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Monday of the Second Week of Easter

April 12, 2021 • Pastor Alfonso Espinosa

Therefore prophesy, and say to them, Thus says the LORD God: Behold, I will open your graves and raise you from your graves, O my people. (Ezekiel 37:12) In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. While the Old Testament teaches the resurrection of the flesh as we see in Job 19, Ezekiel 37 is not about the resurrection of the body, but it is about the renewal and "resurrection" of hope and vitality for living in faith. The powerful scene of the valley of dry bones describes the people of Israel in exile in Babylon before their liberation by the powerful Persian emperor and conqueror Cyrus the Great (as history knows him). But before Cyrus, God's people had lost their homeland, they were like slaves in a far-away land, and the confidence they once had as the people of God seemed like a distant memory. They had lost hope, so that they were full of dryness in spirit, and full of the feeling of death in their collective soul. That is why God describes His people here as a great valley of dry bones. Have you ever felt dry? Have you ever lost hope? The psalmist proves to us that it is possible for a believer to feel this way. Psalm 32:3-4 says, "For when I kept silent, my bones wasted away through my groaning all day long. For day and night your hand was heavy upon me; my strength was dried up as by the heat of summer." For us, though, we don't need any mere man, even a powerful mere man like Cyrus the Great, but only Jesus Christ, who is not a mere man, but the very Son of God! This is how Jesus rescues us from our sinful exiles; this is how Jesus raises our "dry bones." "I acknowledged my sin to you, and I did not cover my iniquity; I said, 'I will confess my transgressions to the LORD, and you forgave the iniquity of my sin" (Psalm 32:5). As Jesus keeps us in our baptismal grace, we are lifted up and renewed day by day. We are no longer exiles and slaves to sin, but we are released from bondage to sin and we have a new Master, the LORD of life who showers upon us new hope, and this hope does not disappoint nor put us to shame (Romans 5:5). In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. Lord God, heavenly Father, Your Son announced in the synagogue of His hometown of Nazareth that as the Messiah, His teaching and miracles demonstrated His presence in creation to release it from bondage and bring healing by making all things new. Give us faith to see that His teaching and miracles continue today in the healing medicine of Your Word and the Sacraments, which put to flight the diseases of our souls; through Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord. Amen. Audio Reflections Speaker: Pastor Duane Bamsch

More from Reflections

Friday of the 16th Week after Trinity

September 24, 2021 • Pastor Kyle Mietzner

Daily Lectionary: Nehemiah 9:22-38; 1 Timothy 6:3-21 They ate and were filled and became fat and delighted themselves in your great goodness. Nevertheless, they were disobedient and rebelled against you. (Nehemiah 9:25-26) In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. Nehemiah is a record of the rebuilding of Jerusalem after the Israelites' exile to Babylon. They rebuild the city and her walls, but also restore faithful worship. As part of this worship and restoration, they confess their sins against the Lord. This chapter of Nehemiah is a very good confession. They recount all the mighty works of the Lord, which were then met with disobedience and rebellion. This is how you should confess your sins, too. Remember what the Lord has done for you, and how you rebelled against Him. He has given you all that you need, and yet you have gone looking for satisfaction elsewhere. There's no room for half confessions of things that aren't really sinful. The Lord wants to hear your honest confession. You are a sinner. The Lord forgives sins. You can be honest and open about your confession, as much as the returned exiles in Jerusalem were. The Lord is not out to ruin your fun with His Law. The Ten Commandments are actually good for your life, and if you followed them, you'd be happy. Our problem is that we think we've got something better. Did you ever notice that there are even two commandments against coveting? That means that the Lord really wants you to be happy with what He's given you! And yet, we rebel. We walk away from Him every day. We turn away from Him. We are Israelites ready for exile. That is good news, for the Lord never abandons His people. He will not abandon you. Turn back to Him. Repent and be restored. His Law is good. He is good. There really is nothing better out there than what He has given you. Your life will be better if you keep His rules. And when you do not keep them, He is always waiting to forgive you, for He never stops loving you. Give it a try. Make a good confession to the Lord who loves you and has given everything for you. In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. To those who help in Christ have found and would in works of love abound it shows what deeds are His delight and should be done as good and right. ("The Law of God Is Good and Wise" LSB 579, st.3) Audio Reflections Speaker: Pastor Duane Bamsch

Thursday of the 16th Week after Trinity

September 23, 2021 • Pastor Kyle Mietzner

Today's Reading: Ephesians 3:13-21 Daily Lectionary: Nehemiah 9:1-21; 1 Timothy 5:17-6:2 [Give] thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. (Ephesians 3:20) In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. Well, that's a pretty big request, isn't it? We're really supposed to give thanks always and for everything? There's nothing that we shouldn't be giving thanks for? This is hard to believe, and perhaps even harder to practice. Think about all the awful things in the world! Are we really supposed to give thanks for suffering and hardship? It is easy to give thanks for money and nice stuff. But what about the difficult things? St. Polycarp, as he was being burned at the stake in the year 155, blessed the Lord and thanked Him that he was found worthy to share in the cup of Christ. He did not pray for immediate deliverance from his afflictions, but gave thanks that the Lord had already provided the escape. Quite simply, nothing can harm you if you are in Christ, not even persecution. You can give thanks for everything all the time in the Name of Jesus Christ. The key here is to give thanks in the Name of Jesus. Apart from Jesus, life is meaningless and full of suffering. Without Jesus, your life ends in death and that is that. But your life is lived in the Name of Jesus Christ. This Name was placed upon you in Holy Baptism, and Jesus goes where His Name is placed. Think about the life of Christ. His family rejected Him. He was stricken, smitten, and afflicted. He was betrayed by His friend and abandoned by His disciples. He was put to death in His early 30s in the worst way possible. If that were all, it would have been a meaningless waste. But Jesus did not stay on a Cross or in a grave. He was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father! So yes, you can give thanks for everything all the time, no matter what. Try it. You cannot die and you cannot be harmed. The Cross of Jesus has been given to you, and with His Cross comes resurrection. This is a difficult teaching, but so is the Cross. Yet, this is all we've been given. Give thanks. In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. O God, by the patient endurance of Your only-begotten Son You beat down the pride of the old enemy. Help us to treasure rightly in our hearts what our Lord has borne for our sakes that, after His example, we may bear with patience those things that are adverse to us; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen. Audio Reflections Speaker: Pastor Duane Bamsch

Wednesday of the 16th Week after Trinity

September 22, 2021 • Pastor Kyle Mietzner

Today's Reading: Small Catechism: Office of the Keys Daily Lectionary: Nehemiah 7:1-4; 8:1-18; 1 Timothy 5:1-16 Confession has two parts. (Small Catechism: Office of the Keys) In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. The entirety of the Christian life, and life in general, is summed up in this little phrase: Confession has two parts. That's it! I bring my sins to Jesus and Jesus forgives me. I contribute nothing to my salvation except my sins, which are forgiven in the Name of Jesus. I bring death and Jesus brings life. We often make the mistake of thinking that our life should be lived perfectly, when really it is meant to be lived in forgiveness. I am not perfect, but Jesus Christ is, and His perfection is given to me. The Church practiced confession in a very different way prior to the Reformation. There used to be three parts to confession: contrition, confession, and penance. It was believed that you had to feel really bad about your sins, and then do something in order to earn the Absolution. Most often you would just have to say a bunch of prayers or go to church. It is even taught in some places today that you can earn Absolution simply by walking through a particular door at a particular time. We humans are very good at inventing ways to get rid of our sins, but these methods look past and away from Jesus. If my forgiveness depends on my level of feeling bad about my sins or how many prayers I can say in order to earn Absolution, I'll never feel bad enough or say enough prayers. My sins are much worse than I think they are, and the mercy of Christ is much more than I will ever truly know it to be. Make no mistake, your sins are taken away from you by Jesus. He forgives you all your sins. This is why you have a pastor. Jesus Christ wants you, personally, to know and to receive the gifts that were won on the Cross. And so He has sent you a pastor to speak for Him. When you hear your pastor pronounce forgiveness, it is as if Jesus Christ is speaking to you. Pastors aren't God, they just speak for Him. What Jesus says goes, and He says that you are forgiven. In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. Though great our sins, yet greater still is God's abundant favor; His hand of mercy never will abandon us, nor waver. Our shepherd good and true is He, Who will at last His Israel free from all their sin and sorrow. ("From Depths of Woe I Cry to Thee" LSB 607, st.5) Audio Reflections Speaker: Pastor Duane Bamsch