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St. Andrew, Apostle

November 30, 2020 • Pastor Bradley Drew

Today's Reading: John 1:35-42a Daily Lectionary: Isaiah 6:1-7:9; 1 Peter 2:13-25 One of the two who heard John speak and followed Jesus was Andrew, Simon Peter's brother. He first found his own brother Simon and said to him, "We have found the Messiah." (John 1:40-41a) In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. You can tell Andrew and Peter are brothers. Peter always seems to speak first and think later. True to family form, Andrew blurts out, "We have found the Messiah!" Oh, really? Andrew did not find Jesus. The Gospel is this: Jesus found Andrew. Jesus travelled where Andrew travelled. Jesus walked where Andrew walked. He breathed where Andrew breathed, He lived where Andrew lived. Anything less, and Andrew never would have "found the Messiah." He found Jesus only when Jesus came to where he was and gave Himself to Andrew. It's no different for us. In Baptism, Jesus finds us right where we are-- where we walk, breathe, and live--and gives Himself to us, placing His Name on us, His righteousness on us, washing all our sin away. In the Gospel that is spoken to us in Absolution and sermons, Jesus is still walking where we walk, is still living and breathing where we do--speaking all our sin out of existence by the power of the Word by which He once called everything into existence. And at His Supper Jesus still travels right where we travel, still eats where we eat, putting into our mouths the promise of His sacrifice for us upon the Cross, "for you, for the forgiveness of sins." The blind do not see, the lost do not find, and the sinner does not find or choose for himself a Savior. That's just not the Gospel. The Gospel is this: Jesus seeks; Jesus finds; Jesus chooses; Jesus saves. That is the promise of the Gospel, the faith St. Andrew would eventually grow into. St. Andrew's Feast is always the first feast in the Church's new year, which begins every First Sunday in Advent. Fitting, for Andrew was the first apostle Jesus called. Fitting, also, for Andrew would taste death himself by way of a cross. In fact, as the cross on which he would be martyred for the Gospel came into view, Andrew cried out, "Hail, precious cross, you who were dedicated by the body of Christ; may He receive me through you, who redeemed me through you." In that cry, Andrew teaches us the promise of the Gospel: By His arrival and by His Cross, Jesus has found even us. In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. Almighty God, by Your grace the Apostle Andrew obeyed the call of Your Son to be a disciple. Grant us also to follow the same Lord Jesus Christ in heart and life, Who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen. (Collect for the Feast of St. Andrew)

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The Second Sunday after the Epiphany

January 17, 2021 • Pastor William K. Stottlemyer

Today's Reading: John 2:1-11 Daily Lectionary: Ezekiel 39:1-10, 17-29; Romans 7:21-8:17 This, the first of his signs, Jesus did at Cana in Galilee, and manifested his glory. And his disciples believed in him. (John 2:11) In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. A wedding is supposed to be a joyous celebration of God's creation. Here a man and woman are united before God and are to be fruitful and multiply. However, because of sin, this wedding at Cana is about to be a time of great sadness. The wine has run out and the party is about to be over until Mary takes action and brings a request to her son. The wedding of Cana shows to us the great lengths that Christ will go in order to help those in need. Here at the request of His mother, Jesus changes water into wine in order that the newly married groom might not be dishonored in the sight of his guests. John tells us that this was the first sign that revealed Jesus' glory. Upon seeing this first miracle the Lord's disciples believed that this was the Christ. Our Savior gives to His people. Jesus reveals His glory during this season of Epiphany so that our faith might grow in the knowledge that our Savior has come into this world to set right that which has been corrupted by sin. Christ came to restore creation, He came to set right that which has been broken by the fall into sin. To bring peace between God and men. Jesus does this through death on the Cross. Daily we receive from the Lord more than we deserve and more than we can ever ask. He reveals Himself to us in the transformation of everyday things. Bread and wine when combined with the Word of God deliver Christ's Body and Blood. Water when combined with the Word becomes a life-giving washing and rebirth by the Spirit of God. By the proclamation of His Word in church, Christ is revealed to His people. As your pastor speaks to you the Law, as he points out your sins, God's will is revealed to you. As the Gospel is proclaimed and your sins are forgiven, Christ's glory is manifested for you. These things are needed so that we might see and hear the great things of God. Then we, like the disciples, by faith believe that Jesus is the Christ. In the Name + of Jesus. Amen Almighty and everlasting God, who governs all things in heaven and on earth, mercifully hear the prayers of Your people and grant us Your peace through all our days; through Jesus Christ, your Son, our Lord who live and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen. (Collect for Second Sunday after the Epiphany) Audio Reflections Speaker: Pastor Duane Bamsch

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