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The Second Sunday in Advent

December 6, 2020 • Pastor Bradley Drew

Today's Reading: Luke 21:25-36 Daily Lectionary: Isaiah 14:1-23; 2 Peter 3:1-18 But stay awake at all times, praying that you may have strength to escape all these things that are going to take place, and to stand before the Son of Man. (Luke 21:36) In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. So much can trip us up. Troubles at school and home. People pick on us. Friends betray us. Things don't work out as we had hoped. Sometimes troubles pile up so high our hearts faint with fear. And Jesus knows this. "There will be signs in sun and moon and stars, and on the earth distress of nations in perplexity…people fainting with fear and with foreboding of what is coming on the world" (Luke 21:25-25). It's happening still in our day. But remember, Jesus also says, "Now when these things begin to take place, straighten up and raise your heads, because your redemption is drawing near" (Luke 21:28). That is what is in store for you, my friend. Not God's wrath. Jesus. His redemption. Your redemption. It's His promise. It's easy to fall into the trap of thinking that trials and troubles are signs of God's wrath toward us. Jesus knows we live with such fear because of our sin. It's why He always points us to the promise of our redemption, His sacrifice for our sin on the Cross. You may think God is hating on you, casting you away because of all that is happening to and around you. Jesus promises, you couldn't be further from the truth. God turned on Jesus when He died for you on the Cross. He will never now turn on you. God seals that promise to you in Holy Baptism. He puts it in your ears with His Word, and into your mouth with His Supper, "for you, for the forgiveness of sins." God's got this. He promises you. In today's Collect we pray for God to "stir up our hearts," not because we have any confidence in them, but because we don't. We know their poverty. We will never find courage or faith in our hearts. Only by Jesus' coming to us as our redemption in Word and Sacrament, and only by Jesus' coming to us on the Last Day as our salvation will our hearts be given faith and courage in our redemption, despite all our troubles. Stay awake. Troubles are not proof of God's hatred. They're just proof we're not with Him yet, where we belong. God sent Jesus to accomplish that for us. He will send Jesus again to fulfill it. In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. Stir up our hearts, O Lord, to make ready the way of Your only-begotten Son, that by His coming we may be enabled to serve You with pure minds; through the same Jesus Christ, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. (Collect for the Second Sunday in Advent)

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The 17th Sunday after Trinity

September 26, 2021 • Pastor Kyle Mietzner

Today's Reading: Luke 14:1-11 Daily Lectionary: Malachi 2:1-3:5; Matthew 4:1-11 Friend, move up higher. (Luke 14:10) In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. Sometimes Jesus teaches us things that don't seem to have any immediate practical application. For instance, just a few verses before this parable of the wedding feast, He teaches that the kingdom of God is like a mustard seed which grows and gives a place for birds to rest. This is nice, but sometimes, He gives practical advice about how to live your life. I can tell you that this parable is applicable because this exact thing has happened to me. A friend had given a banquet and I sat at the head of the table. I began to eat, and within minutes, was asked to move. It was very embarrassing. I began, with shame, to take my place at a seat of lower status. If I'd just seated myself at any other place, I wouldn't have had this shameful experience. Don't sit at the highest place. Just don't. It wasn't fun. It isn't only about where you sit at a banquet, though. It's also about how you live your life in general. Don't go around thinking that you are the best of the best and deserve more than other people, and certainly don't act like you're worth more than others. The truth is that we are all sinners, and I'm the worst of them. Start there, and you can only be asked to move higher. Those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who are humbled will be exalted. This is a major theme of Luke's Gospel. The rich go away empty-handed and the poor have everything given to them. In Christ, the hungry are filled with good things. His ultimate humiliation on the Cross results in the most glorious exaltation of His resurrection. You don't need to think that you are better than anyone else. That won't get you anywhere, and it also isn't true. But you also need to know that the Lord reaches down to those who are in the low places to lift them up. He has reached His hand down to you, and speaks to you as if He is already a friend. In your Baptism, you've been lifted up as His friend. Friend, move up higher. In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. O Lord and Master of my life, take from me a spirit of despondency, sloth, love of money, and idle talk. But give to me, your servant, a spirit of sober-mindedness, humility, patience, and love. Yes, O Lord and King, grant me to see my own sins and not to judge my brother, since you are blessed to the ages. Amen. (Collect for the 17th Sunday after Trinity) Audio Reflections Speaker: Pastor Duane Bamsch

Saturday of the 16th Week after Trinity

September 25, 2021 • Pastor Kyle Mietzner

Today's Reading: Introit for the 17th Sunday after Trinity (Psalm 119:1-2, 5-6; antiphon: vs.124, 137) Daily Lectionary: Malachi 1:1-14; Matthew 3:1-17 Deal with your servant according to your steadfast love and teach me your statutes. (From the Introit for the 17th Sunday after Trinity) In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. The Lord deals with you according to His steadfast love. This is love that does not fade or falter. This love does not depend on your condition or how you are feeling. The truth is that we might feel good about the Lord one day, and doubtful the next. Our plea then, is that He would deal with us according to His steadfast love, because ours just won't do the trick. Martin Luther, in his 1518 Heidelberg Disputation, wrote that "the love of God does not find, but creates, that which is pleasing to it." The love that humans have for one another is usually based on some sort of quality that the other person has, and these can wax and wane over our lifetimes, causing our love for one another to increase or decrease. People sometimes fall out of love due to a change in another person. Are you fearful that the Lord might stop loving you if you can't keep up with His demands? The Lord's steadfast love does hold onto you because you have done enough good, but because you are enough in Christ Jesus. He did not find you and measure whether or not you fit the bill. He found you and loves you just as you are. He has created you, and He loves that which He creates. Isn't it great to be a creature? Paul speaks of this in Titus 3:5, that "He saved us not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to His own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit." This is how the Lord has chosen to deal with you! He has come to you and loved you, and will not stop. There was nothing particularly loveable about you, other than you are you. You are His creation. Still not sure? He's baptized you, too, just in case you were wondering if His love might be for everyone else rather than for you. This love is most certainly for you, and is how He has chosen to deal with you. In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. Lord, Your mercy will not leave me; ever will Your truth abide. Then in You I will confide. Since Your Word cannot deceive me, my salvation is to me safe and sure eternally. ("Oh, How Great Is Your Compassion" LSB 559, st.4) Audio Reflections Speaker: Pastor Duane Bamsch

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