Palm Sunday 2017

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They spread their cloaks and palm branches on the road, and shouted, “Hosanna to the Son of David!  Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!  Hosanna in the highest!”

Jesus, the King of All, entered Jerusalem.  He fulfilled the word of the prophet that said, “Behold, your king is coming to you; righteous and having salvation is he, humble and mounted on a donkey,” (Zechariah 9:9, ESV).

Hosanna, loud hosanna,
The little children sang;
Through pillared court and temple
The lovely anthem rang.
To Jesus, who had blessed them,
Close folded to his breast,
the children sang their praises,
The simplest and the best.

— “Hosanna, Loud Hosanna,” CW 130:1.

Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!

Please pray for the Christians murdered in Egypt today.

Happy Thanksgiving 2016

IMG_0233bEvery one who lives has something for which to be thankful.  Gratitude is the joy of life.

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.  For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.

— John 3:16-17, ESV.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Only God Can Heal

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“‘If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask Him!’  (Matthew 7:7-11)…

“For this reason have we who are evil a good Father, so that we may not always continue evil.  No evil person can make another person good.  If no evil person can make another good, how can an evil person make himself good?  Only our Father, who is good eternally, can make of an evil person a good person.

“‘Heal me, O Lord, and I shall be healed;
save me, and I shall be saved.’  (Jeremiah 17:14).”

— St. Augustine,
Sermons on Selected Lessons of the New Testament, 11.2,
as quoted in A Year with the Church Fathers, CPH 2011, page 313.

Blessed Ascension 2016

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“… you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come on you, and you will be My witnesses in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”

After He had said this, He was taken up as they were watching, and a cloud took Him out of their sight.  While He was going, they were gazing into heaven, and suddenly two men in white clothes stood by them.  They said, “Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking up into heaven?  This Jesus, who has been taken from you into heaven, will come in the same way that you have seen Him going into heaven.”

Then they returned to Jerusalem from the mount called the Mount of Olives, which is near Jerusalem—a Sabbath day’s journey away.

— Acts 1:8-12, HCSB.

The Festival of the Ascension is important because it emphasizes the physicality of our salvation.  Christ did not evaporate after his Easter resurrection, instead he appeared to hundreds of people over the course of 40 days.  He touched them, he ate with them, he spoke with them.  He left hundreds of witnesses.  He lived in time and space.  He stood on a real mountain, and rose from a real place.  He was one of us, and still is one of us.

Though he ascended into heaven, a higher dimension, so that he could fill the entire universe, he is still a human being.  (Ephesians 4:10).

Coming exactly 40 days after Easter, Ascension Day liturgically reminds us that Christ tarried here, and gave us many witnesses, and that his calling was not just to pay for sin, but also to bring us to be with him.  That is why he waited and stayed, to give us faith through the word of truth preached by his apostles.  It was his resurrection and the proof of his resurrection that he gave, that made the apostles bold.  They touched him, they saw him ascend.

The One who descended is also the One who ascended far above all the heavens, that He might fill all things.  And He personally gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, some pastors and teachers, for the training of the saints in the work of ministry, to build up the body of Christ, until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of God’s Son, growing into a mature man with a stature measured by Christ’s fullness.  Then we will no longer be little children, tossed by the waves and blown around by every wind of teaching, by human cunning with cleverness in the techniques of deceit.  But speaking the truth in love, let us grow in every way into Him who is the head—Christ.  From Him the whole body, fitted and knit together by every supporting ligament, promotes the growth of the body for building up itself in love by the proper working of each individual part.

— Ephesians 4:10-16, HCSB.

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Heaven is our home.  Happy Ascension!

Be at peace.

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Let not your hearts be troubled.  Believe in God; believe also in me.  In my Father’s house are many rooms.  If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you?  And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also.  And you know the way to where I am going…  I am the way, and the truth, and the life.

— Jesus of Nazareth
(John 14:1-6, ESV).

By his death and resurrection, Christ proved that he is Lord of all.  He kept his promise, and will keep every promise.  He works to prepare a place for us where all that is wrong will be made right.  And he will come again.

Be at peace.  The Lord is risen!

Resurrection Sunday 2016

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Mary of Magdala was the first, but not the last, to report, “I have seen the Lord!”  (John 20:18, ESV).

He is risen!

“Speak, Mary, declaring
What you saw when wayfaring.”

“The tomb of Christ, who is living,
the glory of Jesus’ resurrection;
Bright angels attesting,
The shroud and napkin resting.
My Lord, my hope, is arisen;
To Galilee He goes before you.”

Christ indeed from death is risen,
Our new life obtaining.
Have mercy, victor King, ever reigning!
Amen.  Alleluia.

— “Christians, to the Paschal Victim,” LSB, 460:2-3.

He is risen, indeed!

Good Friday 2016

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It is finished!

Χριστός,

Α Ω.

Palm Sunday 2016

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As he was drawing near—already on the way down the Mount of Olives—the whole multitude of his disciples began to rejoice and praise God with a loud voice for all the mighty works that they had seen, saying, “Blessed is the King who comes in the name of the Lord!  Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!”  And some of the Pharisees in the crowd said to him, “Teacher, rebuke your disciples.”  He answered, “I tell you, if these were silent, the very stones would cry out.”

— Luke 19:37-40, ESV.

Every Spring, the new growth does proclaim the glory of God.  Jesus is God.  The rocks do proclaim his glory.  How much more so should we proclaim his glory for he redeemed us with his own blood?

Blessed is the King who comes in the name of the Lord!

Merry Christmas 2015

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Today is the first day of Christmas, the annual feast celebrating the birth of Jesus Christ.  Jesus Christ is:

“God of God,
Light of Light,
very God of very God,
begotten, not made …
by whom all things were made;
who for us men and for our salvation came down from heaven
and was incarnate by the Holy Spirit of the virgin Mary
and was made man …”

— Nicene Creed.

Christ always received worship and adoration from the angels, for He always was God.  Now they are adoring Him also as man.

— Theodoret, “Catalog of Testimonies,”
Book of Concord, Readers’ 2nd Edition, 632.

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A great and mighty wonder,
A full and holy cure:
The virgin bears the infant
With virgin honor pure!

The Word becomes incarnate
And yet remains on high,
And cherubim sing anthems
To shepherds from the sky.

Proclaim the Savior’s birth:
“To God on high be glory
And peace to all the earth!”

— “A Great and Mighty Wonder,” LSB 383:1-2.

Merry Christmas!

Blessed Christmas Eve 2015

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Christmas Eve is the last day of Advent.  Tomorrow, we celebrate the coming of Jesus as a baby.  Jesus is fully God and fully man.  He is “God of God, Light of Light, very God of very God, begotten, not made …” but who also “was made man.”  (Nicene Creed).

The complete divinity and complete humanity of Jesus Christ cannot be overemphasized especially in this world of ignorance where so many think that Christians and Mohammedans worship the same God, and that all religions are “basically the same.”  No one is like Christ, and no god can compare.

What happened at the Incarnation (March 25) and at Christmas (December 25) testifies to the true nature of God, the Trinity.  The Incarnation is beautiful and mysterious, and evinces a glory deeper than the greatest show of glory.  It is a hidden glory of weakness and love.  Almighty God became a real human baby.

Creator of the stars of night,
Thy people’s everlasting Light:
O Christ, Redeemer, save us all
And hear Thy servants when they call.

To God the Father and the Son
And Holy Spirit, Three in One,
Praise, honor, might, and glory be
From age to age eternally.

— “Creator of the Stars of Night,” LSB 351:1, 6.

Blessed Advent and Merry Christmas!