ASL Reflection

Friday of the Week of Pentecost

June 5, 2020 • Pastor Alexander Lange

Today’s Reading: Genesis 11:1-9 Daily Lectionary: Numbers 27:12-23; Luke 23:26-56 So the LORD dispersed them from there over the face of all the earth. (Genesis 11:8) In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. This is the ultimate story of rebellion. This isn’t a story about one person’s or one family’s sins against God. This is a story about the whole world gathering together to form a city that stood in rebellion against God. You know it as the story of Babel, but actually the city is called Babylon. Our pride and selfish desires put us at odds with each other, but a common enemy can unite otherwise incompatible people. In this case, the enemy is God. “Come,” they said to each other, “we will build this city, so that God cannot force us to disperse. We can make a name for ourselves! We can make a high tower and storm heaven itself!” Our Lord united the people of Jerusalem in His own day. The Pharisees, scribes, Sadducees, and priests hated each other, but they hated Jesus more. So they teamed up in order to crucify Him. On Pentecost we celebrate that the Lord has united various races, tribes, and nations into a single family called the Christian Church. This time He didn’t unite us through the power of hate, but through something more powerful—divine love. He didn’t unite us by becoming our common enemy, but by sending us a Savior. God reconciled us to each other by reconciling us to Himself. If we are joined to one Head, we are joined to each other. If God forgives our sins for the sake of Christ, then we will forgive each other as we follow our Lord. Pentecost is the reversal of Genesis 11. Instead of dispersing us permanently, instead of dooming us to eternal isolation in hell, God raised up His Son in order to draw us back to Himself, and in doing so He brought us back to each other. In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. Merciful God, we humbly implore You to cast the bright beams of Your light upon Your Church that we, being instructed by the doctrine of the blessed apostles, may walk in the light of Your truth and finally attain to the light of everlasting life; through Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen. (A Prayer for the Church)

The Third Sunday in Lent

March 7, 2021 • Pastor Aaron Fenker

Today's Reading: Luke 11:14-28 Daily Lectionary: Genesis 27:30-45; 28:10-22; Mark 9:1-13 "Then a stronger man than he will come and conquer him, take away his armor that he trusted, and will distribute his spoils." (Luke 11:22) In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. We're the devil's spoil. He captured us back in Eden. He chained up Adam and Eve through his lying and deceitful words, "You won't die. You'll be like God." And by nature we are enslaved to that word, too. We throw in with the devil, trying to be like God, struggling not to die. Jesus would have none of that. When Adam blamed God for his sins, when the woman tried to blame the serpent, Jesus made a promise. "Her seed will crush your head." He didn't wait for people to shape up, get better, show that they wanted to get help, wanted to be saved. Jesus waits for no man or woman. He cuts off all our sins, all we do to justify our actions. He silences us whenever we try to say, "Well, the reason I did it is. . . " He stops our mouths when we open them to say, "I know it was wrong, but at least I've done this or that," or, even worse, when we say, "At least I'm not like that person over there." To each and every lie of the devil, the ones he whispers to us, the ones we then speak out loud, Jesus says, "Be quiet. You're a sinner. I'm the Lord. And, good news. I save sinners." Jesus is stronger than the devil, stronger than your sins, stronger than your sinfulness, stronger than your death, grave, and hell. He comes to save us. He invades the devil's kingdom, being born of the Virgin Mary. He bound the devil at every turn: casting out demons, silencing them, healing sickness, forgiving sin, raising the dead. Then He did the ultimate binding of the devil. Jesus Himself was bound, beaten, crucified, dead. Jesus conquered the devil, saving you in the process. You're the spoil Jesus desired. He could have anything He wanted, and He wanted you and me--to save us. This is why the Lord calls His people, "His heritage." As we sing in the Te Deum, "Save Your people and bless Your heritage." We're the thing He forever wanted. The Lord gets what He wants. You. Blood-bought. Empty tomb-certain. You've got His Name on you to prove it. Baptized. That's you. The Lord's inheritance, His eternal spoils. In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. O God, whose glory it is always to have mercy, be gracious to all who have gone astray from Your ways and bring them again with penitent hearts and steadfast faith to embrace and hold fast the unchangeable truth of Your Word; through Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen. (Collect for the Third Sunday in Lent)

Saturday of the Second Week of Lent

March 6, 2021 • Pastor Aaron Fenker

Today's Reading: Introit for the Third Sunday in Lent (Psalm 25:1-2, 17-18, 20; antiphon: v.15-16) Daily Lectionary: Genesis 27:1-29; Mark 8:22-38 "My eyes are continually toward Yahweh, for He will cause my feet to come out from the net." (Psalm 25:15) In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. Why do you trust the Lord? Why look to Him in time of need? Because He's saved you, obviously! Yes, yes, we all know that. But so often we flip that around. He doesn't rescue you because you trust in Him. He saves you, and because of His acting to save you, you trust Him. He will cause your feet to come out of the net, whatever net you're trapped in. Is it sins? Which sins? How can they be a net for you? They were tied to Jesus on the Cross! Is it persecution for believing in Jesus as your God and only Savior? "A student is not above His teacher." As Jesus was delivered on Easter, so also you will be, too, on your Easter--the Last Day. And that gets you to the next net--death. Yeah, Jesus rose, and He will raise you. That's His promise. The Lord will cause your feet to be brought out of the net of your grave, and the sins that put you there. Your feet, and your entire body, soul, and spirit, were placed into something even stronger than the flimsy net of sin, death, and the devil. Your heart, soul, mind, strength, your body, soul, and spirit were all placed into Jesus Your Savior. You're baptized. Nothing can ever keep you down. Jesus saves you. He didn't save you because you trusted Him. He saves you and therefore you trust Him. He went through Cross, death, and grave to do it. He'll save you. He really will. He already has! When you get out of your coffin you'll see it. You'll see Him, forever and ever! In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. In all the strife Of mortal life Our feet shall stand securely; Temptation's hour Will lose its pow'r, For You will guard us surely. O God, renew With heav'nly dew Our body, soul, and spirit Until we stand At Your Right hand Through Jesus' saving merit. ("Who Trusts in God a Strong Abode" LSB 714, st.3)

Friday of the Second Week of Lent

March 5, 2021 • Pastor Aaron Fenker

Daily Lectionary: Genesis 24:32-52, 61-67; Mark 8:1-21 "They were seeking from Him a sign from heaven, tempting Him." (Mark 8:11) In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. Jesus isn't a showman. He doesn't parade Himself around doing parlor tricks, miracles on a whim, just to get people to believe in Him. When we get power, wealth, strength, we tend to flaunt it, brag about it, show it off. We'll all flex, given the opportunity. Jesus doesn't flex. He doesn't need to. But that's the temptation swirling around Jesus. "You don't need to be this or that Jesus. You don't need to be Savior Jesus." The devil tempts Him, "All these kingdoms I will give you if you will bow down to me" (Matthew 3). Peter tempted Him, "Being crucified shall never happen to You, Lord" (Matthew 16). They were doing it here, and they'd do it again. "Tell us, Christ, who struck you" (Matthew 26). "Come down from the cross, and we'll believe in You" (Matthew 27). Jesus "didn't count equality with God as something to be stolen, but He made Himself nothing, taking on the form of a servant, becoming obedient unto death, even death on a cross" (Philippians 2). And that's the only sign Jesus actually does. He dies. "The sign of Jonah--for as Jonah was in the belly of the fish three days, so the Son of Man will be in the heart of the earth three days and nights." He does this for you. To save you. He goes to His Cross, stays on His Cross, but does not stay dead in His tomb. And you are saved. Thanks be to God Jesus isn't like us! He doesn't do anything for recognition, He does all that He does simply to save you. No signs, no wonders. He dies and rises for you. You are saved. Need a sign for that? Look no further than the Lord's own signs--His Word and Gifts: Baptism, Absolution, the Gospel, the Supper of His Body and Blood. In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. No blinding sign we ask, No wonder from above. Lord, help us place our trust alone In your unswerving love. ("O Christ, You Walked the Road" LSB 424, st.3)