Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Christmas Offense

"Blessed is he who is not offended because of Me' (Matthew 11:6). "Yea, truly blessed! For tie King and His Word, in which men should find great joy, are a stumbling-block for all the world. The world takes offense and is provoked by the Gospel of Christ, because it will not trust in the grace of God, but rather in its own works and merits. And again the world takes offense at Christ because He is so utterly poor and wretched. And again, that, as He carries His cross and lets Himself be hanged upon it, He admonishes His followers to take their cross and to follow Him through all manner of temptations and afflictions. To this the world is especially hostile. Thus is our dear Lord Christ everywhere in the world an annoying preacher. The Gospel will never fare otherwise. It is and it will be a message at which offense is taken, not by the lowly, but by the most saintly and most pious, the wisest and the mightiest on earth, as experience teaches us. Blessed are those who know and trust that it is truly the Word of God, for they are healed, and they are comforted and fortified against all such offense." ~Martin Luther

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Reason to Rejoice!

"Come from on high to me; I can not rise to Thee. Cheer my wearied spirit, O pure and holy Child; Through Thy grace and merit, Blest Jesus, Lord most mild, Draw me unto Thee! Draw me unto Thee! ~Now Sing We, Now, Rejoice, verse 2; German and Latin text, 14th cent., Lutheran Service Book #386 What a magnificent explanation of why we have reason to rejoice at Christmas. At first glance it may seem rather depressing: What? I can not rise up to God? I haven't been naughty this year! I've been nice! Well, let's be honest, friends. None of us have been good enough, if we are to be measured against God's standard of perfection. None of us have been perfectly patient, good, kind, forgiving, nor charitable in thought, word, and deed ("None is righteous, no not one; no one understand; no one seeks for God." Romans 3:10). As each year passes I become more painfully aware of my lousy motives, even in the *good* things that I do. Sin is a wearisome thing. Yet in the hymn we cry out to God to cheer us, through His good works, which are good enough! It is through His perfect life, sinless sacrifice on the cross, and continual coming to us through His Word, Holy Communion, and Holy Baptism, that we are forgiven. And by that forgiveness we are drawn to Him. Thanks be to God for the good news that He came to us that first Christmas, comes to us now by His Word and Sacraments, and will come again on the Last Day to draw His children to Himself for all eternity.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Lift Up Your Heads, Ye Mighty Gates

Advent is here! I am so glad to be in Advent services (and away from the December to-do list), which remind me of the longing the world had for its Savior to come the first time, and the longing that we now have for Him to come a second time and take us to Himself. He is coming!! We sang this Advent hymn this morning: Lift up your heads, ye mighty gates! Behold, the King of glory waits. The King of kings is drawing near; The Savior of the world is here. Life and salvation He doth bring; Therefore rejoice and gladly sing. To God the Father raise, your joyful songs of praise. ~LSB 341. This hymn is by Georg Weissel, 1590-1635