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Saturday after the Epiphany

January 9, 2021 • Pastor William K. Stottlemyer

Today's Reading: Introit for the Baptism of Our Lord (Psalm 89:1, 26-28; antiphon: Liturgical text; Psalm 89:20) Daily Lectionary: Ezekiel 3:12-27; Romans 2:1-16 I will sing of the steadfast love of the Lord, forever; with my mouth I will make known your faithfulness to all generations. (From the Introit for the Baptism of Our Lord) In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. Immovable, constant, and faithful--these are all synonyms for steadfast. The oldest English use of this word comes from military terms; it described a warrior who stayed firmly fixed in the place he was assigned. In battle, this is the type of warrior you want to fight with, someone who will not move no matter who comes against him. What a great word for the psalmist to use to describe the love of the Lord. God's love for you is steadfast. It never wavers. His love is firmly fixed in your life, and no matter what you face, it lasts forever. This is a great comfort for us in the midst of a world filled with war, bloodshed, pain, and suffering. Many days we feel as if we are battling the devil, the world, and our own sinful flesh all on our own. But you are never alone. Jesus is the steadfast love of the Lord. He is the mighty warrior who stood firm against the onslaught of the devil. He remained in place during the crucifixion, not moving as the wrath of the Father was poured out for the sins of the world. Staying constant, your Savior died on the field of battle, holding firm as His blood was poured out upon the earth so that the sacrifice for sin might be made. You receive forgiveness, life, salvation, and the steadfast love of the Lord. Jesus has done all of this for you. This is why we sing of the steadfast love of the Lord as long as we have breath. The hymns of the Church are filled with the message that God is faithful; He is our rock and our salvation. He alone stands firm in a world of constant change. Faith comes to us by the proclamation of God's holy Word. It comes because the people of God have made the faithfulness of the Lord known to all generations. Because of this gift given to us by the Spirit in church and through the Bible, we remain steadfast, proclaiming that Jesus is the rock of our salvation. In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. Lord, I know no one in heaven or earth who gives me the same assurance as you do through Jesus Christ. Nor do I have it in all friends, works, and honors. Lord, I have no refuge except in the affection which is now your Son's. Without this hope I would be lost. Amen. (Herbert F. Brokering, ed., Luther's Prayers [Minneapolis: Augsburg Fortress, 1994], 104.)

Saturday of the First Week of Lent

Pastor Aaron Fenker

Today's Reading: Introit for the Second Sunday in Lent (Psalm 25: 1-2a, 7-8, 11; antiphon: v. 6, 2b, 22) Daily Lectionary: Genesis 15:1-21; Mark 5:21-43 "Remember Your mercy, O Lord, and Your steadfast love. . . Remember not the sins of my youth and my transgressions." (Psalm 25:6, 2) In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. God knows everything. Everything. Absolutely everything. About you. He is omniscient. His omniscience includes each and every single thing you've ever done, ever said, ever thought. He knows all the deep dark reasons for why you do what you do, why you did what you did. Oh, yeah. And His omniscience includes every thought, word, and action you will do! What does He remember? Everything. What can He forget? Nothing. What does He forget? Everything! That's the Good News of Jesus. In Jesus, your sins aren't overlooked, they aren't swept under the rug, and they aren't just forgotten. They're better than all that. They're forgiven. They're blood-shed for. They're died for. They're risen for. There's no reason for you to be afraid of what you've thought, said, or done. There's no reason to try and cover up by doing more good. It doesn't matter how you've let people down, let your family down, let God down, let yourself down. You don't have to make up for it to your God. There might be some worldly consequences, but not eternal ones. God's mercy and steadfast love are eternal--the blood of Jesus on the cross "securing eternal redemption" (Hebrews 9:12). Now, the God who knows everything in Jesus doesn't know your sins! You are only in Jesus, only washed in His blood, only Absolved by His blood, only fed with His Body and Blood. Outside of Jesus and His blood, you're left with your sins. Making up for them, a debt never to be repaid. But in Jesus your sins are forgiven. Jesus died for them, shed His blood for them, and only in His blood, by faith in His blood, are you redeemed, bought back, saved. Only in Jesus does an omniscient God not know something because Jesus, eternal Son of the Father, is the all-knowing God who doesn't know everything. Not just the day or the hour of His return, but also, thanks be to God, your sins! In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. If my sins give me alarm And my conscience grieve me, Let Your cross my fear disarm; Peace of conscience give me. Help me see forgiveness won By Your holy passion. If for me He slays His Son, God must have compassion! ("Jesus, I Will Ponder Now" LSB 440, st.5)

Friday of the First Week of Lent

February 26, 2021 • Pastor Aaron Fenker

Daily Lectionary: Genesis 13:1-18; Mark 5:1-2 Abram called on the name of Yahweh there. . . He built an altar there to Yahweh. (Genesis 13:4, 18) In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. Abraham cherished the Third Commandment. He rejoiced in what the Lord had done to save him from believing in the fake gods of Ur. Though Abraham believed in Yahweh, he also had other gods. Better to be on the safe side. But the LORD had promised Abraham. Eventually the LORD brought Abraham out of Ur, out of his mixed-up faith, and brought him into Canaan. The Lord would keep His promise, one He didn't just make to Abraham and to Isaac and Jacob after him. No, the Lord would keep His promise that He made to Adam and Eve: "Her Seed will crush [the serpent's] head" (Genesis 3:15). It's because of that promise that Yahweh saved Noah from the flood, promised Abraham, "in you all families of the earth shall be blessed," and it's because of that first Gospel promise that Yahweh renamed him from Abram to Abraham! Adam preached to Seth, Noah preached to Shem, Abraham preached to Isaac, and everyone in between and since! That's what the Third Commandment is all about! Rejoicing and receiving the Lord's promises and salvation. It's not about checking a box off in your to-do list, though you should add going to church to that list. Calling on the Name of the Lord, the altar, is all about Jesus for you. For there we see that Jesus and His Father rule the universe so that we have a place to hear His Word, to listen to sermons, to eat and drink the Supper of His Body and Blood. Someone built the church you worship at. Someone constructed the altar and pulpit and lectern. There's a guy there to preach to you. The Lord worked that all out for you, down to what's delivered there! Jesus died and risen--right time, right generation after Abraham. Just like Abraham built that altar to rejoice in the Lord who saved him, so also was your church built. Hearing about Jesus, Yahweh saves, is just what Abraham preached and rejoiced in. For Abraham, that Jesus was some 2,000 years later, for you, that Jesus was some 2,000 years ago. But wherever the Lord's altar is, wherever there's calling on His Name, there He is with you, ust as He was with Abraham. In fact, Abraham's rejoicing right there with you! In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. Here stands the font before our eyes, Telling how God has received us. Th'altar recalls Christ's sacrifice And what His Supper here gives us. Here sound the Scriptures that proclaim Christ yesterday, today, the same, And evermore, our Redeemer. ("Built on the Rock" LSB 645, st.4)

Thursday of the First Week of Lent

February 25, 2021 • Pastor Aaron Fenker

Today's Reading: Small Catechism: The Fifth Commandment Daily Lectionary: Genesis 11:27-12:20; Mark 4:21-41 You shall not murder. (Small Catechism: The Fifth Commandment) In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. Love creates life. We know this because God is love and created life. He created us in order to bless us, to give us gifts, and to save us. That's God's eternal plan. To love, to create, to save. That's how God is toward you, me, and all people. We like life, too, especially our own. Others? Not so much. Sure, we don't like murderers running around. We're against abortion and mercy killings. Letter of the Law. But we're also against bullying and abuse. Spirit of the Law. And our anger and bitterness towards those around us? Let's not talk about that. Doesn't our being against abortion make up for our grudges? Besides that, we're more concerned about the Fifth Commandment when it comes to us. We don't want people to kill us. But our neighbor in physical need--hungry, naked, thirsty, homeless, poor--well, we turn a blind eye. Serves them right for their choices. Ouch. We sometimes think that, don't we? The Lord created life to give gifts. And He's given you as a gift to your neighbor to care for them, protect them, love them, defend them, preserve their life. They are more important than you are. Them first. No saving your own neck first. Jesus comes for all the ways we put ourselves first. For all our anger, bitterness, lack of forgiveness--murder in our hearts! For all the ways we do protect life--good gifts--but only to balance out our other sins, Jesus comes. Jesus trades places with murders. The Author of Life is murdered by sinners in order to save them. Love itself suffers insults. He puts His life on the line for you, so that you would receive His unending life--life into your mouth (forgiveness of sins) with His lifeblood and life-body. You are saved, not because you defend the life of others, but because Jesus gave His life for you. This life He gives to you in His Word and Gifts so that you'd spend it on others. And when you mess up? Take heart. Look at Barabbas. Jesus swapped places with him--murderer! He's swapped places with you, too. In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. They rise and needs will have My dear Lord made away; A murderer they save, The Prince of Life they slay. Yet cheerful He To suff’ring goes That He His foes From thence might free. ("My Song is Love Unknown" LSB 430, st.5)