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Reflections

Tuesday of the Second Week after Trinity

June 23, 2020 • Pastor Alexander Lange

Today's Reading: 1 John 3:13-18 Daily Lectionary: Proverbs 27:1-24; John 20:1-18 We know that we have passed out of death into life, because we love the brothers. Whoever does not love abides in death. (1 John 3:14) In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. We are saved by God's love and not by our love. We don't love God so that He might love us. We don't love our neighbor hoping to merit eternal life. Thank God, for whose love is perfect enough to save himself? God has shown us His love through His Son, who laid down His life for us (1 John 3:16). This is a freely-given love. For the sake of Christ, God forgives our sins. "He is the propitiation for our sins" (1 John 2:2). We will live forever, because we have faith in Him. Faith alone saves. Love follows faith. Faith in Christ produces love. If you know the love of God found in Christ, you will love God in return. You will also love your fellow Christians. Love is not a cause of our salvation, but it is a sign of our salvation. How do you know that your faith isn't fraudulent? How do you know that your faith isn't a sham? Look at how you treat your brothers and sisters. The unbelieving world hates the Church (1 John 3:13), but the Christian knows that he has passed out of death and into life because he loves his neighbor. His acts of love confirm his election and his calling (2 Peter 1:10). Of course, the Christian's love will never be perfect in this life. The flesh will get the better of you: You will lose your temper with your brother, get annoyed by his habits, say harsh words. That's why we must abide in the love of God. We can never move beyond it. We must return to the Father's promise in Baptism, to the Son's life-giving Body and Blood, and to the Spirit's word of Absolution. As we abide in God's love, His love will have its way with us. His love will deal with sin's guilt and sin's power. And on the Last Day, we will be perfected in His love. In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. Faith clings to Jesus' cross alone And rests in Him unceasing; And by its fruits true faith is known, With love and hope increasing. For faith alone can justify; Works serve our neighbor and supply The proof that faith is living. ("Salvation unto Us Has Come" LSB 555, st. 9) Audio Reflections Speaker: Pastor René Castillero

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Thursday of the Sixteenth Week after Trinity • October 1, 2020 • Pastor Mark Buetow

Today's Reading: Small Catechism: Sacrament of the Altar Daily Lectionary: Deuteronomy 2:16-37; Matthew 6:16-34 Who receives this sacrament worthily? . . . But anyone who does not believe these words or doubts them is unworthy and unprepared, for the words "for you" require all hearts to believe. (Small Catechism: Sacrament of the Altar, pt. 5) In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. If someone sketchy were to give you a sandwich, you might not want to eat it. "It's fine," they say, "I didn't spit on it or anything." If you don't believe them, you won't eat the sandwich. If Jesus says that the bread and wine are His Body and Blood, "given and shed for you for the forgiveness of sins," then faith's reply is to eat that bread and drink from that cup. In other words, to believe Jesus' words means we would obviously eat and drink His Gift. If we didn't believe, why would we bother? If we don't believe that Jesus died for our sins and rose again, why would we pretend we want a gift we don't believe in? We often hear Jesus' Supper described in a way that makes it sound like His Body and Blood are not really there. It's just a "representation" some might say, "a symbol." While that is incorrect, there's more to unbelief than simply misunderstanding Jesus' words. Unbelief means to deny who Jesus is and what He has done for us. Worthiness for the Supper does not rely on our understanding of "how" it can be His Body and Blood." If it did, no one would receive it! Rather, to deny Jesus' forgiveness is what makes us unworthy to receive His Supper. You see, Jesus doesn't want us to worry about it, be confused, or question it. The bread and wine are not His Body and Blood because we believe it. They are the Body and Blood of the crucified and risen Lord and He gives them to you so that you can be sure beyond a shadow of a doubt, that His Gift is for you. The purpose of His Gift is to make sure you know and believe and never doubt that your sins are forgiven. Once again, we see that our "worthiness" isn't in what we do, but in what Jesus has already done for us. He died and rose and He gives His Supper for you. In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. Is this for me? I am forgiven and set free! I do believe That I receive His very body and His blood. O taste and see—the Lord is good. ("What Is This Bread" LSB 629, st. 5) Audio Reflections Speaker: Pastor Duane Bamsch

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Jerome, Translator of Holy Scripture • September 30, 2020 • Pastor Mark Buetow

Daily Lectionary: Deuteronomy 1:37-2:15; Matthew 6:1-15 "For the Lord your God has blessed you in all the work of your hand. He knows your trudging through this great wilderness. These forty years the Lord your God has been with you; you have lacked nothing." (Deuteronomy 2:7) In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. The Bible is the story of God's promise, made to a fallen world: the promise of a Savior. It tells the story of God's people through whom His only-begotten Son took on flesh in the earthly family of Abraham, Isaac, David, Judah, David, and that whole line of chosen people. The eyewitness testimony of the Gospels and the instruction and teaching of Christ delivered by the apostles means the whole Bible, both Old and New Testaments, is about Jesus. St. Jerome was one of the early Church fathers whose great gift to the Church was the translation of the Old and New Testaments into Latin, from the Hebrew and Greek. This version of the Bible is known as the Vulgate, because it was in the "common tongue" of Latin at the time. Today the Bible is available in just about any language you can think of and if not, translators are working on it! For those who speak and read English, there are many, many translations and versions. While they differ in being more or less literal, every faithful translation will always deliver the Good News of Jesus Christ in the language in which it's written. This is a heritage and gift of Jerome. As Moses recorded the works of God among His people in the desert, looking ahead to Christ, so the prophets and apostles wrote and pointed forward or back to Jesus. So there, in the Holy Scriptures, we have the sure and certain record of God's promises to His people. We have the Good News of the death and resurrection of Jesus for all people of whatever language they know. In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. O Lord, God of truth, Your Word is a lamp to our feet and a light on our path. You gave Your servant Jerome delight in his study of Holy Scripture. May those who continue to read, mark, and inwardly digest Your Word find in it the food of salvation and the fountain of life; through Jesus Christ, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen. (Weedon, William. Celebrating the Saints . Concordia Publishing House.) Audio Reflections Speaker: Pastor René Castillero

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St. Michael and All Angels • September 29, 2020 • Pastor Mark Buetow

Today's Reading: Luke 10:17-20 Daily Lectionary: Deuteronomy 1:19-36; Matthew 5:21-48 And He said to them, "I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven." (Luke 10:18) In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. When did Satan fall like lightning from heaven? Was it early on when he first rebelled against God and was cast down? Was it when Jesus died and cried out, "It is finished!"? Was Jesus talking about all the preaching done by the seventy men He sent out? The answer is "yes!" "Satan" means "accuser." He's the guy who tells God you don't belong with God because you're a sinner. But Jesus' death takes away our sins, so now the devil has nothing on you. No accusations. No evidence. But he still tries to slither up to heaven and tell God you can't be there. So whenever the preaching of the Gospel happens, boom! Satan is cast down like lightning. When someone is baptized, Satan gets the boot. When a Christian is absolved of her sins, the devil is sent packing. When a pastor proclaims the death and resurrection of Jesus, the evil one runs away with his tail between his legs. There are angels and then there are angels. We usually think of angels as just heavenly beings we can't see who do battle with the forces of evil and protect us without our thinking about it. But the word "angel" means "messenger," so in a very real sense, your pastor is an angel. He's a messenger. And when your pastor proclaims the goodness of Jesus to you or anyone else, it's like flipping on the light in a room full of cockroaches: They scatter! So does Satan, running back to the cracks and darkness. The devil can't accuse you. Your sins and their guilt have been laid upon Jesus and paid for by Him. When Satan stands before God to tattle on you, the Lord just says, "Get out of here, liar!" And out he goes. He'll keep trying until the Last Day, but he'll never succeed, because Jesus ended those accusation with His great "It is finished!" from Calvary. In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. Satan, hear this proclamation: I am baptized into Christ! Drop your ugly accusation, I am not so soon enticed. Now that to the font I've traveled, All your might has come unraveled, And, against your tyranny, God, my Lord, unites with me. ("God's Own Child, I Gladly Say It" LSB 594, st. 3) Audio Reflections Speaker: Pastor René Castillero