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ASL Reflection

St. James the Elder, Apostle

July 25, 2020 • Pastor Kyle Mietzner

Today's Reading: Mark 10:35-45 Daily Lectionary: 1 Samuel 9:1-27; Acts 21:37-22:16 Whoever would be great among you must be your servant. (Mark 10:43) In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. It's an astonishing statement, that in order to be great, you must be a servant. We don't understand. All of our lives are spent in constant pursuit of personal achievement. We're taught that we need to really try to be something. Goals are set and achieved. Awards are won. Recognitions and prizes are handed out. We think that we've become great if we have made a name for ourselves and climbed to the top of the pyramid. The disciples obviously thought that Jesus was destined for something big. They thought that He would be the one to restore peace to Israel by leading a political movement. They wanted in on the glory! They wanted their friend Jesus to remember them when He sits on the throne! Maybe a cabinet position would get thrown their way. They think like we do. Greatness and glory are things to be achieved by winning all sorts of contests. But they know not what they ask. They cannot bear the burden that Jesus will bear. He is indeed great, but not because He has achieved popular support or fame. He is great, because He has become the servant of all. He has borne the sin of the world upon His shoulders, and taken it all to the cross and grave. The sin of the world was nailed to the cross in the death of Christ (Colossians 2:14). This is true greatness. He suffered everything for us, ultimately serving us by giving us His very life, pouring it into us in Holy Baptism and Holy Eucharist. He has become great by serving us greatly, and in so doing, has given us to share with Him in His glory, His death and resurrection. You are great in Him! In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. Praise we Him, whose love divine Gives His sacred blood for wine, Gives His body for the feast, Christ the victim, Christ the priest. Alleluia! ("At the Lamb's High Feast We Sing" LSB 633, 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)

St. Matthias

February 24, 2021 • Pastor Aaron Fenker

Today's Reading: Acts 1:15-26 Daily Lectionary: Genesis 8:13-9:17; Mark 4:1-20 "A witness of His resurrection." (Acts 1:22) In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. Jesus is Friend of sinners. He wants to bring sinners close to Himself so that He can save them. He wants all men to be saved! That's why Jesus comes! He rejoices to do His Father's will, and His Father's will is that all men be saved and come to a knowledge of the truth. Judas is proof of this. Judas was a thief. Judas loved money more than Jesus. Jesus let Judas have what he wanted, exactly what Judas wanted, even if that wasn't Jesus. Unconditional love! Jesus put Judas in charge of the money purse. So it's not surprising then that Judas sold his Friend, his Teacher, his Lord and God, for 30 pieces of silver. Judas' god was silver and gold--a dead god. "Those who make them become like them" (Psalm 115:8). So Judas "went out and hanged himself" (Matthew 27:5). Judas had bad pastors--the priests told him to fix his own sins. But the Lord wants pastors who will preach about how the Lord Himself has taken care of sins, even Judas'. Yours, too--things worth far less than 30 pieces of silver. But Jesus paid for them--blood shed, life given, tomb empty! Jesus died and rose and Matthias was added to preach that message with the Eleven because Matthias was also "a witness of His resurrection." Jesus is Friend of sinners. He wants to save them. Not just the likes of Matthias in the world--faithful ones. Not just the likes of Peter and the other Eleven. Even the likes of Judas. He loves and dies for those who'd rather have their other gods. Unconditional love! "God is Love" (1 John 4:8). "While we were sinners Christ died for the ungodly" (Romans 5:6). Jesus wants to be your Friend, your Savior, your Lord and God. He is! Dead God, risen God. For-you God. Jesus brings His salvation to you through your pastor in Baptism, in sermons, in the Supper of Jesus' Body and Blood. In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. Almighty God, You chose Your servant Matthias to be numbered among the Twelve. Grant that Your Church, ever preserved from false teachers, may be taught and guided by faithful and true pastors; through Jesus Christ, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.

Tuesday of the First Week of Lent

February 23, 2021 • Pastor Aaron Fenker

Today's Reading: 2 Corinthians 6:1-10 Daily Lectionary: Genesis 7:11-8:12; Mark 3:20-35 "Look, now is the favorable season! Look, now is the day of salvation!" (2 Corinthians 6:12) In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. When is the Lord's time to favor you? When will He be kind to you? Be gracious to you? When will He lift up His countenance upon you and give you peace? When will He save you? Sometimes you might wonder. I know I do. It all depends on what's happening in our lives. We know we shouldn't use that as the benchmark for whether or not God loves us, but that's exactly what we end up doing daily and much. If things are going well, then God loves us. But the moment we get made fun of, or mess up, or something bad happens to us or someone we love, well, then God's out to get us. We think we've done something to make Him mad at us. Then, it seems, God doesn't love us. What evil thoughts! Could you lose everything in life and still talk like Paul? "Having nothing and yet possessing everything." Granted, Paul's talking about how Christians and preachers are persecuted and treated in the world, but it still fits. If you lost everything, because you're a Christian or just because that's the way life would shake out for you, could you then say, "I still possess everything"? Treacherous heart! But that's exactly the way it is for you, in Jesus. In Jesus alone you do have everything. He is your everything. Nothing can take away what He's done for you. You can't put the blood He shed back into His veins. You can't put Jesus back into the tomb. Jesus died and rose for you. And you really do have the weapons of righteousness in both hands! The water and the Word splashed over you. You've received Jesus' Body and Blood. It doesn't matter what happens in this life, your in-Jesus-ness is certain. Jesus is for you. When will He save you? He already has! So, when's the day of your salvation? Every day is! Jesus makes sure of that. In good times you have everything. In bad times you have everything. Everything at all times because you have Jesus. Or really, Jesus has you. In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. Jesus Grant that balm and healing In Your holy wounds I find, Ev'ry hour that I am feeling Pains of body and of mind. Should some evil thought within Tempt my treach'rous heart to sin, Show the peril, and from sinning Keep me from its first beginning. ("Jesus, Grant That Balm and Healing" LSB 421, st.1)