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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

Friday of the Second Week after the Epiphany

January 22, 2021 • Pastor William K. Stottlemyer

Today's Reading: Romans 12:6-16 Daily Lectionary: Joel 2:1-17; Romans 11:1-24 Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer. (Romans 12:12) In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. With this simple verse, the apostle Paul is telling us how we are to live as Christians in this world. They are three straightforward phrases, yet there is a depth to them that requires us to work hard every day. Rejoice in hope is to rejoice in the things to come. Our world is falling apart. Chaos, destruction, death, decay, and sin are everywhere. We cannot escape the ravages of evil as the days draw nearer to the final day. Our human nature wants to hope in itself as we try to go our own ways. However, the truth is if we rely on ourselves, all hope is lost. The only hope we have is in the Lord Jesus Christ and the work that He did for us by His death on the Cross and by His resurrection from the grave. It is Christ's sacrifice for our sins that enables us to have hope in the days to come. It is only with this hope that we are able to be patient in all tribulation. Your life will be filled with pain, suffering, and the Cross. All who believe in Christ will suffer in this life, but the suffering we face will end. So we are to be patient, rejoicing in Christ with a sure and certain knowledge that the day will come when we will be in heaven. Being constant in prayer is the only way that we can rejoice in hope and be patient in tribulation. We take everything to the Lord, speaking to God in psalms, hymns, and cries of anguish. Calling on the Lord in every trouble, we pray, praise, and give thanks to Him for His continued care, protection, and the hope that is ours by faith. Praying to God is a difficult thing, as our lives are often filled with distractions that crowd out the time we need to set aside for prayer. A Christian disciplines his body and mind, setting aside time every day to be in prayer so that the Holy Spirit might continue to direct and lead our thoughts and words into prayers that are pleasing to God. And through our prayers God reassures us of His protection and salvation. In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. O God, who by the meek endurance of Thine only-begotten Son didst beat down the pride of the old Enemy, help us we beseech Thee, rightly to treasure in our hearts what our Lord hath of His goodness born for our sakes, that after His example we may bear with patience whatsoever things are adverse to us: Through Jesus Christ, Thy Son, our Lord. Amen. (The Evangelical Lutheran Synodical Conference of North America, The Lutheran Liturgy [Saint Louis: Concordia Publishing House], 246.) Audio Reflections Speaker: Pastor Duane Bamsch

Thursday of the Second Week after the Epiphany

January 21, 2021 • Pastor William K. Stottlemyer

Today's Reading: Small Catechism: Second Commandment Daily Lectionary: Joel 1:1-20; Romans 10:1-21 You shall not misuse the name of the Lord your God. (Small Catechism: Second Commandment) In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. Oh, how often we break this commandment! It seems as if we daily fail to treat the Name of the Lord with the respect, honor, and love that it deserves. From the swear words we speak to parents and friends to the lies that fill our lives, you and I constantly break the Second Commandment. God is not held in esteem, and we do not pray to Him as we should. Praise and thanks are too infrequent on our lips. Instead, our lives are filled with selfish, sinful desires, and our actions are shameful. We do not keep the Second Commandment, and according to the Law, that means we have broken all of the commands of the Lord. What a sad state of affairs for us! Left to our own actions, we would stand before the Lord on the Day of Judgment with no hope. Our lives and deeds are all the evidence that God would need to send us to hell. We are sinners who have done no good things. But thanks be to God that we do not stand before Him alone. Paul writes in Romans: "For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes" (Romans 10:3). This means that Jesus is our life and our salvation. He has fulfilled the Law, and because of His death on the Cross, we no longer fear the Day of Judgment. Instead of standing alone in our filthy rags, we are clothed by Christ with His righteousness; by His blood we are purified of all our sins. Because of this great gift given to us by faith, we now die to sin and live to God by following the Ten Commandments out of faithful obedience to the One who has redeemed us. All of this comes to us by the working of the Holy Spirit as we live by faith. Every morning the waters of Baptism drown out the old man and bring to life the new man in Christ. It is this man who is equipped to fear and love God so that we might call upon Him in every trouble, pray, praise, and give thanks. In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. Lord, I am your sin, You are my righteousness; therefore I am safe. My sin will not suppress Your righteousness and Your righteousness will not leave me a sinner. Blessed by God, my merciful Lord and Redeemer! I trust in You alone and thus I will never be put to shame. Amen. (Matthew Carver, trans., Lutheran Prayer Companion [Saint Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 2018], 170.) Audio Reflections Speaker: Pastor Duane Bamsch

Sarah

January 20, 2021 • Pastor William K. Stottlemyer

Daily Lectionary: Ezekiel 47:1-14, 21-23; Romans 9:19-33 The Lord said to Abraham, "Why did Sarah laugh and say, 'Shall I indeed bear a child, now that I am old?' Is anything too hard for the Lord? At the appointed time I will return to you, about this time next year, and Sarah shall have a son." (Genesis 18:12-13) In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. Sarah was old and well past childbearing years. Nothing on this earth could change the fact that her body had stopped being able to produce a child. So it is no surprise that this woman laughed when she heard the words of the Lord. She knew that she and Abraham could not have a son. However, the Lord had other plans. "Is anything too hard for the Lord? " Time passed, and a son was born. It was a miracle in the eyes of the world but a simple act for the Lord. Often in the midst of our own hardships, we react just like Sarah. God cannot fix this. God won't do that. We laugh at the promises of God and think that our problems are too big, our sins are too great. It's impossible! In our sin-filled flesh, we have created a god who cannot do the impossible. Stop laughing, and just believe. You have a God who does the impossible all the time. He is the Lord, and there is nothing He cannot do. He created the earth out of nothing. He redeemed His people by the death of His innocent Son on the Cross. He forgives sins and gives new life to those who were dead and His enemies. This God does the impossible all the time. He brought forth a son from a womb past the age of giving birth, and He daily forgives our sins and brings new life to us sinners. Nothing is too hard for our God. In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. Lord and Father of all, You looked with favor upon Sarai in her advanced years, putting on her a new name, Sarah, and with it the promise of multitudinous blessings from her aged womb. Give us a youthful hope in the joy of our own new name, being baptized into the promised Messiah that we, too, might be fruitful in Your kingdom, abounding in the works of Your Spirit; through Jesus Christ, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen. (Scot A. Kinnaman, ed., Treasury of Daily Prayer [Saint Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 2008], 1137.) Audio Reflections Speaker: Pastor Duane Bamsch