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Reflections

Tuesday of the Fourteenth Week after Trinity

September 15, 2020 • Pastor Mark Buetow

Today's Reading: Proverbs 4:10-23 Daily Lectionary: 2 Chronicles 34:1-4, 8-11, 14-33; Colossians 2:8-23 But the path of the just is like the shining sun, That shines ever brighter unto the perfect day. The way of the wicked is like darkness; They do not know what makes them stumble. (Proverbs 4:18-19) In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. Ethics. Morality. Virtue. "Good decisions." The world is full of advice on how to get through life successfully and with minimal conflict and irritation. Many people read the book of Proverbs and think that's what is being taught: a religious take on "self-help" and "worldly wisdom." But that's not it. True wisdom is faith in Jesus Christ. It is the knowledge that apart from Jesus we are nothing but condemned sinners who have nothing and live by nothing other than our own selfishness. To have the light of Christ through faith is to acknowledge that it is God alone who saves us and gives us life and strength and patience to live life in this world. Christians often say, "I just don't know how people survive without Jesus. Without the Bible. Without church." Sure, that sort of thought could be tweaked to remind them that our Old Adam deserves nothing but death. Yet there's some truth in that without Jesus there really is nothing but death and condemnation. Jesus came to take away our sins. He came to shelter us from God's judgment against our disobedience. He came to give us righteousness and everlasting life. Sure, you can live in this world without those things, but that's a downward spiral that ends up in hell. And just because we have those gifts, doesn't mean our life is suddenly easy and carefree. Rather, the wisdom of faith is that we have the bigger perspective: God is the One who created us and all things and it is God Himself who sent His Son to redeem us and make all things new. That is Good News that is put upon us in Baptism and confirmed by preaching and the Supper. It's Good News and wisdom that get us through the world, not by our practicing "virtues" or "morals," but by living in the salvation Jesus gives. In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. Save us from weak resignation To the evils we deplore; Let the gift of Your salvation Be our glory evermore. Grant us wisdom, grant us courage, Serving You whom we adore, Serving You whom we adore. ("God of Grace and God of Glory" LSB 850, st. 4) Audio Reflections Speaker: Pastor René Castillero

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Saturday of the First Week after the Epiphany

January 16, 2021 • Pastor William K. Stottlemyer

Today's Reading: Introit for the Second Sunday after the Epiphany (Psalm 66:1-5, 20; antiphon: Psalm 66:4; 92:1) Daily Lectionary: Ezekiel 38:1-23; Romans 7:1-20 All the earth worships you and sings praises to you; they sing praises to your name. (From the Introit for the Second Sunday after the Epiphany) In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. Go for a walk in the countryside on a fine spring day. See the deer in the meadow, the clouds floating by, and the trees growing on the hilltops. Listen to the songs of the birds, the babbling brook, and the spring peepers. Everything in this world sings praises to the Lord. God has created the earth so that it might sing the glory of His Name. All around you, creation gives evidence to the greatness of God. Man could never create the things found in nature: stars in the heavens, sun, moon, and all the planets. It is God who set them into place. He set forth the boundaries of the seas, and it is He who brings forth the snow, rain, and the seasons. God does this by the power of His Word. In the Introit, the psalmist writes, "Come and see what God has done; he is awesome in his deeds toward the children of man." We who have been given faith in Christ see and understand this awesomeness of God. Our lives are filled with it. The family you have been given, the food you eat, the clothes you wear, and the church you attend--all of it comes because of God's work in your life. These things are blessings sent by God, gifts that are yours because of Christ, your redeemer. We give thanks to God each and every day, for He has sent forth His Son into the world to save sinners. Jesus' death on the Cross has guaranteed that the Lord will not reject our prayers or remove His steadfast love from us. For this we sing praise to God all our days. In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. O eternal and merciful God, I give You eternal thanks that You have not only given me body and soul, but also have provided me with many gifts of soul, body, and possessions. You, O highest Wisdom, teach knowledge to all people. Therefore, if I experience anything that is good, this shows Your abounding grace toward me. Without Your light my mind is darkness. Without Your grace, my will is captive. Whatever we know is learned either from the light of nature or from the revelation of the Word. Both come from You. Amen. (Johann Gerhard, Meditations on Divine Mercy [Saint Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 2003], 81.) Audio Reflections Speaker: Pastor Duane Bamsch

Friday of the First Week after the Epiphany

January 15, 2021 • Pastor William K. Stottlemyer

Today's Reading: 1 Kings 8:6-13 Daily Lectionary: Ezekiel 37:15-28; Romans 6:1-23 The Lord has said that he would dwell in thick darkness. (1 Kings 8:12) In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. The temple of the Lord is complete. The Ark of the Covenant is set into place, and now the glory of the Lord arrives. A thick cloud of darkness fills the house of the Lord, and for their own safety, the priests cannot stand in His presence. The Holy One of Israel chooses to be revealed in this way so that mankind might survive His coming. The cloud of darkness reveals to the people the presence of God. Now this seems out of place to us because we know that God is light of light, yet in His wisdom, He decides to dwell in darkness. God does such a thing so that the creation might come to understand that the creator is unknowable without the light of Christ. Only things that are holy can dwell in the divine presence of the Father. Sinners can only come into the presence of the almighty Father if they are clothed in Christ. Jesus' blood shed on the Cross made us holy. At the moment of Jesus' death, the curtain separating the Holy of Holies and the rest of the temple darkness was torn in two. The cloud of darkness was brought forth into the light that shone forth from the Cross. From that moment on, there is no separation between the Father and those in Christ. Jesus has removed the barrier, and we are now holy. Now the Father is revealed in the light of Christ. As forgiven and redeemed people of God, we no longer live our lives in the darkness of sin and death. Jesus has brought us into the family of God. We, as children of the light, can now be in the presence of God. In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. Almighty, everlasting God, Lord, heavenly Father, whose Word is a lamp to our feet and light on our way: Open and enlighten my mind that I may understand thy Word purely, clearly, and devoutly, and then having understood it aright, fashion my life in accord with it, in order that I may never displease thy majesty; through Jesus Christ, thy Son, our dear Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Ghost, ever one God, world without end. Amen. (Johannes Bugenhagen, Minister's Prayer Book, [Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 1986], 155.) Audio Reflections Speaker: Pastor Duane Bamsch

Thursday of the First Week after the Epiphany

January 14, 2021 • Pastor William K. Stottlemyer

Today's Reading: Luke 2:41-52 Daily Lectionary: Ezekiel 36:33-37:14; Romans 5:1-21 "Did you not know that I must be in my Father's house?" (Luke 2:49) In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. The young boy, Jesus, was missing. His parents were worried, and you can imagine how frantic his mother became as the days passed. This gift of God, the firstborn son, a miraculous conception and a child who was to save His people from their sins, was gone. Mary and Joseph could not find Him until they went once more to the temple. The fear gave way to a mix of relief and anger. "Why have you treated us so?" Yet in the respectful response of this young man, we have words to live by: "Did you not know that I must be in my Father's house?" Jesus had to be where God the Father dwells. In order for faith to form, be fed, and continue to thrive, one must be in the presence of God. We must continually hear and receive God's gifts. Many people think that God can be found anywhere and that people should be free to find Him in the things of this world. But that is not the truth. Paul tells us that it is only through Christ that we "have also obtained access by faith into this grace" (Romans 5:2). So we must stop running around looking for Jesus in all the wrong places. Stop searching for Him in the great outdoors, the self-help books, the podcasts, and the internet. Look for Him where He has always been. Go to church, for it is there that the Word of God is proclaimed in all its truth and purity. Go where the people of God gather to receive Christ, where the Law is spoken loudly and clearly, where sin is pointed out so that confession can take place. Go to where the Cross is proclaimed, where the Gospel is spoken in your ears. Go to the altar where the Sacraments are administered according to the Gospel and where Jesus is given to you so that all your sins are forgiven. Today, Jesus shows us how we are to live. Do not search for Him in all the wrong places because He is in the temple, in the presence of His Father. This is also where we need to be. In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. Lord, I love the habitation of your house and the place where your glory dwells. Amen. (Psalm 26:8) Audio Reflections Speaker: Pastor Duane Bamsch