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Reflections

The Last Sunday of the Church Year

November 22, 2020 • Pastor Aaron Fenker

Today's Reading: Matthew 25:1-13 Daily Lectionary: Daniel 22:24-49; Revelation 19:1-21 In the middle of the night there was a shout, "Look, the Bridegroom! Come out to greet Him!" (Matthew 25:6) In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. Jesus will come. He will come to kick off the eternal feast, the eternal party, the eternal celebration. Jesus will send forth the Holy Spirit to raise the dead. The Spirit "will give eternal life to you and all believers in Christ" (Small Catechism: Apostles Creed, Third Article). And so you "will live under [Christ] in His Kingdom and serve in Him in everlasting righteousness, innocence, and blessedness, just as He is risen from the dead, lives and reigns to all eternity" (Small Catechism: Apostles Creed, Second Article). His return is unexpected. It will be just like thunder waking you up in the middle of the night. The sound will be the cry of the angel, and he'll be announcing Christ. "Look! It's Him! It's Jesus! He's the Bridegroom! Come out and greet Him!" And those who trust in Him will not be put to shame. They will enter with Christ into the Marriage Feast of the Lamb in His Kingdom which has no end. What about those who bartered, bargained, and bet on His coming and what was necessary in their relationship with Him, saying, "We've got enough, right?" Well, they are left out. "Go away. I never knew you," Jesus will say. There's no "enough" when it comes to the Lord Jesus. No, with Him there's always more--always more mercy, always more forgiveness. Just look at what He does! For your salvation, it wasn't enough for Him to become man or suffer or die or rise or ascend into heaven. No, now He rules the universe so that you would always have more than enough of His cup-overflowing salvation. He makes you His own in Holy Baptism--He knows you. You know Him, too, through His Word. There you hear of His love, His mercy, His forgiveness, His death and resurrection: preaching, Bible, Absolution, forgiveness. He hosts for you His Feast of Victory, the Supper of His Body and Blood for the forgiveness of your sins. Jesus is the true Bridegroom, and the Church His true Bride. He gives Himself into death for Her, He makes Her holy, He nourishes and cares for Her. And His Bride, the Holy Church, has been died for, made holy, fed, and cared for. We are members of His Body, the Church. Not because of how wise we are or how righteous, pure, virgin-like we are. No, you and I are members of His Body because we eat and drink of His Body and Blood. He remains with us and we remain with Him and He will resurrect us on the Last Day. In the Name + of Jesus. Amen

More from Reflections

Saturday of the Sixth Week of Easter

May 15, 2021 • Pasto Alfonso Espinosa

Today's Reading: Introit for the Seventh Sunday of Easter Daily Lectionary: Numbers 13:1-3, 17-33; Luke 18:1-17 Hear, O LORD, when I cry aloud. Alleluia. Your face, LORD, do I seek; hide not your face from me. Alleluia. Your face, LORD, do I seek; hide not your face from me. Alleluia. (From the Introit for the Seventh Sunday of Easter) In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. One of the mysteries of the faith is that the LORD is a God who hides Himself. Isaiah 45:15 teaches, "Truly, you are a God who hides himself, O God of Israel, the Savior." He does it because people seek Him out of selfish motives. Jesus told people not to tell others that He was the Messiah. After Peter correctly confessed that Jesus is the Christ, Jesus "strictly charged [the disciples] to tell no one about him" (Mark 8:30). Jesus said this because so many people wanted to turn Him into an earthly king. So once again: God hides Himself when people seek Him for all the wrong reasons. The psalmist in Psalm 27 is not seeking God for the wrong reasons, but for the right reasons. He is in distress, so He cries aloud (vs.7a). He does not come to God in pride, but in humility; He does not come to tell God what to do, but comes seeking God's help (vs.8b). He seeks God's face for salvation (vs.1), and He seeks God's way to be his way (vs.11a). Again, he sought God out for all the right reasons. For these reasons, the psalmist is bold and right to pray to God to break out of His way of hiding Himself. The psalmist has strong faith in God's love and mercy in Christ to pray, "Your face, LORD, do I seek; hide not your face from me" (vs.8b-9a). We should have the same faith and attitude towards God. Why? Because Jesus has made it plain to us that He came for sinners who know they need Him, for people who seek Him for all the right reasons. For those given faith, like YOU, Jesus reveals God as the merciful God, as the God of love. For you, God does not hide Himself, but has sent His Son so that you will know how to find Him every time--through His Son! In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. The LORD is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The LORD is the stronghold of my life; of whom shall I be afraid? Teach me your way, O LORD. . . 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." (From the Introit for the Seventh Sunday after Easter) Audio Reflections Speaker: Pastor Duane Bamsch

Friday of the Sixth Week of Easter

May 14, 2021 • Pastor Alfonso Espinosa

Today's Reading: Acts 1:1-11 Daily Lectionary: Numbers 11:24-29; 12:1-16; Luke 17:20-37 [Jesus] said to them, "It is not for you to know times or seasons that the Father has fixed by his own authority." (Acts 1:7) In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. No one knows when Jesus will come again in glory on the Last Day. Only God knows. Over the centuries many so-called "Christian" teachers have claimed to know when the Last Day would be. But the LORD Jesus said, "It is not for you to know times or seasons [regarding the Last Day]." So whenever we hear someone going on about knowing when the Last Day will be, we must instantly conclude that they are a false teacher and not listen to their teaching. This is consistent with other things our LORD taught. For example, "Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble" (Matthew 6:34). If any wisdom will keep us safe about Last Day predictions, then Matthew 6:34 is it. We have enough to focus on for today,especially since today is all we know we have on this earth! Luke in Acts 1 continues to teach us. The LORD Jesus before He ascended, led His disciples to anticipate the coming and pouring out of the Holy Spirit which happened at Pentecost for them and at your Baptism for you. Once we have received the Holy Spirit and His gift of faith worked in us through Holy Baptism, then what? Jesus said, "You will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth" (Acts 1:8b). So get back to when you were given the Holy Spirit at your Holy Baptism. Return to your Baptism every day. You have died with Christ and now you live with Him. And do whatever He has put in front of you to do. Befriend those around you. Get to know them and love them, and don't worry about when the Last Day will be. In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. LORD Jesus, Your kingdom continues to be in our midst as You come to us now through holy water, holy words, and holy food. Help us to see that Your kingdom is a kingdom of suffering, but that through suffering, we will be prepared to enter into glory when You return on that final day; for You live and reign with the Father and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen. Audio Reflections Speaker: Pastor Duane Bamsch

The Ascension of Our Lord

May 13, 2021

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) Audio Reflections Speaker: Pastor Duane Bamsch