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Reflections

The First Sunday after Trinity

June 14, 2020 • Pastor Alexander Lange

Today’s Reading: Luke 16:19-31 Daily Lectionary: Proverbs 14:1-27; John 15:1-11 The poor man died and was carried by the angels to Abraham's side. The rich man also died and was buried, and in Hades, being in torment, he lifted up his eyes and saw Abraham far off and Lazarus at his side. (Luke 16:22-23) In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. Jesus tells a story about a rich man and a poor man. Which of these men was rich and which was poor? In a sense, the answer is obvious. The man who ate large meals, wore fine clothes, and lived in a house was the rich man. Lazarus was the poor man. He had no food, no clothes, and no home. On the other hand, the rich man was not as rich as he first appeared. He owned nothing that lasts. He lost everything the moment he died. In hell he couldn’t even find a drop of water to cool his tongue. Lazarus appeared poor, but he was actually quite rich. He possessed treasure kept in heaven, an inheritance that is imperishable. He belonged to God's family. Thus, after Lazarus died, he enjoyed peace and joy in the presence of God. When the Day of Judgment comes, he will be given an immortal body. If you have trusted your wealth to keep you secure, repent. If you have sought value and happiness in money and possessions, repent. Admit to yourself that money and possessions cannot give you value or lasting happiness. Admit to yourself that wealth cannot save you on the Day of Judgment. Also rejoice, for you are like Lazarus! In Baptism you were brought into God's family. Even if you lose all your money, your possessions, your home, your family, and life itself, you are still wealthier than Bill Gates. You have an inheritance, purchased by the blood of Christ! And this inheritance is as imperishable as the body of your risen Savior. In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. O God, the strength of all who trust in You, mercifully accept our prayers; and because through the weakness of our mortal nature we can do no good thing, grant us Your grace to keep Your commandments that we may please You in both will and deed; through Jesus Christ, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen. (Collect for the First Sunday after Trinity) Audio Reflections Speaker: Pastor René Castillero

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Friday of the Fourteenth Week after Trinity • September 18, 2020 • Pastor Mark Buetow

Daily Lectionary: Nehemiah 1:1-2:10; 1 Timothy 1:1-20 And they said to me, "The survivors who are left from the captivity in the province are there in great distress and reproach. The wall of Jerusalem is also broken down, and its gates are burned with fire." (Nehemiah 1:3) In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. Nehemiah was a faithful follower of God who lived his life in exile. He was the cup-bearer to King Artaxerxes of Persia. Nehemiah knew his people were in captivity because they had turned away from the Lord. But even while they were in exile the Lord was gracious to them. The King permitted Nehemiah to go back to Jerusalem to rebuild the city, including the temple where God Himself dwelt. Jesus once told the Jews to tear down the temple and it would be rebuilt in three days. At that time, the temple was the one King Herod had built. But Jesus meant the Temple of His body, which would be killed and then rise again on the Third Day. From the days of Moses, the tabernacle (tent of meeting), followed by the temple in Jerusalem, was the place where you knew God was. When the Israelites went into exile, it was if God was saying, "I'm not hanging out with you anymore. You don't want me, so go live where I don't!" Ouch! But the coming of Jesus, the Son of God in the flesh, is the reminder that the Lord might appear to be gone for a time but is always among His people. If He wasn't there in the temple when they were in exile, He was still there among them in His Word. The Church is where God is today. The Church is where Jesus is. People seem to think of "God" as someone or something "out there" but Christians know better. God is a person. A human being. Jesus Christ. He is present among us by water, Word, Body and Blood. He is present in His Body, the holy Christian Church. The thing about the true God is that He's always been a "somewhere you can find Him" Lord. He doesn't hide in some other dimension. He's right here with us. As a man who can be crucified and died and rise again. As one who comes to us with real, physical gifts. There can be no doubt where Jesus is, and where He is, there we have all we need of God: the Savior who never abandons us but is here to forgive and give life. In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. God Himself is present: Let us now adore Him And with awe appear before Him. God is in His temple; All within keep silence; Humbly kneel in deepest reverence. He alone On His throne Is Our God and Savior; Praise His Name forever. ("God Himself is Present" LSB 907, st. 1) Audio Reflections Speaker: Pastor René Castillero

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Thursday of the Fourteenth Week after Trinity • September 17, 2020 • Pastor Mark Buetow

Today's Reading: Galatians 5:16-24 Daily Lectionary: 2 Chronicles 36:1-23; Colossians 4:1-18 If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit. Let us not become conceited, provoking one another, envying one another. (Galatians 5:25-26) In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. Paul's lists of the works of the flesh is not exhaustive. I'm sure you could have a lot more sins listed there. But the works of the flesh all have one thing in common: They are selfish. They are all about pleasing ourselves. They are about putting ourselves first and ahead of everyone else. Lust, coveting, anger, and all the rest are all about giving me what I want no matter who gets hurt. Those desires, along with the idol we make of ourselves, need to be crucified with Christ and drowned by the Spirit in Baptism. The gifts of the Spirit, on the other hand, are self-LESS. They put God and others first, ahead of ourselves. That's why there are fruits of the Spirit. The Spirit grows in us those fruits, those gifts and qualities which are from Jesus. By His life and death and resurrection, Jesus never once put Himself first. His first thought was always to glorify the Father and to save us. That selflessness that saves is the very heart of the gifts the Spirit gives to you so that, by the Spirit living in you, your selfishness is crucified and your selflessness cultivated. The Christian life is one of putting others first. That means putting our Old Adam down every day. Our world is pretty much built on the idea of making ourselves number one. Christ came to put others ahead of Himself. To put you first. You're first in Jesus' way of doing things. And His living in you, means that others are first in your way of doing things. This is our baptismal life: Each day we acknowledge the idolatry of self and remember that it is drowned in our Baptism. Each day the Spirit raises up our new creation to glorify God and love others. That's growing fruit in you for the blessing and benefit of those around you. In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. Grant that Your Spirit's help To me be always given Lest I should fall again And lose the way to heaven. Grant that He give me strength In my infirmity; May He renew my heart To serve You willingly. ("How Can I Thank You, Lord" LSB 703, st. 4) Audio Reflections Speaker: Pastor René Castillero

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Wednesday of the Fourteenth Week after Trinity • September 16, 2020 • Pastor Mark Buetow

Today's Reading: Small Catechism: Sacrament of the Altar Daily Lectionary: 2 Chronicles 35:1-7, 16-25; Colossians 3:1-25 How can bodily eating and drinking do such great things? Certainly not just eating and drinking do these things, but the words written here: "Given and shed for you for the forgiveness of sins." These words, along with the bodily eating and drinking, are the main thing in the Sacrament. Whoever believes these words has exactly what they say: "forgiveness of sins." (Small Catechism: Sacrament of the Altar, pt.3) In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. The promise of the Sacrament of the Altar not just that it's Jesus' Body and Blood. His Word also tells us why it works and what it does: "Given and shed for you for the forgiveness of sins." Those words are full of the very promises of the Son of God who made all things. It was the Word of God, after all, which said, "Let there be plants according to their kind: including wheat, and grapes." When the Lord spoke that Word, those things came to be. It was the Word of God which told Mary, "You will conceive in your womb and bear a Son." Sure enough, Mary conceived the Son in her womb. It was the Word which Jesus spoke, "This is my Body; this is my Blood," which gives to us His flesh and blood under the bread and wine. So it is His Body and Blood. And it is His Word that says it's for your forgiveness. You don't receive forgiveness just because you eat and drink, but because Jesus promises that forgiveness to you. Of course, you believe that, because you eat and drink it! But it's not our doing it that makes it so. It's true and real because Jesus' words say so. As God's people, marked by the Cross of our Savior who died and rose, and washed by the water and the Spirit, we believe things are what Jesus says they are because He's Jesus. He's the divine, eternal, Son of God in the flesh and His Word always does what it says. And what He says about His Supper is that it is for you, for your forgiveness, for you to have eternal life. In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. We dare not ask how this can be, But simply hold the mystery And trust this word where life begins: "Given and shed for all your sins." ("The Death of Jesus Christ Our Lord" LSB 634, st. 5) Audio Reflections Speaker: Pastor René Castillero