The Ascension of Our Lord

Pastor Alfonso Espinosa

Today's Reading: Luke 24:44-53 Daily Lectionary: Numbers 11:1-23, 31-35; Luke 17:1-19 While he blessed them, he parted from them and was carried up into heaven. And they worshipped him. (Luke 24:51-52a) In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. People easily get the wrong idea about the ascension of our LORD, which occurred 40 days after the resurrection and 10 days before Pentecost. The popular and wrong understanding is that Jesus was putting distance between Himself and us. With this false idea, then, Pentecost becomes a kind of "replacement theology" in which the Holy Spirit replaces Jesus on earth. In fact, just the opposite is the case. The ascension was a glorious event demonstrating Jesus' unlimited power. The ascension showed that nothing could ever interfere with Jesus' ability to be closer to us than ever before. But the disciples did see Him ascend, right? Yes, they did, but Jesus did not permit this to imply that He would be limited, but rather to demonstrate power and authority, to show that the One ascending to heaven is unlimited. In other words, Jesus "sitting at the right hand of God the Father" in heaven is not a restricted physical location. Rather, it means that Jesus reigns everywhere, fully present with His people at all times and in all places. The ascension proves the LORD has power to be closer to you than ever. Jesus knew the amazing gift that would result after the ascension. He once said to His disciples, "If anyone loves me, he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him" (John 14:23). The ascension means that Jesus has kept this promise, and has the ability to make His home with those baptized into His life, death, and resurrection. One more thing: Notice what the disciples did when Jesus ascended. The Word says, "And they worshipped him" (Luke 24:52a). To say that Christ is with us isn't just something we tell ourselves to feel religious. The disciples experienced the ascended LORD's reign as they worshipped Him. As we worship Him we, too, receive His Word and Sacrament. In this way we also experience His ascension power: He's right there with us, putting His Word into our ears, and putting His Body and Blood into our mouths. Ascension means that Christ has kept His Word to never leave us. In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. Almighty God, as Your only-begotten Son, our LORD Jesus Christ, ascended into the heavens, so may we also ascend in heart and mind and continually dwell there with Him, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen. (Collect for the Ascension of Our Lord)

The Nativity of St. John the Baptist

June 24, 2021 • Pastor Jeffrey Horn

Today's Reading: Luke 1:57-80 Daily Lectionary: Proverbs 30:1-9, 18-33; John 20:1-18 And you, child, will be called the prophet of the Most High; for you will go before the Lord to prepare his ways. (Luke 1:76) In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. The Church has been celebrating the incarnation of Christ since the Gospel was first proclaimed (Genesis 3:15). After Adam and Eve sinned, God called them out of their hiding place of fear and shame. He promised to send a Messiah to rescue them from sin and death. The Seed of the woman would crush the serpent's head. The promise of the Messiah is woven throughout the Old Testament, through the words of Moses and the prophets, and through the sacrifices and feasts the Jews were commanded to observe. Believers looked with hope and anticipation to the time when God would send the Christ. And ever since Jesus won His victory on the Cross, the Church has continued to celebrate the mystery of the incarnation. All year long we find events that remind us that the Son of God became man. From the Annunciation, Visitation and Birth of John, to Advent, Christmas, Epiphany, and the Presentation, Christ our incarnate Lord is proclaimed. The mystery of the incarnation is so wonderful that we think about it all the time, just as our brothers and sisters did in the Old Testament. Today, we celebrate the birth of John the Baptist, and we rejoice that his entire life was spent pointing to the incarnate Lord. When the angel Gabriel told Mary she would give birth to Jesus the Messiah, he told her that her aged cousin Elizabeth was in her sixth month of pregnancy. Mary went immediately to see her. At the sound of her greeting, John the Baptist, yet in the womb, leapt for joy because his Messiah, Jesus, was present in Mary's womb (Luke 1:41-45). John believed in Jesus even before he was born, and proclaimed Him as Messiah even before he could speak. He did this all his life. Through his preaching and baptizing he called people to repent and be ready for Jesus. He still speaks that message to us today. On his birthday, we hear his joyful call to repent and believe in Christ, the incarnate Son of God. In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. Almighty God, through John the Baptist, the forerunner of Christ, You once proclaimed salvation. Now grant that we may know this salvation and serve You in holiness and righteousness all the days of our life; through Jesus Christ, Your Son, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.

Wednesday of the Third Week after Trinity

June 23, 2021 • Pastor Jeffrey Horn

Today's Reading: Small Catechism: Lord's Prayer, First Petition Daily Lectionary: Proverbs 27:1-24; John 20:1-18 Hallowed be Thy name. What does this mean? God's name is certainly holy in itself, but we pray in this petition that it may be kept holy among us also. How is God's name kept holy? God's name is kept holy when the Word of God is taught in its truth and purity, and we, as the children of God, also lead holy lives according to it. Help us to do this, dear Father in heaven! But anyone who teaches or lives contrary to God's Word profanes the name of God among us. Protect us from this, heavenly Father! (Small Catechism,Lord's Prayer, First Petition) In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. If you could ask for anything in the world and be confident you would get it, what would it be? Before you answer, remember the old saying, "Be careful what you ask for, you just might get it." Receiving what you ask for can bring unintended consequences. Thankfully, Jesus guides you in the Lord's Prayer to pray for the best things possible. In the First Petition, you begin by asking for God's Name to be holy. This might seem strange, since God's Name is always holy anyway. But you're asking that God's Name will be holy in your life, in your family, and congregation. God makes His Name holy in you through His Word, the Bible. He causes you to hear it and understand it and believe it. He sends you pastors and teachers who explain it clearly. He gives you a good congregation in which to gather to hear Christ preached and to receive the Sacraments. In this petition you ask that God's Word would be given to you in its truth and purity. You're asking that no false doctrines would be taught, so that no one is deceived. You're also asking that you, your family, and your congregation would hear the Word of God and follow it faithfully, living according to what God says. And finally, you're also pleading that anyone who has fallen away from believing or living according to God's Word would be drawn to repent and believe again. And may the Gospel of Christ also reach those who have never heard the Word. Lord, have mercy! "Hallowed be Thy name." Rejoice in the teaching of Jesus and ask for this petition first. In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. Your name be hallowed. Help us Lord, In purity to keep your Word, That to the glory of Your name We walk before You free from blame. Let no false teaching us pervert; All poor deluded souls convert. ("Our Father, Who from Heaven Above LSB" 766, st.2)

Tuesday of the Third Week after Trinity

June 22, 2021 • Pastor Jeffrey Horn

Today's Reading: 1 Peter 5:6-11 Daily Lectionary: Proverbs 25:1-22; John 19:23-42 Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. (1 Peter 5:8) In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. Imagine you're on a nature hike. You're strolling down your favorite trail, taking in the sights and scents of nature. Suddenly you hear a loud ROAR down the path. You look up and see a lion prowling toward you. That would change your trek a bit, wouldn't it? Peter compares Satan to a roaring lion, seeking prey to devour. His prey is a baptized child of God. He hunts with temptations to sin, lies about God's Word, and persecution from the world. A Christian walking through this world cannot ignore Satan's roaring threats any more than a hiker can ignore a lion on the trail. When you were baptized into Christ, you were made God's child. You were marked by God as His own. He forgives your sins. He sends His angels to watch over you. You are redeemed by Christ the crucified. And Satan hates all of that. He hates Christ. He hates you. As you go through this world, it is vital that you remember this. But Jesus, the Good Shepherd, knows how to deal with a lion. Look to Him to keep you safe from harm. First, be a humble sheep in His flock. Don't be proud and go running away from Him. Even when times are hard, follow where Jesus leads. He knows what He is doing. Second, look to Him for all you need. As a sheep bleats when hungry or thirsty, you can bleat to Jesus, too. Tell Him your anxieties. Trust that He cares and can help. Thank Him for His mercy even before the help arrives. Third, stay with the flock. You are not alone. The lion threatens all your brothers and sisters in Christ. You're all in this together. Together you hear God's Word, sing His praise, partake of the Supper, and help one another. You're much stronger when you go through trials with your church family. God is faithful and He will strengthen you. His strength will be a blessing long after the hardships are over. In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. I walk with Jesus all the way, His guidance never fails me; Within His wounds I find a stay when Satan's pow'r assails me; And by His footsteps led, My path I safely tread. No evil leads my soul astray; I walk with Jesus all the way. ("I Walk in Danger All the Way" LSB 716, st.5)