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April 17th – Third Sunday of Easter:
The Preaching of Repentance and Forgiveness of Sins Makes Us Pure
The risen Lord Jesus taught His disciples “that the Christ should suffer and on the third day rise from the dead” and “that repentance and forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed in his name to all nations” (Luke 24:46_47). Therefore, St. Peter preaches repentance and forgiveness to the people of Jerusalem. As he proclaims that Jesus fulfilled all that “God foretold by the mouth of all the prophets” (Acts 3:18), he also convicts the people of their sin, because they “delivered over and denied” this Lord Jesus and “killed the Author of life.” Yet God “glorified his servant Jesus” and raised Him from the dead (Acts 3:13_15). St. Peter calls the people to repent, so that their “sins may be blotted out, that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord” (Acts 3:19_20). Through this forgiveness of sins and by faith in this forgiveness, the Father shows His love for us in order that “we should be called children of God; and so we are” (1 John 3:1). Thus, we hope in Him and are made pure even “as he is pure,” because “he appeared in order to take away sins, and in him there is no sin” (1 John 3:3, 5).
April 10th – Second Sunday of Easter:
The Risen Christ Breathes His Peace in the Holy Absolution
The crucified and risen Lord Jesus appeared to His apostles on the first Easter Sunday. He “came and stood among them,” and with His Word and the wounds in “his hands and his side,” He granted them His peace (John 20:19_20). He sent them as ministers of the Gospel in His name to bestow the life-giving Holy Spirit for us and for His whole Church through the forgiveness of sins (John 20:21_23). Through this apostolic ministry, He calls us to believe that He “is the Christ, the Son of God,” so that by such faith we “may have life in his name” (John 20:31). The apostles “have seen and heard” this divine life manifested in the flesh of Christ, and those who succeed them in this apostolic ministry now proclaim that same Absolution to us, so that we “too may have fellowship” with the risen Christ, with the apostles and “with one another” (1 John 1:1_7). The one, holy, catholic and apostolic Church lives by “their testimony to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus,” and all who believe this Word are “of one heart and soul,” because in Him they truly have “everything in common” (Acts 4:32_33).
April 4th – Easter Sunrise:
The Risen Lord Jesus Is Our Strength and Our Song, for He Has Become Our Salvation
O come, let us “sing to the Lord, for he has triumphed gloriously” (Ex. 15:1). By His cross, He has shattered the enemy, crushing sin and death beneath His feet; and in His resurrection, He has brought us out of Egypt into the freedom of the Gospel. He has called us out of darkness into light, and led us from confusion, fear and weeping into the joy and gladness of His resurrection. He is our strength and our song, and He has become our salvation (Ex. 15:2). Thus do we hear and respond to His voice of the Gospel, as He calls each of us by name. We enter His tomb by our Baptism into His death, and just as surely as He has risen, so we also “must rise from the dead” (John 20:9). “Let us therefore celebrate the festival” (1 Cor. 5:8), not in the revelry of self-indulgence, nor in the debauchery of lust, but in sincere faith and genuine love. For “Christ, our Passover lamb, has been sacrificed” (1 Cor. 5:7). He has thereby set us free from sin and death, and now He feeds us with Himself unto life everlasting.
March 27th – Palm Sunday:
The Son of David Ascends His Throne and Reigns in Love from His Cross
The Son of David comes in gentle humility, “sitting on a donkey’s colt,” yet as the King of Israel “in the name of the Lord” (John 12:13_15). He comes to be lifted up in glory on the cross in order to cast out “the ruler of this world” and draw all people to Himself (John 12:23_32). The Church is thus called to “rejoice greatly,” because her King comes with salvation, and “he shall speak peace to the nations” (Zech. 9:9_10). As He is anointed “beforehand for burial” (Mark 14:8), He also ascends His royal throne as “the King of the Jews” by way of His Passion (Mark 15:2, 17_19, 26). He goes “as it is written of him,” wherefore “you will see the Son of Man seated at the right hand of Power” (Mark 14:21, 62). For the glory of God is love, which crescendos in the humble obedience and voluntary self-sacrifice of the Son of God for the salvation of sinners. So God the Father has “highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name” (Phil. 2:9), that He might reign over us in love with the forgiveness of His cross.
March 20th – Fifth Sunday in Lent:
In the Holy Sacraments, We Share the Glory of the Cross of Christ
Jesus catechizes His disciples in the way of the cross, revealing that He will be condemned and put to death “and after three days he will rise” (Mark 10:33_34). But the Twelve do not understand. Instead, they argue among themselves about who will be the greatest, with James and John requesting the places of honor on either side of Jesus in His glory. However, Jesus has come to make Himself the “slave of all” and “to give his life as a ransom for many” (Mark 10:43_45). He shares the true glory of His cross with all who are baptized with His Baptism and with those who drink His cup of salvation, the New Testament in His blood (Mark 10:39). By these Holy Sacraments, the Lord makes Himself known to all His people, forgiving their sins “from the least of them to the greatest” (Jer. 31:33_34). Though He is the very Son of God, “he learned obedience through what he suffered” and so became our great High Priest, that we may enter His glory by the way of His sacrifice (Heb. 5:8_10).
March 13th – Fourth Sunday in Lent:
Jesus Is Lifted Up on the Cross so that We May Look to Him and Live
The people sinned by speaking “against God and against Moses,” and the Lord called them to repentance by sending fiery serpents, which “bit the people, so that many people of Israel died” (Num. 21:4_6). When the people confessed their sin, the Lord provided a means of rescue from death. He instructed Moses to “make a fiery serpent and set it on a pole,” so that “if a serpent bit anyone, he would look at the bronze serpent and live” (Num. 21:8). Thus God sent His Son into the world, in the likeness of our sin and death, and lifted Him up on the pole of the cross, that whoever looks to Him in faith “may have eternal life” (John 3:14_16). By His cross, “the light has come into the world,” not for condemnation, but “that the world might be saved through him” (John 3:17_19). While we “were dead in the trespasses and sins” in which we once lived (Eph. 2:1), God loved us, calling us to repentance and raising us up with Christ to live “with him in the heavenly places” (Eph. 2:4_6).
March 7th – Third Sunday in Lent:
The Crucified and Risen Body of Jesus Is the True Temple of the Lord
The Lord rescues His people, Israel, “out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery” (Ex. 20:2) and makes His gracious covenant with them, defined by the Ten Commandments. Since He has become their God by His grace, they shall be His people, having “no other gods” before Him (Ex. 20:3). He is “jealous” for them as a husband for his wife and as a father for his children. He has named them with His name and called them to rest in Him (Ex. 20:5_9). The incarnate Son, Christ Jesus, is likewise jealous for His Father’s house, because it is to be a place of divine grace and Sabbath rest for His people, and not “a house of trade” (John 2:16_17). His zeal consumes Him as He gives up “the temple of his body” to the destruction of the cross, but in three days He raises it up again to be the true temple forever (John 2:17_21). By His crucifixion He cleanses the entire household, and in His resurrection He becomes “wisdom from God, righteousness and sanctification and redemption” (1 Cor. 1:30).
Feb 27th – Second Sunday in Lent:
By the Cross of Our Lord Jesus, We Inherit Life Everlasting with God
In His covenant with Abraham, the Lord promised to be with him, to bless him and to make him “the father of a multitude of nations.” It is “an everlasting covenant” in Christ Jesus, the seed of Abraham who is blameless before God Almighty. All who believe in this Lord Jesus are the offspring of Abraham and are blessed “throughout their generations” (Gen. 17:1_7), because the Christ has suffered many things. He was rejected and killed, and after three days He rose again (Mark 8:31). To comprehend this theology of the cross, we must set our minds “on the things of God,” and not “on the things of man” (Mark 8:33). “God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Rom. 5:8). Therefore, having been “reconciled to God by the death of his Son,” much more “shall we be saved by his life” (Rom. 5:10). Baptized into His cross and resurrection, “we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ,” and by faith we rejoice in the hope of His glory (Rom. 5:1_2).
Feb 20th – First Sunday in Lent:
Christ Jesus Defeats Our Temptation and Saves Us by His Faithfulness
In faith and the fear of God, Abraham prepared to sacrifice his beloved son, Isaac. At the Word of the Lord, he “took the wood of the burnt offering and laid it on Isaac his son.” And “when they came to the place of which God had told him,” Abraham bound Isaac “and laid him on the altar” (Gen. 22:6, 9). Then God stayed Abraham’s hand and provided “for himself the lamb for a burnt offering” (Gen. 22:8). That Lamb is God’s own beloved Son, Jesus, in whom “all the nations of the earth” are blessed (Gen. 22:18). As the Substitute for all the sons of men, Jesus is driven by the Spirit “into the wilderness” to be “tempted by Satan” (Mark 1:12_13), in order to endure and defeat all temptation. We are tempted by our own desire, which conceives and “gives birth to sin” (James 1:14_15). But this blessed Man, Christ Jesus, remained “steadfast under trial,” and He has received “the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him” (James 1:12). His faithfulness, His victory and His life are now given to us by His grace in the Gospel.
Feb 13th – Transfiguration of Our Lord:
The Face of Jesus Christ Manifests the Light of the Knowledge of the Glory of God
It was “a hard thing” that Elisha asked, but by his persistence he was able to see the Prophet Elijah being taken “by a whirlwind into heaven.” Although “chariots of fire and horses of fire separated the two of them,” Elisha received Elijah’s cloak and a “double portion” of his spirit for preaching the Lord’s Word (2 Kings 2:9_11). It was a hard thing, too, for Israel to see Moses and come near to him, when “the skin of his face shone because he had been talking with God” (Ex. 34:29_30). Therefore, after “he commanded them all that the Lord had spoken with him in Mount Sinai,” Moses “put a veil over his face” (Ex. 34:32_33). Only the Word of the Gospel lifts the veil, and “only through Christ is it taken away” (2 Cor. 3:14). Thus are we able to behold “the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ,” who is “the image of God” (2 Cor. 4:4_6). For the Law and the prophets are all fulfilled in Him. Therefore, “listen to him,” and fix your sights on “Jesus only” (Mark 9:7_8).
Feb 6th – Fifth Sunday after Epiphany:
The Son of God, Christ Jesus, Makes Us a New Creation
The Lord alone “is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth” (Is. 40:28). He “sits above the circle of the earth” and “stretches out the heavens like a curtain” (Is. 40:22). Yet His almighty power is demonstrated chiefly by His mercy and compassion. “He gives power to the faint, and to him who has no might he increases strength” (Is. 40:29). The only begotten Son of the Father, the very Word by whom all things were made, becomes flesh and takes all the poverty and weakness of our sin and death upon Himself, bearing it in His body to the cross. As He dies for us there, He also raises us up, a new creation, in His resurrection from the dead. Thus, by the preaching of this Word, He heals “many who were sick with various diseases,” and He casts out “many demons” (Mark 1:34, 39). And His preaching continues through those whom He has sent, who are “entrusted with a stewardship” to “preach the gospel” (1 Cor. 9:16_17). Thus, we are set free by the Word of Christ, and we exercise our freedom in loving service to others.
Jan 31st – Fourth Sunday after Epiphany (in person services cancelled):
Our Lord Jesus Christ, True God in the Flesh, Cleanses Our Consciences from Sin
As He promised, the Lord our God has raised up “a prophet” like Moses, namely Jesus, our brother in the flesh. “To him you shall listen,” because the Word of the Lord is “in his mouth” (Deut. 18:15_18). Indeed, He is more than a prophet and more than a scribe of the Scriptures; He is the incarnate Word, and He speaks “a new teaching with authority” (Mark 1:22, 27). He enters “the synagogue” of His Church and provides true Sabbath rest, using His authority to silence and cast out “even the unclean spirits” (Mark 1:21_27). By His Word of the cross, He removes the accusations of the Law and of the devil, and He cleanses our consciences before God the Father, “from whom are all things and for whom we exist.” Hence, we are now set free from bondage and commended to God by the one Lord, Jesus Christ, “through whom are all things and through whom we exist” (1 Cor. 8:6). Therefore, use your freedom to care for your brothers and sisters, neither causing them to stumble nor wounding their consciences (1 Cor. 8:9_12), but cleansing and strengthening them with the Gospel.
Jan 24th – St. Timothy, Pastor and Confessor:
St. Timothy, Pastor and Confessor
Our Master, Jesus Christ, “is coming at an hour you do not expect” (Matt. 24:44). He sets the servants of His Word as the watchmen and overseers of His household (Matt. 24:45). He commands them to keep, guard, and “fight the good fight of the faith” entrusted to them (1 Tim. 6:12), “each according to his ability” (Matt. 25:15). Just as Christ “made the good confession” before Pilate (1 Tim. 6:13), so His servants stand before the Church and the world, and by their preaching the Lord strengthens faith and grants increase to His Church (Acts 16:5), the “pillar and buttress of the truth” (1 Tim. 3:15). St. Timothy, Paul’s friend and son in the faith, is an example of such a faithful and wise servant, set over the household of God in Ephesus to nourish in “righteousness, godliness, faith, love, steadfastness, gentleness” (1 Tim. 6:11). The Lord still appoints men like Timothy to bear fruit that will abide (John 15:16), so that the whole household may confess and bear witness to the One “who gives life to all things” (1 Tim. 6:13).
Jan 16th – Second Sunday After Epiphany:
The Lord God Is with You and Reveals Himself to You by the Preaching of His Word
The Lord Jesus calls Philip and Nathanael to “come and see” that He is “the Son of God” and “the King of Israel” (John 1:43_49). And they shall see even “greater things than these” (John 1:50). For His body is the temple of God on earth, and by His priestly sacrifice the heavens will be opened to all who believe and are baptized into Him. Therefore, He calls Philip and Nathanael, first to hear His Word and then to speak as apostles, even as He once called Samuel and established him “as a prophet of the Lord” (1 Sam. 3:20). As the Lord was with Samuel “and let none of his words fall to the ground” (1 Sam. 3:19), He also accompanies and upholds the preachers of His Word in our day. Thus, by the Gospel that is preached to you, “your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you” (1 Cor. 6:19). Since your body thus belongs to the Body of Christ, is meant “for the Lord” and shall be raised up like Him, now “glorify God in your body” (1 Cor. 6:13_20).
Jan 9th – Baptism of Our Lord:
In Holy Baptism, the Triune God Reveals Himself and Recreates Us in His Image
“In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth” (Gen. 1:1). Then, as “the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters” (Gen. 1:2), God spoke His Word: “‘Let there be light,’ and there was light” (Gen. 1:3). In the same way, “the beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ” (Mark 1:1) brings about the new creation through the waters of Baptism by the same Word and Spirit of God. When John the Baptist came, “proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins,” Jesus also came “and was baptized by John in the Jordan” (Mark 1:4, 9). Although He had no sins of His own, He took His stand with sinners in His Baptism and took the sins and mortality of the world upon Himself. He was baptized into His own death, by which the heavens are opened and the Spirit is given to us. God the Father is well pleased with His beloved Son and raises Him from the dead. As we share His Baptism and are “united with him in a death like his” (Rom. 6:5), we also share His resurrection unto “newness of life” (Rom. 6:4).
Jan 3, 2021 – Second Sunday of Christmas:
The Lord Jesus Is Found in the Temple of His Church
The Lord Jesus “grew and became strong” (Luke 2:40); He “increased in wisdom and in stature and in favor with God and man” (Luke 2:52). As His body grew and developed, His mind also increased in knowledge and understanding. For as our brother in the flesh, that we might “have redemption through his blood” (Eph. 1:7), He lived by faith in the Word of His Father. Thus, He was catechized by His parents, who took Him up “to Jerusalem every year at the Feast of the Passover” (Luke 2:41); and when He was of age, He gave attention to the Holy Scriptures in His Father’s house (Luke 2:46, 49). Christ Jesus is still found in His Church, in “the word of truth, the gospel,” by which we are adopted by His Father and sealed with His Spirit (Eph. 1:5, 13). Thus do we gain “an understanding mind” to go about our vocations, discerning “between good and evil” (1 Kings 3:9). And so do we also go up to Jerusalem, to stand “before the ark of the covenant of the Lord” (1 Kings 3:15), that is, in the Holy Communion of His body and blood.
Dec 27th – St. John, Apostle and Evangelist:
St. John, Apostle and Evangelist
St. John the Evangelist put Christmas in one verse: “the Word became flesh and dwelt among us” (John 1:14). Not martyred but still a witness, John was exiled to Patmos and died an old man, according to tradition. He bore witness “to the Word of God and to the testimony of Jesus Christ, even to all that he saw” (Rev. 1:2). Above all, he was an eyewitness of Christ who proclaims to us what he saw and heard concerning the “Word of Life” that was “made manifest” (1 John 1:1_3). “And we know that his testimony is true” (John 21:24). The readings today include John’s testimony of Christ’s atoning death and His third resurrection appearance (John 21:14). On the third day of Christmas, we find joy and gladness with John and all the apostles that “we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous,” who is “the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world” (1 John 2:1_2).
Dec 25th – The Nativity of Our Lord
The Living and Life-Giving Word of God Dwells Among Us in the Flesh
The Lord sends out His ministers of the Gospel to make disciples “of all the nations,” so that “all the ends of the earth shall see the salvation of our God.” For the Lord has “bared his holy arm” in the incarnate Christ (Is. 52:7, 10). The child in the manger, born of the Virgin Mary, is the very Word of God, the only begotten Son of the Father, “whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he created the world” (Heb. 1:2). As “all things were made through him” (John 1:3), so are all things redeemed and made new in Him. In His body of flesh and blood, we behold “the radiance of the glory of God” (Heb. 1:3), “glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth” (John 1:14). He dwells among us in peace, that we might have life and light and salvation in Him. For by His Word of the Gospel, we are born again as the children of God, bearing His name and sharing His eternal life.
Dec 24th – Christmas Eve
The Light of Christ Shines Forth in the Darkness
Heaven and earth rejoice this night because the glory of the holy Triune God is manifested in the human birth of “our great God and Savior Jesus Christ” (Titus 2:13). In Him, the Father’s grace, mercy and peace rest upon the world. The silence of death is broken by this “good news of great joy that will be for all the people” (Luke 2:10). And all we who have gone astray like lost and wandering sheep, who have “walked in the darkness” of doubt and fear and sinful unbelief, behold “a great light” in the nativity of Christ (Is. 9:2). In Him “the grace of God has appeared” (Titus 2:11). For this child of Mary who is born for us, this dear Son of God who is given to us, bears the burden of our sin and death in His own body to the cross. He thereby establishes a government of peace, “with justice and with righteousness,” which shall have no end; not by any work of man, but “the zeal of the Lord of hosts will do this” (Is. 9:7).
Dec 20 – Fourth Sunday in Advent
The Lord Builds a House for David: Jesus Christ Who Comes in the Flesh
When King David “lived in his house and the Lord had given him rest from all his surrounding enemies,” he piously supposed that he would build a house for God (2 Sam. 7:1_2). But the Lord would turn it around: He would establish a house for David and an everlasting throne. This He has done not only for David, but also for all His people, in the Son of David, Jesus Christ, “conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the Virgin Mary” (Apostles’ Creed). That holy child, the incarnate “Son of the Most High,” receives “the throne of his father David” and begins to reign “over the house of Jacob forever” (Luke 1:32_33). Having given Himself as a sacrifice for the sins of the world, His body is the true and eternal temple of God in which His people have their own place of peace and rest. That is “the mystery that was kept secret for long ages” but is now “made known to all nations, according to the command of the eternal God” in order that we may have faith and life in Christ (Rom. 16:25_26).
Dec 12 – Third Sunday in Advent
The Coming of the Christ Brings True Rejoicing in His Forgiveness
When he preaches repentance, John the Baptist points us to Christ Jesus. John was sent by God “as a witness, to bear witness about the light, that all might believe through him” (John 1:7). He baptizes with water in order to “make straight the way of the Lord,” who shall redeem His people from their sins (John 1:23). That Lord Jesus “who comes after” John now stands among us and makes Himself known to us (John 1:26_27). He has been anointed by the Holy Spirit “to bring good news to the poor” and “to bind up the brokenhearted” (Is. 61:1). By the washing of the water with His Word and Spirit, He clothes His Church with “the garments of salvation” and adorns her with His own righteousness “as a bride adorns herself with her jewels” (Is. 61:10). Therefore, we “rejoice always” in the Lord, “pray without ceasing” and “give thanks in all circumstances” (1 Thess. 5:16_18). For “the God of peace,” who has called you by the Gospel, will surely “sanctify you completely,” so that “your whole spirit and soul and body” will “be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Thess. 5:23_24).
Dec 6th – Second Sunday in Advent
You Are Prepared through Repentance for the Coming of the Lord
“The gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God” (Mark 1:1) begins when John the Baptist appears and comes “proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins” (Mark 1:4). As the prophet Isaiah had written, John is the messenger of the Lord, sent before His face to prepare His way. To this day, the ministry of the forerunner continues in the preaching of the Law and the Gospel and in the Sacrament of Holy Baptism. By these ways and means, “the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together” (Is. 40:5), and the Good Shepherd “will gather the lambs in his arms” (Is. 40:11). He speaks “tenderly to Jerusalem,” and He comforts His people by pardoning their iniquity (Is. 40:1_2). What is more, He promises “new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells” (2 Peter 3:13). Repent, therefore, and humble yourself as you wait for His coming in peace (2 Peter 3:14), because He “is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance” (2 Peter 3:9).
Nov 29th – First Sunday in Advent
The Lord Jesus Comes in Meekness and Humility to Save Us
Although we pray that God “would rend the heavens and come down” (Is. 64:1), that He would take vengeance against our enemies, we ourselves “have all become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous deeds are like a polluted garment” (Is. 64:6). We have continued in our sins for “a long time, and shall we be saved?” (Is. 64:5). Yet the Lord does not punish us in anger. He comes in voluntary meekness and humility to save us by His grace. Just as He once came into Jerusalem to sacrifice Himself for us upon the cross (Mark 11:4_8), He still comes to His Church with the fruits of His Passion. By His ministry of the Gospel, we are “enriched in him in all speech and all knowledge,” and so He will “sustain you to the end” (1 Cor. 1:5, 8). Although “heaven and earth will pass away,” His words “will not pass away” (Mark 13:31). As He sends disciples to call us to Himself in the fellowship of His Church, so will He “send out the angels” to gather us and all of His elect “from the ends of the earth” to Himself in heaven forever (Mark 13:27).
Nov 21st – Christ the King:
By the Cross of Christ, We Enter the Kingdom of Our God and Father
When the crucified and risen Lord Jesus comes to judge the living and the dead, “he will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats” (Matt. 25:32). “To those on his right,” who have been crucified and raised with Him through repentance and faith in His Gospel, He will grant the blessed kingdom of His Father (Matt. 25:34). Having been justified by His grace, they live unto righteousness in Him (Matt. 25:35-40). But “those on his left,” who trust in themselves and despise their neighbor, will depart “into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels” (Matt. 25:41). Until that day, the Lord searches for His sheep “as a shepherd seeks out his flock” (Ezek. 34:11-12). Through His preaching of repentance, He disciplines the proud sheep and goats, “the fat and the strong,” but through the preaching of forgiveness He rescues the lost, binds up the injured, strengthens the weak and feeds “the lean sheep” (Ezek. 34:16, 20). In this way, He destroys the power of death in the children of Adam by His cross, so that “in Christ shall all be made alive” by His resurrection (1 Cor. 15:20-26).
God’s Gift of Forgiveness Engenders Our Forgiveness of Others
The Day of the Lord is “near and hastening fast,” and it will be “a day of distress and anguish, a day of ruin and devastation” (Zeph. 1:14, 15). The Lord will search out and punish “the men who are complacent” concerning His Word, “who fill their master’s house with violence and fraud” (Zeph. 1:9, 12). Then all their works and efforts will be for nothing: “Though they build houses, they shall not inhabit them; though they plant vineyards, they shall not drink wine from them” (Zeph. 1:13). But those who fear, love and trust in the Lord are “good and faithful” stewards of His property (Matt. 25:21). They live by faith in His free gift of forgiveness, and they multiply His goods in the loving forgiveness of their neighbor, and “the master of those servants” settles His accounts with them by the gracious reckoning of His Gospel (Matt. 25:19). Likewise, “God has not destined us for wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Thess. 5:9). Therefore, let us also “put on the breastplate of faith and love” in our dealings with one another (1 Thess. 5:8).
The Gospel Prepares Us for Our Heavenly Bridegroom’s Coming
The Day of the Lord is “darkness, and not light” (Amos 5:18, 20) for all who trust in their own righteousness and piety. The Lord will not accept their “burnt offerings and grain offerings,” nor will He look upon their “peace offerings” (Amos 5:22). Instead, He desires a heart of faith that trusts in Him, which lets “justice roll down like waters, and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream” (Amos 5:24) in love for the neighbor. In order for the “lamps” of our lives to burn brightly with such love, we must be filled with the “oil” of forgiveness through faith in our Bridegroom, Jesus Christ (Matt. 25:1-4). Therefore, as we await His coming, wisdom directs us “to the dealers” (Matt. 25:9), that is, to the ministers of His Gospel. Thus we wait upon the Lord, and we “encourage one another with these words” (1 Thess. 4:18). Waking or sleeping, we are prepared to meet Him when He comes “with a cry of command, with the voice of an archangel, and with the sound of the trumpet of God,” and “we will always be with the Lord” (1 Thess. 4:16, 17).
Oct 31st – The Feast of All Saints:
Saints Are Blessed in the Eternal Presence of Christ
“A great multitude from all tribes and peoples and languages,” cry out “salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne” (Rev. 7:9-17). Faith-filled saints from every place and time with unified voices eternally magnify the Lamb of God. As His beloved children, we too, “shall see him as he is” (1 John 3:1-3). Joined with the throng of angels and a myriad of saints, we shall “serve him day and night in his temple” (Rev. 7:9-17). In our earthly tension vacillating between saint and sinner, faith and doubt, sacred and profane, we earnestly seek Jesus to calm our fears, comfort our spirits, and forgive our sins. The Holy Spirit, through faith in Christ propels us forward, fortifying us in Word and Sacrament, to our eternal home. In the midst of our constant struggle as believers, we need to be blessed. And so we are. The poor in spirit, the meek, the hungry, the thirsty, the merciful, the pure, and the persecuted are all blessed and we will most certainly inherit the kingdom of heaven (Matt. 5:1-12).
Oct 24th – Reformation Day (Observed):
The Son of God Has Set Us Free from Sin and Death by His Grace
“Wisdom is justified by her deeds” (Matt. 11:19), and the true Wisdom of God, Christ Jesus the incarnate Son, justifies us by His deeds. He prepares His way by the preaching of repentance, but He has suffered the violence of the Law and voluntarily handed Himself over to violent men, that we might eat and drink with Him in His Kingdom and “remain in the house forever” (John 8:35). For He is “a friend of tax collectors and sinners” (Matt. 11:19), and He has rescued us by His grace from the slavery of sin and death. By the proclamation of His eternal Gospel “to those who dwell on earth, to every nation and tribe and language and people” (Rev. 14:6), “the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law” (Rom. 3:21), “that He might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus” (Rom. 3:26). And by hearing the Gospel of Christ Jesus, “whom God put forward as a propitiation by His blood, to be received by faith” (Rom. 3:25), “you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free” (John 8:31-32).
Oct 17th – St. Luke, Evangelist:
St. Luke, Evangelist
The Lord bids us to pray to the Lord of the harvest to send forth laborers into His harvest (Luke 10:2). The fields look more like deserts, filled with jackals (Isa. 35:6-7), and the Lord sends His laborers out as lambs in the midst of wolves. But Christ’s Word of “Peace” heals the sick and brings the very kingdom of God near to those who hear it (Is 35:5; Luke 10:3-9). St. Luke, the beloved physician (Col. 4:14), did the work of an evangelist. He diligently prepared both a Gospel, the history of Christ’s work in the flesh before His ascension, and the Acts of the Apostles, the history of His continued work among His Church. Luke and his Scriptures are a gift from this Ascended Lord (Eph. 4:8-12), written for Theophilus and for all who love His appearing (2 Tim. 4:5-8). Tradition suggests that Luke was one of the seventy-two sent out ahead of Jesus, two by two. Luke proved himself to be a faithful companion throughout St. Paul’s missionary journeys, through many trials and crosses, and even to Rome, where he alone was with Paul.
Oct 10th – Nineteenth Sunday after Pentecost::
Clothed in the Righteousness of Christ, We Partake of His Wedding Feast
By His cross and resurrection, the Lord has swallowed up death forever, and by His Gospel He “will wipe away tears from all faces, and the reproach of his people he will take away from all the earth” (Is. 25:8). Therefore, “let us be glad and rejoice in his salvation” (Is. 25:9). On the mountain of the Lord of hosts – in His Church on earth, as in the kingdom of heaven – He has made “for all peoples a feast of rich food, a feast of well-aged wine” (Is. 25:6). It is the royal “wedding feast” of the Son of God, “and everything is ready” (Matt. 22:1, 4). Thus, His servants are sent into the highways and byways to invite and gather as many as they find, “both good and bad,” to fill the wedding hall with guests (Matt. 22:8-10). In Holy Baptism, He clothes them all in the “wedding garment” of His own perfect righteousness (Matt. 22:11). Therefore, “do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God,” and “rejoice in the Lord always” (Phil. 4:4-6).
Oct 3rd – Eighteenth Sunday after Pentecost::
The True Vine Redeems the Vineyard of the Lord of Hosts
“The vineyard of the Lord of hosts is the house of Israel” (Is. 5:7), which He planted “on a very fertile hill” (Is. 5:1). He did everything for His vineyard, not only clearing it of stones and planting it with “choice vines,” but also building the “watchtower” of His prophets and hewing out the “wine vat” of His priesthood in its midst (Is. 5:2). But when “he looked for it to yield grapes,” there were only “wild grapes” of bloodshed and unrighteousness (Is. 5:2, 7). The Lord Jesus likewise described the unfaithfulness of those who were called to care for His vineyard (Matt. 21:33-35). But in this He also describes His cross and Passion (Matt. 21:38-39), by which He has redeemed the vineyard for Himself. He is the true Vine, planted by death into the ground, and in His resurrection He brings forth “the fruits in their seasons” (Matt. 21:41). Among those good grapes of the true Vine is the apostle Paul. Once a zealous persecutor of the Church, he “suffered the loss of all things” in order to “gain Christ and be found in him,” to “know him and the power of his resurrection” (Phil. 3:8-10).
Sept 27th – Seventeenth Sunday after Pentecost::
The Cross of Christ Opens to Us the Way of Repentance to Life with God
The way of the Lord is righteous and just: “the soul who sins shall die” (Ezek. 18:4). However, because the Lord has “no pleasure in the death of anyone” (Ezek. 18:32), He calls sinners to repentance and faith in His gracious forgiveness of sins. The man who is thus turned away from his wickedness, who henceforth lives by the grace of God, “shall surely live; he shall not die” (Ezek. 18:28). This way of repentance has been opened for us by the cross of Christ. In the righteousness of faith and love, “he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death” (Phil. 2:8), and He was vindicated in His resurrection from the dead. Indeed, “God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name” (Phil. 2:9). He has given us this name in our Baptism into Christ, in whom we now “shine as lights in the world” (Phil. 2:15). He uses the authority that He has received from His Father (Matt. 21:23-27) to preach a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins, by which even “the tax collectors and the prostitutes go into the kingdom of God” (Matt. 21:31-32).
Sept 20th – Sixteenth Sunday after Pentecost:
Disciples Live in Their Vocations by Grace through Faith in Christ
Those who are sent as “laborers for his vineyard” (Matt. 20:1) depict the wide diversity of vocations to which the disciples of Christ Jesus are called. Whatever our particular stations in life may be, we are called to live and serve by faith in His promises. Our labors do not merit anything before Him, for He is already generous to one and all without partiality. In mercy, He has chosen to bear “the burden of the day and the scorching heat” on our behalf, to make us equal to Himself and to give us what belongs to Him, that is, the kingdom of heaven (Matt. 20:12-15). This way of the Lord is foolishness to the world and foreign to our thoughts, but He draws near, so that “he may be found” (Is. 55:6), “have compassion” and “abundantly pardon” (Is. 55:7). So it is that we are found in Christ Jesus, and He is honored in our bodies, “whether by life or by death” (Phil. 1:20), by “fruitful labor” (Phil. 1:22) or by suffering. It is by faith in His forgiveness that our works are “worthy of the gospel” (Phil. 1:27).
Sept 13th – The Fifthteenth Sunday After Pentecost:
Forgiving as the Lord Forgives Us
In settling His accounts with us, our Lord acts not with anger, but with compassion. He does not imprison us as we deserve, but He forgives all our debts and releases us (Matt. 18:23-27). Therefore, our Lord bids each of us to have “mercy on your fellow servant” and “forgive your brother from your heart” (Matt. 18:33, 35). By the Lord’s forgiveness of our sins, we are free to forgive those who sin against us, because He has been handed over to the jailers in our stead and He has paid our entire debt with His lifeblood. Whether we live or die, we “are the Lord’s” (Rom. 14:8). Since we all will “stand before the judgment seat of God,” we are not to despise our brother (Rom. 14:10), but gladly forgive him. By the grace of God, our brother also “will be upheld, for the Lord is able to make him stand” (Rom. 14:4). Though we daily sin against each other, the Lord intends “to bring it about that many people should be kept alive” (Gen. 50:20). Jesus speaks kindly by His Gospel and promises: “I will provide for you and your little ones” (Gen. 50:21).
Sept 6th – The Fourteenth Sunday After Pentecost:
Living as Humble Little Children of the Father
True greatness is not self-sufficient strength, but humility like that of a little child. The greatness of childlike faith receives all good things as gracious gifts from our Father in heaven. Apart from such faith, “you will never enter the kingdom of heaven,” but whoever is humbled like a little child will be “the greatest in the kingdom of heaven” (Matt. 18:3-4). Though in our sin we deserve to be “drowned in the depth of the sea” (Matt. 18:6), we have instead been drowned (“buried”) with Christ in Baptism and then raised to the new, humble life of a child of God. The Lord sends His watchman to warn us with a word from His mouth, in order that we may not die in our iniquity, but be turned from our pride and selfishness to live (Ezek. 33:7-9). Thus, we live in humility and faith before God as well as in love for our neighbor, which “is the fulfilling of the law” (Rom. 13:10). In the reverent fear of God, we do no harm to our neighbor, but we “pay to all what is owed to them” (Rom. 13:7) and we “owe no one anything, except to love each other” (Rom. 13:8).
Aug 30th – The Martyrdom of St. John the Baptist:
The Martyrdom of St. John the Baptist
“Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound? By no means!” (Rom. 6:1-2). John preached the Law boldly against Herod’s adultery with Herodias. Choosing human honor over honesty, Herod served up John’s head on a platter to pacify Herodias’s conscience without the contrition and repentance of Baptism (Mark 6:17-28). So John was slain for the Word of God and for the witness he had borne (Rev. 6:9). John is Christ’s forerunner also in death; so other fellow-servants and brothers continue to be martyrs (witnesses) of Christ to this day (Rev. 6:11). Their deaths are precious to the Lord (Ps. 116:15) and so also to us, who celebrate even a beheading. Such is the confidence of the baptized! Buried into Christ’s death through Baptism, we believe we shall certainly be united with Him in a resurrection like His also (Rom. 6:4-5). United to Christ, the Church’s Head, John can be confident that He will be reunited to his own at the last day. Even John isn’t really the forerunner; Jesus has gone before us all: out of the tomb alive, the firstborn of those who sleep!
Aug 23rd – The Twelfth Sunday after Pentecost:
The Lord Jesus Christ Is the Son of the Living God
Jesus asked His disciples: “But who do you say that I am?” (Matt. 16:15). The question is also put to us: Who do you say that He is? Flesh and blood do not reveal this to us, but by the ministry of the Gospel, the Father in heaven reveals His Son to us on earth, who has become flesh and suffered death for our salvation. Thus, we believe and confess that He is “the Christ, the Son of the living God” (Matt 16:16). As He died for our transgressions and was raised for our justification, He looses us from all our sins and preserves our life within His Church, against which even “the gates of hell shall not prevail” (Matt. 16:18-19). His salvation is forever, and His righteousness “will never be dismayed” (Is. 51:6). He comforts us with the Gospel in His Church, so that “joy and gladness will be found in her, thanksgiving and the voice of song” (Is. 51:3). Therefore, “according to the measure of faith that God has assigned” (Rom. 12:3), we also offer ourselves “as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God” (Rom. 12:1) through Jesus Christ, our Lord.
Aug 16th – St. Mary, Mother of our Lord
St. Mary, Mother of God
The Lord clothes His people with the garments of salvation and covers them with the robe of righteousness (Isa. 61:10). So the Blessed Virgin Mary rejoices in God her Savior (Luke 1:47). The Lord was gracious to her. She believed that there would be a fulfillment of what was spoken to her from the Lord (v. 45). That is why all generations shall call her “blessed” (v. 42 & 48); likewise, “Blessed are all who hear the Word of God and keep it” (Luke 11:28). She has the unique honor of being the one from whom the Righteous One sprouts up on earth before all nations (Isa. 61:11). But she sings as a recipient of His great mercy. God sent forth His Son, born of this woman, born under the Law, to redeem those under the Law, that we might be sons and heirs (Gal. 4:4-7). Mary is rightly called “Mother of God” because of the nature of the Son she bore; but He alone is called “Savior,” “Redeemer,” and “Advocate.” Jesus Christ is the one thing needful, come to rescue and heal and save us (Luke 10:28-42). He is the seed of the woman at last come to crush the serpent’s head for us (Gen. 3:15).
Aug 9th – Tenth Sunday after Pentecost:
Christ the Crucified Comes to Save Us by the Word of Faith
The Lord who “laid the foundation of the earth” (Job 38:4) is the Author and Giver of life who governs all things by His Word. His wisdom and power are beyond our understanding, except as He reveals Himself in the incarnate Word, Christ Jesus. He has “entered into the springs of the sea” and “walked in the recesses of the deep” (Job 38:16), and He draws near to us in mercy. We have been “a long way from the land, beaten by the waves” and tossed about by hostile winds (Matt. 14:24). In our mortality and sinful unbelief, we do not always recognize the Lord Jesus. But as we cry out in fear, He speaks tenderly to us, “Do not be afraid,” and He reaches out His hand to save us (Matt. 14:27, 31). “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved” (Rom. 10:13), and now we call upon Him in faith, because we have heard “through the word of Christ” (Rom. 10:17). “The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart” (Rom. 10:8).
Aug 2nd – The 9th Sunday After Pentecost:
Christ Jesus, the Living Bread from Heaven, Feeds the Children of God
By the Gospel of “the Christ, who is God over all, blessed forever” (Rom. 9:5), we are “the children of God” (Rom. 9:8), “not because of works but because of him who calls” (Rom. 9:11). Therefore, “listen diligently” and “hear, that your soul may live.” By His sacrificial death in His flesh and blood, He has made “an everlasting covenant” for us. Since He now calls us to Himself, we come to Him “and eat what is good, and delight in rich food” (Is. 55:2-3). He has come with divine compassion to save us from sin and death and to feed us with Himself. As our Lord Jesus once took bread, “said a blessing,” broke the loaves “and gave them to the disciples, and the disciples gave them to the crowds” (Matt. 14:18-19), He also now takes bread, blesses it by His Word to be His very body, and distributes it to His Church by the hand of His called and ordained servants. Just as “they took up twelve baskets full of the broken pieces,” there is more than enough for His whole Church to eat and to be satisfied (Matt. 14:20).
July 26th – St. James the Elder, Apostle:
St. James the Elder, Apostle
The sons of Zebedee ask for seats at Jesus’ right and left in glory (Mark 10:37). But they do not know what they are asking (Matt. 20:22), for God’s kingdom is not of glory and power but the cross. We will bear ours after Him. For His sake we are killed and regarded as sheep to be slaughtered. But in all this we are more than conquerors through Him (Rom. 8:36-37), for Jesus’ death is unique. He alone is baptized with our sin and drinks the cup of God’s wrath against it (Mark 10:38). We live in service to our neighbors after His example; but He alone is the Son of Man, come to give His life as a ransom for many (v. 45). Today the Church commemorates the fulfillment of Christ’s prophecy about James, killed with Herod’s sword (Acts 12:2). He is honored as the first apostle to be conformed to the image of God’s Son (Rom. 8:29). But what is that when Christ Jesus has died-more than that, is raised-and is at the right hand of God, interceding for us? Nothing (not even a sword) can separate James and us from the love of Christ (v. 34-35).
July 19th – The 7th Sunday After Pentecost:
The Word of the Gospel Bestows the Righteousness of Christ and Brings Forth Faith
The good Seed, which is “the Son of Man,” Jesus Himself (Matt. 13:37), brings forth a harvest of faith and bears good fruits in “the sons of the kingdom” (Matt. 13:38). Whatever is sown apart from His Word is of the devil, who plants the weeds of unbelief and sin, even among the people of God. Thankfully, the Lord is patient and He does not uproot the weeds, lest the plants also be destroyed. He lets “both grow together until the harvest” (Matt. 13:30), while He continues to preach repentance and forgiveness of sins. Thus, He preserves His Church in righteousness, because He alone is “the King of Israel and his Redeemer” (Is. 44:6). Since all things are in His gracious care and keeping, “fear not, nor be afraid” (Is. 44:8). For “the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God” (Rom. 8:19), and in this hope we also wait with patience. Though we do not yet see it, “the Spirit helps us in our weakness” (Rom. 8:26) and, in truth, “the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us” (Rom. 8:18).
July 12th – The 6th Sunday After Pentecost:
The Preaching of the Word of Christ Bears the Good Fruits of Faith and Love
As “the rain and the snow come down from heaven” and “water the earth, making it bring forth and sprout” (Is. 55:10), so the Word of God accomplishes the purpose for which He speaks it, granting joy and peace through the forgiveness of sins and producing the fruits of faith and love in those who are called by His name. Christ Jesus, the incarnate Word, has established the name of the Lord as “an everlasting sign that shall not be cut off” (Is. 55:13). He opens our ears to hear, our minds to understand and our hearts to believe His Word, lest the evil one come and snatch it away. He thus transforms our rocky hearts into good soil, which clings to the Gospel and “indeed bears fruit” (Matt. 13:23). He is Himself the firstfruits of all who “have received the Spirit of adoption as sons” (Rom. 8:15). Thus being “led by the Spirit of God,” we are not afraid, but we cry out in faith to our Father in heaven (Rom. 8:14-15). For as we suffer with Christ, the beloved Son, so shall we “also be glorified with him” (Rom. 8:17).
July 5th – The 5th Sunday After Pentecost:
Jesus Christ, Our Savior, Is Our True Peace and Sabbath Rest
Though we have died with Christ in Holy Baptism, and we are raised to new life in Him, we find “another law waging war” in our body and life, that is, between our old Adam and the new man (Rom. 7:23). By the Spirit of Christ, we “desire to do what is right,” but we are not able to do so because “nothing good” dwells in our sinful flesh (Rom. 7:18). “Thanks be to God,” therefore, “through Jesus Christ our Lord,” who delivers us from “this body of death” (Rom. 7:24-25). We rejoice in Him, our gentle King, who comes “righteous and having salvation” (Zech. 9:9). He speaks peace to our embattled hearts, and by His blood of the New Testament He sets us “free from the waterless pit,” and He returns us to the stronghold of our Baptism (Zech. 9:10-12). Though we “labor and are heavy laden,” He calls us to Himself and gives rest to our souls through His free and full forgiveness (Matt. 11:28), not because we are “wise and understanding,” but by the “gracious will” of God the Father, whom “the Son chooses to reveal” in love (Matt. 11:25-27).
June 28 – The 4th Sunday After Pentecost: The Lord Jesus Brings Division on Earth for the Sake of Peace with God in Heaven
False prophets preach what their hearers want to hear, promising peace even when the Lord has spoken “war, famine, and pestilence” (Jer. 28:8). Belonging to Him puts us at odds with the world and divides us from all earthly ties, not only from our human family, but each person from his own life. For Christ does not come “to bring peace, but a sword” (Matt. 10:34). Yet, whoever takes up his cross to follow Christ, and “loses his life” for Christ’s sake, finds new life in Him (Matt. 10:38-39).
June 21 – The 3rd Sunday After Pentecost: The Gospel is radical. Because of Christ, we are not under law; we are slaves of God; and eternal life is ours as a completely free gift without any strings attached.
June 14 – The 2nd Sunday After Pentecost: Jesus has compassion for us when we feel “harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd (Matt 9:36). Just as he used the twelve apostles, so he also uses us to extend the compassionate reign of God.
June 7 – The Holy Trinity: Join us as we celebrate the mystery that our God is three persons – Father, Son, and Holy Spirit – in one being. The creation account from Genesis 1 helps us understand how our three-in-one God has created us in his image, redeemed us when we sinned and lost his image, and is renewing us in his image by making us holy.
May 31 – The Day of Pentecost: Before Jesus ascended to heaven, he promised to send a great gift for all people. That gift is the Holy Spirit, God himself. It is the Spirit who adopts us as God’s children in baptism and creates faith in our hearts. On Pentecost we celebrate God’s continued outpouring of His Spirit. Join in from our Facebook page for live participation SUNDAY at 9am. There will be no online service option on Saturday, as we will be recording the Saturday service at church to publish on Sunday.
May 23/24 – The Ascension of Our Lord: Forty days after his resurrection from the dead, Christ ascended in glory to his Father’s right hand. He is not absent from us. Risen and ascended, he is present through Word and Sacrament and reigns over us in power! Join in our celebration of this festival from our Facebook page for live participation Saturday at 5pm and Sunday at 9am. The video will continue to be available after that. Bulletins can be downloaded below.
May 16/17 – Easter 6 Worship: As disciples of Jesus, we will face questions about our faith. God’s Word urges us to be prepared to offer a defense for the hope we have. That hope is built on Jesus’ resurrection, which we continue to celebrate! Worship services will stream from our Facebook page for live participation Saturday at 5pm and Sunday at 9am. The video will continue to be available after that. Bulletins can be downloaded below.
May 9/10 – Easter 5 Worship: In this week’s Gospel text, Jesus proclaims, “I AM the Way and the Truth and the Life.” Tune in to hear more about the Way Jesus went for us and what it means to walk the Way of Jesus. Worship services will stream from our Facebook page for live participation Saturday at 5pm and Sunday at 9am. The video will continue to be available after that. Bulletins can be downloaded below.
It will be great to see you whenever you choose to return to worship. If you are considered high-risk or you are not yet comfortable being in a public setting, it is perfectly God-pleasing and acceptable to continue to worship from home until you are ready.
May 2/3 – Easter 4 Worship: The fourth Sunday of Easter is also called Good Shepherd Sunday. In this week’s Gospel, Jesus tells his disciples he came that we may have life and have it abundantly…even when life seems anything but abundant. Worship services will stream from our Facebook page for live participation Saturday at 5pm and Sunday at 9am. The video will continue to be available after that. Bulletins can be downloaded below.
All previous recorded services can be viewed on our YouTube channel.