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The First Sunday in Advent

November 29, 2020 • Pastor Bradley Drew

Today's Reading: Matthew 21:1-9 Daily Lectionary: Isaiah 5:1-25; 1 Peter 2:1-12 Behold, your king is coming to you, humble, and mounted on a donkey. (Matthew 21:4) In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. He is coming! That's what the word Advent means. But, who is coming? Our God and King, of course. Is that necessarily good news? After all, why is He coming? Fear not. In fact, all such fear over His arrival and His mission among us will be silenced at His birth when the angel announces, "Do not be afraid." But even now our fears begin to wane as He arrives every First Sunday in Advent "humble, and mounted on a donkey…a beast of burden." Yes, Jesus is our God and King. Why so "humble"? That's the Good News. Jesus arrives "humble" because He is arriving for us, for every one of us, to bear our sin and be our Savior. Jesus arrives lowly because He is coming for all who have been laid low by sin. He arrives "humble" because, in fulfillment of God's Word, He is coming for all who have been humbled by sin. No sinner excluded. The burden of your guilt, the beast of your judgment, will all be upon Jesus now as He suffers and dies for you on the Cross. It's why the Father has prepared a body for His Son (Hebrews 10:5), soon to be born for you and me of the Virgin Mary. By the death of our own God and King upon the Cross, we will all be declared holy in God's sight--His children, forgiven of all our sins, heirs now to eternal life. It's such an amazing promise; who would dare believe in it? God knows this fear of ours. It's why He is always speaking to it by how He sends us Jesus. In the past, to accomplish our salvation, God sent Him "humble, and mounted on a donkey." In the present, to deliver our salvation, God sends Jesus to us in plain words spoken to us by plain pastors who deliver the promise of His Cross in every Absolution and sermon we hear from them. He sends Jesus to us in simple water that promises the same now, and also in ordinary bread and wine that promise the same now: "for you, for the forgiveness of sins." So humble. As if to say, "I got this. And I got you. Do not be afraid." That makes the children's song to our God and King ours now to sing to Jesus every Sunday: "Blessed is He that cometh in the name of the Lord. Hosanna in the highest!" In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. Stir up Your power, O Lord, and come, that by Your protection we may be rescued from the threatening perils of our sins and saved by Your mighty deliverance; for You live and reign with the Father and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. (Collect for the First Sunday in Advent)

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The Second Sunday after the Epiphany

January 17, 2021 • Pastor William K. Stottlemyer

Today's Reading: John 2:1-11 Daily Lectionary: Ezekiel 39:1-10, 17-29; Romans 7:21-8:17 This, the first of his signs, Jesus did at Cana in Galilee, and manifested his glory. And his disciples believed in him. (John 2:11) In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. A wedding is supposed to be a joyous celebration of God's creation. Here a man and woman are united before God and are to be fruitful and multiply. However, because of sin, this wedding at Cana is about to be a time of great sadness. The wine has run out and the party is about to be over until Mary takes action and brings a request to her son. The wedding of Cana shows to us the great lengths that Christ will go in order to help those in need. Here at the request of His mother, Jesus changes water into wine in order that the newly married groom might not be dishonored in the sight of his guests. John tells us that this was the first sign that revealed Jesus' glory. Upon seeing this first miracle the Lord's disciples believed that this was the Christ. Our Savior gives to His people. Jesus reveals His glory during this season of Epiphany so that our faith might grow in the knowledge that our Savior has come into this world to set right that which has been corrupted by sin. Christ came to restore creation, He came to set right that which has been broken by the fall into sin. To bring peace between God and men. Jesus does this through death on the Cross. Daily we receive from the Lord more than we deserve and more than we can ever ask. He reveals Himself to us in the transformation of everyday things. Bread and wine when combined with the Word of God deliver Christ's Body and Blood. Water when combined with the Word becomes a life-giving washing and rebirth by the Spirit of God. By the proclamation of His Word in church, Christ is revealed to His people. As your pastor speaks to you the Law, as he points out your sins, God's will is revealed to you. As the Gospel is proclaimed and your sins are forgiven, Christ's glory is manifested for you. These things are needed so that we might see and hear the great things of God. Then we, like the disciples, by faith believe that Jesus is the Christ. In the Name + of Jesus. Amen Almighty and everlasting God, who governs all things in heaven and on earth, mercifully hear the prayers of Your people and grant us Your peace through all our days; through Jesus Christ, your Son, our Lord who live and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen. (Collect for Second Sunday after the Epiphany) Audio Reflections Speaker: Pastor Duane Bamsch

Saturday of the First Week after the Epiphany

January 16, 2021 • Pastor William K. Stottlemyer

Today's Reading: Introit for the Second Sunday after the Epiphany (Psalm 66:1-5, 20; antiphon: Psalm 66:4; 92:1) Daily Lectionary: Ezekiel 38:1-23; Romans 7:1-20 All the earth worships you and sings praises to you; they sing praises to your name. (From the Introit for the Second Sunday after the Epiphany) In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. Go for a walk in the countryside on a fine spring day. See the deer in the meadow, the clouds floating by, and the trees growing on the hilltops. Listen to the songs of the birds, the babbling brook, and the spring peepers. Everything in this world sings praises to the Lord. God has created the earth so that it might sing the glory of His Name. All around you, creation gives evidence to the greatness of God. Man could never create the things found in nature: stars in the heavens, sun, moon, and all the planets. It is God who set them into place. He set forth the boundaries of the seas, and it is He who brings forth the snow, rain, and the seasons. God does this by the power of His Word. In the Introit, the psalmist writes, "Come and see what God has done; he is awesome in his deeds toward the children of man." We who have been given faith in Christ see and understand this awesomeness of God. Our lives are filled with it. The family you have been given, the food you eat, the clothes you wear, and the church you attend--all of it comes because of God's work in your life. These things are blessings sent by God, gifts that are yours because of Christ, your redeemer. We give thanks to God each and every day, for He has sent forth His Son into the world to save sinners. Jesus' death on the Cross has guaranteed that the Lord will not reject our prayers or remove His steadfast love from us. For this we sing praise to God all our days. In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. O eternal and merciful God, I give You eternal thanks that You have not only given me body and soul, but also have provided me with many gifts of soul, body, and possessions. You, O highest Wisdom, teach knowledge to all people. Therefore, if I experience anything that is good, this shows Your abounding grace toward me. Without Your light my mind is darkness. Without Your grace, my will is captive. Whatever we know is learned either from the light of nature or from the revelation of the Word. Both come from You. Amen. (Johann Gerhard, Meditations on Divine Mercy [Saint Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 2003], 81.) Audio Reflections Speaker: Pastor Duane Bamsch

Friday of the First Week after the Epiphany

January 15, 2021 • Pastor William K. Stottlemyer

Today's Reading: 1 Kings 8:6-13 Daily Lectionary: Ezekiel 37:15-28; Romans 6:1-23 The Lord has said that he would dwell in thick darkness. (1 Kings 8:12) In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. The temple of the Lord is complete. The Ark of the Covenant is set into place, and now the glory of the Lord arrives. A thick cloud of darkness fills the house of the Lord, and for their own safety, the priests cannot stand in His presence. The Holy One of Israel chooses to be revealed in this way so that mankind might survive His coming. The cloud of darkness reveals to the people the presence of God. Now this seems out of place to us because we know that God is light of light, yet in His wisdom, He decides to dwell in darkness. God does such a thing so that the creation might come to understand that the creator is unknowable without the light of Christ. Only things that are holy can dwell in the divine presence of the Father. Sinners can only come into the presence of the almighty Father if they are clothed in Christ. Jesus' blood shed on the Cross made us holy. At the moment of Jesus' death, the curtain separating the Holy of Holies and the rest of the temple darkness was torn in two. The cloud of darkness was brought forth into the light that shone forth from the Cross. From that moment on, there is no separation between the Father and those in Christ. Jesus has removed the barrier, and we are now holy. Now the Father is revealed in the light of Christ. As forgiven and redeemed people of God, we no longer live our lives in the darkness of sin and death. Jesus has brought us into the family of God. We, as children of the light, can now be in the presence of God. In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. Almighty, everlasting God, Lord, heavenly Father, whose Word is a lamp to our feet and light on our way: Open and enlighten my mind that I may understand thy Word purely, clearly, and devoutly, and then having understood it aright, fashion my life in accord with it, in order that I may never displease thy majesty; through Jesus Christ, thy Son, our dear Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Ghost, ever one God, world without end. Amen. (Johannes Bugenhagen, Minister's Prayer Book, [Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 1986], 155.) Audio Reflections Speaker: Pastor Duane Bamsch