The “epiphany,” the showing forth or manifestation of Jesus as the Messiah, the Savior of the world, began with the coming of the Magi from the East. This “epiphany” now continues as our Lord’s active earthly ministry begins at the hands of His predecessor John the Baptist and His Baptism in the Jordan River. As the Holy Spirit comes upon His human flesh and the voice from heaven declares Him to be the Son of God, so our Baptism gives us “the right to become children of God, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God” (John 1:12–13). To be thus “born again” is nothing less than to have heaven opened to us with the power of God’s gifts of faith, hope, love, and the perseverance to live as God’s children now albeit as “strangers and exiles on the earth” (Hebrews 11:13), yet as “fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God” (Ephesians 2:19). “I’m but a stranger here,” says the hymn, “Heav’n is my home” (LSB 748:1).
Are you ready? When this question is asked it usually means we already know what we are getting ready for. “Are you ready to go and eat”, for example? Are you ready for bed? Are you ready for church? Is it time to go already? In the book of Ecclesiastes we are reminded that there is a time and season for everything.
1 For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven:
2 a time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted;
3 a time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up;
4 a time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance;
5 a time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;
6 a time to seek, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away;
7 a time to tear, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;
8 a time to love, and a time to hate; a time for war, and a time for peace.
Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 (ESV)
Now is the time of harvest and soon it will be time for summer to end and life to transition to Fall and it’s ever changing activities. Time certainly does not stand still and nothing ever stays the same. Our world is continually changing, like it or not. One thing does remain the same and that is the grace of God and His unchanging love for us. Now is not the time to keep silence, but rather, to speak loud and clear about the God of our salvation. We rejoice today, for everyday is a time to rejoice for the gifts of God freely and lovingly given for all. The last Sunday of July and August we will continue to reach out after church to our neighborhood and encourage you to join us! Help us to share about the wonderful things going on at St. John Lutheran Church!
FIFTH SUNDAY OF EASTER
(14 May 2017)
Acts 6:1–9; 7:2a, 51–60
1 Peter 2:2–10
The Lord Jesus Christ Is the Way, the Truth and the Life
The risen Lord Jesus alone is “the way, and the truth, and the life,” and we come “to the Father” only through Him (John 14:6). God is thus “glorified in the Son,” and those who believe in Him will do the works of Christ because He goes to the Father for us (John 14:12–14). Stephen, “a man full of faith and of the Holy Spirit” (Acts 6:5) and “doing great wonders and signs among the people” (Acts 6:8), did the works of Christ. When he was falsely accused and put to death, he “gazed into heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God” (Acts 7:55). Fixing his hope there, he commended his spirit to the Lord Jesus and prayed for his murderers. In the same way, all the baptized are called to follow the example of Christ Jesus by faith. Though He was “rejected by men” in the sight of God, He is “chosen and precious” (1 Peter 2:4). He is the chief cornerstone of the Father’s “spiritual house,” and we are built upon Him as “living stones” (1 Peter 2:5).
SECOND SUNDAY IN LENT
(12 March 2017)
Romans 4:1–8, 13–17
The Word of the Gospel Opens the Eyes of Faith and Fixes Them on Christ Jesus
The Lord called Abram (Abraham) to leave his home and go to a land that God would show him. He also promised to make of Abram “a great nation,” to bless him and make his name great as a blessing to “all the families of the earth” (Gen. 12:2–3). “Abram went, as the Lord had told him” (Gen. 12:4), and in Canaan “he built an altar to the Lord and called upon the name of the Lord” (Gen. 12:8). He “believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness” (Rom. 4:3). Here the grace of God is manifested, that He “justifies the ungodly” (Rom. 4:5), not by works of the Law, but through faith in His promises. He removes all of our sins and lawless deeds through Jesus Christ, the offspring of Abraham in whom all the Lord’s promises are realized. This forgiveness of sins is the Word of the Gospel, the voice of the Holy Spirit, which “gives life to the dead” (Rom. 4:17). It opens the eyes of faith to behold Christ Jesus, the Son of Man lifted up on the cross, “that whoever believes in him may have eternal life” (John 3:14–15).