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Friday of the Fifth Week of Easter

May 7, 2021 • Pastor Alfonso Espinosa

Daily Lectionary: Leviticus 26:1-20; Luke 13:18-35 "[The kingdom of God] is like a grain of mustard seed. . . Strive to enter through the narrow door." (Luke 13:19, 24a) In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. The things of God and our salvation (being rescued from sin, death, and devil) are presented in humble ways, unimpressive to the world. This is the way God operates in the world. He lets the world have its own standards of what important things should look like. The world presents these things as glitter and gold to make them look grand and impressive to the human eye. Why? Because the world values the things of human pride and accomplishment, and human pride always thinks bigger is better and that more is always better than less. My wife, however, reminds me that "less is more." She's right. So God goes the opposite way of human pride. He chooses humility as the sign of His presence for salvation, that which is far greater than the greatest things in the world. The Kingdom of God itself begins with a "mustard seed" (Luke 13:19), seemingly insignificant. As insignificant as when a 30-something Jewish man, a carpenter's son, was nailed to a cold Roman cross outside the city gates of Jerusalem. No biggie, just another execution of a convicted criminal, not exactly a sold-out concert of world-famous musicians where fans are going nuts. And the entrance into this Kingdom is not wide, grand, and surrounded with strobe lights. It, too, is humble. It is narrow. It is as inconspicuous as a few drops of water, or some ordinary bread and wine,, because God doesn't want His holy things to be seen in the superficial "big" things in the world. The things of God only catch the eye and the faith of the humble; but the proud don't care about the things of God, and would rather get the catchy things, the "awesome" things that will turn to dust. But you've been baptized, Christian. So embrace humility in Christ, grab the mustard seed, and rejoice that you have entered the narrow door: Jesus. In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. O LORD, You have called us to enter Your kingdom through the narrow door. Guide us by Your Word and Spirit, and lead us now and always into the feast of Your Son, Jesus Christ, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.

The Second Sunday after Trinity

June 13, 2021 • Pastor Jeffrey Horn

Today's Reading: Luke 14:15-24 Daily Lectionary: Proverbs 13:1-25; John 14:18-31 When one of those who reclined at table with him heard these things, he said to him, "Blessed is everyone who will eat bread in the kingdom of God!" (Luke 14:15) In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. The LORD is our God who has created us. He provides all that we need to support this body and life--in the Lord's Prayer, we call this "our daily bread." The LORD our God redeemed us from sin and death. Jesus said, "I am the living bread that came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever. And the bread that I will give for the life of the world is my flesh" (John 6:51). We need our daily bread in order to survive physically in this world. We need Christ, the Living Bread, to have peace with God in this world and eternal life in the next. In the Lord's Supper, our daily bread and the Living Bread come to us at the same moment. Jesus gave us the Sacrament so that we eat and drink His Body and Blood under the bread and wine for the forgiveness of our sins. This feast lasts forever. Christ gives it to His Church, and by His grace we will partake with Him at the marriage feast of the Lamb, which will never end (Revelation 19:9). Who could possibly number the blessings God gives us in the Lord's Supper? A person at the table in our reading today said, "Blessed is everyone who will eat bread in the kingdom of God!" But Jesus responded with a warning we all need to hear. Most people in this world will reject the invitation to eat bread in the kingdom of God because they are too concerned about their lives in this world. People give excuses why they won't come to church or partake of the Supper. The things that distract them aren't bad, but they have made them more important than God, and that is bad. They forfeit a relationship with God, the giver of all good things. They don't care about the Giver, but they only want the gifts. So many people leave the best gift God gives on the table. Lord, keep us in your grace and call back to your feast those who have wandered. In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. O Lord, since You never fail to help and govern those whom You nurture in Your steadfast fear and love, work in us a perpetual fear and love of Your holy name; through Jesus Christ, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.

Saturday of the First Week after Trinity

June 12, 2021 • Pastor Jeffrey Horn

Today's Reading: Introit for the Second Sunday after Trinity (Psalm 18:1-2a, 27, 30a, 49; antiphon: vs. 18b-19) Daily Lectionary: Proverbs 10:1-23; John 14:1-17 The Lord was my support in the day of my calamity. He brought me out into a broad place; he rescued me, because he delighted in me. (From the Introit for the Second Sunday after Trinity) In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. Our Introit for the Second Sunday after Trinity comes from Psalm 18. It is a long psalm, so the Introit makes it accessible for the worship service, but do yourself a favor and read the psalm in its entirety. David wrote most of the psalms. This psalm was so important to him that it is also found in 2 Samuel 22. David celebrates here that God rescued him from the hand of Saul and from all his enemies. Over the years David had many enemies. Think about it this way: How many people in the world do you know who have been attacked by a bear? How about a lion? How about a 9-foot-tall highly trained, magnificently equipped, enraged warrior? How about an army of thousands of his friends? How about a king who is consumed with jealousy? And his whole army? But David was safe through all these attacks and more. He says,"The Lord was my support in the day of my calamity. He brought me out into a broad place; he rescued me, because he delighted in me" (Psalm 18:18b-19). This psalm is a beautiful one to read well and often because it gives you words to express thankfulness to God. You probably have never been attacked by a lion, a giant, or a king and his army. But this psalm still applies to you because it also speaks about Christ Jesus, and you are baptized into Him. David was the King of Israel, but so is Jesus. Christ came as the descendant of David, and He is enthroned forever. He is the King of the Jews who was falsely accused by powerful enemies and then hung upon the Cross. He defeated one who is greater than Goliath, when He crushed the serpent's head upon the Cross. He burst out of the tomb on Easter, never to die again. And He brings us with Him from death to life. In this psalm you join with David in praising the LORD as you thank Jesus for His victory that saves you. And you also thank Jesus, your Good Shepherd, that He protects you on the way through this hard world. Thanks be to God! In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. In God, my faithful God, I trust when dark my road; Great woes may overtake me, yet He will not forsake me. My troubles He can alter; His hand lets nothing falter. ("In God, My Faithful God" LSB 745, st.1)

St. Barnabas, Apostle

June 11, 2021 • Pastor Jeffrey Horn

Today's Reading: Mark 6:7-13 Daily Lectionary: Proverbs 9:1-18; John 13:21-28 Thus Joseph, who was also called by the apostles Barnabas (which means son of encouragement), a Levite, a native of Cyrus, sold a field that belonged to him and brought the money and laid it at the apostles' feet. (Acts 4:36-37) In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. Today we thank God for redeeming Barnabas by grace through faith in Christ! We praise God for all that He worked through Barnabas for the good of the Church. Barnabas teaches us to be strong in the Gospel and active in charity. Barnabas trusted in Christ. The apostles gave him the name Barnabas, which means "son of encouragement." He was generous with his gifts and used them to encourage others, as he did here, selling his field and giving the money to the apostles to support the work of the Gospel. Barnabas was bold. After Saul (also known as St. Paul) was converted to Christ, he came to Jerusalem to see the apostles. They refused to see him because they thought it might be a trap. But Barnabas brought Saul to them. and they learned they could trust Saul. When the Gospel was preached to the Gentiles in Antioch, the Church chose to send Barnabas to build up the new believers in Christ. Barnabas was known to all as "a good man, full of the Holy Spirit and of faith." He exhorted the new believers to be faithful to the Lord Jesus and not to abandon their faith when things got hard. Barnabas went to Tarsus so that he could bring Paul to Antioch, where they continued preaching and preparing for their missionary journeys (Acts 11:23-26). Think of how important it has been for the Church through the ages that Barnabas sought out Paul and supported him! May God bless the Church today with believers like Barnabas who encourage others in Christ, love the Word of God, and give charity to support the work of the Gospel! In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. Almighty God, Your faithful servant Barnabas sought not his own renown but gave generously of his life and substance for the encouragement of the apostles and their ministry. Grant that we may follow his example in lives given to charity and the proclamation of the Gospel; through Your Son, Jesus Christ, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.