ASL Reflections

The Visitation

July 2, 2021 • Pastor Harrison Goodman

Today's Reading: Luke 1:39-56 Daily Lectionary: Joshua 7:1-26; Acts 10:34-48 And his mercy is for those who fear him from generation to generation. (Luke 1:50) In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. Nobody likes it, but at least we understand when sinners get hurt by their sin. But what about when you can't figure out whose fault it is? The "church answer" is that the world was broken by Adam's sin. It's true. It just doesn't do much to address that hollow feeling in your stomach that comes from not being able to do anything about it. Or the anger from trying to believe in a God who says He can do something, but doesn't seem to. For all the talk about His love, His forgiveness, His miracles, things still look pretty much the same. This Christmas text doesn't seem helpful. Today, we step back to a Mary who would have gotten pregnant around the end of March in order to give birth around the end of December. She's pregnant and visiting Elizabeth, probably right around the beginning of June. The Visitation which we celebrate today is carried out by the same God who shaped creation with a Word. Even while being knit together in Mary's womb, He is on a mission to right what has been wronged. Mary sings it in the Magnificat. It's not about what's fair. It's about help for those wronged by sin. Mary sings hope for you. You. Wrecked one. Damaged by sin that goes so deep it's in the air we breathe and ground into the earth we stand on. You will find a God who looks upon those who are humbled and gives mercy. Who fills the hungry and helps His servant Israel. Those who are knocked down and scattered aren't getting their karma, this isn't economic redistribution. The difference between those brought down and those lifted up is one thing and one thing only. His mercy is on those who fear Him. His mercy is for you and all who believe. He sees you. Your struggles. Your humiliation. This mess referred to as "your estate." He regards you in mercy. John knows it and rejoices even as he, too, is being formed. God doesn't work by stepping back from creation to do something different, but steps towards you, whom He loves. What is wrong is made right again in bearing that destruction Himself upon the Cross and rising whole and new. In a world that doesn't look like it should--yet--we can know what's coming and sing Mary's hymn, too. Our souls magnify the Lord because even now while we wait, our Lord regards us in mercy, and He acts. In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. My soul now magnifies the Lord; My spirit leaps for joy in Him. He keeps me in His kind regard, And I am blest for time to come. ("My Soul Now Magnifies the Lord" LSB 934, st.1)

Thursday of the Fourth Week after Trinity

July 1, 2021 • Pastor Harrison Goodman

Today's Reading: Romans 12:14-21 Daily Lectionary: Joshua 6:6-27; Acts 10:18-33 Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them. (Romans 12:14) In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. I can tell you something is a sin because it's in the Bible. Fine. If you want to know why, wait till it's been done against you. It's called wrong because it hurts. Sin breaks stuff. It's easy to see why something is a sin when it's done against you. It's harder when you're the one hurting others, accidentally or otherwise. We get so wrapped up in our passions that we lose sight of the damage we wreak, but when someone hurts us, things get cleared up real quick. It can leave you wanting a God who punishes others more than a God who forgives you, spending each day watching those who hurt you, waiting for them to get theirs. Sometimes they do, but more often than not it looks like they don't. Even if they do, it doesn't give you peace. If all you can really hope for in life is to see someone else hurt, you don't want peace for yourself, and you'll never get it, either. There's too much sin in this world to keep track of. Even more, it says something about the kind of God you expect. He says He treats all sinners the same. That includes you. Either He forgives you and those who sin against you or He doesn't. They're connected, even into the prayer we pray each day. "Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us." It's not God dangling your forgiveness in front of you for you to earn by coming up with something of your own. It's a reminder that all forgiveness, for you and for those who sin against you, comes from the same place: the Cross. Remember that Jesus died for your neighbor. "Vengeance is mine," says the Lord. He doesn't ignore what was done against you. He pays for it Himself on the Cross. There's nothing left to repay because Jesus has already paid the price. You can even go look at it. See the crucifix. It's God's justice for every pain caused by someone else, for every pain you held onto, and for every pain you've caused, too. Vengeance is the Lord's. He paid it to His own Son. He overcame evil with good. Start there, and there is a place for kindness and love for your enemy to be sustained, and even to grow. Bless those who curse you. Call them sinners whom Jesus died for. Heap burning coals on their heads. Show them the source of all that's pure. Show them the censer full of burning coal that touched Isaiah's tongue and put away all his sin. Show them what forgiveness looks like. Show him where it comes from: not your heart, but the Cross. That's forgiveness that overcomes evil with good. In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us. Amen.

Wednesday of the Fourth Week after Trinity

June 30, 2021 • Pastor Harrison Goodman

Today's Reading: Small Catechism: Lord's Prayer, Second Petition Daily Lectionary: Joshua 5:1-6:5; Acts 10:1-17 Thy kingdom come. (Small Catechism: Lord's Prayer, Second Petition) In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. We expect the kingdom of God to be separate from the world. God's kingdom must be a place where no bad things happen, where no sinners do sinful things, where we want for nothing. We figure we can pray this to hasten the Last Day. We try to imagine what it will look like. We lose sight of what the Word says. Jesus said, "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand." At hand means not far away. Not someday. Here. Now. Where Jesus is. We don't pray, "Thy kingdom come," to help or encourage God to show up, but so that we would see that the kingdom of God certainly comes by itself without our prayer, and we pray in this petition that it may come to us also. Then we can look at how it does come. God's kingdom comes when our heavenly Father gives us His Holy Spirit, so that by His grace we believe His holy Word and lead godly lives here in time and there in eternity. The kingdom of God is where the King is working. And God is working here for you. This petition calls attention to the fact that God doesn't need things to look perfect in order for Him to dwell with us. It points to the Lord who brought heaven to earth as angelic choirs sang of His birth, as He healed the sick and forgave the sinners, as He conquered death upon the Cross and rose from the grave, and as He feeds you with His Body and Blood to bring the same to you. The same God works where His Word is preached and He calls, gathers, enlightens, sanctifies, and keeps the whole Christian Church on earth, daily and richly forgiving your sins, and the sins of all believers. This petition is a gift because it points to the places where God is already doing these things. That turns the prayer from a burden into a gift. Now you don't have to hasten God's kingdom. He's bringing it by His Holy Spirit where His Word is preached and His Sacrament is administered. You can know where it is and pray that it is given to you, too. You can find comfort in receiving the gifts. Now you don't have to imagine the resurrection to finally be near God. You can find Him brought near to you. The kingdom of heaven is at hand where the Holy Spirit works repentance by God's Word, that by believing it, you would find comfort in praying to Your Father in heaven, and have life in His only Son. In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. Your kingdom come. Guard Your domain And Your eternal righteous reign. The Holy Ghost enrich our day With gifts attendant on our way. Break Satan's pow'r, defeat his rage; Preserve Your Church from age to age. ("Our Father, Who from Heaven Above" LSB 766, st.3)

St. Peter and St. Paul, Apostles

June 29, 2021 • Pastor Harrison Goodman

Today's Reading: Matthew 16:13-20 Daily Lectionary: Joshua 4:1-24; Acts 9:23-43 Simon Peter replied, "You are the Christ, the Son of the living God." (Matthew 16:16) In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. Who do you say that the Son of man is? We're still asking the same question. We're past the days when people haven't heard the name Jesus, but if you listen, you will hear that we all seem to be talking about someone different. Who do people say that the Son of man is? Some go for the high road and say He is just the example. He's the guy you follow when you feel bad about being bad. He helps you behave better until you don't want to be bad anymore. But most of the time He just ends up being the guy used to bash you over the head when you don't do what someone else wants you to. Some go for the low road and say He is a bigot. That He calls people sinners in a hate-filled book which does nothing but set the scene for hate crimes in the name of religion. Bigot-Jesus picks the sinners who sin differently than I do and says there's no forgiveness for them until they change, never mind that I've been here confessing the same sins week after week for years. Have you noticed a common theme yet? Grab hold of the Law, ignore the Gospel completely, then weaponize religion. It's what the people wanted from Elijah. It's what they wanted from John the Baptist and Jeremiah, who were ridiculed and hated by the world and the religious alike, not because they were wrong, but because they called everyone to seek mercy in the Lord, who not only calls sin wrong, but loves sinners enough to forgive them. But who do you say the Son of man is? This is not a "What does Jesus mean to you?" essay. That's where all of those other ideas went wrong. Not one is a confession of who God is, just speeches about how we'd use Him. You can try to use the Law, but you can only receive the Gospel. "You are the Christ, the Son of the living God." It makes it look like everyone who hates Him was right all along. Yours is a God who bleeds. Yet He did it for them, and for you. He did it to forgive every standard you fell short of. Every demand of the Law. He died for every sinner who is sinking in despair and hate and pain. He did not wield a weapon, but took up a Cross. He did not come bearing only Law, but brought with it the Gospel. Yours is the God who gives mercy. Yours is the Christ, the Son of the living God, and you have life in His Name. In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. O love, how deep, how broad, how high, Beyond all thought and fantasy, That God, the Son of God, should take Our mortal form for mortals' sake! ("O Love, How Deep" LSB 544, st.1)

Monday of the Fourth Week after Trinity

June 28, 2021 • Pastor Harrison Goodman

Today's Reading: Genesis 50:15-21 Daily Lectionary: Joshua 3:1-17; Acts 9:1-22 "As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive, as they are today." (Genesis 50:20) In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. Joseph's brothers are afraid. What if life is fair? What if Joseph's mercy is for their father, but not for them? They know what they deserve. They beg him for mercy, and he weeps. Maybe he's remembering all he went through, or is still mourning his father. Maybe he's humbled. Maybe he's just heartbroken that his brothers still don't understand. That's the problem with speechlessness. It leaves us trying to understand the response based on our own feelings. It leaves us to fill in our own answers. We do the same before the Lord. Since His thoughts are not our thoughts and His ways are not our ways, predictably, we usually get it wrong. God doesn't want us to fill in the silence on our own. Joseph, full of the Holy Spirit, answers his terrified brothers with a promise that comforts us all. "As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive, as they are today." He tells them the truth. They meant evil for him. Then He points to God, who has a power that nothing in all His creation has. God meant it for good. He took all of their evil and wove a web that would bring good out of it. That doesn't make the evil acceptable or justify those who commit it. Only the Cross can do that. But it highlights the God who will not leave us to the damage we do to each other and ourselves. He works good from our evil. Only God can take something already ruined and bring about something perfect. Look to the passion of our Lord. Evil everywhere, yet God meant it for good, that many people would be justified, kept alive through death, as they are today. The evil is still evil, but it cannot derail God's purpose: that many would be saved. You can see that in the Cross, too. Now evil is forgiven. You are forgiven.There are times we don't see what God is doing yet, and places He's speechless. It's okay to say that. We go first to the Cross, where God speaks. It is finished. You are saved. At the Cross we can understand the places He's silent. The greatest thing Joseph can tell his brothers is that they aren't the main actors. God is. It means God did this to Joseph. But again, we can find Him nearby--on the Cross. In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. Be of good cheer; your cause belongs To Him who can avenge your wrongs; Leave it to Him, our Lord. Though hidden yet from mortal eyes, His Gideon shall for you arise, Uphold you and His Word. ("O Little Flock, Fear not the Foe" LSB 666, st.2)

The Fourth Sunday after Trinity

June 27, 2021 • Pastor Harrison Goodman

Today's Reading: Luke 6:36-42 Daily Lectionary: Joshua 2:1-24; Acts 8:26-40 "Be merciful, even as your Father is merciful." (Luke 6:36) In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. If you read it on its own like it's usually quoted, "Judge not lest ye be judged," is the only command that gets easier the less you care. The less you care about your neighbor, the less you care what they do. The less you care about God's Word, the less you care to talk about uncomfortable things like sin. It's the religion of today, but it's a lonely and bitter one. It can't cope with tragedy. It can't find the source of pain. It can't fix it. It can only lift itself up above someone else who broke its chief commandment. Thou shalt not judge. There is a second like it: Thou shalt not be a hypocrite. It's catching, even among us. We bring God's Word to bear whenever we notice something our neighbor can't do, so we won't get accused of judging them. We bring it to bear whenever there's something we can't do either, so we don't get accused of being hypocrites. The only thing we're showing is that we care more about what our neighbor thinks of us than what they're going through. This leaves nothing to offer anyone in pain. It speaks only to sinners, but never to victims. It lacks mercy. And that's the whole point of this. It begins with a promise. Your Father in heaven is merciful. You are of mercy now. Be merciful. It ends with a speck in your neighbor's eye. This is not a call not to ignore your neighbor in pain, but to help them, even if you have to confront your own sin and receive forgiveness for it first. Actually, that's a good plan either way. There is a log in my eye even as there is a speck in yours. The question is, should we leave it there and go on ignoring each other in pain, or should we talk about mercy? Don't worry about judging. Focus on mercy. Mercy comes from only one place. Jesus gives real mercy. Not just empty words. He backs His by deed and truth. He gives it only to hypocrites who hope in something greater than themselves. It's bad to be a hypocrite, but Jesus saves sinners. He bears the damage sin does and names you forgiven. He calls your neighbor forgiven, too. The more you deal with your neighbor as someone for whom Jesus died, the more peace you find in seeing his sins forgiven. Start with Jesus. End there, too. In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. O Lord, grant that the course of this world may be so peaceably ordered by Your governance that Your Church may joyfully serve You in all godly quietness; through Jesus Christ, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen. (Collect for the Fourth Sunday after Trinity)

Saturday of the Third Week after Trinity

June 26, 2021 • Pastor Jeffrey Horn

Today's Reading: Introit for the Fourth Sunday after Trinity (Psalm 27:3-4a, 5; antiphon: vs. 1-2 Daily Lectionary: Joshua 1:1-18; Acts 8:1-25 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? (From the Introit for the Fourth Sunday after Trinity) In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. The young man had been taught the faith from the Bible and the Small Catechism. He'd stood before the congregation and confessed that faith as his own. He was confirmed and this verse was given to him as a blessing: "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?" (Psalm 27:1) God made a promise to the young man. He Himself would be the light that would guide him through the world. He would give salvation to the young man by grace through faith in Christ. He would be a stronghold of peace and wisdom and protection all his life. And yet since that day the young man has never been in a church. It's sad that the promises he made were forgotten so easily. But far sadder is that this verse, and the whole of Psalm 27, conveys a promise that God spoke to the young man which he has never valued. No one could ever buy the blessing which God rejoiced to give him freely in Christ. The comfort that comes from this promise could have been with the young man every day of his life. Every time he came to church to hear more of God's Word and partake of the Supper, he would have come to appreciate more and more the light of Christ and His salvation. Lord, have mercy on him, and bring him back to the grace you gave him in Baptism and the promise he made in confirmation. Amen! Why share his tale? Because it is the tale of so many people. Do not forget the promise you make in your confirmation. God remembers. The Church remembers. So should you. But most of all, do not abandon the light and salvation that God gives to you in Christ. Today is a day to remember the salvation of Christ. Don't let it go by. The Spirit calls you to repent and believe. And to those who love a person who has forgotten their Savior: Don't give up hope. While there is yet breath, the Spirit calls to them to repent. Pray. Christ prays with you. All the Church does, too. In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. (Your name), the almighty God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has given you the new birth of water and the Spirit and has forgiven you all your sins, strengthen you with His grace to life everlasting. Amen.

Friday of the Third Week after Trinity

June 25, 2021 • Pastor Jeffrey Horn

Daily Lectionary: Proverbs 31:10-31; John 21:1-25 Charm is deceitful, and beauty is vain, but a woman who fears the LORD is to be praised. (Proverbs 31:30) In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. The world has much to say to young people about who they are and what they should look for in life. In recent years, this advice has gone from bad to awful. Our country has closed its eyes to the fact that God made human beings male and female, and that He gives a man and a woman into marriage. When these basic truths are lost, life gets harder for those who believe in Christ. How do we live in light of what is good when our society willingly calls good evil, and evil good? Proverbs 31 speaks to us about what is true and valuable in life. The woman in this chapter is a believer in God. She's forgiven in Christ and He works in her to bear fruit in the good works she does for her family and neighbors. The wife described here isn't saved because she rises early to work and cares for her household well. She's saved by God's grace. No woman does all these things all the time. But this chapter is of great value because it speaks honestly about the type of good works that are available to a married woman. She cares for her husband and children (if God gives them). She works diligently in whatever vocation she has. She cares for the poor, and she instructs others using words of wisdom and kindness. A married life between a godly husband and wife is wise and beautiful. It provides tremendous opportunities to give and receive love. It helps protect you against the troubles of traveling through this sin-broken world. You'll rarely receive praise from the world for being a godly wife. But you will receive praise from the man whom you love and the children you share. Or you will receive praise from a wife who loves and values you as a husband. Proverbs 31 doesn't promise you things will work out in the way it describes. Not everyone marries or has children. But it does guide you to be a woman (or a man!) who trusts in God for salvation and serves her family in love. If you don't marry and have children, you haven't failed. The Proverbs 31 woman had several vocations where she served others in love. Christ is always your Lord and He strengthens you in whichever way He provides. In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. Then here will I and mine today A solemn promise make and say: Though all the world forsake His Word, I and my house will serve the Lord! ("Oh Blest the House" LSB 862, st.5)

The Nativity of St. John the Baptist

June 24, 2021 • Pastor Jeffrey Horn

Today's Reading: Luke 1:57-80 Daily Lectionary: Proverbs 30:1-9, 18-33; John 20:1-18 And you, child, will be called the prophet of the Most High; for you will go before the Lord to prepare his ways. (Luke 1:76) In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. The Church has been celebrating the incarnation of Christ since the Gospel was first proclaimed (Genesis 3:15). After Adam and Eve sinned, God called them out of their hiding place of fear and shame. He promised to send a Messiah to rescue them from sin and death. The Seed of the woman would crush the serpent's head. The promise of the Messiah is woven throughout the Old Testament, through the words of Moses and the prophets, and through the sacrifices and feasts the Jews were commanded to observe. Believers looked with hope and anticipation to the time when God would send the Christ. And ever since Jesus won His victory on the Cross, the Church has continued to celebrate the mystery of the incarnation. All year long we find events that remind us that the Son of God became man. From the Annunciation, Visitation and Birth of John, to Advent, Christmas, Epiphany, and the Presentation, Christ our incarnate Lord is proclaimed. The mystery of the incarnation is so wonderful that we think about it all the time, just as our brothers and sisters did in the Old Testament. Today, we celebrate the birth of John the Baptist, and we rejoice that his entire life was spent pointing to the incarnate Lord. When the angel Gabriel told Mary she would give birth to Jesus the Messiah, he told her that her aged cousin Elizabeth was in her sixth month of pregnancy. Mary went immediately to see her. At the sound of her greeting, John the Baptist, yet in the womb, leapt for joy because his Messiah, Jesus, was present in Mary's womb (Luke 1:41-45). John believed in Jesus even before he was born, and proclaimed Him as Messiah even before he could speak. He did this all his life. Through his preaching and baptizing he called people to repent and be ready for Jesus. He still speaks that message to us today. On his birthday, we hear his joyful call to repent and believe in Christ, the incarnate Son of God. In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. Almighty God, through John the Baptist, the forerunner of Christ, You once proclaimed salvation. Now grant that we may know this salvation and serve You in holiness and righteousness all the days of our life; through Jesus Christ, Your Son, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.

Wednesday of the Third Week after Trinity

June 23, 2021 • Pastor Jeffrey Horn

Today's Reading: Small Catechism: Lord's Prayer, First Petition Daily Lectionary: Proverbs 27:1-24; John 20:1-18 Hallowed be Thy name. What does this mean? God's name is certainly holy in itself, but we pray in this petition that it may be kept holy among us also. How is God's name kept holy? God's name is kept holy when the Word of God is taught in its truth and purity, and we, as the children of God, also lead holy lives according to it. Help us to do this, dear Father in heaven! But anyone who teaches or lives contrary to God's Word profanes the name of God among us. Protect us from this, heavenly Father! (Small Catechism,Lord's Prayer, First Petition) In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. If you could ask for anything in the world and be confident you would get it, what would it be? Before you answer, remember the old saying, "Be careful what you ask for, you just might get it." Receiving what you ask for can bring unintended consequences. Thankfully, Jesus guides you in the Lord's Prayer to pray for the best things possible. In the First Petition, you begin by asking for God's Name to be holy. This might seem strange, since God's Name is always holy anyway. But you're asking that God's Name will be holy in your life, in your family, and congregation. God makes His Name holy in you through His Word, the Bible. He causes you to hear it and understand it and believe it. He sends you pastors and teachers who explain it clearly. He gives you a good congregation in which to gather to hear Christ preached and to receive the Sacraments. In this petition you ask that God's Word would be given to you in its truth and purity. You're asking that no false doctrines would be taught, so that no one is deceived. You're also asking that you, your family, and your congregation would hear the Word of God and follow it faithfully, living according to what God says. And finally, you're also pleading that anyone who has fallen away from believing or living according to God's Word would be drawn to repent and believe again. And may the Gospel of Christ also reach those who have never heard the Word. Lord, have mercy! "Hallowed be Thy name." Rejoice in the teaching of Jesus and ask for this petition first. In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. Your name be hallowed. Help us Lord, In purity to keep your Word, That to the glory of Your name We walk before You free from blame. Let no false teaching us pervert; All poor deluded souls convert. ("Our Father, Who from Heaven Above LSB" 766, st.2)

Tuesday of the Third Week after Trinity

June 22, 2021 • Pastor Jeffrey Horn

Today's Reading: 1 Peter 5:6-11 Daily Lectionary: Proverbs 25:1-22; John 19:23-42 Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. (1 Peter 5:8) In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. Imagine you're on a nature hike. You're strolling down your favorite trail, taking in the sights and scents of nature. Suddenly you hear a loud ROAR down the path. You look up and see a lion prowling toward you. That would change your trek a bit, wouldn't it? Peter compares Satan to a roaring lion, seeking prey to devour. His prey is a baptized child of God. He hunts with temptations to sin, lies about God's Word, and persecution from the world. A Christian walking through this world cannot ignore Satan's roaring threats any more than a hiker can ignore a lion on the trail. When you were baptized into Christ, you were made God's child. You were marked by God as His own. He forgives your sins. He sends His angels to watch over you. You are redeemed by Christ the crucified. And Satan hates all of that. He hates Christ. He hates you. As you go through this world, it is vital that you remember this. But Jesus, the Good Shepherd, knows how to deal with a lion. Look to Him to keep you safe from harm. First, be a humble sheep in His flock. Don't be proud and go running away from Him. Even when times are hard, follow where Jesus leads. He knows what He is doing. Second, look to Him for all you need. As a sheep bleats when hungry or thirsty, you can bleat to Jesus, too. Tell Him your anxieties. Trust that He cares and can help. Thank Him for His mercy even before the help arrives. Third, stay with the flock. You are not alone. The lion threatens all your brothers and sisters in Christ. You're all in this together. Together you hear God's Word, sing His praise, partake of the Supper, and help one another. You're much stronger when you go through trials with your church family. God is faithful and He will strengthen you. His strength will be a blessing long after the hardships are over. In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. I walk with Jesus all the way, His guidance never fails me; Within His wounds I find a stay when Satan's pow'r assails me; And by His footsteps led, My path I safely tread. No evil leads my soul astray; I walk with Jesus all the way. ("I Walk in Danger All the Way" LSB 716, st.5)

Monday of the Third Week after Trinity

June 21, 2021 • Pastor Jeffrey Horn

Today's Reading: Micah 7:18-20 Daily Lectionary: Proverbs 24:1-22; John 19:1-22 Who is a God like you, pardoning iniquity and passing over transgression for the remnant of his inheritance? He does not retain his anger forever, because he delights in steadfast love. (Micah 7:18) In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. God is a just Judge and a forgiving Savior. God created a perfect world, but that world rebelled and turned to sin. He watches over all people and all things. He works to keep order and peace in the world through His Law. He judges those who are wicked, because He is a holy God and will not abide evil. As we walk through this broken world and endure the sins others commit against us, we understand how vital it is that God is just. It would be awful to have a God who didn't care. But God's justice is applied to all people equally. The just Judge applies the Law to all of us and we are found guilty. We have sinned against God and against our neighbor. For that we truly deserve both temporal death and eternal damnation. But God doesn't want to punish people. He rejoices to give grace and forgiveness. You can hear that in our reading from Micah 7. Israel had sinned badly. They lied about God's Word. They stole from the poor. They truly deserved the punishment God gave them. But that would not be the end of the story. God also gives forgiveness. "He will again have compassion on us; He will tread our iniquities underfoot. You will cast all our sins into the depths of the sea" (Micah 7:19). God rejoices to give forgiveness! "He does not retain his anger forever, because he delights in steadfast love" (Micah 7:18b). But how can God be both a just Judge who holds people accountable for sin, and a gracious Savior who forgives sins? The answer is the Cross of Christ. Jesus willingly took the punishment for our sins. God's justice was fulfilled as Jesus died. But since Jesus had committed no sin, death could not hold Him once the punishment was finished. He rose again! All who believe in Jesus are forgiven by grace. God has punished Christ for your sins so that He can graciously forgive your sins through faith in Christ. Who else is a God like this? In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. Since Christ has full atonement made and brought to us salvation, Each Christian therefore may be glad and build on this foundation. Your grace alone, dear Lord, I plead, Your death is now my life indeed, For You have paid my ransom. ("Salvation unto Us Has Come" LSB 555, st.6)

The Third Sunday after Trinity

June 20, 2021 • Pastor Jeffrey Horn

Today's Reading: Luke 15: 1-10 Daily Lectionary: Proverbs 22:22-23:12; John 18:15-20 Now the tax collectors and sinners were all drawing near to hear him. And the Pharisees and the scribes grumbled, saying, "This man receives sinners and eats with them." (Luke 15:1,2) In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. There are two groups of people drawing near to Jesus. Jesus loves them both. The tax collectors and sinners (TC&S) have been alienated from God because of their sin but Jesus has called them. He has forgiven their sins and they rejoice in His grace. The Pharisees and scribes (P&S) are also there. They love the Old Testament. They know that Jesus is a great teacher, but they don't understand that He is the Son of God, the Messiah promised in the Law and the prophets. The P&S see Jesus eating with the TC&S. They fear that Jesus is condoning their sins. This fear makes them angry at Jesus. But Jesus isn't condoning their actions. He's forgiving their sins. He will pay for them by dying on the Cross. Their sins will be cleansed by His blood--and so will the sins of the P&S. The death of Christ is the only source of forgiveness in the whole world, but thankfully, it's available to all! Jesus wants the TC&S and the P&S to live together as one flock, one family in God. In these parables, He teaches them (and us) how to be one Church. The TC&S are the lost sheep and the lost coin. Jesus is the One who searches for them. If He doesn't find them, they will perish. The driving force of each of these parables is the great desire of the person searching for the lost thing. After the One who searches finds the missing treasure, He calls His friends and neighbors together. They're invited to rejoice with Him. But do they rejoice? The text doesn't give their response. Will the P&S join to celebrate with Jesus that He has found the people who were lost? Or will they stand in stony silence? Dear friend, remember two things. One: Jesus rejoices that He has found you, and you are His through repentance and faith. Two: Jesus also rejoices over the other people whom He rescues. Join Him in His joy, no matter what sins you or they have done. What Christ washes away is cleansed in truth. Christ makes you all one holy Church! In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. Jesus sinners doth receive; Oh, may all this saying ponder Who in sin's delusions live and from God and heaven wander! Here is hope for all who grieve: Jesus sinners doth receive. ("Jesus Sinners Doth Receive" LSB 609, st.1)

Saturday of the Second Week after Trinity

June 19, 2021 • Pastor Jeffrey Horn

Today's Reading: Introit for the Third Sunday after Trinity (Psalm 25:1-2a, 5b, 15, 20: antiphon: vs. 16, 18) Daily Lectionary: Proverbs 22:1-21; John 18:1-14 Turn to me and be gracious to me, for I am lonely and afflicted. Consider my affliction and my trouble, and forgive all my sins. (From the Introit for the Third Sunday after Trinity) In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. In our Gospel reading for this coming Sunday (Luke 15:1-10), we hear about how the tax collectors and sinners were drawing near to hear Jesus. These were people who had done things that were truly wrong. They'd harmed people in their families, their community, and their congregations. They could not fix the hurt they had caused. People looked down on them because of the pain they'd caused. But Jesus welcomed them. He forgave their sins and healed their shame. They had sinned, but Jesus had taken those sins away. They could trust Christ to be their strength and their comfort. Our Introit for this coming Sunday is from Psalm 25. It describes faith in God from the perspective of one who depends on God to forgive his sins and heal his shame. It gives words so the heart can understand the kind of love that God alone can give. God gives this welcoming love to you. This psalm is given to you so you can pray it back to God. Your heart cries out to Him, "Turn to me and be gracious to me, for I am lonely and afflicted. Consider my affliction and my trouble, and forgive all my sins" (Psalm 25:1,2a). Christ Jesus is the kind of Savior who hears you and turns to you in grace. Jesus finds you lonely and afflicted and comforts you. He comes to you in your isolation when you've let down the people you love and let yourself down. He comes to you in the desolate place where your own thoughts about yourself are even more harsh than the things your worst enemies could say about you. He speaks another Word in that maelstrom of guilt and shame. Jesus speaks peace. He speaks forgiveness. He speaks love. And what He speaks is truly yours. Christ alone has the power to give this to you. He is God Almighty. His love isn't yours on condition of doing better. It's not yours because you will try harder to be good. No. He just plain forgives you. He loves you. He brings peace to you. And no one else can. In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. Perverse and foolish oft I strayed But yet in love He sought me And on His shoulder gently laid And home rejoicing brought me. ("The King of Love My Shepherd Is" LSB 709, st.3)

Friday of the Second Week after Trinity

June 18, 2021 • Pastor Jeffrey Horn

Daily Lectionary: Proverbs 20:5-25; John 17:1-26 The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom, and the knowledge of the Holy One is insight. (Proverbs 9:10) In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. The world can be a confusing place for people of any age. You're introduced to opinions and ideas all the time. How can you evaluate them and embrace what is wise and reject what's wrong? How do you apply the wisdom of God to real life? The book of Proverbs is an ideal help--full of practical statements about how to live in a godly way. The more you ponder and remember them, the more the Holy Spirit uses them to guide you. Look at our reading for today. There are 15 verses. They're short and to the point. Some speak to the same topic, like verses 10, 17, and 23. They teach you that God values honesty. He notices even small business transactions to make sure they are just, and because God values justice, you can look to Him when you're wronged. Verses 18 and 25 teach you to contemplate what you should say so you don't speak rashly. Verse 13 teaches you to be diligent and work hard. Verse 19 warns you to watch out for people who repeat things that are told to them in confidence. If they tell you the secrets of others, they will tell other people your confidences, too. Verse 20 tells you how much God pays attention to the Fourth Commandment. Honor your father and mother, that it may be well with you. Then it flips the coin to show you the other side. Those who curse their mother and father will have their lights snuffed out and be in darkness. Verse 7 is related to that. A righteous man who walks in integrity passes a blessing on to his children. Give thanks to God for righteous parents who love God's Word. Strive to be a blessing to others as they have been to you. But remember verse 9! No one can say that they have made their heart pure. No one can say they are clean from sin by their own deeds. Not you. Not your parents. Not your pastor or teacher. The most important wisdom is that Jesus forgives your sins by grace. We repent daily of our sins, daily He cleanses us, and daily He leads us in wisdom and love. In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. Almighty God, our Heavenly Father, without Your help our labor is useless, and without Your light our search is in vain. Invigorate our study of Your holy Word that, by due diligence and right discernment, we may establish ourselves and others in Your holy faith; through Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen.