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ASL Reflection

Holy Trinity

June 7, 2020 • Pastor Alexander Lange

Today’s Reading: John 3:1-17 Daily Lectionary: Numbers 35:9-30; Luke 24:28-53 Jesus answered, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God.” (John 3:5) In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. Our Gospel lesson for Trinity Sunday explicitly mentions all three divine Persons—the Father, the Son, and the Spirit. The Father loves the world. He doesn’t want to condemn sinners to eternal death, but wants to rescue every sinner and give to him everlasting life. So God sent His only Son. If Jesus was sent, then He must have existed prior to His birth. He is God’s unique Son. Thus we confess that He was begotten of His Father. This wasn’t an act of creation. The Father is always the Father, because His Son always exists. The Son shares the Father’s very substance. He is One with the Father (John 10:30). He shares God’s love for the world. He willingly goes to the Cross to suffer death and condemnation in our place. Through His obedience and death, Jesus purchased and won forgiveness and salvation for mankind. How are the gifts won on the Cross delivered to you? How can you benefit from the Son’s work? How can you get out of the kingdom of darkness and enter God’s Kingdom? Just as the Spirit proceeds eternally from the Father and the Son, the Spirit is sent in time by the Father and the Spirit. Through earthly means the Spirit delivers forgiveness, life, and salvation. Through these means of grace the Spirit brings people into God’s Kingdom. Our text mentions one of those means: Holy Baptism. The Spirit came to you in the waters of Baptism. The Spirit applied the gifts won on the Cross to you personally. Now you are forgiven. Now you belong to the Kingdom of God. In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. Almighty and everlasting God, You have given us grace to acknowledge the glory of the eternal Trinity by the confession of a true faith and to worship the Unity in the power of the Divine Majesty. Keep us steadfast in this faith and defend us from all adversities; for You, O Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, live and reign, one God, now and forever. Amen. (Collect for Trinity Sunday)

The Seventh Sunday of Easter

May 16, 2021 • Pastor Alfonso Espinosa

Today's Reading: John 15:26-16:4 Daily Lectionary: Numbers 14:1-25; Luke 18:18-34 "[The Holy Spirit] will bear witness about me. . . I have said all these things to you to keep you from falling away." (John 15:26c,16:1) In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. Today is Exaudi Sunday. It means "hear." God gives us complete assurance that He hears us. And when He hears us, He assures us that He will never let us go (John 10:28-29). We therefore teach that our election is certain in our justification and our justification is certain through faith in Jesus. Do you want to be sure that faith is still alive? Do not consult your feelings! Instead, confess your sins and receive Holy Absolution. Hear God's Word, always return to your Holy Baptism, and run to get the Holy Sacrament of the Altar. Through these, faith is safe. Thus, Jesus comforted His disciples by promising them that the Holy Spirit was coming to bear witness about Jesus. Someone has called the Holy Spirit the "unselfish" person of the Holy Trinity (not that the other persons are selfish). The Holy Spirit doesn't call any attention to Himself, but only to Jesus. And true to form, Jesus isn't selfish, either, as He is always giving glory to the Father. Oh yes, the Father isn't selfish, either, since He delights in His Son. The point here is that the Holy Spirit is always putting Jesus before your eyes of faith and this is what keeps your faith living and secure. Why did Jesus teach that the Holy Spirit would come to do this? In John 16:1 Jesus said, "I have said all these things to you to keep you from falling away." Our eternal security comes from the Holy Spirit's constantly keeping Jesus in front of us. As long as that is going on, then we are 100% safe. Jesus taught this precisely so that we would not fall away from the faith. God will never break His promise to be for us in Christ. At the same time, we are taught NEVER to desert Christ and His Word. The Word is that vehicle through which the mighty and comforting Holy Spirit works. We must therefore hold to the Word. Even when we are weak, completely aware of our sins, and discouraged, when we hold to the Word, then we are safe in the arms of Jesus. Then we know He has not abandoned us as we continue to hear the Word! In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. O King of glory, LORD of hosts, uplifted in triumph far above all heavens, leave us not without consolation but send us the Spirit of truth whom You promised from the Father; for You live and reign with Him and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen. (Collect for the Seventh Sunday of Easter)

Saturday of the Sixth Week of Easter

May 15, 2021 • Pastor Alfonso Espinosa

Today's Reading: Introit for the Seventh Sunday of Easter Daily Lectionary: Numbers 13:1-3, 17-33; Luke 18:1-17 Hear, O LORD, when I cry aloud. Alleluia. Your face, LORD, do I seek; hide not your face from me. Alleluia. Your face, LORD, do I seek; hide not your face from me. Alleluia. (From the Introit for the Seventh Sunday of Easter) In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. One of the mysteries of the faith is that the LORD is a God who hides Himself. Isaiah 45:15 teaches, "Truly, you are a God who hides himself, O God of Israel, the Savior." He does it because people seek Him out of selfish motives. Jesus told people not to tell others that He was the Messiah. After Peter correctly confessed that Jesus is the Christ, Jesus "strictly charged [the disciples] to tell no one about him" (Mark 8:30). Jesus said this because so many people wanted to turn Him into an earthly king. So once again: God hides Himself when people seek Him for all the wrong reasons. The psalmist in Psalm 27 is not seeking God for the wrong reasons, but for the right reasons. He is in distress, so He cries aloud (vs.7a). He does not come to God in pride, but in humility; He does not come to tell God what to do, but comes seeking God's help (vs.8b). He seeks God's face for salvation (vs.1), and He seeks God's way to be his way (vs.11a). Again, he sought God out for all the right reasons. For these reasons, the psalmist is bold and right to pray to God to break out of His way of hiding Himself. The psalmist has strong faith in God's love and mercy in Christ to pray, "Your face, LORD, do I seek; hide not your face from me" (vs.8b-9a). We should have the same faith and attitude towards God. Why? Because Jesus has made it plain to us that He came for sinners who know they need Him, for people who seek Him for all the right reasons. For those given faith, like YOU, Jesus reveals God as the merciful God, as the God of love. For you, God does not hide Himself, but has sent His Son so that you will know how to find Him every time--through His Son! In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. The LORD is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The LORD is the stronghold of my life; of whom shall I be afraid? Teach me your way, O LORD. . . Glory be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit; as it was in the beginning, is now, and will be forever. Amen." (From the Introit for the Seventh Sunday after Easter)

The Ascension of Our Lord

Pastor Alfonso Espinosa

Today's Reading: Luke 24:44-53 Daily Lectionary: Numbers 11:1-23, 31-35; Luke 17:1-19 While he blessed them, he parted from them and was carried up into heaven. And they worshipped him. (Luke 24:51-52a) In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. People easily get the wrong idea about the ascension of our LORD, which occurred 40 days after the resurrection and 10 days before Pentecost. The popular and wrong understanding is that Jesus was putting distance between Himself and us. With this false idea, then, Pentecost becomes a kind of "replacement theology" in which the Holy Spirit replaces Jesus on earth. In fact, just the opposite is the case. The ascension was a glorious event demonstrating Jesus' unlimited power. The ascension showed that nothing could ever interfere with Jesus' ability to be closer to us than ever before. But the disciples did see Him ascend, right? Yes, they did, but Jesus did not permit this to imply that He would be limited, but rather to demonstrate power and authority, to show that the One ascending to heaven is unlimited. In other words, Jesus "sitting at the right hand of God the Father" in heaven is not a restricted physical location. Rather, it means that Jesus reigns everywhere, fully present with His people at all times and in all places. The ascension proves the LORD has power to be closer to you than ever. Jesus knew the amazing gift that would result after the ascension. He once said to His disciples, "If anyone loves me, he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him" (John 14:23). The ascension means that Jesus has kept this promise, and has the ability to make His home with those baptized into His life, death, and resurrection. One more thing: Notice what the disciples did when Jesus ascended. The Word says, "And they worshipped him" (Luke 24:52a). To say that Christ is with us isn't just something we tell ourselves to feel religious. The disciples experienced the ascended LORD's reign as they worshipped Him. As we worship Him we, too, receive His Word and Sacrament. In this way we also experience His ascension power: He's right there with us, putting His Word into our ears, and putting His Body and Blood into our mouths. Ascension means that Christ has kept His Word to never leave us. In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. Almighty God, as Your only-begotten Son, our LORD Jesus Christ, ascended into the heavens, so may we also ascend in heart and mind and continually dwell there with Him, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen. (Collect for the Ascension of Our Lord)