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ASL Reflections

Tuesday of the First Week after Trinity

June 16, 2020 • Pastor Alexander Lange

Today's Reading: 1 John 4:16-21 Daily Lectionary: Proverbs 16:1-24; John 16:1-16 There is no fear in love, because perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love. (1 John 4:18) In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. As a father, I am trying to teach my children to not fear policemen. "They are here to help you," I say. I want them to run to the police if they are in danger. Still, I must admit, even we as adults sometimes fear policemen, especially if we know that we are doing something illegal. We fear the police because they can punish us. And most police officers don't know me, and so they don't love me. If they were to arrest me or give me a ticket, they would lose no sleep over it. The same is true of judges. When you go to court, the judge is pretty intimidating. He doesn't know you or love you. And he has the authority to punish you. Do you think of God as a policeman or a judge? Are you afraid of Him? Are you afraid that He is going to punish you? Then go and speak to your pastor privately and confess your sins to him. Be ready to hear some incredible good news. Your pastor will show you that "God is love" (1 John 4:16). He is going to tell you that God won't punish you, because Jesus took away the punishment that your sins have merited. He is going to absolve you, right then and there, as the official representative of God. I think that you will find that the perfect love of God casts out fear. The idea that God is with you always won't cause you to shudder, but will provide you comfort. You will even find yourself praying that Jesus will come again quickly and bring Judgment Day. After all, you have no reason to fear His return. You might even find that God's perfect love changes the way you live. Often we sin out of fear. However, when God removes your fear, then you are free in Christ to take a big risk and show your neighbor some love. In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. O love, how deep, how broad, how high, Beyond all thought and fantasy, That God, the Son of God, should take, Our mortal form for mortals' sake! ("O Love, How Deep" LSB 544, st. 1)

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)

Saturday of the Last Week

November 28, 2020 • Pastor Aaron Fenker

Today's Reading: Introit for the First Sunday in Advent (Psalm 25:4-5, 21-22; antiphon: v.1-3a) Daily Lectionary: Isaiah 2:1-22; 1 Peter 1:13-25 Make me to know your ways, O LORD; teach me your paths. (From the Introit for the First Sunday in Advent) In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. You need the Lord to do this for you. You can't do it on your own. You can't know His ways, unless He makes them known. You can't get to Him unless He shows you the way. You can't have life unless He enlivens you. You can't escape the lie unless He shows you the truth. This is what the Triune God does for you. Jesus says, "I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life. No one comes to the Father except through Me" (John 14:6) for "no one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and anyone to whom the Son chooses to reveal him" (Matthew 11:27). "No one comes to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him" (John 6:44). "No one can say, ‘Jesus is Lord,' except by the Holy Spirit" (1 Corinthians 12:3). We don't like that. We like to be our own people, do things our way. We're always trying to put something back on us, some little thing we have to do. That's just the original sin, where we try to be like God. WE have to do something, even something really small, right? No. He saves us. Jesus is your Savior, sent from His Father to redeem you. The Spirit creates faith within you so that you would believe it. He creates this faith through the preaching of the Gospel and the delivery of the Sacraments. He makes you alive, even when you were dead in your trespasses and sins (Ephesians 2; Colossians 2). This happened through Holy Baptism. Jesus strengthens His new life within you through the forgiveness of sins in the Supper, for there He remains in you and you in Him. You will then bear much fruit and He will raise you up on the Last Day (John 6; John 15:54, 56). Through the preaching of His Word--Law and Gospel--the Spirit does this. In this way Jesus' Father is your vinedresser, in that "every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit" (John 15:2). We ask God to show us His paths, teach us His Law, work within us the cherishing and doing of His commandments because if He doesn't, we won't. But He does do it. He will do it. Repent of your trying to do it for Him. He will do it for you. You're baptized. Tomorrow you will receive all the more His working FOR YOU in the Absolution, the Word, the preaching, and the Supper of Jesus' Body and Blood, and then He will do all the more doing through you. In the Name + of Jesus. Amen.

Friday of the Last Week

November 27, 2020 • Pastor Aaron Fenker

Daily Lectionary: Isaiah 1:1-28; 1 Peter 1:1-12 Blessed be God the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to His great mercy, He beget us again unto a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, unto an incorruptible, undefiled, and unfading inheritance that is guarded in heaven FOR YOU who are protected by God's power through faith so that [His] ready salvation would be revealed in the last time. (1 Peter 1:3-5) In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. You're baptized. That's everything! We don't want to sidestep it or put it in the past. No, you're baptized, and as Peter says later in his letter, "Baptism now saves you" (1 Peter 3:21). Right now it does. Salvation in Jesus Christ alone is your right through Holy Baptism. Your faith grasps hold of this promise. His salvation's ready. Signed. Sealed. Delivered. Jesus is risen from the dead. That's your living hope because Jesus is alive. He is incorruptible, undefiled, and unfading, and so is your faith because it clings to Him. He is your salvation. He is your shield and great reward (Genesis 15). He is your shade in trouble (Psalm 121:5-6). He is your shelter when all seems hopeless (Psalm 61:4). At His right hand are eternal pleasures (Psalm 16:11). That salvation is kept safe in heaven, where Jesus is. It's there FOR YOU. Christ is there FOR YOU. "In my Father's house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also" (John 14:2-3). And it's all yours. It really is. Why? Because you're baptized! "Unless one is born of water and the Spirit He cannot enter the Kingdom of God," Jesus says (John 3:5). Or as the inspired Paul says, "He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that, having been justified by his grace, we might become heirs having the hope of eternal life. This is a trustworthy saying" (Titus 3:5-8, Small Catechism: Baptism). You're baptized. That's everything! You don't have to be afraid of anything, though you are. You're baptized. God's got you. You're His child. Jesus is your Brother. The Spirit's yours. Jesus' resurrection is yours now through Baptism (Romans 6) and so it will be yours on the Last Day, too. You don't even have to be afraid of that! All that day will do is reveal as true what you've already believed by faith. Jesus is risen from the dead for you, and you're in on that because you're baptized. In the Name + of Jesus. Amen.