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Reflections

Tuesday of the Fifth Week after Trinity

July 14, 2020 • Pastor Kyle Mietzner

Today's Reading: 1 Peter 3:8-15 Daily Lectionary: Judges 14:1-20; Galatians 3:1-22 Always [be] prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you. (1 Peter 3:15) In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. Christians can be weird. We've always been like this. From the very beginning, people noticed that we are different. Tertullian, a Christian living in the second and third centuries, wrote to the Roman authorities, defending Christians. He says that people used to insult Christians, saying, "See how they love one another." We gathered money for the weak and poor. We adopted children who had been abandoned. We opened hospitals to care for the sick. We weren't looking for personal wealth or great fame. People noticed that Christians looked out for the weakest people, and cared little about their own comfort. Many of the earliest Christian writers after the New Testament era sent letters to suspicious governmental authorities. People like Justin Martyr and Augustine of Hippo engaged in this work, defending the faith to those who had asked for a reason for our hope. They noticed that we were different. We were hopeful in a world of fear. What is the reason for our hope? Simply put, our hope is in Jesus. Jesus Christ, the Son of God, who was crucified, buried, and is now risen from the grave, has ascended and sits at the right hand of the Father. This is our hope. Now that Jesus Christ has conquered death, there is nothing to fear. What is stopping us from loving one another? Nothing. Death, our only real problem, has been overthrown. Embrace the weirdness of not being afraid of death for the sake of Christ. Love one another as if there were no reason not to! We have nothing now but love. Defend it! In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. Almighty Father, You have raised Your Son Jesus Christ from the dead, and united us to His resurrection in Holy Baptism. Therefore, we pray that You would take from us the fear of death in such a measure that we would be filled with nothing but faith towards You and love for our neighbor. Give us willing and noble hearts, always ready to make a defense for the hope that You have given to us, through Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen. Audio Reflections Speaker: Pastor René Castillero

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Saturday of the Sixth Week of Easter

May 15, 2021 • Pasto Alfonso Espinosa

Today's Reading: Introit for the Seventh Sunday of Easter Daily Lectionary: Numbers 13:1-3, 17-33; Luke 18:1-17 Hear, O LORD, when I cry aloud. Alleluia. Your face, LORD, do I seek; hide not your face from me. Alleluia. Your face, LORD, do I seek; hide not your face from me. Alleluia. (From the Introit for the Seventh Sunday of Easter) In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. One of the mysteries of the faith is that the LORD is a God who hides Himself. Isaiah 45:15 teaches, "Truly, you are a God who hides himself, O God of Israel, the Savior." He does it because people seek Him out of selfish motives. Jesus told people not to tell others that He was the Messiah. After Peter correctly confessed that Jesus is the Christ, Jesus "strictly charged [the disciples] to tell no one about him" (Mark 8:30). Jesus said this because so many people wanted to turn Him into an earthly king. So once again: God hides Himself when people seek Him for all the wrong reasons. The psalmist in Psalm 27 is not seeking God for the wrong reasons, but for the right reasons. He is in distress, so He cries aloud (vs.7a). He does not come to God in pride, but in humility; He does not come to tell God what to do, but comes seeking God's help (vs.8b). He seeks God's face for salvation (vs.1), and He seeks God's way to be his way (vs.11a). Again, he sought God out for all the right reasons. For these reasons, the psalmist is bold and right to pray to God to break out of His way of hiding Himself. The psalmist has strong faith in God's love and mercy in Christ to pray, "Your face, LORD, do I seek; hide not your face from me" (vs.8b-9a). We should have the same faith and attitude towards God. Why? Because Jesus has made it plain to us that He came for sinners who know they need Him, for people who seek Him for all the right reasons. For those given faith, like YOU, Jesus reveals God as the merciful God, as the God of love. For you, God does not hide Himself, but has sent His Son so that you will know how to find Him every time--through His Son! In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. The LORD is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The LORD is the stronghold of my life; of whom shall I be afraid? Teach me your way, O LORD. . . Glory be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit; as it was in the beginning, is now, and will be forever. Amen." (From the Introit for the Seventh Sunday after Easter) Audio Reflections Speaker: Pastor Duane Bamsch

Friday of the Sixth Week of Easter

May 14, 2021 • Pastor Alfonso Espinosa

Today's Reading: Acts 1:1-11 Daily Lectionary: Numbers 11:24-29; 12:1-16; Luke 17:20-37 [Jesus] said to them, "It is not for you to know times or seasons that the Father has fixed by his own authority." (Acts 1:7) In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. No one knows when Jesus will come again in glory on the Last Day. Only God knows. Over the centuries many so-called "Christian" teachers have claimed to know when the Last Day would be. But the LORD Jesus said, "It is not for you to know times or seasons [regarding the Last Day]." So whenever we hear someone going on about knowing when the Last Day will be, we must instantly conclude that they are a false teacher and not listen to their teaching. This is consistent with other things our LORD taught. For example, "Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble" (Matthew 6:34). If any wisdom will keep us safe about Last Day predictions, then Matthew 6:34 is it. We have enough to focus on for today,especially since today is all we know we have on this earth! Luke in Acts 1 continues to teach us. The LORD Jesus before He ascended, led His disciples to anticipate the coming and pouring out of the Holy Spirit which happened at Pentecost for them and at your Baptism for you. Once we have received the Holy Spirit and His gift of faith worked in us through Holy Baptism, then what? Jesus said, "You will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth" (Acts 1:8b). So get back to when you were given the Holy Spirit at your Holy Baptism. Return to your Baptism every day. You have died with Christ and now you live with Him. And do whatever He has put in front of you to do. Befriend those around you. Get to know them and love them, and don't worry about when the Last Day will be. In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. LORD Jesus, Your kingdom continues to be in our midst as You come to us now through holy water, holy words, and holy food. Help us to see that Your kingdom is a kingdom of suffering, but that through suffering, we will be prepared to enter into glory when You return on that final day; for You live and reign with the Father and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen. Audio Reflections Speaker: Pastor Duane Bamsch

The Ascension of Our Lord

May 13, 2021

Today's Reading: Luke 24:44-53 Daily Lectionary: Numbers 11:1-23, 31-35; Luke 17:1-19 While he blessed them, he parted from them and was carried up into heaven. And they worshipped him. (Luke 24:51-52a) In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. People easily get the wrong idea about the ascension of our LORD, which occurred 40 days after the resurrection and 10 days before Pentecost. The popular and wrong understanding is that Jesus was putting distance between Himself and us. With this false idea, then, Pentecost becomes a kind of "replacement theology" in which the Holy Spirit replaces Jesus on earth. In fact, just the opposite is the case. The ascension was a glorious event demonstrating Jesus' unlimited power. The ascension showed that nothing could ever interfere with Jesus' ability to be closer to us than ever before. But the disciples did see Him ascend, right? Yes, they did, but Jesus did not permit this to imply that He would be limited, but rather to demonstrate power and authority, to show that the One ascending to heaven is unlimited. In other words, Jesus "sitting at the right hand of God the Father" in heaven is not a restricted physical location. Rather, it means that Jesus reigns everywhere, fully present with His people at all times and in all places. The ascension proves the LORD has power to be closer to you than ever. Jesus knew the amazing gift that would result after the ascension. He once said to His disciples, "If anyone loves me, he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him" (John 14:23). The ascension means that Jesus has kept this promise, and has the ability to make His home with those baptized into His life, death, and resurrection. One more thing: Notice what the disciples did when Jesus ascended. The Word says, "And they worshipped him" (Luke 24:52a). To say that Christ is with us isn't just something we tell ourselves to feel religious. The disciples experienced the ascended LORD's reign as they worshipped Him. As we worship Him we, too, receive His Word and Sacrament. In this way we also experience His ascension power: He's right there with us, putting His Word into our ears, and putting His Body and Blood into our mouths. Ascension means that Christ has kept His Word to never leave us. In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. Almighty God, as Your only-begotten Son, our LORD Jesus Christ, ascended into the heavens, so may we also ascend in heart and mind and continually dwell there with Him, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen. (Collect for the Ascension of Our Lord) Audio Reflections Speaker: Pastor Duane Bamsch