Sunday, March 25, 2007

Fifth Sunday in Lent
In the temple Jesus said, "If anyone keeps My word he shall never see death." (John 8:42-59) For Jesus came to taste death for us, to drink the cup of suffering to the dregs in order that we might be released from its power. Clinging to His life-giving words, we are delivered from death's sting and its eternal judgment. Christ is our High Priest, who entered the Holy of Holies and with His own blood obtained everlasting redemption for His people. (Heb 9:11-15) He is the Timeless One, who was before Abraham and yet is his descendant. He is the promised Son who carries the wood up the mountain for the sacrifice, who is bound and laid upon the altar of the cross. He is the ram who is offered in our place, who is willingly caught in the thicket of our sin, who wears the crown of thorns upon His head. (Gen 22:1-14) Though Jesus is dishonored by the sons of the devil, He is vindicated by the Father through the cross. For, "In the Mount of the Lord it shall be provided."

* Psalm 43 (ESV)
* Genesis 22:1-14 (ESV)
* Hebrews 9:11-15 (ESV)
* St. John 8:42-59 (ESV)

Hymn of the Day
* LSB 430 "My Song Is Love Unknown"

Other Hymns
* LSB 429 "We Sing the Praise of Him Who Died"
* LSB 431 "Not All the Blood of Beasts"
* LSB 634 "The Death of Jesus Christ, Our Lord"
* LSB 544 "O Love, How Deep"

A Book of Concord Reading for Judica
Love is the Fulfillment of the Law
In today's Gospel Jesus tells the Jews, "If God were your Father, you would love Me." The Law of God shows us how to love Him in His Son, Whose blood shall "cleanse our conscience from dead works to serve the living God." [HEB 9:14] From The Formula of Concord, Part II, Chapter 4:
1] A disagreement has also occurred among the theologians of the Augsburg Confession concerning good works, one part employing the following words and manner in speaking of them: Good works are necessary for salvation; it is impossible to be saved without good works; likewise, no one has been saved without good works; because, they say, good works are required of true believers as fruits of faith, and faith without love is dead, although such love is no cause of salvation.
2] The other part, however, contended, on the contrary, that good works are indeed necessary; however, not for salvation, but for other reasons; and that on this account the aforecited propositiones, or expressions, which have been used (as they are not in accord with the form of sound doctrine and with the Word, and have been always and are still set by the Papists in opposition to the doctrine of our Christian faith, in which we confess that faith alone justifies and saves) are not to be tolerated in the Church, in order that the merit of Christ, our Savior, be not diminished, and the promise of salvation may be and remain firm and certain to believers.
3] In this controversy also the following controverted proposition, or expression, was employed by some few, that good works are injurious to salvation. It has also been argued by some that good works are not necessary, but are voluntary [free and spontaneous], because they are not extorted by fear and the penalty of the Law, but are to be done from a voluntary spirit and a joyful heart. Over against this the other side contended that good works are necessary.
4] This [latter] controversy was originally occasioned by the words necessitas and libertas, that is, necessary and free, because especially the word necessitas, necessary, signifies not only the eternal, immutable order according to which all men are obliged and in duty bound to obey God, but sometimes also a coercion, by which the Law forces men to good works.
All Book of Concord quotations are taken from the Triglotta, copyright 1921 by CPH. It is in public domain.
Fourth Sunday in Lent

The Lord provided bread from heaven for His people in the wilderness. (Ex 16:2-21) Now He who is Himself the Living Bread from heaven miraculously provides bread for the 5000. (Jn 6:1-15) This takes place near the time of the Passover, after a great multitude followed Jesus across the Sea, when He went up on a mountain. Thus we see that Jesus is our new and greater Moses, who releases us from the bondage of Mt. Sinai and makes us free children of the promise. (Gal 4:21-31) Five loaves become twelve baskets, that is, the five books of Moses find their goal and fulfillment in Christ, whose people continue steadfastly in the doctrine and fellowship of the twelve apostles, and in the breaking and receiving of the Bread of Life, which is the body of Christ together with His precious blood, and in the prayers. (Acts 2:41-47) So it is that God's people "shall neither hunger nor thirst." (Is 49:8-13) For He abundantly provides for them in both body and soul

* Psalm 132:8-18 (ESV)
* Exodus 16:2-21 (ESV)
* Acts 2:41-47 (ESV)
* St. Luke 11:14-28 (ESV)

Hymn of the Day
* LSB 743 "Jesus, Priceless Treasure"

Other Hymns
* LSB 423 "Jesus, Refuge of the Weary"
* LSB 642 "O Living Bread from Heaven"
* LSB 622 "Lord Jesus Christ You Have Prepared"
* LSB 420 "Christ, the Life of All the Living"

A Book of Concord Reading for Laetare
God Provides
Our Lord provides His people with all that they need to support this body and life. From the Large Catechism on the Fourth Petition of the Lord's Prayer:
80] But this petition is especially directed also against our chief enemy, the devil. For all his thought and desire is to deprive us of all that we have from God, or to hinder it; and he is not satisfied to obstruct and destroy spiritual government in leading souls astray by his lies and bringing them under his power, but he also prevents and hinders the stability of all government and honorable, peaceable relations on earth. There he causes so much contention, murder, sedition, and war, also lightning and hail to destroy grain and cattle, to poison the air, etc. 81] In short, he is sorry that any one has a morsel of bread from God and eats it in peace; and if it were in his power, and our prayer (next to God) did not prevent him, we would not keep a straw in the field, a farthing in the house, yea, not even our life for an hour, especially those who have the Word of God and would like to be Christians.
82] Behold, thus God wishes to indicate to us how He cares for us in all our need, and faithfully provides also for our temporal support. 83] And although He abundantly grants and preserves these things even to the wicked and knaves, yet He wishes that we pray for them, in order that we may recognize that we receive them from His hand, and may feel His paternal goodness toward us therein. For when He withdraws His hand, nothing can prosper nor be maintained in the end, as, indeed, we daily see and experience. 84] How much trouble there is now in the world only on account of bad coin, yea, on account of daily oppression and raising of prices in common trade, bargaining and labor on the part of those who wantonly oppress the poor and deprive them of their daily bread! This we must suffer indeed; but let them take care that they do not lose the common intercession, and beware lest this petition in the Lord's Prayer be against them.
All Book of Concord quotations are taken from the Triglotta, copyright 1921 by CPH. It is in public domain.
Third Sunday in Lent
Jeremiah was charged with speaking evil when he spoke the word of the Lord. (Jer 26:1-15) So also, Jesus is accused of doing evil when in fact He is doing good. He casts out a demon from a mute man so that he is able to speak. (Lk 11:14-28) But some said Jesus did this by the power of Beelzebub, Satan. Like Pharaoh of old, their hearts were hard. (Ex 8:16-24) They did not recognize the finger of God, the power of the Holy Spirit at work in and through Jesus. Jesus is the Stronger Man who overcomes the strong man. He takes the devil's armor of sin and death and destroys it from the inside out by the holy cross. He exorcizes and frees us by water and the Word. We were once darkness, but now we are light in Christ the Lord. (Eph 5:1-9) As children of light our tongues are loosed to give thanks to Him who saved us. In a world where demons roam we confess, "My eyes are ever toward the Lord, for He shall pluck my feet out of the net." (Introit)

* Psalm 136:1-16 (ESV)
* Exodus 8:16-24 (ESV)
* Ephesians 5:1-9 (ESV)
* St. Luke 11:14-28 (ESV)

Hymn of the Day
* LSB 659 "Lord of Our Life"

Other Hymns
* LSB 890 "O Blessed Light, O Trinity"
* LSB 521 "Christ, the Lord of Hosts, Unshaken"
* LSB 718 "Jesus, Lead Thou On"

A Book of Concord Reading for Oculi
Jesus is True God
Jesus was accused in our lesson of being in league with Satan. He then proves that he is acting as the finger of God. Regarding the nature of the Trinity, we read from the Apology of the Augsburg Confession, Article I, of God:
1] The First Article of our Confession our adversaries approve, in which we declare that we believe and teach that there is one divine essence, undivided, etc., and yet, that there are three distinct persons, of the same divine essence, and coeternal, Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. 2] This article we have always taught and defended, and we believe that it has, in Holy Scripture, sure and firm testimonies that cannot be overthrown. And we constantly affirm that those thinking otherwise are outside of the Church of Christ. and are idolaters, and insult God.
All Book of Concord quotations are taken from the Triglotta, copyright 1921 by CPH. It is in public domain.
Second Sunday in Lent
Jacob wrestled with God; he would not let Him go until he received a blessing from Him. (Gen 32:22-32) So it was with the Canaanite woman. Though Jesus seemed to ignore and reject her, yet she continued to call upon His name and look to Him for help. (Mt 15:21-28) Even when the Lord called her a little dog, she held on to Him in faith and would not let Him wriggle out of His words: "Yet even the little dogs eat the crumbs which fall from their masters' table." This Gentile woman shows herself to be a true Israelite, who struggles with God and man in Christ and prevails. "O woman, great is your faith! Let it be to you as you desire." This is the sanctifying will of God, (1 Thess 4:1-7) to test your faith in order that it may be refined and strengthened. For tribulation produces perseverance; perseverance, character; character, hope. And hope in Christ does not disappoint. (Rom 5:1-5)

* Psalm 121 (ESV)
* Genesis 32:22-32 (ESV)
* 1 Thessalonians 4:1-7 (ESV)
* St. Matthew 15:21-28 (ESV)

Hymn of the Day
* LSB 615 "When in the Hour of Deepest Need"

Other Hymns
* LSB 571 "God Loved the World So That He Gave"
* LSB 562 "All Mankind Fell in Adam's Fall"
* LSB 718 "Jesus, Lead Thou On"

A Book of Concord Reading for Reminiscere
On Giving
Our Lord teaches in the faith of the Canaanite woman that we are to give generously and without fear, for God has promised that he will care for one and all. From the Large Catechism on the Seventh Commandment:
250] Let this suffice as an explanation of what stealing is, that it be not taken too narrowly, but made to extend as far as we have to do with our neighbors. And briefly, in a summary, as in the former commandments, it is herewith forbidden, in the first place, to do our neighbor any injury or wrong (in whatever manner supposable, by curtailing, forestalling, and withholding his possessions and property), or even to consent or allow such a thing, but to interpose and prevent it. 251] And, on the other hand, it is commanded that we advance and improve his possessions, and in case he suffers want, that we help, communicate, and lend both to friends and foes.
252] Whoever now seeks and desires good works will find here more than enough such as are heartily acceptable and pleasing to God, and in addition are favored and crowned with excellent blessings, that we are to be richly compensated for all that we do for our neighbor's good and from friendship; as King Solomon also teaches Prov. 19, 17: He that hath pity upon the poor lendeth unto the Lord; and that which he hath given will He pay him again. Here, then, you have 253] a rich Lord, who is certainly sufficient for you, and who will not suffer you to come short in anything or to want; thus you can with a joyful conscience enjoy a hundred times more than you could scrape together with unfaithfulness and wrong. Now, whoever does not desire the blessing will find wrath and misfortune enough.

All Book of Concord quotations are taken from the Triglotta, copyright 1921 by CPH. It is in public domain.

First Sunday in Lent

In the Garden man exalts himself to be a god in place of God. (Gen 3:1-21) He succumbs to the temptation of the devil, and eating of the forbidden fruit he receives death. But in the sin-cursed wilderness God humbles Himself to become man in place of man. (Mt 4:1-11) He does not eat but fasts and bears the onslaughts of the devil for us that we may be restored to life. Jesus stands as David in our place to do battle against the Goliath Satan. (I Samuel 17:40-51) Though outwardly Jesus appears weak, yet He comes in the name of the Lord of hosts. He draws from the five smooth stones of the books of Moses and slings the Word of God. The stone sinks into the forehead, and the enemy falls. In Christ we are victorious over the devil. Let us therefore not receive the grace of God in vain (2 Cor 6:1-10), but seeing that we have a great High Priest, let us come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain help in time of need (Heb 4:14-16).

* Psalm 32 (ESV)
* Genesis 3:1-21 (ESV)
* 2 Corinthians 6:1-10 (ESV)
* St. Matthew 4:1-11 (ESV)

Hymn of the Day
* LSB 849 "Praise the One Who Breaks the Darkness"

Other Hymns
* LSB 418 "O Lord, Throughout These Forty Days"
* LSB 716 "I Walk in Danger All the Way"
* LSB 656 "A Mighty Fortress is our God"
* LSB 618 "I Come, O Savior, to Thy Table"
* LSB 919 "Abide, O Dearest Jesus"

Ash Wednesday

Ash Wednesday

Having witnessed a glimpse of the glory of our Transfigured Lord, and having transitioned through Pre-Lent, the church enters into the forty day period of Lent and commemorates the suffering and death of Jesus Christ. The season of Lent, which begins tonight, intensifies as we draw closer to Holy Week and the climax of Good Friday. As we recall the depth of Christ's agony on the cross, we are compelled to remember that our sins brought all this upon Him. So, we search our souls and humble our hearts. The color violet, or purple, signifies this penitent mood.

* Psalm 51 (ESV)
* Joel 2:12-19 (ESV)
* 2 Peter 1:2-11 (ESV)
* St. Matthew 6:16-21 (ESV)

Hymn of the Day
* LSB 607 "From Depth's of Woe I Cry to Thee"
Other Hymns
* LW 367 "When Over Sin I Sorrow"
* LSB 563 "Jesus, Thy Blood and Righteousness"

* The Ash Wednesday Service is a spoken Low Mass utilizing the Rite for the Imposition of Ashes and the Service of Corporate Confession and Absolution from LSB.