Tuesday, November 30, 2021

December

 

All other living things on earth were created at God’s command. Adam and Eve are formed by God’s hand. Humanity arises not simply from Divine Command, but from Divine conversation. “Let us make man in our image, and after our likeness.” Man was to be the pinnacle of creation. All that God made was placed under the dominion of Adam and Eve. And God saw all that he had created, and it was very good.

But it did not stay very good. Sin wreaked havoc on the perfect creation. Death and decay now reigned. And Satan, the prince of this world, tries to destroy and corrupt everything God has made. His goal is to stop the plan of God entirely. Of course, that’s not possible. So he settles instead for keeping as many as he can from God, from the salvation he offers.

In the garden, when Adam and Eve committed quiet violence against God’s command, when they ate from the tree, when they tried to be like God by their own efforts, they became enemies of God instead. And so, God promised a Savior. From the seed of the woman. But, it was not to be her firstborn son as she expected. There would be generation after generation. Waiting for the promise, abandoning the promise, working even against the promise. A cleansing flood would not stop the sinful world from continuing on the path of death.

And so, finally, when the world was still, and it was midnight, the Savior descended from his royal throne, he was incarnate by the Holy Spirit of the Virgin Mary, and was made man. Today, we celebrate the singular honor – God is one of us. We hear the prophecy. The history that fulfills it seems at first to be a non-starter. An unmarried girl, in a small town, almost getting divorced before she is married. It is the angel that speaks to Joseph, and tells him that Mary has not been unfaithful.

But in the account in Luke, the first name we hear is Caesar Augustus. He is the one who, thinking he is just being clever with taxes, sets in motion events that will lead Mary and Joseph to Bethlehem. Quirinius plays a minor role as well, carrying out the command of the emperor, thinking that he is being a faithful governor for Rome, without ever knowing what role he is really playing. And so, Joseph and Mary leave Nazareth, and begin the journey. Seventy miles. Nine months pregnant, walking from Decatur to Muncie. If as some early legends tell us, they had a donkey, then it’s still nine months pregnant, and riding a donkey from Decatur to Muncie. Maybe that’s a better situation, maybe it isn’t. But either way, it’s not exactly a glorious beginning for the Son of God.

And so, when all is said and done, a baby boy. Mary, pondering all that has happened. Luther says that this is Luke’s way of saying Mary heard and learned God’s word. She was thinking about the promise of the angel. To her cousin Elizabeth, to her. Of the long journey. The strange birth. And of course, the shepherds. Keeping watch over their flocks by night.

Luther holds them up as examples – they were doing their jobs when God visited them. The priests, Levites, scribes, rulers of the people didn’t get so much as a postcard. The shepherds in the field – on maternity duty for their sheep – they are the ones who see the glorious vision. Who hear the song, “Gloria in Excelsis Deo.” Glory be to God on high.

And so, Mary, simply and humbly hearing and learning the word is blessed, and is a blessing. Those shepherds, simply and humbly doing their jobs are blessed, and are a blessing. How would we know of the angel choirs, unless the shepherds saw it, and unless the shepherds told Mary, and then Mary told the Evangelist.

What God did not become, he could not save. And so, he comes into the world as one of us to save us. He is counted with the sinners, to save sinners. Luke records the events of Jesus’ nativity, but he seems to do so from the perspective of heaven.

 Zechariah, Mary, the Angels, and eventually old Simeon in the temple – they are all singing songs of praise to God. It’s great and glorious. The words are still used in our hymns and songs today, and likely will be even after our Lord returns when we join with angels and archangels around the throne of the lamb who was slain

And yet, it’s the simple and humble, not the glorious and exalted. Luther says that if God picked up a piece of straw, it would be a glorious act because he is so much greater than we. And so it is. God chooses humble things. But those humble things become glorious when used by our heavenly Father, for He is glorious.

In the account from Luke, we have a poor virgin, devout Joseph, a long journey, humble lodgings, some ragged shepherds. But we have the incarnate God come to save you from your sins. Christ did not come to destroy creation. He came to transform it. He came to redeem. To serve and to give His life as a ransom for many. And so it is that He comes humbly. To show that He came not to save kings and princes. But He came to save all. Especially the poor and the needy.

As we, with Mary, ponder these things in our heart, we consider Mary, who was given the honor of being the mother of God. And we consider all those who hear and believe, who are now children of God. We consider the shepherds, who saw those angels sing. We consider the church, where the song continues to be sung. And we consider the callings to which God has called us.

Father mother, son daughter, student, employer, employee, it doesn’t matter. God gives us work in this creation. And as we fulfill that work, we are, like those shepherds blessed by God. We do not work to merit anything from God. But in fulfilling our vocation, in faith, we live out the forgiveness won by Jesus” death on the cross.


Wednesday prior to Advent 2

 

Malachi 3:1–7b— The Lord promises to send a messenger who will prepare the way of the Lord.

Four hundred years before the birth of Christ, Malachi prophesies about Him (the Lord whom you seek and the messenger of the covenant) and His fore-runner, John the Baptist (my messenger). Jesus will usher in the last judgment and will judge between the self-righteous who simply pay lip service to Him and those who worship Him in truth and purity, trusting not in their own efforts, but in the Savior who alone can gain our salvation.

But who can endure the day of his coming? And who will stand when he appears?” (v.2a).These words may sound familiar as they have are been put to music in a now famous Aria from Handel’s Messiah which is sung especially this time of year. 

Whose coming?  The Lord’s coming!  The day of his coming” is most likely synonymous with the “great and terrible day of the LORD” that is mentioned in Malachi 4:5.

The Day of the Lord is an end of time event that will bring judgment to the guilty and deliverance to the faithful.  There are numerous references in the prophets to the Day of the Lord (Isaiah 13:6, 9; Jeremiah 46:10; Ezekiel 13:5; 30:3; Joel 1:15; 2:1, 11, 31; 3:14; Amos 5:18, 20; Obadiah 1:15; Zephaniah 1:7, 14; Malachi 4:5).  Most of these references emphasize God’s wrath, but some also include a note of vindication for the righteous.[2]

Who can endure?” and “who will stand?” suggest a great ordeal—a trial by fire.  The expected answer is that no one can endure—or that very few are prepared for this test.

For he is like a refiner’s fire” (v. 2b).  The image here is of a person refining metal by melting it over a hot fire.  As metal melts, pure metal remains at the bottom while impurities float to the top to be drawn off and discarded.  A visit to a metal refinery would be educational.  Metal refineries are hot, dirty, dangerous places.  The process by which metals are purified is uncomfortable at best and deadly at worst.

So it will be when the Lord comes.  He will use fire to separate the pure from the impure so that the impure can be drawn off and cast aside.  By this refining process, the LORD makes his people worthy.

Malachi likewise directs us to the "refining" that the Christ child seeks to bring about in us. The Almighty becomes a child.... God challenges our way of being human. By knocking at our door, he challenges us and our freedom; he calls us to examine how we understand and live our lives. I pray that each of us may avail ourselves of the grace of Christmas and open our hearts to the Christ child that he may cleanse and purify as He refines us with the fire of His love.

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

A prayer for innocence of life: O God, whose strength is made perfect in weakness, put to death in us all vices and so strengthen us by Your grace that by the innocence of our lives and the constancy of our faith, we may glorify Your holy name; through Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen.[3] -01 December, 2021

 



[1] Advent copyright © Ed Riojas, Higher Things

[3] Collect for a right knowledge of Christ and for innocence of life, Lutheran Service Book © 2006 Concordia Publishing House, St. Louis


Monday, November 29, 2021

Morning Prayer #55

 


Solomon
1 Kings 1-8

King David said, “Call in Zadok the priest, Nathan the prophet and Benaiah son of Jehoiada.” When they came before the king, 33 he said to them: “Take your lord’s servants with you and have Solomon my son mount my own mule and take him down to Gihon. 34 There have Zadok the priest and Nathan the prophet anoint him king over Israel. Blow the trumpet and shout, ‘Long live King Solomon!’

 

3 Solomon showed his love for the Lord by walking according to the instructions given him by his father David, except that he offered sacrifices and burned incense on the high places.  the Lord appeared to Solomon during the night in a dream, and God said, “Ask for whatever you want me to give you.”

 

6 Solomon answered, “You have shown great kindness to your servant, my father David, because he was faithful to you and righteous and upright in heart. You have continued this great kindness to him and have given him a son to sit on his throne this very day. 9 So give your servant a discerning heart to govern your people and to distinguish between right and wrong. For who is able to govern this great people of yours?”



10 The Lord was pleased that Solomon had asked for this. 11 So God said to him, “Since you have asked for this and not for long life or wealth for yourself, nor have asked for the death of your enemies but for discernment in administering justice, 12 I will do what you have asked. I will give you a wise and discerning heart, so that there will never have been anyone like you, nor will there ever be. 13 Moreover, I will give you what you have not asked for—both wealth and honor—so that in your lifetime you will have no equal among kings. 14 And if you walk in obedience to me and keep my decrees and commands as David your father did, I will give you a long life.”

 

In the four hundred and eightieth year after the Israelites came out of Egypt, in the fourth year of Solomon’s reign he began to build the temple of the Lord.He had spent seven years building it.When all the work King Solomon had done for the temple of the Lord was finished, he brought in the things his father David had dedicated—the silver and gold and the furnishings—and he placed them in the treasuries of the Lord’s temple.





Then King Solomon summoned into his presence at Jerusalem the elders of Israel, all the heads of the tribes and the chiefs of the Israelite families, to bring up the ark of the Lord’s covenant from Zion, the City of David. 2 All the Israelites came together to King Solomon. 22 Then Solomon stood before the altar of the Lord in front of the whole assembly of Israel, spread out his hands toward heaven 23 and said:“Lord, the God of Israel, there is no God like you in heaven above or on earth below—you who keep your covenant of love with your servants who continue wholeheartedly in your way.27 “But will God really dwell on earth? The heavens, even the highest heaven, cannot contain you. How much less this temple I have built! 28 Yet give attention to your servant’s prayer and his plea for mercy, Lord my God. Hear the cry and the prayer that your servant is praying in your presence this day. 29 May your eyes be open toward this temple night and day, this place of which you said, ‘My Name shall be there,’ so that you will hear the prayer your servant prays toward this place. 30 Hear the supplication of your servant and of your people Israel when they pray toward this place. Hear from heaven, your dwelling place, and when you hear, forgive."

 

Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

 

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.

Tuesday prior to Advent 2

 

 

Psalm 66:1–12—A song of praise to the Lord for all of His benefits to His people. All the earth worships You and sings praises to You; they sing praises to Your Name. is echoed in a later Christian hymn This psalm is titled To the Chief Musician. A Song. A Psalm. As with Psalm 65, it is described as both a Song and a Psalm. This is the first psalm since Psalm 50 to not be attributed to David.

Make a joyful shout to God, all the earth. As in the previous and the next psalm, Psalm 66 has not only Israel in view but all the earth. The psalmist understood that God was not only God over Israel, but the whole world. It was good and appropriate for him to call everyone to joyfully praise God.[2]

This Psalm is said to be recited on Easter day, by the Greek church: it is described in the Greek Bible as A Psalm of the Resurrection, and may be understood to refer, in a prophetic sense, to the regeneration of the world, through the conversion of the Gentiles.” which we sing in the Office at Mains, the Te Deum Laudamus.

Collect for Psalm 66: Almighty Father, you brought us through the waters of baptism to the shores of new life. Accept the sacrifice of our lives, and let us enter your house, there to praise your unfailing power and love; through Jesus Christ our Lord, 

Collect for Tuesday of the week of Advent 2: Almighty God, help us to look forward to the glory of the birth of Christ, our savior; his coming is proclaimed joyfully to the ends of the earth, for he lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, forever and ever, Amen[3] – 30 November 2021



[1] Advent copyright © Ed Riojas, Higher Things

[3] Collects for Psalm 66 and Tuesday of the week of Advent 2, For All the Saints, A Prayer Book For and By the Church Vol. I. © 1994 The American Lutheran Publicity Bureau, Delhi, NY


Sunday, November 28, 2021

Morning Prayer #54

 


Absalom’s Rebellion
2 Samuel 15-18



King David's son Absalom used to rise early and stand beside the way of the gate. And when any man had a dispute to come before the king for judgment, Absalom would call to him and say, “From what city are you?” And when he said, “Your servant is of such and such a tribe in Israel,” 3 Absalom would say to him, “See, your claims are good and right, but there is no man designated by the king to hear you.” 4 Then Absalom would say, “Oh that I were judge in the land! Then every man with a dispute or cause might come to me, and I would give him justice.” 5 And whenever a man came near to pay homage to him, he would put out his hand and take hold of him and kiss him. 6 Thus Absalom did to all of Israel who came to the king for judgment. So Absalom stole the hearts of the men of Israel.

 

7 And at the end of four [a] years Absalom said to the king, “Please let me go and pay my vow, which I have vowed to the Lord, in Hebron. 8 For your servant vowed a vow while I lived at Geshur in Aram, saying, ‘If the Lord will indeed bring me back to Jerusalem, then I will offer worship to [b] the Lord.’” 9 The king said to him, “Go in peace.” So he arose and went to Hebron. 10 But Absalom sent secret messengers throughout all the tribes of Israel, saying, “As soon as you hear the sound of the trumpet, then say, ‘Absalom is king at Hebron!’”  And the conspiracy grew strong, and the people with Absalom kept increasing.

 

13 And a messenger came to David, saying, “The hearts of the men of Israel have gone after Absalom.” 14 Then David said to all his servants who were with him at Jerusalem, “Arise, and let us flee, or else there will be no escape for us from Absalom. Go quickly, lest he overtake us quickly and bring down ruin on us and strike the city with the edge of the sword.”

 

6 So the army went out into the field against Israel, and the battle was fought in the forest of Ephraim. 7 And the men of Israel were defeated there by the servants of David, and the loss there was great on that day, twenty thousand men. 8 The battle spread over the face of all the country, and the forest devoured more people that day than the sword.9 And Absalom happened to meet the servants of David. Absalom was riding on his mule, and the mule went under the thick branches of a great oak,[a] and his head caught fast in the oak, and he was suspended between heaven and earth, while the mule that was under him went on. 10 And a certain man saw it and told Joab, “Behold, I saw Absalom hanging in an oak.” And he took three javelins in his hand and thrust them into the heart of Absalom while he was still alive in the oak. 15 And ten young men, Joab's armor-bearers, surrounded Absalom and struck him and killed him.17 And they took Absalom and threw him into a great pit in the forest and raised over him a very great heap of stones. And all Israel fled every one to his own home. 

 

31 And behold, the Cushite came, and the Cushite said, “Good news for my lord the king! For the Lord has delivered you this day from the hand of all who rose up against you.” 32 The king said to the Cushite, “Is it well with the young man Absalom?” And the Cushite answered, “May the enemies of my lord the king and all who rise up against you for evil be like that young man.” 33 [d] And the king was deeply moved and went up to the chamber over the gate and wept. And as he went, he said, “O my son Absalom, my son, my son Absalom! Would I had died instead of you, O Absalom, my son, my son!

 

Footnotes:

2 Samuel 15:7 Septuagint, Syriac; Hebrew forty

2 Samuel 15:8 Or will serve

2 Samuel 15:12 Or sent

2 Samuel 18:9 Or terebinth; also verses 10, 14

2 Samuel 18:13 Or at the risk of my life

2 Samuel 18:18 Or Absalom's hand

 

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

 

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. 

Monday prior to Advent 2

Psalm 81:8, 10–11, 13; Antiphon, Luke 3:4b—The children of Israel had been delivered by the Lord out of their bondage in Egypt, and yet rejected Him. The antiphon for Sunday’s Introit exhorts us to heed John the Baptist, who came to prepare the way of the Lord by preaching repentance. During this penitential season, let us examine ourselves, repent of our sins, and prepare to meet our Savior who comes to us.

The preaching and baptism “of repentance for the forgiveness of sins” (Luke 3:3) prepares us for the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ. The historic work of John the Baptizer was completed with the first Advent of our Lord Jesus in the flesh, but the ministry of the Forerunner continues in the preaching of Law and Gospel and in Holy Baptism. Through His messengers, the Lord calls people of all nations to “see the salvation of God” (Luke 3:6).

Our haughtiness is removed, and our mountains of pride are brought low, but the Lord humbles us in order to exalt us in His mercy; He fills up our valleys with His peace. As the Lord has begun this good work of repentance in us, so also does he perfect it by His Word and Holy Spirit, and He “will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ” (Philippians 1:6). He purifies us to be His priestly people, precious in His sight, abounding in faith and love, so that our very lives are offered in righteousness to the Lord (Malachi 3:3–4).

Collect for Psalm 81  Almighty Father, you rescued your people from slavery and through the Passion of your Son, acquired a new people united in his body and marked with the sign of his holiness. Feed us with your finest bread so that we may have food for this life and a foretaste of eternity, where you live and reign with your Son and the Holy Spirit, now and forever

Lord, free us from our sins and make us whole. Hear our prayer and prepare us to celebrate the incarnation of your Son, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever. Amen.[2]  -29 November 2021



[1] Advent copyright © Ed Riojas, Higher Things

[2] Collect for 81, and Monday of the week of Advent 2, For All the Saints, A Prayer Book For and By the Church, Vol.1 © 1994 The American Lutheran Publicity Bureau, Delhi, NY


Advent 2 Series C



2nd Sunday in Advent - Series C

Malachi 3:1–7b
Philippians 1:2–11
Luke 3:1–14 (15–20)

The Preaching of Repentance Prepares Us 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; through the same Jesus Christ, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. 

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

John the Baptist Prepares the Way

Ἐν ἔτει δὲ πεντεκαιδεκάτῳ τῆς ἡγεμονίας Τιβερίου Καίσαρος, ἡγεμονεύοντος Ποντίου Πιλάτου τῆς Ἰουδαίας, καὶ τετρααρχοῦντος τῆς Γαλιλαίας Ἡρῴδου, Φιλίππου δὲ τοῦ ἀδελφοῦ αὐτοῦ τετρααρχοῦντος τῆς Ἰτουραίας καὶ Τραχωνίτιδος χώρας, καὶ Λυσανίου τῆς Ἀβιληνῆς τετρααρχοῦντος,
1 In the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar, Pontius Pilate being governor of Judea, and Herod being tetrarch of Galilee, and his brother Philip tetrarch of the region of Ituraea and Trachonitis, and Lysanias tetrarch of Abilene, 

ἐπὶ ἀρχιερέως Ἅννα καὶ Καϊάφα, ἐγένετο ῥῆμα θεοῦ ἐπὶ Ἰωάννην τὸν Ζαχαρίου υἱὸν ἐν τῇ ἐρήμῳ.
2 during the high priesthood of Annas and Caiaphas, the word of God came to John the son of Zechariah in the wilderness.

καὶ ἦλθεν εἰς πᾶσαν περίχωρον τοῦ Ἰορδάνου κηρύσσων βάπτισμα μετανοίας εἰς ἄφεσιν ἁμαρτιῶν,
3 And he went into all the region around the Jordan, proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins.

ὡς γέγραπται ἐν βίβλῳ λόγων Ἠσαΐου τοῦ προφήτου• Φωνὴ βοῶντος ἐν τῇ ἐρήμῳ• Ἑτοιμάσατε τὴν ὁδὸν κυρίου, εὐθείας ποιεῖτε τὰς τρίβους αὐτοῦ.
4 As it is written in the book of the words of Isaiah the prophet, “The voice of one crying in the wilderness: ‘Prepare the way of the Lord,[a] make his paths straight.

a. or “crying, Prepare in the wilderness the way of the Lord.”

πᾶσα φάραγξ πληρωθήσεται καὶ πᾶν ὄρος καὶ βουνὸς ταπεινωθήσεται, καὶ ἔσται τὰ σκολιὰ εἰς εὐθείαν καὶ αἱ τραχεῖαι εἰς ὁδοὺς λείας•
5 Every valley shall be filled, and every mountain and hill shall be made low, and the crooked shall become straight, and the rough places shall become level ways,

καὶ ὄψεται πᾶσα σὰρξ τὸ σωτήριον τοῦ θεοῦ.
 6 and all flesh shall see the salvation of God.’”

Ἔλεγεν οὖν τοῖς ἐκπορευομένοις ὄχλοις βαπτισθῆναι ὑπ’ αὐτοῦ• Γεννήματα ἐχιδνῶν, τίς ὑπέδειξεν ὑμῖν φυγεῖν ἀπὸ τῆς μελλούσης ὀργῆς;
7 He said therefore to the crowds that came out to be baptized by him, “You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come?

ποιήσατε οὖν καρποὺς ἀξίους τῆς μετανοίας• καὶ μὴ ἄρξησθε λέγειν ἐν ἑαυτοῖς• Πατέρα ἔχομεν τὸν Ἀβραάμ, λέγω γὰρ ὑμῖν ὅτι δύναται ὁ θεὸς ἐκ τῶν λίθων τούτων ἐγεῖραι τέκνα τῷ Ἀβραάμ
8 Bear fruits in keeping with repentance. And do not begin to say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our father.’ For I tell you, God is able from these stones to raise up children for Abraham. 

ἤδη δὲ καὶ ἡ ἀξίνη πρὸς τὴν ῥίζαν τῶν δένδρων κεῖται• πᾶν οὖν δένδρον μὴ ποιοῦν καρπὸν καλὸν ἐκκόπτεται καὶ εἰς πῦρ βάλλεται.
9 Even now the axe is laid to the root of the trees. Every tree therefore that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.”

Καὶ ἐπηρώτων αὐτὸν οἱ ὄχλοι λέγοντες• Τί οὖνποιήσωμεν;
10 And the crowds asked him, “What then shall we do?” 

 ἀποκριθεὶς δὲ ἔλεγεν αὐτοῖς• Ὁ ἔχων δύο χιτῶνας μεταδότω τῷ μὴ ἔχοντι, καὶ ὁ ἔχων βρώματα ὁμοίως ποιείτω.
11 And he answered them, “Whoever has two tunics[b] is to share with him who has none, and whoever has food is to do likewise.”

b. χιτῶνας “chiton,”  a long garment worn under the cloak next to the skin

ἦλθον δὲ καὶ τελῶναι βαπτισθῆναι καὶ εἶπαν πρὸς αὐτόν• Διδάσκαλε, τί ποιήσωμεν; 
12 Tax collectors also came to be baptized and said to him, “Teacher, what shall we do?”

ὁ δὲ εἶπεν πρὸς αὐτούς• Μηδὲν πλέον παρὰ τὸ διατεταγμένον ὑμῖν πράσσετε.
13 And he said to them, “Collect no more than you are authorized to do.”

ἐπηρώτων δὲ αὐτὸν καὶ στρατευόμενοι λέγοντες• Τί ποιήσωμεν καὶ ἡμεῖς; καὶ εἶπεν αὐτοῖς• Μηδένα διασείσητε μηδὲ συκοφαντήσητε, καὶ ἀρκεῖσθε τοῖς ὀψωνίοις ὑμῶν.
14 Soldiers also asked him, “And we, what shall we do?” And he said to them, “Do not extort money from anyone by threats or by false accusation, and be content with your wages.”

The Father sent John to prepare people for the acceptance of Jesus Christ. If there is no sense of sin can there be a need for a Savior?  If there is no repentance there can be no forgiveness. If there is no death to self there can be no new life. Because John is the prophet who prepares for the Savior's coming Jesus calls him the greatest of all of the prophets. John gives us a good dose of reality.

1. To make us aware of sin.
2. To lead us to repentance.

Jesus came to earth to take unto Himself our flesh. He came to be your substitute. He came to suffer and die for the sins of the world. He came offer you forgiveness and life. That is why we can say that in Jesus Christ, all sin is forgiven - period!

Are you ready for Christmas?  If you see your sin, repent, and turn to Christ for life you are ready. Lord, by your Advent may we be, fit and ready to worship Thee.  

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

LCMS Lectionary Summary © 2018 Concordia Publishing House, St. Louis, 
Lutheran Service Book © 2006 Concordia Publishing House, St. Louis
-Schnorr Von Carolsfeld woodcuts, ‘The  Nativity of our Lord’© WELS permission granted for personal and congregational use

Time in the Word - Advent 2



Time in the Word: 
Preparation for next week, the Second Sunday in Advent



Repentance Prepares Us for the Coming of the Lord

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

Monday, 29 November 2021Psalm 81:8, 10–11, 13; Antiphon, Luke 3:4b—The children of Israel had been delivered by the Lord out of their bondage in Egypt, and yet rejected Him. The antiphon for Sunday’s Introit exhorts us to heed John the Baptist, who came to prepare the way of the Lord by preaching repentance. During this penitential season, let us examine ourselves, repent of our sins, and prepare to meet our Savior who comes to us.




Tuesday, 30 November 2021Psalm 66:1–12—A song of praise to the Lord for all of His benefits to His people. All the earth worships You and sings praises to You; they sing praises to Your Name. is echoed in a later Christian hymn which we sing in the Office at Mains, the Te Deum Laudamus.







Wednesday, 1 December 2021—Malachi 3:1–7b—Four hundred years before the birth of Christ, Malachi prophesies about Him (the Lord whom you seek and the messenger of the covenant) and His fore-runner, John the Baptist (my messenger). Jesus will usher in the last judgment and will judge between the self-righteous who simply pay lip service to Him and those who worship Him in truth and purity, trusting not in their own efforts, but in the Savior who alone can gain our salvation.

Thursday, 2 December 2021Philippians 1:2–11—In Advent, we look forward to the coming of Christ, not only as the holy infant born in Bethlehem, but also His Second Coming. In the epistle for Sunday, St Paul speaks of the increasing sanctification of the Philippians as that day comes nearer. His prayer for their preparation is also his prayer for ours: that our love may abound more and more, that we have knowledge and discernment, and that we may be filled with the fruit of righteousness.
Friday, 3 December 2021—Luke 3:1–14—The Gospel reading tells of the work of the fore-runner of Christ, John the Baptist, in preparing for the coming Savior. John’s message was simple: ‘Repent.’ That is his word to us, also, every day, but especially in this penitential season. The life of the baptized is always one of repentance and the subsequent bringing forth of fruits in keeping with repentance, as we confess in our Small Catechism: the Old Adam in us should, by daily contrition and repentance, be drowned and die…and a new man daily come forth and arise, who shall live before God in righteousness and purity forever.

Saturday, 4 December 2021—The hymn of the day, O Bride of Christ, Rejoice (LSB 335), expresses the joy that Christ’s Church has as she waits in expectation of His coming, not only into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday, but especially at the day of glory foretold in ancient story, the Last Day, when He comes to judge the world and take all believers to eternity in heaven.

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

Look forward to next week - 

Collect for Nicholas of Myra, pastorDecember 6Accept, O Lord, our thanksgiving this day for Thy servant, Nicholas; and grant that all ministers and stewards of Thy mysteries may afford to Thy faithful people by word and example, the instruction which is of Thy grace; through Jesus Christ, Thy Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns with Thee and the Holy Ghost, ever one God, world without end.

Nicholas (traditionally 15 March 270 – 6 December 343), was an early Christian bishop of the ancient Greek city of Myra in Asia Minor (modern-day Demre, Turkey). In 325, Nicholas is said to have attended the First Council of Nicaea where he is said to have been a staunch opponent of false teaching of Arianism and devoted supporter of the doctrine of the Trinity, and one of the bishops who signed the Nicene Creed. 

Nicholas is known for his acts of kindness especially to the poor. Nicholas had a reputation for secret gift-giving, such as putting coins in the shoes of those who left them out for him, a practice celebrated on his feast day, 6 December. Nicholas a patron saint of children and later students as well.
The tradition of Santa Claus evolved from Dutch traditions regarding Saint Nicholas. When the Dutch established the colony of New Amsterdam, they brought the legend and traditions of offering gifts especially to children with them. 

Collect for Ambrose of MilanDecember 7 - O God, who made the Bishop Ambrose a teacher of the faith and a model of apostolic courage, raise up in your Church men after Your own heart to govern her with courage and wisdom. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.

Ambrose was ordained a priest and consecrated a bishop on Dec. 7. He wrote much on the Scriptures and Fathers, preached a homily every Sunday, resisted the interference of the secular powers with the rights of the Church, opposed the heretics, and was instrumental in bringing about the conversion of Augustine. He composed many hymns, promoted sacred chant, and took a great interest in the Liturgy.  

A prayer before confession and absolution: Almighty, everlasting God, for our many sins we justly deserve eternal condemnation. In Your mercy You sent Your dear Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, who won for us forgiveness of sins and everlasting salvation. Grant us a true confession that, dead to sin, we may be raised up by Your life-giving absolution. Grant us Your Holy Spirit that we may be ever watchful and live true and godly lives in Your service; through Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen.

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

A prayer for innocence of life: O God, whose strength is made perfect in weakness, put to death in us all vices and so strengthen us by Your grace that by the innocence of our lives and the constancy of our faith, we may glorify Your holy name; through Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen.

A prayer for responsible citizenship: Lord, keep this nation under Your care. Bless the leaders of our land that we may be a people at peace among ourselves and a blessing to the other nations of the earth. Grant that we may choose trustworthy leaders, contribute to wise decisions for the general welfare, and serve You faithfully in our generation; through Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen.

A prayer for peace in the world: Heavenly Father, God of all concord, it is Your gracious will that Your children on earth live together in harmony and peace. Defeat the plans of all those who would stir up violence and strife, destroy the weapons of those who delight in war and bloodshed, and, according to Your will, end all conflicts in the world. Teach us to examine our hearts that we may recognize our own inclination toward envy, malice, hatred, and enmity. Help us, by Your Word and Spirit, to search our hearts and to root out the evil that would lead to strife and discord, so that in our lives we may be at peace with all people. Fill us with zeal for the work of Your Church and the proclamation of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, which alone can bring that peace which is beyond all understanding; through Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.



Source:
Prayers from Lutheran Service Book, © 2006 Concordia Publishing House.
Images "Te Deum" and "Advent"  copyright ©  Ed Riojas Higher Things


Saturday, November 27, 2021

Advent 1

 


28 November 2021
Luke 21:25-36
"Today's Terminal Generation"
What could be said concerning this generation? How will people remember us? Only the history books will tell the next generation how we lived and experienced life. And then come the words of our Savior for this morning. According to Jesus, there is a distinct possibility that this will be the last generation to inhabit planet earth. Could it be that the history books will not be written concerning this generation?  According to Jesus there is a distinct possibility that we are looking at today's terminal generation. Let's examine Jesus' prediction of the end of this age.

1.         An end is certain – will it be this generation? V. 36 "Watch therefore, and pray always that you may be accounted worthy to escape all these things that shall come to pass and to stand before the Son of Man."  There will come a time when the world, as we know it, will come to a close.  As the Father spoke this world into existence in the beginning the Son will return in glory to judge both the living and the dead. Jesus is coming soon!  As we anticipate the celebration of Christ’s coming into this world as an infant we anticipate Him returning as Judge and King. Will He come in this generation?  There is a distinct possibility. All we are called to do it to look for the signs of His coming.

2.         There are certain signs of the end - vv. 25, 26 "There shall be signs in the sun and in the moon and in the stars and upon the earth distress of nations which perplexity the sea and the waves roaring. Man's hearts failing them for fear; and for looking after those things which are coming on the earth; for the powers of heaven shall be shaken."   What will be the signs of the end?

Jesus tells us that there will be distinct and specific signs. May I suggest two. There will be signs that are visible in the physical world. There will be signs that are apparent in the spiritual world.

A.        There will be signs in the physical world.  Jesus tells us that there will be anxious times in which man's hearts fail them for fear.  We are living in a time of prosperity, and in a general time of peace.   And yet, there appears to be that we are living in a time of high anxiety in our world.  There are general fears affecting people. People fear about their future. Will I have enough saved for the future? Will my children be prepared to survive and continue in this world? We sing these days that there is "peace on earth, good will toward man" and yet it appears that there is strife on this world that has not been experienced up unto this time.

B.        Jesus further explains that there will be signs in the spiritual world. The heavenly bodies will literally be shaken.  We are living in a time in which many are calling it a time of low morals. Some have referred to this time as a “post modern world” in which many are claiming that we no longer need the morals that has governed our society for so long.  Each seems to be living according to his own law. There seem to be no longer any moral absolutes. How often have heard the moral climate of our time expressed in the phrases similar to the following: "I'm OK and you're OK…you live according to your standard and I'll live according to mine. Don't judge me and will I certainly won't judge you.”

Live and let live…everything is relative!" Like the Roman culture which was not over run by a foreign force but simply collapsed from within there are some who predict that our society cannot last unless there is a revival.

Notice how subtle the end comes. It comes like a thief in the night. It sneaks up on us as almost to catch people unawares.  While most people look for the times of the end to be when the threat of war and disaster are all around; Jesus explains that the end will come in a time as most people are caught off guard. It comes when people are not looking for His immediate return.

Illustration:  Place a frog in a pot of boiling water and he will quickly jump out. But if you turn up the heat ever so slightly he will boil without ever knowing it! So it appears; that slightly over time, the moral fabric of the world crumbles and few see it unless there is a keen eye which can read the signs of the times. May the Savior give us eyes to see and ears to hear, and minds that set our sights upon Jesus.

3.         Preparation for the end - vv. 34-36 "And take heed to yourselves, lest at any time your hearts be overcharged with fighting and drunkenness and cares of this life and so that day come upon you unawares. For as a snare shall it come on all them that dwell on the face of the whole earth. Watch therefore, and pray always that you may be accounted worthy to escape all these things that shall come to pass and to stand before the Son of Man."   We prepare by being watchful.  Ask yourselves; “what needs to happen before Christ would return physically to this earth?”  The answer is…nothing. Nothing needs to happen before we see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven. In fact, there is only one prediction that Jesus makes that predicts what must first happen before the end of this age.  In the Gospel of Matthew Jesus predicts "And this Gospel will be preached around the world as a testimony to the nations and then, the end will come." {Matthew 24: 14} Look at a globe.  Where has the Gospel of Christ not been preached?  There is not one place where the Gospel has not been preached! It has been preached on every continant and in every region!

The time of Christ's return could come at any time. Yes. This could be the last generation on planet earth.  Is this a terminal generation?  Only time will tell. As we prepare for the celebration of Jesus' first visit to this planet at Christmas, may we also prepare ourselves for His second return; His Second Advent.  When we do that, we will be fully prepared and ready to welcome Christ when He comes in His glory.

Advent Image copyright © Higher Things
Words-1,115
Passive Sentences – 13%
Readability –78.2%
Reading Level -5.8 

Friday, November 26, 2021

Saturday prior to Advent 1

 

Luke 19:28-40These verses inspired the hymn, The Advent of Our King (LSB 331).  We come to the beginning of a new church year. The harvest is complete. Thanksgiving festivities have come to a close. We now prepare for the celebration of Christ’s birth. We anticipate Christ’s sure and certain return in glory. This year will it be a miserable or a merry Christmas? If you are prepared to meet Christ when He comes in the clouds of heaven you will be in the right frame of mind in celebration of His first Advent. Circumstances may change. Our perception to them is what is important.

 

1 The advent of our King                                        4 In glory from his throne                  
Our thoughts must now employ;                                Again will Christ descend,
Then let us meet him on the road                              And summon all who are his own
With songs of holy joy.                                                To joys that never end.

 

2 The co-eternal Son                                                   5 Let deeds of darkness fly
A maiden's offspring see;                                           Before the approaching morn,
A servant's form Christ putteth on,                            For unto sin ‘tis ours to die
To set his people free.                                                And serve the Virgin-born.

 

3 Daughter of Sion rise                                               6 Our joyful praises sing
To greet thine infant King;                                          To Christ, who sets us free;
Nor let thy stubborn heart despise                             Like tribute to the Father bring,
The pardon he doth bring.                                          And Holy Ghost, to thee.

 

God our Father, you loved the world so much you gave your only Son to free us from the ancient power of sin and death. Help us who wait for his coming, and lead us to true liberty. We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever.[2] -27 November 2021



[1] Advent, copyright © Ed Riojas, Higher Things

[2] Prayer for Saturday of the week of Advent 1 For All the Saints, A Prayer Book For and By the Church, Vol. I © 1994 The American Lutheran Publicity Bureau, Delhi, NY