Monday, November 30, 2020


Our Christmas observance this season will be somewhat different from previous years. There will be three mid-week Advent servivces along with the traditional Christmas Eve and Christmas Day celebrations.  However, due to the presence of the Corona virus and the rising numbrer of infactions in our area our services will be limited to one humdred persons. Social distancing and sanitation protocols remain in place.  You are strongly encouraged to wear a mask; protecting yourself and protecting others - shapes behavior.  We will ask that you register through our parish web site to attend any of our services so that we can have an accurate accounting of who was in our buidling. This is necessary so that should someone test positive we can conduct responsible contact tracing.

We have every intention to live-stream our servicves through our parish facebook page to accommodate our membership and those who desire to join us virtually. Sunday services will continue to be broadcast live on radio station WZBD on 72.7 fm.

Throughout the course of this pandemic our guiding principle continues, “We are given to serve both faithfully and responsibly in loving service and care for souls and the health and safety of our members and our neighbors in the world.” Courtesy and civility need to be considered as we navigate this pandemic together.

Our mid-week Advent services will focus on critical passages from Isaiah’s prophecy. We will conduct a family oriented Christmas Eve Service. Our two eight grade confirmands Ashlyn Black and Izak Bobay will be our narrators for this year’s Christmas Eve Servivce – “Symbols of the Nativity.” On Christmas morning we will conduct a Service of lessons and carols with Holy Communion being celebrated.      

The shepherds who watched their flocks by night, they weren’t the most reputable of fellows.

Those given the night shift weren’t the landowners or primary caretakers of the animals. They were hired hands, given the menial task of simply making sure the sheep survived through the night until the owners returned.

One didn’t aspire in life to become a night-shepherd. They ended up with that job. Uneducated or underprivileged, it was the best work available. Or their previous work experience and reputation about town left them with little other options.

Yet, these were the ones chosen for the honor of being the first to hear and repeat the Christmas message.

But the Scriptures say that when the shepherds “made known abroad” everything they had seen that holy night, that “all they that heard it wondered at those things which were told them by the shepherds.”

What you see here is the power of God’s Spirit at work, through the Word, regardless of who speaks it. That same grace rests bountifully upon you. You have been blessed to meet the Christ-child just as they have, and by faith, you have the same forgiveness, the same divine love and care; the same honor to go and tell the good news of a Savior born to save.

Don’t let your reputation, don’t let your station in life, hold you back either.

Jesus didn’t need to do anything He did for your salvation. He didn’t need to leave heaven. He didn’t need to put aside His divine majesty to take a humble form. He didn’t need to bleed, suffer and died the cross.

But out of His great love for you, He did it all anyway. He chose to. He submitted Himself to the law so that no man could doubt that what He did was for them.

He was in your place and did all things perfectly well so that you can know what kind of righteousness you now have before God. Yes, Jesus takes your sins away, but in return, He gives you something mind-boggling in return, a blessedness and innocence as if you never did anything wrong.

What an exchange! What a trade! What is yours became His so that what is His is now yours! That’s what the name of Jesus means, “He who saves.”


December 1, 2020 - Tuesday prior to Advent 2


Psalm 85—This psalm was possibly written soon after the return of the exiles from Babylon (Vv.1-3). This psalm expresses the psalmist’s feeling of distress and exposure to anger as there was opposition to rebuilding Jerusalem’s walls after the return. See Nehemiah  4:16-23

The format of the Psalm is as follows:

Vv. 1-3             restoration
Vv. 4-7             a plea to restore again
Vv. 8-9             The LORD’s spoken word of peace
Vv.10-13          The LORD will give only what is good


This is yet another psalm asking God for restoration, Psalm 85 recounts the forgiveness of the Lord in the past, and prays that He might once again make known His steadfast love, and mercy.

With confidence, the psalmist can say, ‘Surely his salvation is near to those who fear him, that glory may dwell in our land.’ For the steadfast love and faithfulness of the Lord do meet in the coming of Jesus Christ in the flesh; there, righteousness and peace kiss each other (verse 10).

As the LORD returned to His people what they lost in the Babylonian exile so much more He restores us in the coming of His Son Jesus who was born to return us back to the LORD.

Says St. Paul, “For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.” -Colossians 1:13-14 In the coming of Jesus we are rescued, redeemed, restored and forgiven.

Collect for Psalm 85: God of love and faithfulness, you so loved the world that you gave your only Son to be our Savior. Help us to receive him as both Lord and brother and freely celebrate him as our gracious Redeemer now and forever. Amen[1]

[1] Collect for Psalm 85, For All the Saints, A Prayer Book for and By the Church Vol. III © 1995 The American Lutheran Publicity Bureau, Delhi, NY

Morning Prayer Reading 57: Elijah Pt.2

1 Kings 17 
(selective verses)

10 So Elijah arose and went to Zarephath. And when he came to the gate of the city, behold, a widow was there gathering sticks. And he called to her and said, “Bring me a little water in a vessel, that I may drink.” 11 And as she was going to bring it, he called to her and said, “Bring me a morsel of bread in your hand.” 12 And she said, “As the Lord your God lives, I have nothing baked, only a handful of flour in a jar and a little oil in a jug. And now I am gathering a couple of sticks that I may go in and prepare it for myself and my son, that we may eat it and die.” 13 And Elijah said to her, “Do not fear; go and do as you have said. But first make me a little cake of it and bring it to me, and afterward make something for yourself and your son. 14 For thus says the Lord, the God of Israel, ‘The jar of flour shall not be spent, and the jug of oil shall not be empty, until the day that the Lord sends rain upon the earth.’” 15 And she went and did as Elijah said. And she and he and her household ate for many days. 16 The jar of flour was not spent, neither did the jug of oil become empty, according to the word of the Lord that he spoke by Elijah.

Elijah Raises the Widow's Son

17 After this the son of the woman, the mistress of the house, became ill. And his illness was so severe that there was no breath left in him. 18 And she said to Elijah, “What have you against me, O man of God? You have come to me to bring my sin to remembrance and to cause the death of my son!” 19 And he said to her, “Give me your son.” And he took him from her arms and carried him up into the upper chamber where he lodged, and laid him on his own bed. 20 And he cried to the Lord, “O Lord my God, have you brought calamity even upon the widow with whom I sojourn, by killing her son?” 21 Then he stretched himself upon the child three times and cried to the Lord, “O Lord my God, let this child's life come into him again.” 22 And the Lord listened to the voice of Elijah. And the life of the child came into him again, and he revived. 23 And Elijah took the child and brought him down from the upper chamber into the house and delivered him to his mother. And Elijah said, “See, your son lives.” 24 And the woman said to Elijah, “Now I know that you are a man of God, and that the word of the Lord in your mouth is truth.”

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

Ilustration 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. 

Sunday, November 29, 2020

November 30, 2020– Monday prior to Advent 2


Psalm 80:1, 8a, 9b, 7; Antiphon, Psalm 80:3— “Restore us, O God; make Your face shine upon us, that we may be saved.” The whole purpose of Jesus coming into this world was to save us. In these weeks counting down to Christmas, we remember that Jesus entered time and space to be our Savior. As He came at just the right time to redeem us, He will appear at the right time to receive us into glory. His timing is impeccable; His ways are perfect.

The psalmist prays for the restoration of God’s people, remembering the deliverance God wrought through Joseph. In Advent, we, too, pray for restoration—restoration from the bondage of sin. The vine out of Egypt of verse 8 recalls the flight of the Christ-child into Egypt to avoid Herod’s persecution. That Vine has taken deep root and filled the land and it is through Christ, who is the Vine, that we have been restored.

Collect for Psalm 80 - Lord God, you so tend the vine you planted that now it extends its branches even to the farthest shore. Keep us in your Son as branches on the vine, that, rooted firmly in your love, we may testify before the whole world to your great power working everywhere; through Jesus Christ our Lord. [1]

[1] Collect for Psalm 80, For All the Saints A Prayer Book for and By the Church Vol.III © 1995 The American Lutheran Publicity Bureau, Delhi, NY

Image of the Flight into Egypt, Schnorr von Carolsfeld, woodcuts © WELS Permission to use these copyrighted items is limited to personal and congregational use.


Advent 2 B Series

Advent 2 - Series B

Isaiah 40:1–11
2 Peter 3:8–14
Mark 1:1–8

You Are Prepared through Repentance for the Coming of the Lord

Stir up our hearts, O Lord, to make ready the way of Your only-begotten Son, that by His coming we may be enabled to serve You with pure minds;

The gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God” (Mark 1:1) begins when John the Baptist appears and comes “proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins” (Mark 1:4). As the prophet Isaiah had written, John is the messenger of the Lord, sent before His face to prepare His way. To this day, the ministry of the forerunner continues in the preaching of the Law and the Gospel and in the Sacrament of Holy Baptism. By these ways and means, “the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together” (Isaiah 40:5), and the Good Shepherd “will gather the lambs in his arms” (Isaiah 40:11). He speaks “tenderly to Jerusalem,” and He comforts His people by pardoning their iniquity (Isaiah 40:1–2). What is more, He promises “new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells” (2 Peter 3:13). Repent, therefore, and humble yourself as you wait for His coming in peace (2 Peter 3:14), because He “is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance” (2 Peter 3:9).

In fulfillment of the words of the Prophets Isaiah and Malachi, John comes to prepare the people for the coming promised One.

The coming of Jesus Christ is Good News (Gospel). Mark proclaims boldly at the outset of his Gospel, but we too must be prepared for His coming.

John prepared the world in his day, and continues in our day by calling people to repentance urging them to repent and be baptized. 

Mark 1:1-8

Mark 1:1
Ἀρχὴ τοῦ εὐαγγελίου Ἰησοῦ [a]χριστοῦ.
The beginning of the gospel about Jesus Christ the Son of God.

Mark 1:2
Καθὼς γέγραπται ἐν [c]τῷ Ἠσαΐᾳ τῷ προφήτῃ· [d]Ἰδοὺ ἀποστέλλω τὸν ἄγγελόν μου πρὸ προσώπου σου, ὃς κατασκευάσει τὴν ὁδόν [e]σου·
As it is written in Isaiah the prophet, "Behold, I send my messenger before your face, who will prepare your way,

-See Isaiah 40:3 Malachi 3:1; Did John think he was preparing for the 2nd Advent? The coming of Elijah? See Malachi 4:1 See Mark 9:11-13

Mark 1:3
φωνὴ βοῶντος ἐν τῇ ἐρήμῳ· Ἑτοιμάσατε τὴν ὁδὸν κυρίου, εὐθείας ποιεῖτε τὰς τρίβους αὐτοῦ, 
the voice of one crying in the wilderness: 'Prepare the way of the Lord, make his paths straight,'"

Mark 1:4
ἐγένετο Ἰωάννης [f]ὁ βαπτίζων ἐν τῇ [g]ἐρήμῳ κηρύσσων βάπτισμα μετανοίας εἰς ἄφεσιν ἁμαρτιῶν. 
John appeared, baptizing in the wilderness and proclaiming/ preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins.

The baptism of John is only for forgiveness not yet for the Holy Spirit. See Acts 13:24-25

Mark 1:5
καὶ ἐξεπορεύετο πρὸς αὐτὸν πᾶσα ἡ Ἰουδαία χώρα καὶ οἱ Ἱεροσολυμῖται [h]πάντες, καὶ ἐβαπτίζοντο [i]ὑπ’ αὐτοῦ ἐν τῷ Ἰορδάνῃ ποταμῷ ἐξομολογούμενοι τὰς ἁμαρτίας αὐτῶν. 
And all the region/country of Judea and all Jerusalem were going out to him and were being baptized by him in the river Jordan, confessing their sins.

Jordan is the gateway to the Promised Land...

Mark 1:6
καὶ ἦν ὁ Ἰωάννης ἐνδεδυμένος τρίχας καμήλου καὶ ζώνην δερματίνην περὶ τὴν ὀσφὺν αὐτοῦ, καὶ ἔσθων ἀκρίδας καὶ μέλι ἄγριον. 
Now John was clothed with camel's hair and wore a leather belt around his waist and ate locusts and wild honey.

-See 2 Kings 1:7-8; Zachariah 13:4

Mark 1:7
καὶ ἐκήρυσσεν λέγων· Ἔρχεται ὁ ἰσχυρότερός μου ὀπίσω μου, οὗ οὐκ εἰμὶ ἱκανὸς κύψας λῦσαι τὸν ἱμάντα τῶν ὑποδημάτων αὐτοῦ·
And he preached, saying, "After me comes he who is mightier than I, the strap of whose sandals I am not worthy to stoop down and untie.

See Mark 3:27 the parable of the stronger man, see also the kinsman redeemer in Ruth 4: 7-ff Deuteronomy 25:5-10

Mark 1:8
ἐγὼ ἐβάπτισα [l]ὑμᾶς ὕδατι, αὐτὸς δὲ βαπτίσει ὑμᾶς [m]ἐν πνεύματι ἁγίῳ.
I have baptized you with water, but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit." -

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

The road which leads to Bethlehem –

1.  Is a straight road of righteousness – See also Isaiah 40:3

2.  A level road of humility – See also Isaiah 40:4a

A smooth road of graciousness – See also Isaiah 40:4b 

Time in the Word - Advent 2

Time in the Word
Advent 2

November 30 -December 5, 2020

The dominant theme of this coming Sunday is preparation for Christ’s coming. John the Baptist is sent to prepare the people for Christ’s first coming by preaching a Baptism of repentance. In the Old Testament lesson, the Lord calls for a way to be prepared for His coming. The Epistle lesson deals with the Second Coming and the end of the world. Christians are to prepare by living blameless lives. The suggested Psalm of the day indicates that righteousness shall precede God’s coming. As we focus on John the Baptist’s words, he calls on us to prepare our hearts for Christ’s coming. 

On Advent 1 we were assured that Jesus is coming again. This Sunday we prepare for His coming. As the Gospel suggests He may be coming to some for the first time; for all He will be coming a second time at the end of time.

Monday, 30 November 2020—Psalm 80:1, 8a, 9b, 7; Antiphon, Psalm 80:3— 
Restore us, O God; make Your face shine upon us, that we may be saved.” The whole purpose of Jesus coming into this world was to save us. In these weeks counting down to Christmas, we remember that Jesus entered time and space to be our Savior. As He came at just the right time to redeem us, He will appear at the right time to receive us into glory. His timing is impeccable; His ways are perfect. 

The psalmist prays for the restoration of God’s people, remembering the deliverance God wrought through Joseph. In Advent, we, too, pray for restoration—restoration from the bondage of sin. The vine out of Egypt of verse 8 recalls the flight of the Christ-child into Egypt to avoid Herod’s persecution. That Vine has taken deep root and filled the land and it is through Christ, who is the Vine, that we have been restored.

Tuesday, 01 December 2020Psalm 85
Another psalm asking God for restoration, Psalm 85 recounts the forgiveness of the Lord in the past, and prays that He might once again make known His steadfast love, or mercy.

With confidence, the psalmist can say, ‘Surely his salvation is near to those who fear him, that glory may dwell in our land.’ For the steadfast love and faithfulness of the Lord do meet in the coming of Jesus Christ in the flesh; there, righteousness and peace kiss each other (verse 10).

Wednesday, 02 December 2020Isaiah 40:1–11
Comfort, comfort my people,’ the Lord instructs Isaiah. Release from the bondage of sin is at hand. The voice crying in the wilderness shall prepare the way for the glory of the Lord to be revealed. The Word of God, which stands forever, shall assume flesh in order to bring comfort to the people by removing the blot of iniquity. Then He shall ‘tend his flock like a shepherd.’

Thursday, 03 December 20202 Peter 3:8–14
Isaiah wrote his prophecy of the coming of Christ seven hundred years before He came. It must have seemed an interminable amount of time for those who lived during those years, wondering when God would fulfill His promises. But the Apostle Peter reminds us that the Lord has His own timetable, and a good purpose for accomplishing things in His own time. He further admonishes us to be ready for the Lord’s Second Coming at any time, and to live lives of holiness and godliness waiting for that day.

Friday, 04  December 2020Mark 1:1–8
In fulfillment of the words of the prophets Isaiah and Malachi, John the Baptist comes to prepare the people for the coming of the promised One. The coming of Jesus Christ is Good News (Gospel), Mark proclaims boldly at the outset of his Gospel, but we must be prepared for His coming. John the Baptist prepared the world in his day, and continues to do so in our day, by calling people to repentance, urging them to confess their sins, be baptized.

Saturday, 05 December 2020
The hymn of the day, On Jordan’s Bank the Baptist’s Cry (LSB 344), recounts the Old Testament and Gospel readings of the work of John the Baptist. It closes with a doxological stanza which proclaims the Good News that Jesus’ ‘advent sets Thy people free.’ This is Good News, indeed!

Stir up our hearts, O Lord, to make ready the way of Your only-begotten Son, that by His coming we may be enabled to serve You with pure minds; through the same Jesus Christ, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.

Collect for Advent 2Stir up our 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.

Stir up your power, O Lord, and come. Protect us by your strength and save us from the threatening dangers of our sins, for you live and reign with the Father and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.

Almighty and everlasting God whose will it is to restore all things to your beloved Son, whom you anointed priest forever and king of all creation: Grant that all people of the earth, now divided by the power of sin, may be united under the glorious and gentle rule of your Son.

Some thoughts concerning our worship life together

The Lord’s Prayer is the chief prayer of the Christian Church and it is prayed here at the chief event of the Divine Service.  As children of God, we call upon “Our Father” as we prepare to encounter Jesus in His Supper, acknowledging that in the Sacrament He will answer our petitions. The congregation prays, “Thy kingdom come,” then receives the kingdom of God in the coming of Christ in His body and blood. We pray, “Thy will be done,” then witness salvation being distributed. We pray for forgiveness of sins and hear Christ’s own Word proclaiming that in His death He has accomplished everything needed to “forgive us our trespasses.”

Morning Prayer Readings for this Coming Week:

November 30 57 Elijah Part 2
December 01 58 Elijah & Baal Pt. 1
December 02 Chapel Day
December 03 59 Elijah & Baal Pt. 2
December 04 60 Naboth’s Vineyard

Catechism Review:

LUTHERAN SEVICE BOOK © 2006 Concordia Publishing House, St. Louis, MO
Schnorr von Carolsfeld, woodcuts "The Preaching of John the Baptist" and "The Nativity" copyright © WELS Permission to use these copyrighted items is limited to personal and congregational use.
Worshiping with Angels and Archangels – An Introduction to the Divine Service by Scot Kinnaaman © 2006 Concordia Publishing House, St. Louis p. 35
"Advent" copyright © Ed Riojas, Higher Things

Saturday, November 28, 2020

Advent 1


Mark 13:33-37

Today we celebrate the first Sunday of a new Church year. As we prepare for the celebration of the Savior’s first Advent we prepare for His Second Advent – His sure and certain return on the Last Great Day. You and I as 21st Century Christians have no better way to live our lives now then from the perspective of eternity. As we prepare for the observance of our Lord’s first coming we must remember that the entire Christian life is oriented towards the last advent of Christ with its glorious eternal salvation.

God requires of us alertness.

I.       The Lord wants us to be spiritually alert at all times.

A.    Jesus’ inevitable return in power and glory will be sudden, and unexpected. Verse 35 refers to the four watches of the night - making the point that the Lord’s coming can come at any time. "So keep watch! You do not know when the owner of the house will come back. It may be in the evening or at midnight. It may be when the rooster crows or at dawn.    

B.     While we wait, there can be many things that cause us to neglect our responsibilities of watching and waiting for the Lord sure and certain return.

1.      This can happen by overlooking the threatening dangers of our own sinfulness. This is what we pray for in the prayer of the day that we might be rescued from the threatening perils of our sin and then be saved by the Savior’s might deliverance.  Isaiah makes mention of this in the Old Testament lesson for today when he says, All of us have become like someone who is "unclean." All of the good things we do are like polluted rags to you. All of us are like leaves that have dried up. Our sins sweep us away like the wind. [Isaiah 64:6]

2.      Then there is the temptation to confirm to the world’s view of the supreme importance of material things. Thinking that have the latest thing will cause us true happiness. Says the Savior in the Sermon on the Mount Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all.  But seek first the kingdom of God and his   righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. “Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble. [Matthew 6:31-34;]

3.      Then of course there is the very weakness of our own flesh. We are by nature sinful and unclean. We need, especially in this Advent season to pray to the Lord, “Kyrie Elysian.”

C.     The result of yielding to temptation is misbelieve, despair, and prodigal living all of which call forth the wrath of the Lord. Although it is correct to conclude that our neglect of God-given responsibilities calls for God’s wrath and punishment it is not correct to give the impression that we can somehow earn God’s favor by changing our lives and carrying out our responsibilities. In other words, the answer to the Law is not more Law.    We can’t get right with God by simply saying “We’ll work harder at it!”

The solution to our issues with sin is found in the sweet and comforting message of the Gospel. The returning Lord has already come to endure in our place the punishment for our sinful disobedience and failings: in Him we have the grace of God and so you do not lack any gift; God has called you into fellowship with His Son, who will confirm us to the end. This Paul announces to us in the Epistle lesson for this day!

Transition: God requires alertness and He works it in you.

II.    God Himself affects spiritual alertness in us.

A.    Mark’s Gospel proclaims the works of our Savior Jesus. In this new church year we will hear 37 selections from the Gospel of Mark. Mark's Gospel has also been called a story of the death of Jesus with a long introduction.  Mark's Gospel is about the period leading up to and just after the death of Jesus.

B.     The retuning Lord has already come once to accept the punishment for our failings. This is the story of the cross. God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself not counting our sins against us and He has now given us this message of reconciliation. This is what causes us to say with joy “Born to raise the sons of earth, Born to give them second birth!”

C.     By bringing us to faith in Jesus, God now motivates and enables us to seek and do His will. The Holy Spirit instructs believers by answering the question that arises from faith-filled hearts “what is my Savior’s will for my Life?”  The Holy Spirit helps us realize the importance of spiritual alertness. And in His Supper the Lord provides the nourishment that enables us to remain alert.  In providing for us this “food for the soul” we are enabled to remain alert waiting for the Lord’s coming.

Only by God’s grace in Christ can we eagerly and alertly look forward to the Lord’s return.  No better preparation can be found, either for Christmas or for Judgment Day, than the spiritual alertness that God wills and works.


Words- 920
Passive Sentences –13%
Readability – 70.9%
Reading Level – 7.5
Advent Image copyright © Higher Things

Friday, November 27, 2020

November 28, 2020– Saturday prior to Advent 1


Matthew 21:1-16 Our reading is the inspiration for the hymn, “O Bride of Christ, Rejoice.” 

O Bride of Christ, rejoice!
Exultant raise thy voice
To hail the day of glory,
Foretold in sacred story.


Hosanna, praise and glory,
Our King, we bow before Thee.

How does the Savior choose to make Himself known? Not in pomp and circumstance, not with a grand fanfare and a flurry 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 for the savior of the world.

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

The cruel cross of Calvary looks ahead of us even in Advent. 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.

Collect for Advent 1 -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.[1]

[1] Collect for Advent 1, Lutheran Service Book © Concordia Publishing House, St. Louis

Thursday, November 26, 2020

November 27, 2020– Friday prior to Advent 1


Psalm 80:1-7 This Psalm is the appointed psalm for this coming Sunday.  Verse 7 is the key verse, “Restore us and we shall be saved.”

The critical question of "how long" (verse 4) is a key to understanding the situation behind Psalm 80. It is not clear that God is angry at the people's prayers. The verb translated "be angry" literally means "to smoke." "Anger" is sometimes the subject of this verb (as in Psalm 74:1b), but the expression here is unusual. An alternative translation might read, "how long will you be angry during your people's prayers?"

The point seems to be that the people's prayers do not help their situation. Hence, Psalm 80:1-7 ultimately helps the church prepare for the coming of Christ by reminding believers that salvation depends completely on the Father’s gift of His own Son - Christ.  Although we come to God believing God will hear and answer, not even our prayers can bring God's favor. That is the Father's gift.[1]

The Father could not save what he did not make. To prove His love for you He sent Jesus who became human to redeem this human world.

Jesus who as a full human; has the capacity to feel the hurts of friends. He shares the sorrow of Martha. He weeps with Mary over Lazarus’ death. He expresses His love for his friends. Jesus did not really need to cry. He knew what he was going to do in the raising of Lazarus. Yet, human as He was, He was caught up in the situation. He identified with His friends.

When we are ill, Christ’s healing reveals His glory. When we are dead, Christ’s raising us, like Lazarus, all for the glory of God. In the resurrection, the glory of God’s power is manifest. This offers hope to the afflicted, for they are assured of the Lord’s help.

The creative power of God is found in his vast creation. Luther sums it all in his explanation to the First Article of the Apostles’ Creed; the very words we used to confess our faith just yesterday.  Christian, what do you believe?

I believe that God has made me and all creatures; that He has given me my body and soul, eyes, ears, and all my members, my reason and all my senses, and still takes care of them. He also gives me clothing and shoes, food and drink, house and home, wife and children, land, animals, and all I have. He richly and daily provides me with all that I need to support this body and life. He defends me against all danger and guards and protects me from all evil. All this He does only out of fatherly, divine goodness and mercy, without any merit or worthiness in me. For all this it is my duty to thank and praise, serve and obey Him.

Collect for Psalm 80: Lord God, you so tend the vine you planted that now it extends its branches even to the farthest shore. Keep us in your Son as branches on the vine, that, rooted firmly in your love, we may testify before the whole world to your great power and working everywhere; through Jesus Christ our Lord. [2]

[2] Collect for Psalm 80, For All the Saints, A Prayer Book for and By the Church Vol.III © 1995 The American Lutheran Publicity Bureau, Delhi, NY

Wednesday, November 25, 2020

Thanksgiving 2020

 How can we be thankful, amidst this dark unknown?

For starters, we can remember that this is not the year to get everything you want but to appreciate everything you have.  

We can remember that “God so loved the world that He gave His only Son…” -John 3:16.

Jesus entered this world to live a perfect life for you. He bore your sin as His own all the way to the blessed cross to die in your place and then victoriously rise from the dead on the third day to give you His life. His resurrection brings hope of an eternal future for those who trust in Him.

Because of His work you are free – to help and serve your neighbor in love. We have a glorious future with the Savior!  Even as we face this microbial foe; remember that, “He who did not spare His Son but gave Him up for us all, will He not also with Him graciously give us all things.” -Romans 8:32

We can remind ourselves that “He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust-Psalm 91:2

We can take comfort in knowing that, “If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea, even there Your hand will guide me, Your right hand will hold me fast” -Psalm 139:9-10

We can chide ourselves into wakefulness, asking, “Why are you downcast, O my soul? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise Him, my Savior and my God.-Psalm 42:5

We can follow the example of the Apostle Paul, who, in his time of trial, told the Philippians, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.” -Philippians 4:6-7

Still the question lingers. How can we be thankful, in the midst of this pandemic?

We can be thankful in truly knowing and calling upon that same “peace of God” that Paul knew—the mysterious peace which comes through faith in the Father’s providence.

This is the same peace that Jesus left to His disciples. “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid. -John.14:27

that Paul called a “fruit of the Spirit-Galatians 5:22

the peace that the Savior gives to those whose minds are fixed on God -Isaiah 26:3-4

the peace of which Jesus spoke when He said, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” -Matthew 11:28-30

Give Christ your fears and He will engulf you with His peace. Rest on His love and providence. In the midst of fear, recall the empty tomb and the words of Jesus to His disciples: “In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.” -John 16:33 b

Especially at this difficult hour - turn to Jesus. Throughout the most trying of times in human history-wars, famines, plagues, oppression and persecution-Christians have found solace in the Savior. They have discovered His strength when theirs failed. They found comfort in His presence and calming rest in His promises. They endured because of His example. They overcame because He guided them through.

And isn’t that the point with the healing of the ten lepers? They literally had nothing. No home. No income. No future. Nothing.

Ten lepers cry out to Jesus with one voice: “Jesus, Master, have mercy on us!” All ten share in the same condition. They are all leprous. They are all outcasts. Cut off from society. All of them.  Yet they all had faith in Jesus to heal them. “Have mercy on us!

"Ten" is a perfect number. All together they cry out for mercy but at a distance. They had nothing left to lose.

Lepers were like death-row inmates. They were as good as dead. - Dead men walking. For death itself, was in their flesh. Lesions, sores, and scabs, bore witness to their decay as living symbols of death. They were unclean.

As such, they were shunned from society. They were cast out of the community; barred access to home, market and synagogue.

Their leprosy made them dead to family and friends. Leprosy made them dead to religious practice. Only a cure for their leprosy could bring them life. But cures were rare. So rare, in fact, that the rabbis of the day considered the cure of a leper equal with raising a person from the dead. Lepers were the living dead.

The men in today’s Gospel reading didn’t call out to Jesus just to say “Hello.” They called out because they were sick. In fact, they were dying a very slow death.

And it is precisely those people whom our Lord came to rescue. Perhaps the greatest virtue of the Samaritan was his sense of self. The man knew precisely what he was. And what he needed. More to the point, he knew where to get it.[1]

So, above all, give thanks for Christ; for grace, for faith and for the Father’s everlasting love.

In the meantime, continue to love and serve others in response to the Savior's love for you. “By this the love of God was manifested in us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world so that we might live through Him. In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.  -1 John 4:9-11

Find safe ways to reach out to those who are struggling amid the economic uncertainties that are accompanying the pandemic. “For I was hungry, and you gave Me something to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave Me something to drink; I was a stranger, and you invited Me in; naked, and you clothed Me; I was sick, and you visited Me; I was in prison, and you came to Me.” -Mathew. 25:35-36.

Recite the Lord's Prayer and/or the Twenty-third Psalm in those times of anxiety that will surely come. Hasten to the words of the Apostle Peter: "Humble yourselves, therefore, under God's mighty hand, that He may life you up in due time. Cast all your anxiety on Him because He cares for you" -1 Peter 5:6-7

And finally, "Pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus." -1Thessalonians 5:17-18

The Bible assures us: God will be with us in the pandemic and God will see us through. God is great...all the time! Thank be to God! And yes, Happy Thanksgiving!

Passive Sentences-2%
Readability – 83.3%
Reading Level – 4.3
The Ten Lepers copyright © Ed Riojas, Higher Things

[1] From a sermon delivered by Pr. Ken Kelly Fourteenth Sunday after Trinity posted 9.18.2019 via facebookTM

November 26 - Thursday prior to Advent 1 – National Thanksgiving

Mark 13:33-37 -Watch for Jesus’ unexpected coming. Because the time of Christ’s return is unknown, we must watch for Him. In this brief lesson the word “watch” is used four times. Twice Jesus says, “You do not know when the time will come.” This fact is the reason for being on the alert. The emphasis is laid on Jesus’ return as sudden and unexpected.

There is no place here for speculation when the time of the return of Christ will be. It is an exhortation to be ready whenever He comes. Since no one knows the time, it is necessary for the faithful to look for Him every day. The mood of Advent is not speculation but joyful anticipation of the Lord’s return. Be on the alert for the sudden, unannounced coming of Christ.

Today is Thanksgiving. The first National thanksgiving was enacted by President Lincoln in the midst of bloody civil war -1863. This parish has never missed thanksgiving neither shall we miss this years’ however strange it may be. This community has faced numerous challenges; a pandemic one-hundred years ago, fierce wars, economic hard times, poor crops, severe storms. We’ve also witnessed much bounty and numerous blessings. Through the passing of time we were born, went to school, were confirmed, married, had our children, focused on our career and entered into retirement.

We make it the habit of marking time. It helps us remain connected to what has happened in the past and it gives us some sort of indicator by which to predict the future. Yet, we worship a Savior who is timeless, who has prepared for us a place where there is no time. As we recall the changes and changes of this ever-churning world may we recall that in Christ we live and move and have our being. He will direct us. He will sustain us. For His mercy, which endures to this present day, may we thank, and praise, serve and obey Him. Blessed Thanksgiving!

Collect for Thanksgiving - Almighty God, Your mercies are new every morning and Your generously provide for all our needs of body and soul. Grant us Your Holy Spirit that we may acknowledge Your goodness, give thanks for Your benefits, and serve You in willing obedience all our days.[1]


[1]Collect  for Thanksgiving © 2006 Lutheran Service Book Concordia Publishing House, St Louis

Thanksgiving Image © Google Images

Tuesday, November 24, 2020

Thanksgiving Eve


Luke 12:22-31

"Be Anxious For Nothing"


Once again it’s Thanksgiving – yet some are not feeling too thankful. Not that they don’t want to be this way…it’s more complicated than that. What it all boils down to is that there are a number of people living these last days of 2020 in worry and fear. It seems as if there is so much stress to go around these days…mounting bills, a sense of fear of the unknown, of tomorrow, or just needing enough energy to make it through the day.

It’s not that we don’t want to be thankful but rather there are some who feel so burdened and burned out by life that they can’t see the forest for the trees, and the bushes, and the brambles, and all other obstacles "in our road". The question that is therefore being asked is "Will God help us?" will He sustain us when life’s twists and turns seems to set us on a course of which there are unforeseen obstacles lurking at every turn?

Here we find the Lord’s "Yes" and "Amen"! Of course He will see us through this is what He tells us in His word for today. Jesus reminds us that we need not worry for He is in control. We need not fear for He is able to quiet our panic and fright. Jesus tells us we have nothing to fear.

1. Do Not Worry

About your life—what you will eat.

We need not worry because life is more than food. Life is more than merely existing and sustaining our way of living. There is more to life than just living.

Jesus reminds us that life is meant to experience God. That is why He has called us to His marvelous light of the Gospel. He called us to belong to Him, to have fellowship with Him. Jesus reminds us in the Gospel of John "I have come that they might have life and have it abundantly.”

In Him, St. Paul reminds us "we live, and move and have our being". When we seek after Him then we will be doing more than just living from day to day we will live life with a purpose-a divine purpose.

Life is more than food. It is more than fashion as Jesus goes on to explain to us that neither should we become anxious

About your body-what you will wear. Our body is designed to be more then to be a model upon which we don our clothing.

The body is more than clothes. This statement is one that is needed to be contemplated today. Already merchants are gearing up for the Christmas season shopping spree which might look quite different this year due to the pandemic. I suspect there will be more on-line shopping than ever before.

And still, there will be plenty of people spending money which they do not have buying things they do not need only to impress people they really cannot stand!   

True, there is something to be said about dressing appropriately and fashionably but we can take any good thing to extremes. Do we need to buy into the temptation that we should desire the $100 shoes as opposed to the $30 pair which is made of the same material, and assembled at the same factory but the one is more expensive because the product has a certain label on it, or it is indorsed by a certain celebrity. Does the clothing really make the man or woman? Jesus would tell us otherwise.

The body is not merely meant for cloths, rather it is meant to be the temple of the Holy Spirit. As the Savior has redeemed us to be His own He now lives within us through His Spirit. Thus by these words we are called to remember that our bodies are meant to be lived with a noble and holy purpose. We are called to live as His people being His witnesses in this world; and in this generation. As we live for Him we are called to trust in Him.

2. Trust God

Consider the Ravens

They do not sow, reap, or contribute anything to life.

They have no storehouse or barn.

Yet God feeds them. He sustains all of the created order.

You are of more value then birds! If God is able to sustain even the smallest and the most insignificant of creatures He will sustain you for you are of tremendous value to him. He suffered and died for you. He redeemed and rescued you. He has called you to be His own dear child. Consequently He will sustain and care for you.

Consider how the lilies grow.

They do not labor.

They do not spin.

Yet not even Solomon in his entire splendor was dressed as these. If there is inner beauty which comes to the creatures how much more will He maintain your life and sustain it?

Consider the grass

It’s here today gone tomorrow, like so many things in this "throw away society"

You and I, on the other hand. Will spend eternity with Christ. Thus the Savior sets for us a pattern of life by which we will find contentment.

Do not set your heart on what you will eat or drink. In other words, look beyond living only for today.

This is what the Pagans run after. They seek the thrill of the moment, which lasts but a moment. Live rather, with an eternal perspective.

God already knows you need these things to survive!

Seek first, Christ and His kingdom.

Through word, sacraments, fellowship, prayer draw close to God.

As you do these things, all that you need will be added to you. That is the Savior’s promise to you and to me. By Him and through Him He will sustain us.

The Savior is not giving us a simplistic rule for life. It’s not simply going by the phrase "Don’t worry – be happy" Rather He calls us to fear not for He is in control. He’ll fight our fight; He’ll accomplish for us what we cannot do. Yes, He is for us; He will overcome and give to us the victory! As we seek Him we will find contentment in life, and there find reasons to rejoice knowing that we can be a peace as God is at peace in what he has created and how He sustains His own creation. Let us then live contented lives on this Thanksgiving. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Words – 1,110
Passive Sentences – 13%
Readability – 82.9%
Reading Level – 4.8
“Consider the Ravens” copyright © Ed Riojas, Higher Things