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The Third Sunday of Easter

April 18, 2021 • Pastor Alfonso Espinosa

Today's Reading: John 10:11-16 Daily Lectionary: Exodus 32:15-35; Luke 6:39-49 "I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep." (John 10:11) In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. We throw around the word "good" quite a bit. Ice cream is good, apps are good, your favorite [fill in the blank] is good. . . so many things are "good," but not like what God's Word means when Jesus is called "the Good Shepherd." This "good" describing Jesus is packed with meaning. It could also be translated as "beautiful" or even "virtuous." You've heard of "superfoods" that are especially healthy. Well, the "good" pointing to Jesus is a "supergood." This is the kind of good that is beautiful in the sense that if you were lost or afraid or in lots of trouble, He would be "a sight for sore eyes," and not like ice cream or a good app that won't do you any good if you're dying. Or you would recognize Jesus as virtuous, full of the best things of human character: someone absolutely trustworthy, dependable, reliable. He will never let you down. In fact, this "Good" Shepherd is so beautiful and virtuous that He was willing to take your guilt, your trouble, your condemnation, your punishment, all of your bad, and put it all on Himself. That's the kind of "good" we're talking about. Who is this good? Not a soul on planet earth, except for One whose Name is Jesus. But the word "good" here doesn't hang in the air. It is an adjective describing "shepherd." Shepherds guide helpless sheep with a rod and a staff. He is good in how He guides us through life. Protecting us against all that is harmful through His rod, and rescuing us from all of our trouble through His staff. His goodness is experienced through His leading. Not in a million years should we ever want to follow anyone else, because no one else and nothing else is this good. But how can we be so certain? The proof has been made known: This Good Shepherd laid down His life for the sheep. But this Good Shepherd was not only good in the past, He is also the Good Shepherd today in this world, in our time! He still leads us with His good rod and staff. He still keeps us protected and provided for in His good sheepfold, the Holy Church. Here, we receive His good gifts, His good Word and His good Sacraments, and through these we know Jesus who is truly good. In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. O God, through the humiliation of Your Son You raised up the fallen world, Grant to Your faithful people, rescued from the peril of everlasting death, perpetual gladness and eternal joys; through Jesus Christ, our LORD, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen. (Collect for the Third Sunday of Easter) Audio Reflections Speaker: Pastor Duane Bamsch

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The Seventh Sunday of Easter

May 16, 2021 • Pastor Alfonso Espinosa

Today's Reading: John 15:26-16:4 Daily Lectionary: Numbers 14:1-25; Luke 18:18-34 "[The Holy Spirit] will bear witness about me. . . I have said all these things to you to keep you from falling away." (John 15:26c,16:1) In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. Today is Exaudi Sunday. It means "hear." God gives us complete assurance that He hears us. And when He hears us, He assures us that He will never let us go (John 10:28-29). We therefore teach that our election is certain in our justification and our justification is certain through faith in Jesus. Do you want to be sure that faith is still alive? Do not consult your feelings! Instead, confess your sins and receive Holy Absolution. Hear God's Word, always return to your Holy Baptism, and run to get the Holy Sacrament of the Altar. Through these, faith is safe. Thus, Jesus comforted His disciples by promising them that the Holy Spirit was coming to bear witness about Jesus. Someone has called the Holy Spirit the "unselfish" person of the Holy Trinity (not that the other persons are selfish). The Holy Spirit doesn't call any attention to Himself, but only to Jesus. And true to form, Jesus isn't selfish, either, as He is always giving glory to the Father. Oh yes, the Father isn't selfish, either, since He delights in His Son. The point here is that the Holy Spirit is always putting Jesus before your eyes of faith and this is what keeps your faith living and secure. Why did Jesus teach that the Holy Spirit would come to do this? In John 16:1 Jesus said, "I have said all these things to you to keep you from falling away." Our eternal security comes from the Holy Spirit's constantly keeping Jesus in front of us. As long as that is going on, then we are 100% safe. Jesus taught this precisely so that we would not fall away from the faith. God will never break His promise to be for us in Christ. At the same time, we are taught NEVER to desert Christ and His Word. The Word is that vehicle through which the mighty and comforting Holy Spirit works. We must therefore hold to the Word. Even when we are weak, completely aware of our sins, and discouraged, when we hold to the Word, then we are safe in the arms of Jesus. Then we know He has not abandoned us as we continue to hear the Word! In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. O King of glory, LORD of hosts, uplifted in triumph far above all heavens, leave us not without consolation but send us the Spirit of truth whom You promised from the Father; for You live and reign with Him and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen. (Collect for the Seventh Sunday of Easter) Audio Reflections Speaker: Pastor Duane Bamsch

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