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Saturday of the Second Week of Advent

December 12, 2020 • Pastor Bradley Drew

Today's Reading: Introit for the Third Sunday in Advent (Psalm 85:1-2, 6, 8; antiphon: Philippians 4:4-5 Daily Lectionary: Isaiah 29:1-14; Jude 1-25 Rejoice in the Lord always. (Philippians 4:4) In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. Tomorrow's Introit sets the theme: rejoicing. The pink candle on the Advent wreath will even be lit to commemorate the theme. The Divine Service, as it unfolds, will point the way for us: "in the Lord always." That always makes all the difference in our rejoicing. Keep it anchored "in the Lord always." Never in us. Always in Jesus. The baptized are not being urged to have plastic smiles plastered on their faces all the time. "Your dog died. Rejoice!" "You just failed. Rejoice!" "You're sick. Rejoice!" There are things in life we simply cannot, and should not, rejoice in. But no matter the circumstance, one thing always remains constant: Jesus "is at hand." That is always something to rejoice in. This life, of course, will never be perfect. In fact, far from it. But whatever it is you are going through, Jesus is there for you. Having been born for you, having lived, died for you on the Cross, and risen for you, Jesus is always there, for you. No matter where, what, when, or why. Jesus is even washed over you now every day in Baptism, spoken to you in every Absolution and sermon you hear from your pastor, and fed to you at His Supper with His own Body and Blood, "for you, for the forgiveness of sins." Jesus hasn't walked away from you or forgotten you. Jesus is there with you, in the midst of it all. "The Lord is at hand!" Even when it looks like He is not? Even then. Rejoice "in the Lord always." "You forgave the iniquity of your people; you covered all their sin" (Psalm 85:2). Tomorrow's Introit reminds us that whatever we are going through, it's not because God is hating on us. It's just that God's ways are hidden from us. God's ways are so far above ours, if God tried to explain Himself we wouldn't like it, or Him. It's part of His mercy that He hides His ways from us. So when things go bad, or your hopes fizzle, and nothing goes the way you planned, don't think, "Why does God hate me?" Think, "Jesus is still at hand!" Let that promise wash over your troubles. He's got this. And He's got you. You are still holy to God. His child. No need to panic or lash out. It's all good. It's all going to be okay. It has to be, for "the Lord is at hand." That's the Good News tomorrow. It's the Good News always. In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. Rejoice, my heart, be glad and sing, A cheerful trust maintain; For God, the Source of ev'rything, Your portion shall remain. ("Rejoice, My Heart, Be Glad and Sing" LSB, st.1)

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Saturday of the 15th Week after Trinity

September 18, 2021 • Pastor James Leistico

Today's Reading: Introit for the 16th Sunday after Trinity (Psalm 86:1, 7, 12-13; antiphon: vs.3, 5) Daily Lectionary: Nehemiah 1:1-2:10; 1 Timothy 1:1-20 I give thanks to you, O Lord my God, with my whole heart, and I will glorify your name forever. (Psalm 86:12) In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. When you imagine that the words of the psalms come out of Christ's mouth, you might hear the words in a different way. For instance, Psalm 86:1 becomes a reminder that our God in the flesh identifies with all who are poor and needy in this world, even as in Luke 7 He will sympathize with the grieving widow at Nain and His compassion will restore her son to life. (But more about that tomorrow.) The King of the universe and Son of David could have chosen to be born in a palace. Instead He was born to a poor newlywed couple in a lowly manger. As an adult, He would say, "Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head," (Luke 9:58). Why did He suffer through being poor and needy? For you. "For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you by his poverty might become rich" (2 Corinthians 8:9). Yet He knew His suffering would be only temporary. Even though insolent men rose up against Jesus to end His life, as David wrote prophetically of Christ in Psalm 86:14, the Son was confident that He will glorify God the Father's name forever. And because the dead cannot praise the Lord (so it would be impossible for Him to do that forever if death ended Him), the Son of God went into Good Friday trusting that God would deliver His "soul from the depths of Sheol" (Psalm 86:13), raising Him from the dead on the Third Day. God has baptismally put you into Christ, and so He puts these same words into your mouth. He who gave David the confidence to know that he would glorify God forever in the resurrection even after David died now puts that confidence into you. On that great Day, you will no longer suffer the weakness of divided loyalties as you do now when your sin messes up your faith. The Lord will raise you, body and soul, to be perfect and whole. And then you shall mean it when you say, "I give thanks to you, O Lord, my God, with my whole heart." In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. Thou hast died for my transgression, All my sins on Thee were laid; Thou hast won for me salvation, On the cross my debt was paid. From the grave I shall arise And shall meet Thee in the skies. Death itself is transitory; I shall lift my head in glory. ("Thanks to Thee, O Christ, Victorious" LSB 548, st.2) Audio Reflections Speaker: Pastor Duane Bamsch

Friday of the 15th Week after Trinity

September 17, 2021 • Pastor James Leistico

Daily Lectionary: 2 Chronicles 36:1-23; Colossians 4:1-18 That the word of the LORD by the mouth of Jeremiah might be fulfilled, the LORD stirred up the spirit of Cyrus king of Persia. (2 Chronicles 36:22) In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. Jerusalem is no more. God had tried to get through to His people. "But they kept mocking the messengers of God, despising His words and scoffing at His prophets, until the wrath of the LORD rose against His people" (verse 16). God knew that the only thing that would work was to bring the Chaldean King and his army to Jerusalem for war and destroy it in 586 BC. When other kingdoms suffered a defeat like this, they were gone. Game over. However, God still had plans for His people. He promised that the Savior of all nations would be born from this nation. And so, by grace, He raised this nation from death back to life again after their Babylonian captivity, just as He promised in Jeremiah 29:10: "I will fulfill to you My promise and bring you back to this place." The prophecy from Isaiah 45:1-7 about this time is very amazing. Not only does the Lord name Cyrus specifically as the restorer of His people over a century before the Persian King was born, He also refers to Cyrus as being God's anointed, despite the fact that the man was a foreign pagan. Remember, God commanded His priests to anoint prophets, priests, and kings. And there are also the prophesies of the Anointed One, which in Greek is Christos, or Christ. Just as 2 Chronicles 36:22 reports to us, God fulfilled His promises in Isaiah 45 to give military success and political power to King Cyrus for the sake of God's chosen people Israel--and for your sake! As God says prophetically to Cyrus in Isaiah 45:5-6, "I equip you, though you do not know Me, that people may know, from the rising of the sun and from the west, that there is none besides Me; I am the LORD, and there is no other." For among those who returned to the Promised Land with the help of Cyrus were ancestors of Jesus, to whom all authority in heaven and on earth has been given. While guiding world history, Christ directed the servants of His Church to go out into all the world and find you, teaching you to know Him as the only God, so that by the forgiveness of your sins, you could live in His kingdom in everlasting righteousness, innocence, and blessedness. In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. O God, the protector of all who trust in You, have mercy on us that with You as our ruler and guide we may so pass through things temporal that we lose not the things eternal; through Jesus Christ. Amen. Audio Reflections Speaker: Pastor Duane Bamsch

Thursday of the 15th Week after Trinity

September 16, 2021 • Pastor James Leistico

Daily Lectionary: 2 Chronicles 35:1-7, 16-25; Colossians 3:1-25 Josiah died and was buried in the tombs of his fathers. All Judah and Jerusalem mourned for Josiah. (2 Chronicles 35:24) In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. O King Josiah, what have you done? You just displayed wonderful devotion to the God of Israel by reforming the religion of your people. But now you are like all the other sons of David as you fell into great sin. You died because you did not listen to God. In many and various ways He commanded you not to go to battle Neco. The Lord warned all the kings of His people not to join foreign wars and alliances. The prophetess Huldah foretold that after your death, the curses of disaster would fall upon your kingdom (2 Chronicles 34:22-28). And God commanded you through Neco himself to let his troops travel from Egypt to fight the Assyrian king. But Josiah, you would not listen! You do not get to disobey God's Word just because it comes from a person you do not like. Why did you leave us to lament your death? Why did you need to prove your Descendant will be correct when He says, "All who take the sword will perish by the sword" (Matthew 26:52)? Josiah was a great and faithful king who served God's people. Most of the time. Just like his ancestor David, he was not perfect as He broke God's commandments. Yet there will be a Son of David who comes to be our perfect King. He will never sin as He reforms and restores His people to God by forgiving all the commandments that they break. The people of His kingdom will also grieve at the death of this Son of Josiah. On the night of the greatest Passover, unlike any other Passover ever held before or after it, when the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world gets ready to be slaughtered on the altar of the Cross, just before He is betrayed, He will say to His disciples, "You will weep and lament, but the world will rejoice. You will be sorrowful, but your sorrow will turn into joy" (John 16:20). He could promise what Josiah could not because Jesus knew the resurrection was coming after His death. For Him, and for you. And so what our Lord promised the disciples is now a promise Your Savior gives to you: "You have sorrow now, but I will see you again, and your hearts will rejoice, and no one will take your joy from you" (John 16:22). In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. O come, Desire of nations, bind In one the hearts of all mankind; Bid Thou our sad divisions cease, and be Thyself our King of Peace. Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel Shall come to thee, O Israel. ("O Come, O Come, Emmanuel" LSB 357, st.7) Audio Reflections Speaker: Pastor Duane Bamsch