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Reflections

Friday of the Second-Last Week

November 20, 2020 • Pastor Aaron Fenker

Daily Lectionary: Daniel 1:1-21; Matthew 28:1-20 Daniel was there until the first year of King Cyrus. (Daniel 1:21) In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. Daniel found himself in Babylon. He was taken away from Israel, by force. You see, the Babylonian King Nebuchadnezzar II conquered Judah, and started deporting people from Canaan (modern day Israel) into Babylon (modern day Iraq). Nebuchadnezzar started with the best and the brightest and forced them to live a long way from home, in his service. That's Daniel. What does Daniel do? He recognizes Israel's sin in their current situation (Daniel 9). He remains faithful to Yahweh and cherishes His mercy along with His Word in a foreign land. But Daniel also loved his neighbor, even his Babylonian neighbor, King Nebuchadnezzar! Daniel faithfully served the Babylonians and the Persians after them for about 50 years. God put you where you are. He put the people in your life exactly where they are just so they'd be in your life, just like God did with Daniel. Daniel believed that what his enemies meant for evil, God meant for good. So also you. You were "created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that you would walk in them" (Ephesians 2:10). That "created in Christ Jesus" happened in Holy Baptism. God planned your good works for you. Now you'll use your Baptism, God's working through you, so that you would be a gift for the people He's gifted to you. How long will you do it? Who knows? God does. Daniel served for some 50 years under at least four kings and two empires, after being taken away by force from his homeland. So the Lord will use you for however long He gives you. It's all gift. He's saved you. He's died and risen for you. He's given you new life in Baptism, a new life of being a living sacrifice for others. He forgives you when you mess it up or complain about it. He'll carry you through. And no matter how long you live or where you live, Jesus' baptismal promise is the same: "I am with you always even till the end of the age." Through thick and thin, He's yours and you are His, and He will bring you to Himself in His eternal kingdom which has no end. In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. Then Jesus came to them and said, "All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to cherish everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age." (Matthew 28:18–20)

More from Reflections

Saturday of the First Week after the Epiphany

January 16, 2021 • Pastor William K. Stottlemyer

Today's Reading: Introit for the Second Sunday after the Epiphany (Psalm 66:1-5, 20; antiphon: Psalm 66:4; 92:1) Daily Lectionary: Ezekiel 38:1-23; Romans 7:1-20 All the earth worships you and sings praises to you; they sing praises to your name. (From the Introit for the Second Sunday after the Epiphany) In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. Go for a walk in the countryside on a fine spring day. See the deer in the meadow, the clouds floating by, and the trees growing on the hilltops. Listen to the songs of the birds, the babbling brook, and the spring peepers. Everything in this world sings praises to the Lord. God has created the earth so that it might sing the glory of His Name. All around you, creation gives evidence to the greatness of God. Man could never create the things found in nature: stars in the heavens, sun, moon, and all the planets. It is God who set them into place. He set forth the boundaries of the seas, and it is He who brings forth the snow, rain, and the seasons. God does this by the power of His Word. In the Introit, the psalmist writes, "Come and see what God has done; he is awesome in his deeds toward the children of man." We who have been given faith in Christ see and understand this awesomeness of God. Our lives are filled with it. The family you have been given, the food you eat, the clothes you wear, and the church you attend--all of it comes because of God's work in your life. These things are blessings sent by God, gifts that are yours because of Christ, your redeemer. We give thanks to God each and every day, for He has sent forth His Son into the world to save sinners. Jesus' death on the Cross has guaranteed that the Lord will not reject our prayers or remove His steadfast love from us. For this we sing praise to God all our days. In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. O eternal and merciful God, I give You eternal thanks that You have not only given me body and soul, but also have provided me with many gifts of soul, body, and possessions. You, O highest Wisdom, teach knowledge to all people. Therefore, if I experience anything that is good, this shows Your abounding grace toward me. Without Your light my mind is darkness. Without Your grace, my will is captive. Whatever we know is learned either from the light of nature or from the revelation of the Word. Both come from You. Amen. (Johann Gerhard, Meditations on Divine Mercy [Saint Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 2003], 81.) Audio Reflections Speaker: Pastor Duane Bamsch

Friday of the First Week after the Epiphany

January 15, 2021 • Pastor William K. Stottlemyer

Today's Reading: 1 Kings 8:6-13 Daily Lectionary: Ezekiel 37:15-28; Romans 6:1-23 The Lord has said that he would dwell in thick darkness. (1 Kings 8:12) In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. The temple of the Lord is complete. The Ark of the Covenant is set into place, and now the glory of the Lord arrives. A thick cloud of darkness fills the house of the Lord, and for their own safety, the priests cannot stand in His presence. The Holy One of Israel chooses to be revealed in this way so that mankind might survive His coming. The cloud of darkness reveals to the people the presence of God. Now this seems out of place to us because we know that God is light of light, yet in His wisdom, He decides to dwell in darkness. God does such a thing so that the creation might come to understand that the creator is unknowable without the light of Christ. Only things that are holy can dwell in the divine presence of the Father. Sinners can only come into the presence of the almighty Father if they are clothed in Christ. Jesus' blood shed on the Cross made us holy. At the moment of Jesus' death, the curtain separating the Holy of Holies and the rest of the temple darkness was torn in two. The cloud of darkness was brought forth into the light that shone forth from the Cross. From that moment on, there is no separation between the Father and those in Christ. Jesus has removed the barrier, and we are now holy. Now the Father is revealed in the light of Christ. As forgiven and redeemed people of God, we no longer live our lives in the darkness of sin and death. Jesus has brought us into the family of God. We, as children of the light, can now be in the presence of God. In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. Almighty, everlasting God, Lord, heavenly Father, whose Word is a lamp to our feet and light on our way: Open and enlighten my mind that I may understand thy Word purely, clearly, and devoutly, and then having understood it aright, fashion my life in accord with it, in order that I may never displease thy majesty; through Jesus Christ, thy Son, our dear Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Ghost, ever one God, world without end. Amen. (Johannes Bugenhagen, Minister's Prayer Book, [Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 1986], 155.) Audio Reflections Speaker: Pastor Duane Bamsch

Thursday of the First Week after the Epiphany

January 14, 2021 • Pastor William K. Stottlemyer

Today's Reading: Luke 2:41-52 Daily Lectionary: Ezekiel 36:33-37:14; Romans 5:1-21 "Did you not know that I must be in my Father's house?" (Luke 2:49) In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. The young boy, Jesus, was missing. His parents were worried, and you can imagine how frantic his mother became as the days passed. This gift of God, the firstborn son, a miraculous conception and a child who was to save His people from their sins, was gone. Mary and Joseph could not find Him until they went once more to the temple. The fear gave way to a mix of relief and anger. "Why have you treated us so?" Yet in the respectful response of this young man, we have words to live by: "Did you not know that I must be in my Father's house?" Jesus had to be where God the Father dwells. In order for faith to form, be fed, and continue to thrive, one must be in the presence of God. We must continually hear and receive God's gifts. Many people think that God can be found anywhere and that people should be free to find Him in the things of this world. But that is not the truth. Paul tells us that it is only through Christ that we "have also obtained access by faith into this grace" (Romans 5:2). So we must stop running around looking for Jesus in all the wrong places. Stop searching for Him in the great outdoors, the self-help books, the podcasts, and the internet. Look for Him where He has always been. Go to church, for it is there that the Word of God is proclaimed in all its truth and purity. Go where the people of God gather to receive Christ, where the Law is spoken loudly and clearly, where sin is pointed out so that confession can take place. Go to where the Cross is proclaimed, where the Gospel is spoken in your ears. Go to the altar where the Sacraments are administered according to the Gospel and where Jesus is given to you so that all your sins are forgiven. Today, Jesus shows us how we are to live. Do not search for Him in all the wrong places because He is in the temple, in the presence of His Father. This is also where we need to be. In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. Lord, I love the habitation of your house and the place where your glory dwells. Amen. (Psalm 26:8) Audio Reflections Speaker: Pastor Duane Bamsch