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The 17th Sunday after Trinity

September 26, 2021 • Pastor Kyle Mietzner

Today's Reading: Luke 14:1-11 Daily Lectionary: Malachi 2:1-3:5; Matthew 4:1-11 Friend, move up higher. (Luke 14:10) In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. Sometimes Jesus teaches us things that don't seem to have any immediate practical application. For instance, just a few verses before this parable of the wedding feast, He teaches that the kingdom of God is like a mustard seed which grows and gives a place for birds to rest. This is nice, but sometimes, He gives practical advice about how to live your life. I can tell you that this parable is applicable because this exact thing has happened to me. A friend had given a banquet and I sat at the head of the table. I began to eat, and within minutes, was asked to move. It was very embarrassing. I began, with shame, to take my place at a seat of lower status. If I'd just seated myself at any other place, I wouldn't have had this shameful experience. Don't sit at the highest place. Just don't. It wasn't fun. It isn't only about where you sit at a banquet, though. It's also about how you live your life in general. Don't go around thinking that you are the best of the best and deserve more than other people, and certainly don't act like you're worth more than others. The truth is that we are all sinners, and I'm the worst of them. Start there, and you can only be asked to move higher. Those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who are humbled will be exalted. This is a major theme of Luke's Gospel. The rich go away empty-handed and the poor have everything given to them. In Christ, the hungry are filled with good things. His ultimate humiliation on the Cross results in the most glorious exaltation of His resurrection. You don't need to think that you are better than anyone else. That won't get you anywhere, and it also isn't true. But you also need to know that the Lord reaches down to those who are in the low places to lift them up. He has reached His hand down to you, and speaks to you as if He is already a friend. In your Baptism, you've been lifted up as His friend. Friend, move up higher. In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. O Lord and Master of my life, take from me a spirit of despondency, sloth, love of money, and idle talk. But give to me, your servant, a spirit of sober-mindedness, humility, patience, and love. Yes, O Lord and King, grant me to see my own sins and not to judge my brother, since you are blessed to the ages. Amen. (Collect for the 17th Sunday after Trinity) Audio Reflections Speaker: Pastor Duane Bamsch

More from Reflections

St. James of Jerusalem, Brother of Jesus and Martyr

October 23, 2021 • Pastor Eli Lietzau

Today's Reading: Acts 15:12-22 Daily Lectionary: Deuteronomy 24:10-25:10; Matthew 16:13-28 After they finished speaking, James replied, "Brothers, listen to me. Simeon has related how God first visited the Gentiles, to take from them a people for his name." (Acts: 15:13-14) In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. James of Jerusalem, the brother of our Lord: What a turn around this guy did! If you read the Gospels you will come upon the occasional instances when Jesus is milling around His home country and His brothers try to stop by for a chat. Now this is not in order to catch up on times gone past, but it is because they think their older brother, Jesus, has gone crazy. And who can blame them? They grew up with this man who is now claiming to be the Messiah. I wouldn't believe my weirdo brother either. But at some point after the resurrection, James comes to faith. Paul mentions that Jesus appeared to James just like He did to Paul. And miraculously, James, just like Paul, was converted. Then God used James, this old doubter of His Son, to testify to the truth of His Son in the city of Jerusalem. James is given to be the head of the church in Jerusalem: We might call him a bishop. His most important point of business is to distinguish between the Gospel unto salvation and those pushing the works of the Law unto salvation. The Circumcision Party had been going around Judea and Galilee and all the known world pushing the works of the Law instead of proclaiming Christ. Their gospel was a gospel of "Make yourself worthy through the works of your hands and then you might be deserving of the things of Jesus." But James knew this to be rubbish, for how had he ever made himself worthy of Jesus? James had rejected Jesus throughout his whole earthly life and needed a special post-resurrection appearance in order to believe. There was no way that he was going to ever allow those pushing works-righteousness to obscure the Holy Gospel of Christ crucified. And so James hears Paul's testimony and the whole council agrees with him and Barnabas: Salvation is open, free and clear to the Gentiles, just as much as it is to the Jews. It is for James' stand for the Gospel that we give thanks this day. Christ Jesus is for all and there is no work of the Law needed to make oneself worthy. In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. May God bestow on us His grace, With blessings rich provide us; And may the brightness of His face To life eternal guide us. That we His saving health may know, His gracious will and pleasure, And also to the nations show Christ's riches without measure And unto God convert them. ("May God Bestow on Us His Grace" LSB 823, st.1) Audio Reflections Speaker: Pastor Duane Bamsch

Friday of the 20th Week after Trinity

October 22, 2021 • Pastor Eli Lietzau

Daily Lectionary: Deuteronomy 21:1-23; Matthew 16:1-12 And if a man has committed a crime punishable by death and he is put to death, and you hang him on a tree, his body shall not remain all night on the tree, but you shall bury him the same day, for a hanged man is cursed by God. (Deuteronomy 21:22-23c) In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. This seems to be a bit of a throw-away line. It doesn't make much sense in the context of the rest of Deuteronomy 21, other than the fact that it is indeed another law heaped out for the masses to fulfill. There is no real connection between unsolved murders and marrying the women whom you have made captive. And as for the direct tie to inheritance rights and how to treat a rebellious son, your guess is as good as mine. But if you read the Old Testament in the light of the New, if you have the lens of Jesus to peer through as you trudging your way through Moses and his first five books of the Bible, then throw-away verses like this tend to have a little more meaning to them. Paul seemed to figure this out. Or better said, the Holy Spirit apparently enlightened Paul in this matter and so he has gone ahead and enlightened us as well. In the third chapter to his letter to the Galatians, Paul is arguing against the works of the Law. For truly everyone is cursed by the demands of the Law. It lays out for us an impossibly difficult task: Just read all of Deuteronomy and tell me if you can pull it off. But Christ has freed us from the curse of the Law by becoming a curse for us. That is what Paul says in Galatians 3:13. But he isn't just making up some new sort of theology. He is harkening back to Moses, to our text in Deuteronomy. Jesus is that dead guy who is hanging on the tree. And yes, He is the One who is cursed by God. Cursed by God because your sin and my sin is upon Him. Cursed by God because Jesus has become sin. And in this, we have faith and are saved. For faith is of the Gospel, not of the Law. Works are of the Law, but we are saved by the Gospel, by faith in the Gospel, by faith in the Gospel of Jesus, by faith in the Gospel of Jesus hanging on the Cross for you. In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. Upon the cross extended See, world, your Lord suspended.Your Savior yields His breath. The Prince of Life from heaven Himself has freely given To shame and blows and bitter death. Your soul in griefs unbounded, Your head with thorns surrounded, You died to ransom me. The cross for me enduring, The crown for me securing, You healed my wounds and set me free. ("Upon the Cross Extended" LSB 453, st.1, 5) Audio Reflections Speaker: Pastor Duane Bamsch

Thursday of the 20th Week after Trinity

October 21, 2021 • Pastor Eli Lietzau

Today's Reading: Ephesians 5:15-21 Daily Lectionary: Deuteronomy 20:1-20; Matthew 15:21-39 Addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with your heart, giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ. (Ephesians 5:19-21) In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. Paul lays out how it is we are to serve our neighbor, how we are to love them as ourselves. There are a lot of specifics at the end of Ephesians. Paul doesn't shy away from how the Christian, the New Man in Christ, is to act. As has been said many times before, the Law shows you what love looks like. You don't have to guess. You don't have to wonder how you are to love your neighbor. The Law will tell you. And one of the most foundational ways that we are to love our neighbor is by submitting or subjecting ourselves to them. Now, we don't like that word because it comes with the connotation of "less than vs. greater than," but that is not our Lord's intention. We submit to each other as the situation calls for it. God is the God of order and that means we all hold different vocations. That is good. That is exactly how it should be. Within a family there is a father and a mother, children and grandparents, aunts and uncles, and each member of the family fits under or over someone else. The same thing is true for your place of work or school, your sports teams or social clubs, or society in general. We are all given different vocations and we fulfill them accordingly. The one in subjection recognizes the authority that God has given to the one who is over him. And so we do not fight against that or despise it. We thank the Lord that He has created for us a life of order and not one of chaos. The one in authority also recognizes something; he has been given that authority, not so that he can be served, but so that he can serve those under him. The one with authority takes his cue from the One with all authority, Christ Jesus. He came as a servant to all, even being willing to lay down his life. So, too, do we serve our neighbor selflessly and lovingly. All of this is a good gift from above. And we always give thanks for everything to God the Father in the Name of our Lord Jesus Christ, for He gives for our good and we receive His gifts with joy. In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. Penitent sinners, for mercy crying, Pardon and peace from Him obtain; Ever the wants of the poor supplying, Their faithful God He will remain. He helps His children in distress, The widows and the fatherless. Alleluia, alleluia! ("Praise the Almighty" LSB 797, st.4) Audio Reflections Speaker: Pastor Duane Bamsch