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Sunday, February 23, 2014

Sexagesima



Isaiah 55 - Sexagesima Sunday - February 23, 2014           
What It Pleases God to Accomplish

“Now it came to pass, afterward, that He went through every city and village, preaching and bringing the glad tidings of the kingdom of God.” This is Luke 8:1, which is just a couple verses before our Gospel lesson begins. What a wonderful thing to consider: Jesus going all over the place – not to select cities and villages that have somehow earned the honor of his visit, but to every city and every village around. This is because what Jesus had to give was not just for some; it was for everyone — just as the sky opens up and pours rain and snow on the earth with no concern as to where it lands.

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Septuagesima



Matthew 20:1-16 - Septuagesima - February 16, 2014
The First Shall Be Last
For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.  Ephesians 2:8-10
The fact that we are saved by grace through faith is not of ourselves.  It is not our work; it is God’s.  Our salvation – from God speaking his promise, to the faith that the Holy Spirit creates in our hearts through this promise – is entirely the gift of God.  He is gracious.  The good works that we accomplish as Christians are also gifts of God.  We are his workmanship.  The faith that God creates to trust in his mercy is the same faith that springs forth into action.  The faith that does not produce fruit is a false faith – one that God has not created.  The faith that has no desire to please God is the faith that does not trust God. 

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Transfiguration



Matthew 17:1-9 - The Transfiguration of Our Lord - February 9, 2014           
Listening to Jesus

It is amazing if you look at the folklore from one end of the world to the other and spanning the ages, how similar many of the lessons are that they teach.  There are timeless truths that have been preserved in various cultures in the stories they tell.  They are truths that are accessible to mankind, because even in his sinful condition natural man has at least some understanding of virtue and vice.  We usually call the lessons that these stories teach us morals.  “The moral of the story is …”  But this is the extent of human wisdom – some limited and dim knowledge of the law. 

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Presentation of our Lord



Luke 2:22-32 - The Presentation of Our Lord - February 2, 2014           
Holy to the Lord

God sent Moses to Pharaoh, saying, “Let my people go.”  With these words the whole familiar story of Moses leading the children of Israel out of Egypt comes to mind.  But it’s not just one historical event among many.  Throughout the Old Testament God points to it as the classic example of how he always works.  He sets free — he delivers.  But look at who it is that God delivers.  He delivers his people.  First he calls them his people.  Then he sets them free by telling their captor to let them go: “Let my people go,” he says.   And we know the story well.  God gets what he wants.  
So it is with us.  First God calls us his; then he sets us free.  First he places his name on us in Holy Baptism, and through this sacrament he delivers us from spiritual slavery.  Just like God taught Moses to renounce Pharaoh who held his people captive, so God teaches us to renounce our captor, the devil, and all his works and all his ways.  And he does so by renouncing him for us.  In the holy life of Jesus, we see our holy life fulfilled; and in his innocent suffering and death, we see the law’s righteous judgment against our sin forever satisfied.  Here the devil’s claim on us is renounced.  The law is fulfilled.  No longer can it condemn us.  Our chains are broken, and Satan our accuser is rebuked.