New Year Can Lead to a New Transformation

December 28, 2015

Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercies, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God – this is your true and proper worship. Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. – Romans 12:1-2

Everything we say about transformation must be said “in view of God’s mercies”. God is overflowing with mercies toward us, and this is our only hope of transformation. For that matter, it is our only hope (period). By grace and mercy, we are made right with God in Christ. By grace and mercy, we are united with Christ in His death and resurrection through Baptism. By grace and mercy, we are not separated from God’s love. By grace and mercy, we have hope of transformation even in this life.

That word “therefore” is very important. What Paul says in Romans 12 is built upon what he wrote in Romans 1-11. He is saying, since the gospel is the power of God for salvation (Rom. 1:16); since all have sinned and fall short of God’s glory, being justified freely by God’s grace (Rom. 3:23-24); since God demonstrates His love for us in this, that while we were still sinners Christ died for us (Rom. 5:8); since the wages of sin is death but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus (Rom. 6:23); since there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus (Rom. 8:1); since nothing can separate us from God’s love in Christ Jesus (Rom. 8:31-39); since God is mysteriously faithful even to Christ’s own people who have rejected Him (chapters 9-11); therefore you can and should present your bodies as a living sacrifice, and really expect God to bring transformation out of this.

In short, it all depends on God’s mercy. It is when I start and remain there that I can hope to be changed by the renewing of my mind.

Prayer: Father, I only have hope in view of Your mercies, brought to me through Christ. Send Your Spirit into my heart, that trusting in Your grace, I may be transformed. Amen.


First Sunday after Christmas

December 27, 2015

Divine Service I, Page 136, Lutheran Worship

Today’s Bulletin

Today’s Readings

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Christmas Day

December 25, 2015

Divine Service II, Page 158, Lutheran Worship

Today’s Bulletin

Today’s Readings

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Christmas Eve Candlelight Service

December 24, 2015

Divine Service I, Page 136, Lutheran Worship

Today’s Bulletin

Today’s Readings

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Christmas Eve Children’s Program

December 24, 2015

Order of Service Printed in the Bulletin


Merry Christmas from Ebenezer

December 21, 2015

For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. Luke 2:11

This Friday is Christmas Day and, if all has gone well, most of your rushing and running ought to be over.

It would be good if we could hear the story of Jesus’ birth, as the angels first shared it: “I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people” (see Luke 2:10).

It would be good, but doing so is almost always difficult.

It’s hard to separate Jesus’ coming to save sinful humanity from the way the world wants the holiday to be remembered. If you doubt there is such confusion, then listen to the little girl who told her baby brother the story of Christmas. Her rendition went this way:

“Jesus was born just in time for Christmas, up at the North Pole surrounded by eight little reindeer and the Virgin Mary. Then Santa Claus showed up with lots of toys and stuff and some swaddling clothes. The three wise men and elves sang carols, while the Little Drummer Boy and Scrooge helped Joseph trim the tree. In the meantime, Frosty, the Snowman saw this star. Here endeth the reading.”

You may shake your head at such silliness. But the little girl’s sad story is no stranger than that promoted by those who say the true meaning of Christmas is family, fun, fuzzy feelings, and cartoon fantasies.

They would have us believe the salvation Jesus brings is secondary to Santa, His grace less important than expensive gifts and greeting cards. In their hearts the sound of parties and cash registers drown out God’s Good News.

We should not be surprised.

The world, Satan, and sin have always tried to defeat, deny and discredit the coming of the Savior. Yet, in those hearts and homes where the Word still works, the Savior still comes. Born of a woman, He is one of us, yet better than us.

I encourage you to look upon the little hands and remember they will be pierced to save you. See His beautiful brow and recall how it will be crowned with thorns. Listen to His first cry and hear that cry echo, 33 years later, upon Calvary’s cross, as He proclaims our salvation is finished.

This Friday we remember the fulfillment of God’s promise, the story of how our forgiveness and salvation was won. On Christmas Day  we hear the story of humanity’s God-given, blood-bought gift of forgiveness, redemption and renewal.

It is the story of good news of great joy. It is the story of the Babe of Bethlehem, the Christ of the cross, the Savior of the empty tomb.

Prayer: Dear Lord, by Your grace may I hear the angels rather than the advertisements. Once again, let me journey to see this thing which You have brought to pass. With the shepherds may I see my Savior, Christ the Lord. It is in His Name I pray it. Amen.

Fourth Sunday in Advent

December 20, 2015

Divine Service I, Page 136, Lutheran Worship

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