Sunday, December 31, 2017

Time in the Word - Epiphany 1 ~ The Baptism of our Lord

Time in the Word
Epiphany 1 
The Baptism of our Lord
January 1 - 6, 2018

The first Sunday after the Epiphany is a special day – the baptism of our Lord. In the early church Epiphany was celebrated in terms of Jesus’ baptism. In keeping with the festival, the liturgical color is white. The Gospel lesson records the events of John baptizing Jesus in the Jordan River. With His baptism Jesus will begin His earthly public ministry. John comes preaching repentance and baptizing in the Jordan. He prepares the way for Jesus by telling the people that one is coming who will baptize with the Spirit. Then comes Jesus from Nazareth and is baptized by John.  According to Mark, this is a personal experience of Jesus, for He alone saw the dove and heard the Father’s voice. From this moment Jesus is the Son of God.  

Collect for the Baptism of our LordFather in heaven at the Baptism of Jesus in the Jordan River You proclaimed Him Your beloved Son and anointed Him with the Holy Spirit. Make all who are baptized in His name faithful to their calling as Your children and inheritors with Him of everlasting life; through the same Jesus Christ, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.

Monday, January 1, 2018Psalm 2:7-11, 12c—The Antiphon, is taken from Isaiah 42:1a “Behold my servant whom I uphold, my chosen, in whom my soul delights.” In ancient times the term “servant” meant something like “trusted envoy” or “confidential representative” but here there is more. This is the Lord’s chosen one, the one in whom the Lord delights, the one in whom the Lord’s Spirit is given. This is a prediction of Christ who comes to make our salvation a reality. With His baptism, not only does the Savior begin His ministry, but from here on there can be no turning back. Salvation will find its completion at a bloody and cruel cross and an empty tomb.

Tuesday, January 2, 2018Psalm 29—The key verse of this psalm is verse 3, “The Voice of the Lord is over the waters; the God of glory thunders, the Lord thunders over the mighty waters.”  The Voice of God is the theme for Psalm 29 which blends with the theme for this coming Sunday that the Voice of the Father was heard by the Savior. In the thunderstorm, sometimes frightening, suggestive of terrifying cataclysms at the end of the world.   

Wednesday, January 3, 2018Genesis 1:1-5—The Old Testament lesson for the Baptism of our Lord reminds us once again that the Voice of God is important. In ten phrases the Creator of the Universe speaks the world into existence. Sunday’s Old Testament lesson will focus on Day 1. Merely by speaking God brought all things into being – see also Psalm 33:6, 9 and Hebrews 11:3. God’s first creative word called forth light in the midst of the darkness. Light is necessary for making God’s creative works visible and life possible. As you have been baptized, God is re-creating faith in a once sin-darkened heart.

Thursday, January 4 2018Romans 6:1-11—Paul will explain both the when and how of the Christian’s death to sin. Baptism is a means by which we enter into a vital faith relationship with Jesus Christ. It is a means of receiving God’s grace, and it depicts graphically what happens as a result of the Christian’s union with Christ. Through faith we are united with Christ, just as through our natural birth we are united with Adam.  As we fell into sin and became subject to death in father Adam, so we now have died and been raise again with Christ – with baptism effects.

Friday, January 5, 2018 - Mark 1:4-11—Sunday’s Gospel reading is St. Mark’s account of the baptism of our Lord. In Jesus’ baptism, God the Father proclaimed Jesus His Son, whom He loves. In His baptism, our sins are washed onto Jesus, and the baptismal waters sanctified, that they might wash our sins off us. We, too, are beloved of God. The day of our Baptism is one of the greatest days in our lives, when our old man was drowned in those sacred waters, and our new selves, righteous and holy, were brought forth to “live before God in righteousness and purity forever.”

The Father declares that Jesus is His Son. Here Jesus receives the knowledge of His identity, His self-understanding, and of His mission in life as the Messiah. Wasn’t Jesus God’s Son prior to His baptism or does this mean that this is the first time Jesus came to a realization of who He was? It is important to note that we only know who we are and what we are to do in relation to the Father. When we know whose we are, we know who we are. Baptism for us is the time of adoption as children of God. By His grace we are accepted as children of His kingdom. Baptism is the initiation and incorporation into the body of Christ.

Saturday, January 6, 2018Matthew 3:13-17; Hebrews 2:17; Luke 4:18; 2 Corinthians 4:21 - The hymn of the day for the Baptism of our Lord is, To Jordan’s River Came Our Lord (LSB 405). In this hymn references are made to the Savior’s baptism. The Theme for the day emphasizes baptism as the time of the Spirit’s reception and the beginning of ministry. 

Let us honor Christ’s baptism and celebrate this feast in holiness. Be cleansed entirely and continue to be cleansed. Nothing gives such pleasure to God as the conversion and salvation of human beings, for whom his every word and every revelation exist. He wants you to become a living force for all humanity, lights shining in the world. You are to be radiant lights as you stand beside Christ, the great light, bathed in the glory of him who is the light of heaven. You are to enjoy more and more the pure and dazzling light of the Trinity. For now you have received — through not in its fullness — a ray of its splendor, proceeding from the one God, in Christ Jesus our Lord, to whom be glory and power forever and ever. (Leo the Great)

LUTHERAN SEVICE BOOK © 2006 Concordia Publishing House, St. Louis, MO LECTIONALRY PREACHING WORKBOOK SERIES B © 1981 John Brokhoff CSS Publishing Lima, OH
Schnorr von Carolsfeld woodcuts © WELS permission granted for personal and congregational use

Saturday, December 30, 2017

Christmas 1

Christmas 1  
31 December, 2017 –
Luke 2:22-38

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. In our text for today 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?

1. 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?

2. 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 – 2018 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 2017 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.

3. 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 2017. 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 – 935
Passive Sentences – 5%
Readability –79%

Reading Level – 5.0

Sunday, December 24, 2017


December 25, 2017
Luke 2:1-20
“Christmas without Christ?”

 Luke sets the events of the gospel against the background of world history. The pagan emperor's decree about a census created the situation in which the Messiah was born in David's city of Bethlehem.

Jesus did not bring political peace to the world, but He made it possible for men and women to have peace with God. Charles Wesley (1:183) interprets the message as “Peace on earth and mercy mild, God and sinners reconciled.” Yet, to a skeptical world this is too much! Have you grown tired of Christmas? Do you believe possibly that Scrooge was right? Consider Luke’s words for today.
Christmas is bunk, unless…

  1. Christ is born anew in us. “For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, which is Christ the Lord.” Luke 2:11

In worldly terms Christmas is a happy time in terms of parties, banquets, gifts and friends. This is happiness that may wither with the Christmas tree which is discarded soon after Christmas day. Our joy is different.  In fact, joy is far different then happiness. It is deeper. Because it is based on good news. A Savior is born to save us from ourselves. It is a joy that remains long aft the Christmas celebration is over. For this reason people who are unhappy at Christmas because of unfortunate circumstances can still have experience this Christmas joy.

Transition: Christmas is bunk unless Christ is born anew in us. You must also experience the worship of Christ.
  1. Worship of Christ child is experienced. “And it came to pass, as the angels were gone away from them into heaven, the shepherds said one to another, Let us now go even unto Bethlehem, and see this thing which is come to pass, which the Lord hath made known unto us.  And they came with haste, and found Mary, and Joseph, and the babe lying in a manger.” Luke 2:15-16

With a heightened sense of excitement and determination, the shepherds rushed off to the baby's side. Notice the missionary interest of Luke in the spread of the gospel, this thing..., which the Lord has told us about. (v.15)

In the recorded history of the world, there have been few years of universal peace. There has been very little peace among nations since the first Christmas. How can Jesus then be called the “Prince of Peace”? The peace Jesus brings is not necessarily peace among men but peace between God and humanity. Only when spiritual peace prevails will there be peace among nations. There will not be peace between God and people until Christ is accepted by faith.

Transition: The bunk of Christmas disappears when salvation’s joy is found.

  1. The joy of Christmas is the joy of salvation. “And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.” Luke 2:10

What God did not become. He could not save. And so, Jesus comes into the world as one of us to save us. He is counted with the sinners, to save sinners.

The Angel announces, “Be not afraid!” I’m sure that many of you have watched the television special “Charlie Brown’s Christmas.” It’s a classic made for family special. In that famous scene, when Linus recites the Christmas story. When does he drop his security blanket? He drops his blanket when he utters those very words – “Fear Not![1]  When our fears subside. We can truly worship the new born King with joy and peace. Without fear.

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 Messiah's coming.

Christmas was a communication event. The shepherds told the Holy Family what the angel said. If Christmas is good news, it must be told. It is told spontaneously. Here is good news! What has been promised and longed for over thousands of tears has at last happened.

The cradle of Christianity is evangelism – the telling of good news to sinners that they might have life in Christ. This leads to a joyous celebration because for us a Savior has been born!

The peace of Christ. Is the very hope people long for. It is the hope of a world where justice arrives. Where evil is put away. And where people are treated with love and respect.

By faith you grab hold of the One who “makes all things new” including this world of sin and death. 

We live in a world where people hunger for righteousness. To embrace people as people. Flawed. Broken. And waiting. Waiting for the good to come. We are all broken. Hurt. Longing. Ignorant. And in need of rescue.

You can offer that hope to hearts longing for rescue. Christianity is primed to speak to hearts. Because it has always been the religion of the cross. Of the rejected. The Innocent. Who bears the guilt of the “other.” It is the promise of a Father. Who will bring justice. Love. And a lasting home.

Amidst the brokenness of our lives. Amidst the power structures and manipulation. The violence. The racism. The hurt. Comes the Christ.  Who breaks in. Who shares our flesh. Who carries our burdens. Who bears our sins. Who will suffer the scars of evil. Who exchanges our shame for His glory. And calls us to be the very light of the world.-A light that is not ours but His.  Gifted to us. For us to undermine the darkness. Which cannot stand against it.

So be that light. The world is hungry for salvation. Be the city on a hill. Let your light shine. Show the world it’s Savior. Trust. Pray. Proclaim. Repent. Believe. And Come Lord Jesus. Yes, Lord, return. To bear Your people home.[2]
Words -1040
Passive Sentences – 7%
Readability –80.6%
Reading Level -4.1
Woodcut by Julius Schnoor von Carolsfeld, © WELS

Time in the Word ~ Christmas 1

Tim in the Word: 
25-30 December 2017
Readings and Prayers in the time of Christmas

The Goodness of God

The first Sunday after Christmas is the last Sunday of the Calendar year. The old year is ending. A New one will be with us very soon. The theme of Christmas 1, the goodness of god, is appropriate for the end of a year. The Old Testament lesson is especially relevant. “I will recount the steadfast love of the Lord.” At the end of the year, it is wise to take inventory and count our blessings of the past year.

We see that God is good. He protects us from danger, redeems us from affliction and welcomes us into His family the Church.

Monday, 25 December 2017Jeremiah 31:5-17; Hosea 11:1 - The prophet reminds us, “When Israel was a child I loved him, and out of Egypt I called my son.”This verse coincides with the Gospel lesson. As Jesus enters into Egypt and then returns to Nazareth, we recall the nation of Israel called by God to leave Egypt into the Promised Land. 

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.

Tuesday, 26 December 2017Psalm 111; key verse, 9a -He sent redemption to His people.” At Christmas, we see the redemption, which is ours in Jesus Christ. The eternal Son of God entered our time and space. He came to be our substitute. His humble birth is an indication of how He will live and what He will do for you. The world rejoices this night. Salvation has come. The Father has sent redemption to His people.

Collect for 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.

Wednesday, 27 December 2017Isaiah 63:7-9 – Recounting the love and goodness of God to His people. This coming Sunday is the last Sunday of the calendar year. Another year has passed. During this week, review in your mind the past year. Recount the good things that come from God.

Collect for St. John, the 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.

Thursday, 28 December 2017Galatians 4:4-7 – At the right time God sent His Son that we might become sons and daughters of God. What is the real significance of Christmas?  How is your life affected by the birth of Christ? Your whole status with God depends on the one who has entered our world.

Collect for the Feast of the Holy Innocents (28 December): 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, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever,

Friday, 29 December 2017 – Matthew 2:13-15, 19-23 –The flight to Egypt and the return to Nazareth. The Lord suffers in all the afflictions of His people. Because of His love, He feels what we feel, He hurts when we hurt. He suffers when we suffer. When the Lord called Moses, He said that He heard the cries of His enslaved people. No one suffers alone. No one walks alone. No one dies alone. “In all their afflictions He was afflicted.”

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. 

Saturday, 30  December 2017Luke 2:1-20 – Sunday’s hymn of the Day is “Let All Together Praise Our God” Now that Christmas has come we can seriously think about the meaning of Christ’s coming into our world and our time. Even in troubled times God is with us.

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.

Prayers from Lutheran Service Book © 2006 Concordia Publishing House
Collect for Pentecost 24 from Lutheran Worship © Concordia Publishing House
Lectionary Preaching Workbook Series C by John Brokhoff © 1979 CSS Publishing Lima OH
Schnorr von Carolsfeld woodcuts © WELS permission granted for personal and congregational use

Saturday, December 23, 2017

Advent 4

Advent 4 – 24 December, 2017
Luke 1:26-38

People these days seem to have a fascination with angels. One of Billy Graham’s most popular books was simply entitled “Angels.”[1] We usually associate angels as being perfect and sometimes we like to place attributes we associate with the angels on to people. For example, we might refer to a well mannered child as being “a perfect angel.” What we need to remember and our text for this morning will help us in this, is that angels are called especially to serve and protect the elect of God. The write to the Hebrews writes, “Are they not all ministering spirits sent forth to render service to those who will inherit salvation.”[2] They are divine messengers who bring important communications from God.

Imagine what would have happened to the Christ child had Mary and Joseph not been told about the coming birth from an angelic messenger. Quite possibly Mary and Joseph would have settled on a divorce. The entire Christmas story could have been told under different circumstances. This morning let us consider the significance of what an angel said to Mary.

1. The first message we receive from Gabriel is exactly who is to be born. You will be with child and give birth to a son and you are to give Him the name Jesus. (V31) The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you so the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God. (V35)

Who is to be born? He is none other then Jesus, the Son of God. He is the holy one, the one promised in the Scriptures to be God in the flesh. By these words of Gabriel we see that the one being born is God’s only Son. He is the Christ, the Father’s chosen one.

2. Gabriel also tells us how the child is to be born. He is born by the power of the Holy Spirit. The Most High will overshadow this young woman so that the child to be born will be called the Son of God.

He is to be born holy for God is His Father. True, Jesus is born of a human mother, but his Father is God. Jesus is born human. Yet He is without sin. Jesus is like you in every respect except He is without sin. Jesus is the perfect, spotless Son of God who came into this world to take your place under the Law. He comes to be your substitute. He comes to live a perfect life for you. He comes to fulfill all the requirements the Father has for an obedient life. He will take to Himself your guilt, your fear and brokenness.

3. He comes to be your Savior. So says the angel Gabriel, “He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give Him the throne of His Father David and He will reign over the hose of Jacob forever; His kingdom will never end.” (Vv.32-33)

This child is a king. But not any king, He is the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. He is the eternal God who takes possession of the throne of His Father because He has been declared to be the rightful heir. He is Lord. He is God. He is your Savior, Redeemer and king. This week we celebrate His coming into our world as He breaks into time and space to take up Him rule in your life.

Who is it that is born for us today? He is the Lord’s Christ. He is the Son of the Most High God and in Him we live and move and have our being. Praise Him for He has come. Serve Him for He is your King. Worship and praise His name for He is your God.
Words –679
Passive Sentences –8%
Readability –83.3%
Reading Level –4.5

[1] Angels: God’s Secret Agents by Billy Graham © 1975 Doubleday Press ISBN 0385113072
[2] Hebrews 1:14

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Mid-week Advent 3

Mid-week Advent #3
December 20, 2017
Matthew 1:20-23

INTRODUCTION: To whom does Jesus come? He comes to people who struggle with their faith. So often in matters of life the issues are not always black and white. Sometimes there is a lot of gray. Often we are forced to struggle and wrestle as we grapple with the question, “Lord what should I do?”  At other times we know intuitively what we should do.  There is no needing to ask: “what shall I do now?” We know, in our gut, with every fiber of our being, what we ought to do. All we need to ask in such instances is for the strength and the will to act. To whom does Jesus come? He comes with enlightenment to him who does not understand.

We consider this evening Joseph. When he learned that Mary was bearing a child, he was understandably disturbed. He knew of two realities. First, Mary to whom he was engaged was expecting a child. He also knows he is not the Father!

Joseph, being a just man, tried to conform his life to the Jewish law. “Because Joseph her husband was a righteous man and did not want to expose her to public disgrace, he had in mind to divorce her quietly.” (v.19) Here we see Joseph’s dilemma. Whose reputation, he pondered, should be tarnished, Mary’s or his own? That was the issue with which he was wrestling. Joseph felt betrayed; he loved Mary, yet he didn’t want to “expose her to public disgrace.” To whom does Jesus come? He comes to people who struggle with their faith.  He comes with enlightenment to him who does not understand.

1.         In making decisions, of which we do not fully understand all of the circumstances remember it is God who is working behind the scenes to will and to do His perfect good pleasure. Such was the case in the birth of Jesus as Joseph understood it. An angel sent by God had to intervene.  Matthew 1:20  But after he had considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit.

2.         Joseph also learned a second valuable lesson. When God is acting for us it is He who will act. Because man is blind, dead, and an enemy of God we need God’s saving work in our lives. This is exactly why Jesus was born in the first place. This is why He came. The angel explains to Joseph specifically why this birth means so much. Matthew 1:21 She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.”  

And save us He has. God is at work working out your salvation. Nothing is left to chance. To the contrary He is shaping, molding and using ever circumstance in your life to bring about one reality. He was born to afford you salvation. That is why Jesus came to this earth. He came to save His people from their sins.

3.         Joseph also learned a valuable lesson. The Scriptures cannot be broken. Jesus’ birth was not a mistake, a miscalculation, an inaccuracy. To the contrary it was all mapped out in Scripture. The Savior’s birth had been foretold in sacred Scripture and to Joseph’s amazement these Scriptures were fulfilled in his lifetime. He lived to see them played out right before his eyes! Matthew 1:22-23 All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet: “The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel”—which means, “God with us.”

CONCLUSION: When we must choose – choose wisely. Often we are forced to make decisions in life in which the outcome will not necessarily be pleasant.  When we have to choose “the lesser of two evils” as Joseph, we need to wrestle and pray. Actions do have their consequences. Joseph did not act rashly. Decisions reached hastily are often ill advised. Patience is needed when the situation is serious. 

Sunday, December 17, 2017

Time in the Word ~ Advent 4

Time in the Word
Advent 4
December 18-23, 2017

The Lord Builds a House for David:
Jesus Christ Who Comes in the Flesh

When King David “lived in his house and the Lord had given him rest from all his surrounding enemies,” he piously supposed that he would build a house for God (2 Sam. 7:1–2). But the Lord would turn it around: He would establish a house for David, and an everlasting throne. This He has done, not only for David, but also for all His people, in the Son of David, Jesus Christ, “conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the Virgin Mary” (Apostles’ Creed). That holy Child, the incarnate “Son of the Most High,” receives “the throne of His father David” and begins to reign “over the house of Jacob forever” (Luke 1:32–33). Having given Himself as a sacrifice for the sins of the world, His Body is the true and eternal Temple of God in which His people have their own place of peace and rest. That is “the Mystery that was kept secret for long ages” but is now “made known to all nations, according to the command of the eternal God” in order that we may have faith and life in Christ (Rom. 16:25–26). 

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.

Collect for the First Sunday in Advent: Stir up Your power, O Lord, and come, that by Your protection we may be rescued from the threatening perils of our sins and saved by Your mighty deliverance; for You live and reign with the Father and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. 

Prayer of adoration, praise, and supplication: Almighty and eternal God, we adore You as the God and Father of our Lord and Savior Jesus, and with the whole Church on earth and all the hosts of heaven we ascribe to You honor and blessing, thanksgiving and praise. Holy, holy, holy are You, Lord God Almighty; heaven and earth are full of Your glory. You created us in Your own image and redeemed us with the precious blood of Your Son. By Your Spirit You sanctified us and called us out of darkness into Your marvelous light.

Grant that we may with thankful hearts receive these great mercies and express our gratitude, not only with our lips but also in our lives as we give ourselves to Your service and walk before You in holiness and righteousness all our days. Deliver us from sin and error, from the frailties of the flesh, the allurements of this present age, and the temptations of the devil. Give us faith that works in love, hope that never disappoints, kindness that never fails, confidence in You that never wavers, patience that does not grow weary, and courage always to be ready to confess Christ, that we may live in Your mercy and die in Your peace; through the same Jesus Christ, our Lord, who lives and reigns . . . 

Prayer for a right knowledge of Christ: Almighty God, whom to know is everlasting life, grant us perfectly to know Your Son, Jesus Christ, to be the way, the truth, and the life, that following His steps we may steadfastly walk in the way that leads to eternal life; through the same Jesus Christ, our Lord, who lives and reigns . . .

Prayer for blessing on the Word: Lord God, bless Your Word wherever it is proclaimed. Make it a word of power and peace to convert those not yet Your own and to confirm those who have come to saving faith. May Your Word pass from the ear to the heart, from the heart to the lip, and from the lip to the life that, as You have promised, Your Word may achieve the purpose for which You send it; through Jesus Christ, our Lord, who lives and reigns . . .

Monday, 18 December 2017Psalm 19:1, 4c, 5–6; Antiphon, Isaiah 45:8a, b—The antiphon asks that God would open the heavens and ‘let the clouds rain down righteousness,’ and that, correspondingly, He would open the earth, ‘that salvation and righteousness may bear fruit.’ Both of these things have come to pass. When the Son of God assumed flesh, and came to earth to be born a man, righteousness rained down. And this was not without effect, for He brought salvation which bears fruit in believers, as they live out their righteousness in Christ.

Tuesday, 19 December 2018Psalm 89:1–5—What is the believer’s response to all that the Lord has done for us through Christ? ‘I will sing of the steadfast love of the Lord, forever; with my mouth I will make known your faithfulness to all generations.’ In doing so, we join the throngs in heaven (v. 5), just as we say in the Preface to the Lord’s Supper, ‘with angels and archangels, and with all the company of heaven, we laud and magnify Your glorious name, evermore praising You . . . ’

Wednesday, 20 December 20172 Samuel 7:1–11, 16—King David’s desire was to build a permanent structure for the Ark of the Covenant, that is a permanent place for God to reside with His people. But the Lord tells David that He will establish a ‘house’ and a kingdom for David, which shall have no end. We are not to look to Israel for fulfillment of God’s promise, but to David’s Descendant, Christ Jesus, who has established His throne of dominion forever, by His defeat of sin, death, and the devil at Calvary.

Thursday, 21 December 2017Romans 16:25–27—A fitting end to the book of Romans, in which St. Paul has so clearly proclaimed Christ as the Savior of the world, apart from works, this doxology (hymn of praise) is especially appropriate during this Advent season, as we prepare for the coming of Jesus Christ, who ‘has now been disclosed and through the prophetic writings has been made known to all nations.’

Friday, 22 December 2019Luke 1:26–38—What a shock it must have been for this pious young woman to learn that she, not having known a man, would give birth to a baby boy. And no ordinary boy, but God Himself, the second Person of the Trinity! Due to the miracle wrought through the Holy Spirit, Child born would be ‘true God, begotten of the Father from eternity, and also true man, born of the Virgin Mary.’ The Blessed Virgin is, therefore, truly the Mother of God, and her Son, the Savior of mankind, is properly named ‘Jesus,’ that is, ‘Yahweh saves.’

Saturday, 23 December 2017—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’).

Lectionary summary on front page from LCMS Commission on Worship
Artwork by Julius Schnoor von Carolsfeld, ©WELS.
Prayers from Lutheran Service Book © 2006 Concordia Publishing House

Saturday, December 16, 2017

Advent 3

Advent 3 – 17 December 2017 – John 1:6-8, 19-28

Before a witness is to give his testimony in a court, for example, he is asked to swear to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. John the Baptist was one who told the truth concerning Jesus. Likewise, a Christian is a witness. The need for more witnessing is demonstrated by the facts of a declining church membership in many parts of our country.

While our congregation has been blessed with new members in many places across our great country this is not happening. It is estimated that close to a third of the adult population in the U S remain un-churched. [1] This has prompted our own Missouri Synod to declare the United States as a mission field. And yet, what we see happening at the same time is a decline in the number of foreign missionaries.

Yet, by the grace of God, opportunities to share the good news of Jesus Christ are all around us. You do not have to travel overseas to be a part of the Lord’s mission, the very fact that you are a follower of Jesus Christ makes you His witness. -  We are not asked to be successful. We are only asked to witness and be faithful. -  What does it mean to be a witness for Jesus Christ?

1. To be a witness for Christ means that we accept the call to witness. Recall the words of our text for today. John tells us, “A man came – God sent him- his name was John. He came to tell the truth about the Light to help everyone believe. He was not the Light but came to tell the truth about the Light.” [John 1:6-8 Wm. Beck translation]

Each of us actually is just like John the Baptist. We are not called to be God but to be a witnessed for God. We are called simply to tell others what we have seen and heard. Some might say, “But I don’t know everything that is in the Bible, how can I possibly be a witness?” That may be true, that you don’t know everything in the Bible but you do know Him who has saved you and Him who has called you to faith. All we are called to do is share with others what we have come to know as truth. We are called to witness of what you have heard and seen. In fact, the early followers of Jesus Christ would have only one message, “we cannot stop talking about what we have seen and heard.” [2]

2. As a witness we are simply to confess the truth. “John confessed; ‘I am not the promised Savior.” (Vs. 20) We are called to simply tell the truth. That is what we are to confess. John did not claim to be God, nor did he claim to be superior to others but instead he told people around him the truth of what he knew that Jesus was the promised Savior, the one who was coming into the world.

In this season of Advent at no other time in the year are our witness and our confession of the truth so clear. Everywhere you go you can hear carols sung and the word Jesus is on everyone’s lips. He’s the reason for this season. As we speak of the birth of the one that we celebrate this year, we have an excellent opportunity to tell others about the Savior who has come to set us free from sin, death and the power of the devil.

3. Because you are a Christian you really are a witness. This is John’s point. To be a witness for Christ means only to know Christ personally. Listen again to John’s words. “I baptize with water John answered them. There is standing before you someone you don’t know, the One who is coming after me. I’m not good enough to untie His shoe strap.” Vv.26-27 [Beck translation]

Jesus tells us that when we are to speak for Him at that very hour the Holy Spirit will give you the very words you are to speak. Because you know Christ personally, you have a relationship with Him. As we confess and witness for Him we speak of a relationship which is our by faith. We speak of Him who loves us. We speak of Him whose birth we celebrate one week  from now.

The voice of the earth Christians, “we cannot stop talking about what we have seen and heard” is good advice. These are our marching orders. May that be our confession as we wait the days before the celebration of Christmas. Rejoice for Christ has come. In Him, we have life. In Him, we make a good confession.
Words -800
Passive Sentences -16%
Readability -82.3%
Reading Level -5.3

[1] A new survey released by The Barna Group, which has been tracking America’s religious behavior and beliefs since 1984, reveals that one out of every three adults (33%) is classified as unchurched - meaning they have not attended a religious service of any type during the past six months
[2] Acts 4:20

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Mid-week Advent 2

Mid-week Advent #2
December 13, 2017
Luke 1:26, 31-33
To Whom Does Jesus Come?

INTRODUCTION: In the Gospel of Luke the birth of Jesus is foretold. The Lord sends a messenger who comes to Mary the very peasant girl who will give Him birth. To whom does Jesus come?  Jesus comes with comfort to him who waits.

In Luke 1:26  we read: “In the sixth month, God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a town in Galilee,”  The mention of Elizabeth's "sixth month" establishes a link between Jesus and the prophet John the Baptist. Nazareth was a small town off the main trade routes. Its insignificant size contrasts with Jerusalem, where Gabriel's previous appearance had taken place. Jn 1:46 records the negative Judean opinion of Nazareth. “What good ever came out of Nazareth?”  

Likewise, the region of Galilee contrasts with Judea. Surrounded as they were by Gentiles, the Galileans were not necessarily irreligious but many were somewhat lax regarding strict Jewish traditions. And what really is the point? Jesus did not come to the high and mighty, the religious. He came from a region of sinners and a family of sinners to redeem sinful people.

What can we say concerning this Savior? Let’s see what the angel has to say:
“You will be with child and give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever; his kingdom will never end.”  Luke 1:31-33
Mary’s Son was to be infinitely greater than John.

(a) His name was to be Jesus, ‘Jehovah is salvation’ (31).

(b) He would be great (32), a title which, unqualified, is usually reserved for God Himself.

(c) As heir to David’s throne He will reign over God’s people (33).

(d) His kingdom will be eternal (33).

CONCLUSION: To whom does Jesus come? He comes to comfort those who wait patiently for Him.

Sunday, December 10, 2017

Time in the Word - Advent 3

Time in the Word
Advent 3 
December 11-16, 2017

Monday, 11 December 2017Psalm 85:8–9, 12–13; Antiphon, Psalm 85:7—During this season of preparation by way of repentance, we pray that, even as we break with the sins of our past, the Lord would not let us turn back to folly. Our sin is persistent, and we can never conquer it by our own doing. Our only hope is in the Lord, who will speak peace to His people and will give what is good. He does this through our Savior, Jesus, for righteousness goes before Him.

Tuesday, 12 December 2017Psalm 126—This psalm was composed when the Israelites returned from the Babylonian Exile. When God delivered them, their mouths were initially filled with laughter and their tongues with shouts of joy.

But the hardships they faced upon return tested their faith in the Lord’s promise to restore the fortunes of Zion. This psalm provides comfort that those who sow in tears shall reap with shouts of joy! Likewise, when we face unexpected hardships and suffering, we can take comfort that the Lord has done great things for us. The greatest thing He has done is restored us by the death of our savior, His Son, Jesus Christ
Wednesday, 13 December 2017Isaiah 61:1–4, 8–11—God’s anointed messenger is here proclaimed. He will proclaim the good news of relief and release to the poor, the brokenhearted, the captives, those who are bound, and those who mourn. All these things describe us in our sinful state: We are poor, lacking the riches of fellowship with God, and thus brokenhearted; we are captives of, and in bondage to sin, and thus can only mourn our condition. But the One whom the messenger proclaims will give us the oil of gladness instead of mourning, the garment of praise instead of a faint spirit, that we may be called oaks of righteousness.

Thursday, 14 December 20171 Thessalonians 5:16–24—What is our response to and our witness of Christ has accomplished for us? That we rejoice always, pray without ceasing, and give thanks in all circumstances. This we can do, because we are no longer in our former state, as people who have no hope, in bondage to sin. Christ has set us free, and gives us His gifts of Word and Sacrament, that our whole spirit and soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Friday, 15 December 2017John 1:6–8, 19–28—When the priests and Levites confronted John the Baptist, asking him who he was, he responded that he was the fulfillment of the prophecy of Isaiah in the Old Testament reading. John is the man sent from God, the voice of one crying out in the wilderness. He went before the Lord Jesus, to prepare the way for Him, to bear witness to Him. John baptized and preached a message of repentance. Likewise, we still heed John, and prepare ourselves for the celebration of the coming of Christ in the flesh by repenting of our sins.

Saturday, 16 December 2017—The hymn of the day, Hark! A Thrilling Voice Is Sounding (LSB 345), tells of the work of John the Baptist. His voice is thrilling to believers, for his voice heralds the coming of our Savior, Jesus.

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

Prayer for deliverance from sin: Almighty God, our heavenly Father, You desire not the death of a sinner, but rather that we turn from our evil ways and live. Graciously spare us those punishments which we by our sins have deserved, and grant us always to serve You in holiness and pureness of living; through Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns . . .

Prayer for grace and forgiveness: Spare us, O Lord, and mercifully forgive us our sins. Though by our continual transgressions we have merited Your chastisements, be gracious to us. Grant that all these punishments which we have deserved may not come upon us, but that all things may work to our everlasting good; through Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns . . .

Prayer at nightfall: We praise and thank You, O God, for You are without beginning and without end. Through Christ You are the creator and preserver of the whole world; but above all, You are His God and Father, the giver of the Spirit, and the ruler of all that is, seen and unseen. You made the day for the works of light and the night for the refreshment of our weakness. O loving Lord and source of all that is good, mercifully accept our evening sacrifice of praise. As You have conducted us through the day and brought us to night's beginning, keep us now in Christ; grant us a peaceful evening and a night free from sin; and at the end bring us to everlasting life through Christ, our Lord; through Him be glory, honor, and power to You in the Holy Spirit now and always forever and ever.

Prayer for catechumens: Almighty God and Father, because You always grant growth to Your Church, increase the faith and understanding of our catechumens that, rejoicing in their new birth by the water of Holy Baptism, they may forever continue in the family of those who You adopt as Your sons and daughters; through Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns . . .

Lectionary summary on front page from LCMS Commission on Worship
Artwork by Julius Schnoor von Carolsfeld, ©WELS.
Prayers from Lutheran Service Book © 2006 Concordia Publishing House

Saturday, December 9, 2017

Advent 2

Advent 2 – 10 December 2017 –Mark 8:1-8

Prepare for the Savior’s coming by Repentance

Should Christmas Be Banned?

In Mark’s Gospel, there is no Christmas! It begins with an adult Son of God. After John, the Baptist’s preparation for Jesus He simply appears as a thirty-year-old adult seeking baptism.

If it were up to Mark, quite possibly, we would have no Christmas celebration. Should we follow Mark as the Puritans did in the 17th Century – by banning Christmas? Some would feel at home with such an idea. Now, to totally outlaw any celebration of Christmas might be stretching things a bit. However, in light of the materialism of our modern day maybe we should simply skip all of the Christmas “sell-a-bration”! It is imperative that we come to an honest understanding of what Christmas really means for this world.

What is Christmas all about?

1.            Which is not simply an understanding of how He was born but we need to understand who was born in Bethlehem and for what reason He came to this earth. All of us are quite familiar with the birth of Jesus Christ. We are familiar with the story of His birth we know of the manger, the angels, and the star.

A.            All these things are important. They point to an undisputed fact that Jesus was born, that He became a human being.

1.            These facts points that Jesus was a man. Hardly anyone would dispute these events as fact. Most people are not offended to say that Jesus was born, that He became human.

2.            To make the point that He came in history is all somewhat to say about Jesus. This is the all some are willing or comfortable to go with respect to the birth of Christ. To them “little baby Jesus’ is simply all they care to know concerning Christ. They will attest to the fact that a baby was born and that is it – nothing less and certainly nothing more!

B.            If we get hung up on just His birth, we may lose out.

1.            The reason for His birth is what is important. Why did He come? The Lord of life entered time and space to be our redeemer. He entered our world to bear our sin. He came to this earth to reconcile us back to the Father.

2.            He is not simply a “cute baby” a little lamb. He is the eternal Son of God. Yes, He entered this world as you did for He came to be your substitute. He came to live a perfect life for you. He came to fulfill the law for you. He came to fulfill and keep every requirement the Father requires of you. To be your substitute He had to be perfect in every respect so that His sacrifice would be complete.

2. Jesus, the child who was born – He is “The Son of God”

A.                  Very God.

1.            He is the Creator of us all. In Him is all life. He is the one who was with the Father from the foundations of the earth.

2.            He is the all-powerful One by Him and for Him all things were made. Mark will begin his gospel with a powerful and bold confession. Jesus is the Son of God. This is Gospel and good news.

B.            In Him is what all the prophets had written
1.            Over 800 prophecies concerning the Savior were written in the Old Testament. Mark quotes from Malachi and Isaiah to show that John was not an ordinary man nor was Jesus. Mark was the predicted forerunner of the Messiah. John prepared the way for Jesus by calling the people to repent, confess their sins, and be baptized.

2.            Jesus fulfilled each of these prophecies. He fulfilled every one of them. Every single prediction concerning the Christ was fulfilled in Jesus Christ. Each has been fulfilled in His birth, life, suffering, death and resurrection.

3. Why He was born – He is “The Christ”
A.            He is the One who came to save us

1              We could never save ourselves. Our sin condemns us. Our works are soiled with sin. Our attempts at being good fall short. We need a Savior. Only Christ will do.

2.            Sin has separated us from God. Sin has caused a huge wedge to separate us from God, and from our neighbor. In Jesus’ life, passion, death and resurrection that which has caused separation has been removed.

B.                  By His suffering and death, we are saved and redeemed.

1.            In Baptism we are brought into His family. Paul reminds us “When we were baptized into Christ Jesus we were baptized into His death. We were buried with Him by our baptism into death so that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father we too should live a new life. For if, we have been united with Him in a death like His we shall certainly be reunited with Him in a resurrection like His. Your baptism is both a death certificate and a birth certificate. In your baptism, you died to sin and became alive in Christ forever.

2.            Through this covenant of Baptism we are kept in faith. He calls, gathers, enlightens, sanctifies and keeps you forever in the faith. He gives us His Holy Spirit. As He calls you, He plants the seed of faith into your heart. He enlightens you causing growth toward the light of the Gospel. He sanctifies you so that your works may flower and show the fruit of a genuine faith. He keeps you watering and nurturing your faith so that it remains active and effective, as He has promised to use you in His kingdom.

So, should Christmas be banned? By no means! When we look past the trappings, we see the One who has come to redeem and save us. He is God in the flesh our Savior, King and Redeemer.

Words – 1,000
Passive Sentences – 12%
Readability – 78.8%
Reading Level – 5.2
 Woodcut by Julius Schnoor von Carolsfeld, © WELS