Advent Service I

November 30, 2011

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Christ is Superior

November 28, 2011

[God the Father] has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins. He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For by him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things were created by him and for him. He is before all things, and in him all things hold together. And he is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything he might have the supremacy. For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross. – Colossians 1:13-20

Consumer Reports is a magazine that deals in superiority. It’s the type of magazine you would look at for the best of a given product and the best deal for your wallet.

In the verses for our devotion today, Paul gives us the “consumer report” on Christ. He clearly explains why Christ is superior to anyone or anything else. He is God. He created all things. He is eternal, without beginning or end. He is the firstborn from among the dead, never to die again. He holds everything together. Each part of these verses lays out an objective fact about why Christ is superior. And each of these truths has important significance for our daily life.

Despite the times we see sin interrupt our lives; despite the horrors of wickedness we hear about in the news; despite the atrocities human beings commit against one another, evil and wickedness are not in control. Even though they may appear to be running the world, they are not. No matter what evil or wickedness may throw at us, there is nothing they can do to wrest control away from Christ. Nor is there anything they can do to separate us from Christ. For Christ defeated sin and death through his death on the cross and declared his victory as he rose from the dead.

This is the report we have on Christ. He is supreme. There are none who are greater. There are none who can take control away from him. There are none who can separate us from him. What confidence this gives us as we continue our pilgrimage on earth!

Prayer: Oh Christ, King of kings and Lord of lords, in your mercy you have brought us into your kingdom. Continue to rule over us, protecting us from the evil one until we join you in your heavenly kingdom. Amen.

First Sunday in Advent

November 27, 2011

Order of Service Printed in Today’s Bulletin

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Thanksgiving Eve Divine Worship

November 23, 2011

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Lions and Wolves and Snakes! Oh My!

November 21, 2011

“Behold, I will create new heavens and a new earth. The former things will not be remembered, nor will they come to mind. But be glad and rejoice forever in what I will create, for I will create Jerusalem to be a delight and its people a joy. I will rejoice over Jerusalem and take delight in my people; the sound of weeping and of crying will be heard in it no more. “Never again will there be in it an infant who lives but a few days, or an old man who does not live out his years; he who dies at a hundred will be thought a mere youth; he who fails to reach a hundred will be considered accursed. They will build houses and dwell in them; they will plant vineyards and eat their fruit. No longer will they build houses and others live in them, or plant and others eat. For as the days of a tree, so will be the days of my people; my chosen ones will long enjoy the works of their hands. They will not toil in vain or bear children doomed to misfortune; for they will be a people blessed by the LORD, they and their descendants with them. Before they call I will answer; while they are still speaking I will hear. The wolf and the lamb will feed together, and the lion will eat straw like the ox, but dust will be the serpent’s food. They will neither harm nor destroy on all my holy mountain,” says the LORD. – Isaiah 65:17-25

Do you remember, in the movie The Wizard of Oz, when Dorothy, the Scarecrow, and the Tin Man are walking through the dark, spooky forest? They’re fearfully chanting, “Lions, and tigers, and bears! Oh my!” Of course, as is often the case with movies, their fear turns to laughter as they encounter a lion, a cowardly one more afraid of them than they are of him.

Isaiah 65 ends with a similar sort of thought about lions and wolves and snakes. Isaiah doesn’t picture them as a danger to the reader. No, the lions are eating straw; lambs are dinner guests with the wolves; and the serpent is insignificant as dust. An “Oh my!” of delight might escape your lips at the sight. And that’s just what God intends. Isaiah pictures the kind of place that rights every bad situation. He gives a few earthly examples to help you understand: think of healthy babies, long lives, happy homes, no more tears – only good things.  He calls it “the new heavens and the new earth”. It’s the home God’s prepared for believers.

It’s a desirable thing, because we often experience the opposite. Believers can die young and get sick. Babies aren’t always healthy. Jobs are sometimes horrible and hard. Homes sometimes fall into foreclosure. The world doesn’t look like Isaiah’s picture. Here’s a way to think about Isaiah’s words as you live in this world that tests your faith with difficult times. Believers can pray to God for help and comfort. He answers in various ways. But in his Word, God tells of his Son, your Savior. He delights in you because of the forgiveness Jesus won – enough to give you a peaceful new home. You’re God’s own, dear child right now because of Jesus. Difficult work, failing health, and rough days all fit inside his love as he answers your prayers. No situation can take away the peace he pictures for you.

The believer can trust that what God says is true. After all, by his Word, God made the first heavens and the earth. And in the meantime, he’s tossed the Serpent Satan in the dirt and won salvation for us. He’s given us every reason to believe he can create it all again: new heavens and a new earth so joy-filled that this one won’t even be a memory. Be glad and rejoice in what he’s promised to create for you.

Prayer: Dear Father in heaven, help me always to see the beautiful peace you’ve won for me. Let that peace live in my heart every day so I can serve you with joy and trust in your promises. Amen.

Last Sunday in the Church Year

November 20, 2011

Divine Service I, Page 136, Lutheran Worship

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Prayer for Veteran’s Day 2011

November 14, 2011

Veterans Day has passed. It was last Friday, but this week I would like to share this  prayer for our veterans and all of us. This prayer is suitable for any time of year.

Not to us is the glory, O Lord! Not to us the glory. The nation we call “the land of the free and the home of the brave” has been your gift to us. If it depended upon our own abilities, we would no longer be free, and we often are not brave.

You know only too well the sins of our nation and our inherent weakness. You have looked into our hearts and seen the self-centeredness. You have seen the shame that blights our land because of the sin that taints the hearts of everyone.

Yet you have not forsaken us. You have protected us. There is a song about our nation that contains the words: “God shed his grace on thee.” And this is the only reason for our safety and security. Your love, which we do not deserve, this is our strength. This is our only hope.

Continue to shield us with your faithful love. Continue to build up our faith in Jesus who has defeated the dominion of the devil and won the victory for us over death.

Lord, we thank and praise you for preserving and sustaining our nation for generations. We thank you for the faithful efforts of those who have served our country. We pray that you will continue to send forth people of courage and skill to be the tools in your hands for our protection. As our troops stand guard for us in distant and dangerous places, let them call upon you to be their guard. Then, please bring them home safely.

This we pray in the name of Jesus, the Lord of life and glory. Amen.