      Blessed because Mary believed the Word of the Lord. V 45 – “Blessed is she who has believed that what the Lord has said to her will be accomplished

Christ came into the world to do the will of the Father. In faith, we trust the Father to work His will in us. The will of the Father was simply to do the work of redemption in this world. Jesus came to break the bondage of the devil, death, and sin. He came to be our substitute. He came to live under the Law perfectly. He came to take our sin and to suffer and die for the sin of the world. All He asks of you this day is to believe in this plan of salvation. “Blessed are those who believe that what the Lord has said will be accomplished!”

Mary is truly blessed. Blessed, because she was chosen as the mother of the Lord. Blessed, because Mary’s child is the Lord. Blessed, because Mart believed the word of the Lord. “Blessed is she who has believed that what the Lord has said to her will be accomplished!

Words –635
Passive Sentences –13%
Readability –79.8

Reading Level -5.2

Adam and Eve

Lord God, heavenly Father, You created Adam in Your image and gave him Eve as his helpmate, and after their fall into sin, You promised them a Savior who would crust the devil's might. By Your mercy, number us among those who have come out of the great tribulation with the seal of the living God on our foreheads, and whose robes have been made white in the blood of the Lamb; through Jesus Christ, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Daniel the prophet and the three young men

Lord God heavenly Father, You rescued Daniel from the lion's den and the three young men from the fiery furnace through the miraculous intervention of an angel. Save us now through the presence of Jesus, the Lion of Judah, who has conquered all our enemies through His blood and taken away all our sins as the Lamb of God, who now reigns from His heavenly throne with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Mid-week Advent 3

Mid-week Advent #3
16 December 2015
Philippians 4:4-7

Lord Jesus Christ, we implore You to hear our prayers and to lighten the darkness of our hearts by Your gracious visitation; for your live and reign with the Father and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.

During this Advent/Christmas season may the peace of God which surpasses all understanding be yours today, tomorrow, and for the rest of your lives.  May you know of His peace and joy!  That is my prayer for you this night. Let's see how Paul explains to us that this peace is all made possible.

1.   BE ANXIOUS IN NOTHING That's not always easy to do is it? We can talk about stress during the holidays and there are considerable stresses, which can come our way during this Advent and Christmas season.  We live in anxious anticipation. We want everything to be "just right" and we can fret about so many things. Like Mr. Griswold in National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation we want everything to work out perfect. As we know, there are going to be interruptions, which come our way that cannot be avoided.

Sometimes our anxieties are unfounded. The Christmas cards will be mailed; the gifts will be wrapped. All of the plans, chores and errands will eventually get done. The fact of the matter is that Christmas will come and go whether or not we have everything go according to plan. And yes, there are stresses and strains that come up during the holidays, which simply can not be avoided, and yet we worry so often about the small things.

All that being said, there are sometimes real and legitimate concerns that can plague us during the holiday. I have a friend whose department, for which he had worked at for over twenty-five years, was phased out by the company on Christmas Eve! Now that's anxiety that is founded! Possibly it might be an illness, or a loss which comes upon us, which can not be avoided.

Notice, what Paul does not say. He does not say: "don't be anxious" Cares and concerns will come our way and they have a tendency of coming to us at the most inappropriate times. We will become anxious, we will have concerns.  Rather, Paul warns us to be anxious in nothing. In other words, Paul reminds us that we cannot expect to handle our problems by ourselves. Of course not, we’re sinners, and as sinners when we take matters into our own hands we have a tendency to mess things up and make things worse rather than better.  Problems; they tend to loom over us and can drive us to brink of despair. In our lesson for tonight Paul tells us how we should handle those setbacks and hardships, which come our way.  By these words Paul encourages us to…    

2.   BE PRAYERFUL IN EVERYTHING The old axiom goes: "If your problem is big enough to worry about then it's big enough to pray about; and if it isn't too big to pray about then it certainly isn't anything to worry about".  Do you have concerns worries and anxieties? Take it to the Lord in prayer.

Take everything to God in prayer.  This is what Paul reminds us in our text for this evening. In everything; "by prayer and supplication make your requests known to God".  He already knows your need. You're not fooling Him by not praying about it.  The only one whom you are fooling is yourself. Take everything to God in prayer. We pray for two good reasons; God's command and our need.  Do you have a need then pray about it!

3.   BE THANKFUL IN ANYTHING This is difficult. Our anxious moments can cause sleepless nights filled with dread, fear and doubt. Paul tells us to be thankful.  Not thankful that we have a weight and burden but because we already know that help is on the way. David reminds us " I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills from whence cometh my help? My help cometh from the Lord, who hath made heaven and earth" (Psalm 121:1) We thank God because He is able to do far more abundantly then we are able to ask or think. We remain thankful for He can will do for us what we are unable to do. 

THE END RESULT...PEACE. What does Paul mean when he tells us that that peace will be ours?  Peace does not mean the elimination of problems. Sometimes our problem might leave. But as we live in an imperfect world there will be other anxieties that will take their place. Rather the peace that Paul speaks of is a peace, which comes in knowing that Christ will always be with us; that He will never leave us nor forsake us.  This is why Jesus came to this earth on the first Christmas. He came to deliver us from our burden and to set us free from sin, death, and the devil. He came to take our burden to Himself. There is now "peace on earth good will toward men" for God is at peace; at peace at what Christ has done for you and me and what He will continue to do for us in the future. He will sustain us. He will guide us. He will uphold and defend us no matter what might come our way.

 What is my prayer for you this night?  May you know of His peace and joy! May the peace of God, which surpasses all human understanding, be yours tonight, tomorrow, and for the rest of your lives!  

Sunday, December 13, 2015

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.

Time in the Word
14–19 December 2015
Preparation for next week, the Fourth Sunday in Advent
Monday, 14 December 20151 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 2015Psalm 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 2015Micah 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 2015Hebrews 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 2015Luke 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 2015—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.