Monday, December 31, 2018

2018 - In Review

National Security and the Russia investigations garnered most of the headlines in 2918. President Trump was set on a collision course with the national security world while tariffs and trade plagued the nation’s farmers throughout the year.  The unemployment rate dropped to one of the lowest in the country (a 50 year low) however, the president imposed tariffs on steel and aluminum in March and then in July announced a $12 billion aid package for those hurt by the tariffs. These tariffs did not bode well for American farmers who witnessed record yields along with below market prices. By year’s end four of President Trump’s advisors; a campaign foreign policy adviser, his former campaign chair, a campaign aide, his former national security adviser and his personal attorney each pleaded guilty to federal charges. In late October the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh witnessed the single most killing upon a religious community in the United States; killing eleven congregants.
In the mid-term elections Democrats regained control of the House of Representatives while the Republicans retained the Senate. On November 11 the world paused to commemorate the one hundred anniversary of the armistice, which was signed between the Axis and Allies ending the First World War.   
U.S. stocks kicked off the New Year on a high note as Wall Street bet on another strong year for equities. The Nasdaq composite hit record highs. The index also closed above 7,000 for the first time. The Dow Jones industrial average rose to finish at 24,824.01 only to sharply fall around Thanksgiving wiping out any gains for the year. By year’s end, the Dow would finish around 23,000.  With fears of an extended government shutdown the year ended on a somewhat somber note.
They hymn writer reminds us:
When the woes of life o’ertake me—
Hopes deceive, and fears annoy,
Never shall the cross forsake me,
Lo! it glows with peace and joy.
When tragedy strikes Christ remains. This is nowhere more clearly known than in the cross of Jesus, where God was joined to the fullest human experience of loss - suffering an unjust and cruel death- out of love for us. God is present. - Not causing chaos. But entering into it. Not sending calamity. But suffering through it. Not standing over us. But holding tightly on to us. And promising never to let go. Wherever there is human tragedy and pain, the incarnate and crucified God is there. 
We do not know what condition our nation and society will be tomorrow, or in the future. But we do know where Christ will be from now unto eternity.
Stat Crux Dum Volvitur Orbis” –“The cross stands while the world spins.” While the world appears to be breaking apart all around us, the cross of Christ stands strong.  We are not given to panic but to pray. So continue in the vocation, which Christ has placed you. Bloom where you are planted. Gossip the gospel. Stay focused. Be a blessing. Be a sermon in shoes!
In the cross of Christ I glory,
Towering o’er the wrecks of time;
All the light of sacred story
Gathers round its head sublime.

Despite the circumstances of our lives; separations, suspicions and sorrows Christ has conquered victoriously for us. The cross of Christ always stands before us. 

Image © Higher Things

In the Cross of Christ I glory, Lutheran Service Book © 2006 Concordia Publishing House, St. Louis

Sunday, December 30, 2018

Epiphany Series C

6 January 2019
Matthew 2:1-12

O God, by the leading of a star You made known Your only-begotten Son to the Gentiles. Lead us, who know You by faith, to enjoy in heaven the fullness of Your divine presence; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, One God, now and forever. 

Isaiah 60:1–6
Ephesians 3:1–12
Matthew 2:1–12

The Lord God Is Manifested in the Incarnate Son

The Feast of the Epiphany centers in the visit of the Magi from the East. In that respect, it is a “Thirteenth Day” of Christmas; yet, it also marks the beginning of a new liturgical season. While Christmas has focused on the incarnation of our Lord — that is, on God becoming flesh — the season of Epiphany emphasizes the manifestation or self-revelation of God in that same flesh of Christ. The Lord Himself has entered our darkness and rises upon us with the brightness of His true light (Isaiah 60:1–2). He does so chiefly by His Word of the Gospel, which He causes to be preached within His Church on earth — not only to the Jews but also to Gentiles (Ephesians 3:8–10). As the Magi were guided by the promises of Holy Scripture to find and worship the Christ Child with His mother in the house (Matthew 2:5–11), so does He call disciples from all nations by the preaching of His Word to find and worship Him within His Church (Isaiah 60:3–6). With gold they confess His royalty; with incense, His deity; and with myrrh, His priestly sacrifice (Matthew 2:11).

Matthew 2:1
Τοῦ δὲ Ἰησοῦ γεννηθέντος ἐν Βηθλέεμ τῆς Ἰουδαίας ἐν ἡμέραις Ἡρῴδου τοῦ βασιλέως, ἰδοὺ μάγοι ἀπὸ ἀνατολῶν παρεγένοντο εἰς Ἱεροσόλυμα
Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold, wise men[a] from the east came to Jerusalem,

Matthew 2:2 
λέγοντες• Ποῦ ἐστιν ὁ τεχθεὶς βασιλεὺς τῶν Ἰουδαίων; εἴδομεν γὰρ αὐτοῦ τὸν ἀστέρα ἐν τῇ ἀνατολῇ καὶ ἤλθομεν προσκυνῆσαι αὐτῷ.
saying, “Where is he who has been born king of the Jews? For we saw his star when it rose[b] and have come to worship him.” 

Matthew 2:3
ἀκούσας δὲ [a]ὁ βασιλεὺς Ἡρῴδης ἐταράχθη καὶ πᾶσα Ἱεροσόλυμα μετ’ αὐτοῦ,
When Herod the king heard this, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him; 

Matthew 2:4
καὶ συναγαγὼν πάντας τοὺς ἀρχιερεῖς καὶ γραμματεῖς τοῦ λαοῦ ἐπυνθάνετο παρ’ αὐτῶν ποῦ ὁ χριστὸς γεννᾶται.
and assembling all the chief priests and scribes of the people, he inquired of them where the Christ was to be born. 

Matthew 2:5
οἱ δὲ εἶπαν αὐτῷ• Ἐν Βηθλέεμ τῆς Ἰουδαίας• οὕτως γὰρ γέγραπται διὰ τοῦ προφήτου• 
They told him, “In Bethlehem of Judea, for so it is written by the prophet:

Matthew 2:6
Καὶ σύ, Βηθλέεμ γῆ Ἰούδα, οὐδαμῶς ἐλαχίστη εἶ ἐν τοῖς ἡγεμόσιν Ἰούδα• ἐκ σοῦ γὰρ ἐξελεύσεται ἡγούμενος, ὅστις ποιμανεῖ τὸν λαόν μου τὸν Ἰσραήλ.
“‘And you, O Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, are by no means least among the rulers of Judah; for from you shall come a ruler who will shepherd my people Israel.’”

Matthew 2:7
Τότε Ἡρῴδης λάθρᾳ καλέσας τοὺς μάγους ἠκρίβωσεν παρ’ αὐτῶν τὸν χρόνον τοῦ φαινομένου ἀστέρος,
Then Herod summoned the wise men secretly and ascertained from them what time the star had appeared. 

Matthew 2:8
καὶ πέμψας αὐτοὺς εἰς Βηθλέεμ εἶπεν• Πορευθέντες [b]ἐξετάσατε ἀκριβῶς περὶ τοῦ παιδίου• ἐπὰν δὲ εὕρητε, ἀπαγγείλατέ μοι, ὅπως κἀγὼ ἐλθὼν προσκυνήσω αὐτῷ.
And he sent them to Bethlehem, saying, “Go and search diligently for the child, and when you have found him, bring me word, that I too may come and worship him.” 

Matthew 2:9
οἱ δὲ ἀκούσαντες τοῦ βασιλέως ἐπορεύθησαν, καὶ ἰδοὺ ὁ ἀστὴρ ὃν εἶδον ἐν τῇ ἀνατολῇ προῆγεν αὐτούς, ἕως ἐλθὼν [c]ἐστάθη ἐπάνω οὗ ἦν τὸ παιδίον.
After listening to the king, they went on their way. And behold, the star that they had seen when it rose went before them until it came to rest over the place where the child was. 

Matthew 2:10
ἰδόντες δὲ τὸν ἀστέρα ἐχάρησαν χαρὰν μεγάλην σφόδρα.
When they saw the star, they rejoiced exceedingly with great joy.  

Matthew 2:11 
καὶ ἐλθόντες εἰς τὴν οἰκίαν εἶδον τὸ παιδίον μετὰ Μαρίας τῆς μητρὸς αὐτοῦ, καὶ πεσόντες προσεκύνησαν αὐτῷ, καὶ ἀνοίξαντες τοὺς θησαυροὺς αὐτῶν προσήνεγκαν αὐτῷ δῶρα, χρυσὸν καὶ λίβανον καὶ σμύρναν.
 And going into the house, they saw the child with Mary his mother, and they fell down and worshiped him. Then, opening their treasures, they offered him gifts, gold and frankincense and myrrh.  

Matthew 2:12
καὶ χρηματισθέντες κατ’ ὄναρ μὴ ἀνακάμψαι πρὸς Ἡρῴδην δι’ ἄλλης ὁδοῦ ἀνεχώρησαν εἰς τὴν χώραν αὐτῶν.
And being warned in a dream not to return to Herod, they departed to their own country by another way.

The Greek New Testament: SBL Edition. Copyright © 2010 by Society of Biblical Literature and Logos Bible Software

ESV® Text Edition: 2016. Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.

Image Schnorr von Carolsfeld woodcuts “The Visit of the Magi” © WELS For personal or congregational use

LCMS lectionary summary series © 2016 

Time in the Word - Epiphany

Preparation for the coming week 
The Epiphany of our Lord

Time in the Word
Christ is for all People 
A Study for Epiphany
December 31, 2018 – January 5, 2019

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

Collect for the Name of Jesus (January 1)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 sin; through Jesus Christ, our Lord, who lives, and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.

Collect for EpiphanyO God, by the leading of a star You made known Your only-begotten Son to the Gentiles. Lead us, who know You by faith, to enjoy in heaven the fullness of Your divine presence; through the same Jesus Christ, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.

For divine guidance as we begin a New YearAlmighty and ever-living god, You make us both to will and to do those things that are good and acceptable in Your sight. Let Your fatherly hand ever guide us and Your Holy Spirit ever be with us to direct us in the knowledge and obedience of Your Word that we may obtain everlasting life.

Direct us, O Lord, in all our doings with Your most gracious favor, and further us with Your continual help, that in all our works begun, continued, and ended in You we may glorify Your holy name and finally, by Your mercy, obtain eternal salvation.

Monday, December 31, 2018Psalm 72 - The Antiphon for this coming week’s Introit comes from verse 1, Endow the king with your justice O God, the royal son with your righteousness. We’ve seen this royal Psalm before.  It is a good way to close off the year 2012. Solomon had asked for wisdom as he began his reign. (See 1 Kings 3:9,11-12; Proverbs 16:12) As we review this past year and anticipate a new on,e may we ask the King of Kings to guide us with such wisdom.  

Tuesday, January 1, 2019Isaiah 60:1-6- The Old Testament lesson tells us that nations come to the light of God’s servant. The light of God’s glory has appeared. As a result, nations come to the light of God’s servant. Light must first be scattered before there can be a gathering of people to Christ. According to verses 1 and 2, the light of God must be scattered into the world as the light is reflected in us.  How is this done? It involves evangelism and missions. The nations will come to the light, to God. They will bring honor, gifts, and praise to God. We cannot expect people or nations to become Christian until the light of Christ is cast abroad to the world through Christians.     

Wednesday, January 2, 2019Ephesians 3:1-12 - In our Epistle lesson we are told that Gentiles are included in God’s plan of salvation. The gospel is for all – including Gentiles. Gentiles are included in God’s plan of salvation. Can the church be exclusive? If it is the will of God to include all people, the church must fulfill that will.              

Thursday, January 3, 2019 –Matthew 2:1-12 – In the Gospel lesson the Gentile world worships the Christ. We are told of the visit of the Wise Men. They were wise because they made a quest for God. Today men are wise if they seek God in Christ. The foolish seek other gods – power, prestige, possessions. Wise Men then and now worship this King.   

Friday, January 4, 2019 – Psalm 72 – The Psalm appointed for this coming Sunday is also placed in the Introit. This Psalm is more about Solomon – it rightly speaks of Christ. Review verses 8-14. The extent of his domain as the result of His righteous rule is fitting of our Lord and Savior. As we begin a New Year in Jesus’ Name, may we see that he will bless everything begun, continued and ended in Him if it is to accomplish anything.

Saturday, January 5, 2019 – Revelation 22:16 – This verse is the inspiration for the hymn, “How Lovely Shines the Morning Star.” It is from the last chapter of the Savior’s revelation to St. John. In fact, they are some of the last words He will speak in Scripture. Jesus is the Root and Offspring of David, the bright Morning Star.  He is the One of whom we offer our worship and praise. He is the Hope for the nations, our only Savior. Tomorrow, Epiphany Day is a reminder that Christ came for all people for the Jew but also for the Gentile. Rejoice in the Father’s greatest gift. Rejoice in this salvation. 

LUTHERAN WORSHIP © 1982 Concordia Publishing House, St. Louis, MO
THE LUTHERAN HYMNAL © 1940 Concordia Publishing House, St. Louis, MO
LUTHERAN SEVICE BOOK LECTIONARY © 2006 Concordia Publishing House, St. Louis, MO
LECTIONARY PREACHING WORKBOOK A – John Brokhoff © 1980 CSS Publishing, Lima, OH

Illustration from a woodcut by Baron Julius Schnoor von Carolsfeld, 1794-1872, a distinguished German artist known especially for his book, Das Buch der Bücher in Bilden (The Book of Books in Pictures). © WELS used by permission for personal and congregational use. 

Saturday, December 29, 2018

Christmas 1

Christmas 1 – Series C
December 30, 2018
Luke 2:25-40
"Would You Recognize Christ If You Saw Him?"

Would you recognize Christ if you saw Him? After all, what is one baby among so many? Don’t they all look alike? If nobody told you who the baby was or who the parents were, would you know this child? Here is the marvel and miracle of Simeon. The baby Jesus, according to Luke’s account, is only forty days old. Simeon had never met the baby’s parents. Yet, in this baby Simeon recognized the Messiah. How many see Jesus as the Christ, the Son of God, and the Savior? What does one have to have to recognize the Christ in this child Jesus? That my friends, is the question we will consider this morning.

To recognize the Christ in Jesus there are three things that are necessary.

1. To recognize the Christ we must first look for Him in hope. “Now there was in Jerusalem a man called Simeon, who was righteous and devout. He was waiting for the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was upon him…"

Simeon had looked for the Savior’s coming for many a year. We have witnessed His coming and we anticipate His Second Coming on the last great day. Like Simeon we need to look for Him in a hope that He will come at just the right time. As He came the first time at just the right time he will also come again in glory at just the right time. There is still a time for us to wait for Jesus. It is not in the anticipation of the celebration at Christmas but rather it is in living in anxious expectation for Him to return at just the right time to take us to be with Him in glory. Like Simeon Live in that hope.

This Jesus took your flesh. He became one of us, so that He might understand you all the better, share in the same experiences that you had, live out life like you do. For if He had not become human flesh. He could not redeem human flesh. For that which He cannot touch, He cannot heal. And if He cannot heal it. He cannot redeem it. [Gregory of Nazianzus] [1]

2. To recognize the Christ we must live close to God. Luke tells us something about Simeon’s character. He was "…righteous and devout…" (v.25)

Isaiah 45:22-25 tells us to "turn" (v.22) This is a common word in the Old Testament. Often it is used as "return". It means to repent, to change one’s mind, and make an about face from serving Satan to serving God. To turn indicates that a person has sinned by going away from God, by being faithless in serving false gods and rebelling against the true God. To turn means grace. God asks us to come back to Him and if we do, there is forgiveness and acceptance. Simeon remains for us an excellent role model of what it means to remain faithful. It does not mean that one remains perfect in every respect but rather that we see in Christ the reason for our salvation and then in repentance and faith we turn to Him for life. That’s what it means to be devout. That’s what it means to live close to God. To have our focus on Christ is what is needed today.

3. To recognize the Christ we must be led of the Spirit. "Moved by the Spirit, he went to the temple courts…and took the child in his arms…"

Simeon was a Spirit possessed man. He did not have to wait until Pentecost to get the Spirit. This reminds us that the Spirit is as old as God is, for the Spirit is God Himself. When and how Simeon received the Spirit, we do not know. It is enough that we see that the spirit possessed Simeon, for the Holy Spirit gave him the revelation that the baby Jesus was the Christ.

It was the Holy Spirit that inspired him to enter the temple at just the right time to see and behold Jesus. Likewise the same Spirit has directed you to behold this baby and for you to recognize Him as the Christ.

This is the last worship service in the year of our Lord 2018. What can we say? Man has been wounded. Christ has come to heal. Man has been lost. Christ has come to find and return. Man’s greatest enemy is death. Christ has come to conquer it.  Christ, the Divine, stooped to be human, and when he stood back up, He raised us up too.

Having seen the Christ Simeon was now ready to depart from this world in peace. For Simeon, death had no terror because, having seen Christ, Simeon was sure of his salvation. You have seen the Lord’s salvation. The future has no terror because we have seen the Lord’s Christ and thus we too are assured of our salvation. May the prayer of Simeon be your prayer too as we say farewell to 2018 and hello to another New Year. Having witnessed Christ we are now free to face the future with the same assurance as Simeon. You can be at peace. For Christ is at peace. He is the Prince of peace.

Passive Sentences-7%
Reading Level-5.1

[1] Christmas Eve 2018 Homily Pr. Ken Kelly, Johnstown, PA 

Monday, December 24, 2018

Christmas Day

December 25, 2019

Christ is Born
Luke 2:1-20

In this life - Money is temporary
  A car -temporary
  A career - temporary
     Christ is eternal!
  Today we welcome His Coming - 

The events of  the first Christmas. Are they  only a story, a myth, a legend – something akin to the tale of Rudolph the red nosed reindeer? But consider how real Christmas really is – its concrete, it’s specific, it’s the real deal. Consider the realities of the Christmas event.

1.      Political factors: Caesar Augustus, Quirinius – Vv. 1, 2 -In those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be registered. 2 This was the first registration when[a] Quirinius was governor of Syria.

The relation of church and state is a problem every generation faces. At the very beginning of Jesus’ life the state had its say. A “decree” from Rome gave Jesus’ parents a difficult time: a long, and difficult trip from Nazareth to Bethlehem at a time when the expectant mother needed to stay at home with family. The decree resulted in a stable for a delivery room and animals for attending nurses.

“Caesar” continued to be a problem for Jesus to the very end of his life. Jesus had said — “Render unto Caesar”; and so He was sentenced to death by one of Caesar’s men. Yet, on the other hand, the “decree” reminds us that Jesus came into a real world at a definite time and place. The incarnation is not a theory or myth or the product of human imagination. Christmas is rooted and grounded in time and space and in the events and context of history.

2.      Parents; Joseph, Mary – Vv. 4-5 -And Joseph also went up from Galilee, from the town of Nazareth, to Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David, 5 to be registered with Mary, his betrothed, who was with child.

At Christmas  God’s grace, that is, the undeserved love of God became a reality by the appearing of Jesus. He was just as real and human as you and I. He was born and placed into a real family. He lived with and among people. He learned a trade by His step-father Joseph, and was nurtured by His mother.   The grace of God became flesh that we might see, hear, and feel God as a reality. Christianity is not a philosophy, not a program of activity, not a code of ethics, but a person. He walked and talked, laughed and cried, lived and died. In Jesus we see the love of God and He came to live with and among people. At His birth we witness His immediate family.

3.      Delivery room: stable manger, child – Vv. 6-7 -And while they were there, the time came for her to give birth. 7 And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in swaddling cloths and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn.

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

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

Seeing is believing. The shepherds found the Christ-child just as they had been promised. They sought out the infant and His parents where they were told to find Him.
Where do we find the Savior today? We find Him in those places only the Father has promised. We find Him in His message of the Gospel. We find Him in the reading of the Inspired Word. We find Him the waters of Holy Baptism. We find Him in His Meal, in His Word of Absolution, and hidden away in our own hearts.

If you are seeking Christ this Christmas you will find Him only in those places the Father has promised He would be found.  The Shepherds found Him – “just as it had been told them”. Why should you expect anything different?

4.      Witnesses – real people shepherds, you who have seen it again by those witnesses – Vv. 8-12 -  And in the same region there were shepherds out in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. 9 And an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were filled with great fear. 10 And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. 11 For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. 12 And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.”

Sometimes we can feel quite alone despite of our many activities. Yet, the message of the Savior’s birth comes to us with the same joy and expectation. “For you is born this day a Savior.” This is the greatest revelation known to man. This news calms our fears, removes our doubts and gives us hope. The Good News of the Savior’s birth which is promised for all people was given first to a lonely people. This message is given to you this day as the Father’s gift.

The shepherds were the first to hear of the birth of a Savior. Was it not strange that God sent the angel to tell the shepherds? Why not announce it to the important and powerful people of the world?Why not to kings and generals?Why not to Pharisees and Sadducees? 

The shepherds of Jesus’ day had a bad reputation as thieves. They were among the very poor and usually classified with publicans and prostitutes. The poor seem to be God’s greatest concern. Jesus was born of poor peasants.Later Jesus taught “Blessed are the poor....” As proof of His messiahship, He reported to John the Baptist, “the poor have the gospel preached to them.” Jesus’ birth is good news to the hungry, needy, deprived, and poor.

There was much excitement during the birth. You can see a nervous, frantic new father trying to be midwife to a woman having her first baby. Then came a group of shepherds asking questions and staring at the new baby in adoration. Later came the Wise Men. There was much talking, coming and going, chores to be done, and general confusion. While all this was going on, Mary His mother, pondered all these events and sayings.

What is the meaning of all this? Who is this new baby? What will he amount to? Christmas should be a time for reflection and meditation. For some Christmas is over in a day and then life goes on as before. If so, Christmas is only a mad rush and a state of confusion. For those who “ponder these things,” the cruel cross of Calvary always looms ahead of us - even on Christmas morning.

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

Sunday, December 23, 2018

Christmas 1 Series C


O God, our Maker and Redeemer, You wonderfully created us and in the incarnation of Your Son yet more wondrously restored our human nature. Grant that we may ever be alive in Him who made Himself to be like us; through Jesus Christ, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, One God, now and forever. Amen
Exodus 13:1–3a, 11–15
Colossians 3:12–17
Luke 2:22–40

The Firstborn Son of God Is Our Redemption from Sin and Death

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

Luke 2:22–40
Jesus Presented at the Temple

Luke 2:22-

Καὶ ὅτε ἐπλήσθησαν αἱ ἡμέραι τοῦ καθαρισμοῦ αὐτῶν κατὰ τὸν νόμον Μωϋσέως, ἀνήγαγον αὐτὸν εἰς Ἱεροσόλυμα παραστῆσαι τῷ κυρίῳ,
And when the time came for their purification according to the Law of Moses, they brought him up to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord.

First time Jesus the new temple is brought to Jerusalem. Leviticus 12- 40 days. Would not go to Jerusalem for the circumcision. See Malachi the messenger comes to the temple.

Luke 2:23-
καθὼς γέγραπται ἐν νόμῳ κυρίου ὅτι Πᾶν ἄρσεν διανοῖγον μήτραν ἅγιον τῷ κυρίῳ κληθήσεται,
(as it is written in the Law of the Lord, “Every male who first opens the womb shall be called holy to the Lord”)

All males that open the womb are called holy to/for the Lord.

Holy to the Lord” had to be remind the Jews of the Exodus and to remember the first born were redeemed and or ransomed... Ex. 13:15, First born of the Levites were not redeemed. They were already set apart for the Lord.  

This is Jesus active obedience. He is under the Law fulfilling it perfectly.

Luke 2:24-
καὶ τοῦ δοῦναι θυσίαν κατὰ τὸ εἰρημένον ἐν [a]τῷ νόμῳ κυρίου, ζεῦγος τρυγόνων ἢ δύο νοσσοὺς περιστερῶν.
and to offer a sacrifice according to what is said in the Law of the Lord, “a pair of turtledoves, or two young pigeons.”

 and to offer a sacrifice according to the Law of the Lord ( see Lev. 12:8.)

Two pigeons turtle doves because they were poor. Burnt offering and sin offering. One for the mother one for the child.  A lamb and a bird or two birds.  Burnt sacrifice was a dedication sacrifice. 

Mary and Joseph can not afford the lamb. (The Magi hadn't shown up yet with the gold.) Yet already, Mary is holding in her arms "the lamb of God which takes away the sin of the world."

Luke 2:25-
Καὶ ἰδοὺ [b]ἄνθρωπος ἦν ἐν Ἰερουσαλὴμ ᾧ ὄνομα Συμεών, καὶ ὁ ἄνθρωπος οὗτος δίκαιος καὶ εὐλαβής, προσδεχόμενος παράκλησιν τοῦ Ἰσραήλ, καὶ πνεῦμα ἦν ἅγιον ἐπ’ αὐτόν·
Now there was a man in Jerusalem, whose name was Simeon, and this man was righteous and devout, waiting for the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was upon him.

Behold...(look here, at this is happening right in front of you)...Simeon who was in Jerusalem just and devout waiting for the comfort of Israel and the Holy Spirit was upon Him.

Waiting for Jerusalem to be comforted by the redeemer.  see Isaiah 40. He (Paraclete) is the one standing before God as a defense attorney.

Did Simeon get his information from Zachariah's prophecy? The Spirit Works through means.

Luke 2:26-
καὶ ἦν αὐτῷ κεχρηματισμένον ὑπὸ τοῦ πνεύματος τοῦ ἁγίου μὴ ἰδεῖν θάνατον πρὶν [c]ἢ ἂν ἴδῃ τὸν χριστὸν κυρίου
And it had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not see death before he had seen the Lord's Christ.

It was to him divinely revealed that he would not see death until he saw the Lord's Christ. 

 The entire Old Testament is waiting for the Lord's Christ. It's happening now.

Luke 2:27-
καὶ ἦλθεν ἐν τῷ πνεύματι εἰς τὸ ἱερόν· καὶ ἐν τῷ εἰσαγαγεῖν τοὺς γονεῖς τὸ παιδίον Ἰησοῦν τοῦ ποιῆσαι αὐτοὺς κατὰ τὸ εἰθισμένον τοῦ νόμου περὶ αὐτοῦ 
And he came in the Spirit into the temple, and when the parents brought in the child Jesus, to do for him according to the custom of the Law

He came in connection of the spirit into the temple as the parents were bringing Jesus in.

Luke 2:28-
καὶ αὐτὸς ἐδέξατο αὐτὸ εἰς τὰς [d]ἀγκάλας καὶ εὐλόγησεν τὸν θεὸν καὶ εἶπεν·
he took him up in his arms and blessed God and said,

Luke 2:29-
Νῦν ἀπολύεις τὸν δοῦλόν σου, δέσποτα, κατὰ τὸ ῥῆμά σου ἐν εἰρήνῃ· 
Now you are letting your servant Lord depart in peace. 

Master now let your slave depart in peace.  Jesus came to set the captives free. Now free from the slavery of waiting.

Luke 2:30-32-
ὅτι εἶδον οἱ ὀφθαλμοί μου τὸ σωτήριόν σου 31 ὃ ἡτοίμασας κατὰ πρόσωπον πάντων τῶν λαῶν, 32 φῶς εἰς ἀποκάλυψιν ἐθνῶν καὶ δόξαν λαοῦ σου Ἰσραήλ.
for my eyes have seen your salvation 31     that you have prepared in the presence of all peoples,32  a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and for glory to your people Israel.”

 The word here is used to describe the peace offering. There is peace already established. Often used by itself. You have given me the offering prepared to be offered in the face of all the people.  And the peace offering was eaten by the people. 

See Daniel Brege's "Eating the sacrifice." Literally, "my eyes have seen your peace offering, which we have eaten."

Simeon sees the cross as already done, a prophetic past prophecy.

See Deut. 12, every clean person eats the peace offering.

Luke 2:33 –
καὶ ἦν [e]ὁ πατὴρ αὐτοῦ καὶ ἡ [f]μήτηρ θαυμάζοντες ἐπὶ τοῖς λαλουμένοις περὶ αὐτοῦ
And his father and his mother marveled at what was said about him.

Mary "marveled," a response to the Word, a response of faith. Further word search may prove helpful.

Luke 2:34-
καὶ εὐλόγησεν αὐτοὺς Συμεὼν καὶ εἶπεν πρὸς Μαριὰμ τὴν μητέρα αὐτοῦ· Ἰδοὺ οὗτος κεῖται εἰς πτῶσιν καὶ ἀνάστασιν πολλῶν ἐν τῷ Ἰσραὴλ καὶ εἰς σημεῖον ἀντιλεγόμενον,
And Simeon blessed them and said to Mary his mother, “Behold, this child is appointed for the fall and rising of many in Israel, and for a sign that is opposed

 Pay close attention to this one...this child is set for the rising and fall of many in Israel.

 The sign is the cross and the offense of the cross. The entire Christian message will be spoken against.  

Luke 2:35-
αὶ σοῦ [g]δὲ αὐτῆς τὴν ψυχὴν διελεύσεται ῥομφαία, ὅπως ἂν ἀποκαλυφθῶσιν ἐκ πολλῶν καρδιῶν διαλογισμοί.
a sword will pierce you and the thoughts of many will be revealed. 

Luke 2:36
Καὶ ἦν Ἅννα προφῆτις, θυγάτηρ Φανουήλ, ἐκ φυλῆς Ἀσήρ (αὕτη προβεβηκυῖα ἐν ἡμέραις πολλαῖς, ζήσασα [h]μετὰ ἀνδρὸς ἔτη ἑπτὰ ἀπὸ τῆς παρθενίας αὐτῆς,
And there was a prophetess, Anna, the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was advanced in years, having lived with her husband seven years from when she was a virgin, 

Luke 2:37
καὶ αὐτὴ χήρα [i]ἕως ἐτῶν ὀγδοήκοντα τεσσάρων,) ἣ οὐκ [j]ἀφίστατο τοῦ ἱεροῦ νηστείαις καὶ δεήσεσιν λατρεύουσα νύκτα καὶ ἡμέραν.
and then as a widow until she was eighty-four.[b] She did not depart from the temple, worshiping with fasting and prayer night and day.

Anna was 84 – (12 x 7 = 84) or “as a widow for eighty-four years”

Luke 2:38
καὶ αὐτῇ τῇ ὥρᾳ ἐπιστᾶσα ἀνθωμολογεῖτο τῷ [l]θεῷ καὶ ἐλάλει περὶ αὐτοῦ πᾶσιν τοῖς προσδεχομένοις [m]λύτρωσιν Ἰερουσαλήμ.
And coming up at that very hour she began to give thanks to God and to speak of him to all who were waiting for the redemption of Jerusalem.

The Return to Nazareth

Luke 2:39
Καὶ ὡς ἐτέλεσαν [n]πάντα τὰ κατὰ τὸν νόμον κυρίου, [o]ἐπέστρεψαν εἰς τὴν Γαλιλαίαν [p]εἰς πόλιν ἑαυτῶν Ναζαρέθ.
And when they had performed everything according to the Law of the Lord, they returned into Galilee, to their own town of Nazareth. 

Luke 2:40  
Τὸ δὲ παιδίον ηὔξανεν καὶ ἐκραταιοῦτο πληρούμενον σοφίᾳ, καὶ χάρις θεοῦ ἦν ἐπ’ αὐτό.
And the child grew and became strong, filled with wisdom. And the favor of God was upon him.

ESV® Text Edition: 2016. Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.

The Greek New Testament: SBL Edition. Copyright © 2010 by Society of Biblical Literature and Logos Bible Software

The Great ‘O’ Antiphons: O Emmanuel

December 23
O Emmanuel, our King and our Lord, the Anointed for the nations and their Savior: Come and save us, O Lord our God.

1 O come, O come, Immanuel,
and ransom captive Israel
that mourns in lonely exile here
until the Son of God appear.
Rejoice! Rejoice! Immanuel
shall come to you, O Israel.

Time in the Word - Christmas 1

Preparation for next week, the First Sunday after Christmas 

Prayer for December 24, 2018Christmas EveO 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, 2018Christmas DayAlmighty 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, 2018St. Stephen, MartyrHeavenly 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, 2018St. John, the EvangelistMerciful 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.

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, 24 December 2018Psalm 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, 25 December 2018—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, 26 December 2018Jeremiah 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, 27 December 2018Hebrews 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, 28 December 2018Luke 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, 29 December 2018Psalm 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 Christmas – Grant, 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 Week Direct 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.

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.

Saturday, December 22, 2018

The Great ‘O’ Antiphons: O King of Nations

December 22
O King of the Nations, the Ruler they long for, the Cornerstone uniting all people: Come and save us all, whom You formed out of clay.

7 O come, O King of nations, bind
in one the hearts of all mankind.
Bid all our sad divisions cease
and be yourself our King of Peace. Refrain
Rejoice! Rejoice! Immanuel
shall come to you, O Israel.

Advent 4

Advent 4 – Series C
December 23, 1918
Luke 1:39-45
Blessed is the Woman

Elizabeth extols exalts and praises 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. Elizabeth considers 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!    

Christmas is a reminder from God Himself that you are not alone. The Prophet Isaiah said that Jesus’ name would be called “Immanuel,” which means “God with us.” (Isaiah 7:14, Matthew 1:23). The Father revealed in the life, death and resurrection of Jesus a reconciling love that rescues us from separation and loneliness.

At this Christmas season you can be assured that Jesus Christ is here. He is here to give you hope, to forgive your sins, to give you a new song, to impart faith and to heal your emotional and spiritual wounds.

Nothing is left to chance. If the Father has so orders the events of Mary's life, how much more will He be more then able to order your days and direct you path - 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 bolts out of town. Mary leaves the tiny village of Nazareth. She leaves to visit her cousin Elizabeth who too is expecting a baby. 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 too, by faith, recognize the voice of their Savior?

From conception to grave the Lord’s hand is upon you. You are never out of His sight or away from His concern. You are constantly under the Lord’s watchful eye. The Psalmist reminds us, “You know me inside and out, You know every bone in my body; You know exactly how I was made, bit by bit, how I was sculpted from nothing. Like an open book, You watched me grow from conception to birth; all the stages of my life were spread out before you. The days of my life all prepared before I'd even lived one day.” Psalm 139:15-16[1]

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 your substitute. He came to live under the Law perfectly. He came to take your sin and to suffer and die for the sin of the world which includes you. Everything you lack is found in Jesus.

His sad life is your eternal one. His loss your gain. His shame your righteousness.  He left all He had above to take your sins upon Himself. Left heavenly bliss to suffer hell in your place. Why did He do all this? Forsake everything He had? To come into a sad world, suffer, and die? Because He knew, from eternity, that in His resurrection, His Father would give Him the most amazing of gifts, something far greater than anything He left behind: you.

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 Mary believed the word of the Lord. Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths -. Proverbs 3:5-6 

All the Lord asks of you this day place your confidence in Him.  Believe in this plan of salvation. Trust Christ and none other.   Blessed are those who believe that what the Lord has said will be accomplished!

Words- 970
Passive Sentences –13%
Readability – 79.7%
Reading Level –5.0