icon__search

Saturday of the Second Week of Easter

April 17, 2021 • Pastor Alfonso Espinosa

Today's Reading: Introit for the Third Sunday of Easter (Psalm 33:1, 18-20; antiphon: v.5b, 6a) Daily Lectionary: Exodus 32:1-14; Luke 6:20-38 The earth is full of the steadfast love of the LORD. Alleluia. By the word of the LORD the heavens were made. Alleluia. Shout for joy in the LORD, O you righteous! Praise befits the upright. Behold, the eye of the LORD is on those who fear him, on those who hope in his steadfast love, that he may deliver their soul from death and keep them alive in famine." (From the Introit for the Third Sunday of Easter) In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. Tomorrow is the Third Sunday of Easter and is traditionally known as Misericordias Domini, which means "goodness of the LORD." The psalmist, in writing Psalm 33 by inspiration of the Holy Spirit, is asserting the goodness of God. He says at the beginning of our Introit, "The earth is full of the steadfast love of the LORD." Wait a minute. Was the psalmist looking upon the same earth that we are looking at?! We see all the things that Jesus warned us about, "wars and rumors of wars. . . famines and earthquakes in various places. . . And because lawlessness will be increased, the love of many will grow cold" (Matthew 24:6a, 7b & 12). Is this the earth full of the steadfast love of the LORD? Don't be distraught, Christian, and remember: Context is everything. Note that the psalmist also wrote, "By the word of the LORD the heavens were made." There is only one way for us to see the goodness of the LORD and that is through the WORD, the incarnate Jesus Christ, and His coming to us now through WORD and SACRAMENT. It is only when we find the WORD on earth that we are given eyes of faith, through which the WORD shows us God's working even through what is very, very bad. This doesn't mean that bad stuff is good. No, bad stuff is bad, but it does mean that God works even through the bad stuff to find a way to bless us for our good! Want proof? Then ponder this: The most horrific thing that ever happened was that the innocent Son of God was crucified, but through it, God worked out His greatest goodness. On the Cross Jesus took our sins and covered them with His blood so that through Jesus, the earth might be full of the steadfast love of the LORD. In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. Our soul waits for the LORD; he is our help and our shield. Glory be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit; as it was in the beginning, is now, and will be forever. Amen. The earth is full of the steadfast love of the LORD. Alleluia. By the word of the LORD the heavens were made. Alleluia." (From the Introit for the Third Sunday of Easter)

Saturday of the Fifth Week of Easter

May 8, 2021 • Pastor Alfonso Espinosa

Today's Reading: Introit for the Sixth Sunday of Easter (Psalm 66:1-2a, 17, 19-20; antiphon: Isaiah 48:20b) Daily Lectionary: Leviticus 26:21-33, 39-44; Luke 14:1-24 But truly God has listened; he has attended to the voice of my prayer. (From the Introit for the Sixth Sunday of Easter) In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. Prayer is not magic nor is it designed and intended for the purpose of coaxing, convincing, or making deals with God. Prayer is rather the heartbeat of faith, the holy faith-generated language towards God. Prayer is also the work of the Holy Spirit in and through God's people who trust in the LORD. Sometimes He is the One interceding for us in prayers we can't even put into words (Romans 8:26). Again, it is not for changing God's mind, but it expresses the change we have received when God put us into the life, death, and resurrection of the LORD Jesus Christ through Holy Baptism. Still, doesn't prayer, besides thanking and praising God, also ask God for things, whether they be for ourselves or others? Yes! Throughout Scripture prayer is asking. In fact, Jesus invites and commands us to do so! For example, "If you ask me anything in my name, I will do it" (John 14:14). Also, "And I tell you, ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you" (Luke 11:9). Furthermore, "Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours" (Mark 11:24). So what's the catch? True prayer to God comes through faith in Christ, and faith in Christ always desires what Christ desires. Yet we still contend with our Old Adam, even when we earnestly pray. This means our motives are rarely pure. However, the key is to pray in the Name of Jesus for that which is according to His will (as we pray in The LORD's Prayer), and pray that God will turn your will to His This is so because there really is no other kind of prayer than those prayers which spring from faith in Jesus, when we pray for what Jesus wants for us. Yes, these will be answered every time, for our good and for His glory. In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. O LORD of grace and mercy, teach us by Your Holy Spirit to follow the example of Your Son in true humility, that we may withstand the temptations of the devil and with pure hearts and minds avoid ungodly pride; through the same Jesus Christ, our LORD, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.

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.

Wednesday of the Fifth Week of Easter

May 5, 2021 • Pastor Alfonso Espinosa

Today's Reading: Small Catechism: The Apostles Creed, First Article, pt.3 Daily Lectionary: Leviticus 23:23-44; Luke 12:35-53 All this He does only out of fatherly, divine goodness and mercy, without any merit or worthiness in me. For all this it is my duty to thank and praise, serve and obey Him. This is most certainly true. (Small Catechism: The Apostles' Creed, First Article) In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. Sometimes Lutheran Christians can get bashful when it comes to talking about the new life we have in our Risen Savior and the resultant good works which follow. Luther wasn't bashful as he discussed faith and what must come from faith: "Faith, however, is a divine work in us that changes us and makes us to be born anew of God. . . It does not ask whether good works are to be done, but before the question is asked, it has already done them." It is therefore not surprising that when Luther wrote the explanation to the Creed, he expressed what should come from us in response to the grace of God: "It is my duty to thank and praise, serve and obey Him." Did Luther actually say, "serve and obey [God]?" Yes, He did! The amazing free grace of God in Christ which is responsible for all our First Article gifts: iPhone, clothes, games, bed, the transportation that gets us from point A to point B, and the food we eat (we could go on all day) comes from our heavenly Father's good and merciful heart toward us in Christ. The Father's wonderful grace, by the Holy Spirit's urging and enabling us through the powerful Word and Sacraments of Christ, leads us to serve and obey God. It's that simple. But don't we still battle the sinful nature? Of-course we do, but that battle does not cancel the new movements of the Holy Spirit in us responding to our Father's outpouring of His goodness and mercy. In fact, the new life is more prominent than the old precisely on account of God's goodness and mercy for us. So, the apostle John recorded, "For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments. And his commandments are not burdensome" (1 John 5:3). But why do we want to? We do so in response to God's "divine goodness and mercy, without any merit or worthiness in me." In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. Merciful LORD, cleanse and defend Your Church by the sacrifice of Christ. United with Him in Holy Baptism, give us grace to receive with thanksgiving the fruits of His redeeming work and daily follow in His way; through the same Jesus Christ, Your Son, our LORD, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.