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Thursday after the Epiphany

January 7, 2021 • Pastor William K. Stottlemyer

Today's Reading: Isaiah 60:1-6 Daily Lectionary: Ezekiel 1:1-14, 22-28; Romans 1:1-17 Arise, shine, for your light has come, and the glory of the LORD has risen upon you. (Isaiah 60:1) In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. Our world is filled with an ever-present darkness. In the winter months we can see it quite clearly. The evenings are longer, the days are shorter, and the sunshine seems feeble. Days are filled with darkness, and the life of the world is dormant. Many people have a problem during these months. The lack of light causes us to grow weary; we become sad and even depressed. It seems to us as if the darkness is winning, and there is nothing we can do to change it. This darkness mirrors the life of man. Our lives are filled with selfish desires, wicked thoughts, harmful words, and horrible deeds. Our world loves the darkness. We love the darkness. We think that we will be safe in the darkness because we can do what we want with no one ever knowing. This is sin. It is wrong. It is a thick darkness that we cannot remove from ourselves, and it will lead to death, to an eternal darkness where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. But have you ever noticed how the image of light fills the pages of Holy Scripture? From the very beginning of creation, our heavenly Father has chosen to reveal Himself to us in the glorious light of truth. This light sets itself apart from the darkness. The darkness cannot overcome the light. It is the true light of man. No matter how little light there is in this world of darkness, it always illuminates and drives out the darkness. God's light reveals everything. In the words of Holy Scripture you have been given the Law to show you your sin. Confess it, and then receive the light of God's everlasting forgiveness. Your light has come. Jesus has taken your place on the Cross. He suffered and died so that your sins might be forgiven. He rose from the dead so that you might receive the glory of the Lord. So arise and shine daily, for your light has come to you in your Baptism. Shine forth with the light of Christ. Live so that all might see Christ in you. In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. Grant, we beseech Thee, Almighty God, that the brightness of Thy glory may shine forth upon us and that the light of Thy light, by the illumination of the Holy Spirit, may establish the hearts of all that have been born anew by Thy grace; through Jesus Christ, Thy Son, our Lord. Amen. (The Evangelical Lutheran Synodical Conference of North America, The Lutheran Liturgy [Saint Louis: Concordia Publishing House], 246.) Audio Reflections Speaker: Pastor Duane Bamsch

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The 20th Sunday after Trinity

October 17, 2021 • Pastor Eli Lietzau

Today's Reading: Matthew 22:1-14 Daily Lectionary: Deuteronomy 15:19-16:22; Matthew 13:44-58 "Go therefore to the main roads and invite to the wedding feast as many as you find." And those servants went out into the roads and gathered all whom they found, both bad and good. So the wedding hall was filled with guests. But when the king came in to look at the guests, he saw there a man who had no wedding garment. And he said to him, "Friend, how did you get in here without a wedding garment?" And he was speechless. (Matthew 22:9-12) In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. What makes you worthy to attend the wedding feast? You'd better not think it has something to do with you. If you think that you've earned a place at the wedding feast then you will also think that the wedding feast is optional. Then it is no longer a gift; it is no longer a feast to enjoy, but a tedious chore that you can do without. But that is not what the feast is, and that is certainly not who the feast is for. Take a look at the guests who are in attendance. They were found among the main roads and out in the streets. They weren't looking for a feast to attend, but were probably expecting to go home and open up a can of Spaghettios. But there they are, both good and bad. Not a single one worthy, but all of them there. And a garment is given to the guests. Probably a soaking wet one, a white one, a Jesusy one, a baptismal one. This is what is given to the guests and this is what is given to you. What makes them worthy, what makes you worthy, is Christ. The wedding feast is free. It is a party open for all. The invitation is to come and eat to your heart's delight the good and rich food of the King which has been prepared for you. There is no good reason for unbelief, no good reason to not be at the wedding feast clothed in Christ. If you think there is, when confronted by the King, you will realize that all of your excuses are pointless and you will have nothing to say. But know for certain that this feast is for you. Know for certain that Jesus is for you. Know for certain that He is the One who makes you worthy. Know all of this for certain, and come and enjoy the wedding feast! In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. O Lord, grant to Your faithful people pardon and peace that they may be cleansed from all their sins and serve You with a quiet mind; through Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen. (Collect for the 20th Sunday after Trinity) Audio Reflections Speaker: Pastor Duane Bamsch

Saturday of the 19th Week after Trinity

October 16, 2021 • Pastor Eli Lietzau

Today's Reading: Introit for the 20th Sunday after Trinity (Psalm 48:1, 9-11; antiphon: Liturgical Text) Daily Lectionary: Deuteronomy 14:1-2, 22-23, 28-15:15; Matthew 13:24-43 Great is the Lord and greatly to be praised in the city of our God, his holy mountain. We have thought on your steadfast love, O God, in the midst of your temple. (From the Introit for the 20th Sunday after Trinity) In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. Let us pray: Lord God, Heavenly Father, You alone are worthy of our praise. You have made Your goodness known to Your Church, Your salvation is proclaimed among us, and we are to be seen as Your great and mighty city. Upon Your mountain the joy of all the earth is to be found. This mountain is known as Calvary and upon it can be found the Cross of Your Son. Upon this Cross You have established Your Church. And because of this Cross You have given to us a fortress that cannot be shaken. All the kings of the earth can rise against You. They can assemble their troops and ready their forces, but nothing can defeat Your Cross, and so nothing can defeat Your Church. Not even the gates of hell will prevail against Her. Your promise is that all Your enemies have been defeated in Christ. They may shout and shake their fists, but they will not be victorious. Soon they will all flee in terror, shriek at the coming of the Holy One who has defeated them. Within the confines of your Church may we dwell in safety, knowing that our enemies have no power over us. May Your steadfast love for Your people abound in Christ. Let us rejoice in Your salvation that You have won for us, that You give to us daily in the Gifts given here within the walls of Your Church. And may this Word of salvation reach out to the ends of the earth. May the Word of the Cross be spoken into the ears of our enemies. May those who are at enmity with You be brought to repentance and know that Jesus is for them. May this be the Church's prayer and may this be our cry of joy: That salvation is ours, but not ours alone. It is for all. You seek not the death of the sinner, but that all would come to the knowledge of the Truth. Let us live our lives within the safety of Your Church. May we know that She will not fall, that She will last forever and ever, that our children and our children's children will receive the same Christ as we receive! Guide us in the ways of your Son, O Lord, that our confidence may never be shaken. Amen. In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. O, then, draw away your hearts From all pleasures base and hollow; Strive to share what He imparts While you hear His footsteps follow. As you now still wait to rise, Fix your hearts beyond the skies! ("Jesus Christ, My Sure Defense" LSB 741, st.8) Audio Reflections Speaker: Pastor Duane Bamsch

Friday of the 19th Week after Trinity

October 15, 2021 • Pastor Eli Lietzau

Daily Lectionary: Deuteronomy 13:1-18; Matthew 13:1-23 "This is why I speak to them in parables, because seeing they do not see, and hearing they do not hear, nor do they understand. … But blessed are your eyes, for they see, and your ears, for they hear." (Matthew 13:13, 16) In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. The parable of the sower is often one of our favorites. We love to hear about the reckless sowing of the seed and how the sower scatters indiscriminately to the wind, letting the seed fall where it may. On the path, the rocks, the thorns, the good soil, the seed goes everywhere. What a wonderful example of how our Lord preaches His Word: He preaches it to all, no matter what. But perhaps the sinner in us loves this parable so much because we love to be able to look around and figure out what type of soil everyone else is. We, of course, are the good soil. Just look at us and our life. Isn't that obvious? But certainly not Matty, He must be the path where the birds have scavenged up all the seed. He's never stepped foot inside a church. And Sara, she has to be the soil with all of the rocks. She has no root. Her faith falters all the time, even at the smallest bit of suffering. And Tim? His is a thorny soil, for he would rather engage in the things of the world instead of the things of God. They are all the poor soil. But me? Well, just look at me. . . But look at me! I don't have the faith that I always claim to have. I like my sin and I'm scared of trials and tribulations and sometimes the devil snatches away God's Gospelly words of promise before I can ever even hear them. So where is my comfort amidst all of this? How can I be sure that I am the good soil when it is so obvious that I am the bad? Perhaps my comfort shouldn't come from deciphering which type of soil I am. Maybe, instead, the comfort should come from the fact that the Sower sows His seed to me no matter my soil. Maybe my assurance is in Him and in His Word. Maybe, just maybe, His Word will accomplish the purpose for which He sent it and He will make me to be the good soil for no other reason than for the sake of Himself. In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. Preach you the Word and plant it home To men who like or like it not, The Word that shall endure and stand When flow'rs and men shall be forgot. The sower sows; his reckless love Scatters abroad the goodly seed, Intent alone that all may have The wholesome loaves that all men need. ("Preach You the Word" LSB 586, st.1, 3) Audio Reflections Speaker: Pastor Duane Bamsch