Fifth Sunday After the Epiphany, February 4, 2018

Old Testament: Isaiah 40:21-31

Epistle: 1 Cor. 9:16-27

Gospel: Mark 1:29-39

Fifth Sunday After the Epiphany

 Theme for Today’s Liturgy

What is “that”?  Jesus has healed diseases and cast out demons, but He has come for the proclamation of the forgiveness of sins and eternal life – He says “that is why I came out.” (Gospel)  In doing so Jesus stands opposed to the forces of darkness that would drag us into death and hell, and in casting out demons He demonstrates His power over sin, death, and devil (Gospel, Introit).  The Lord gives power to the faint and strength to him who has no might, reaching out to us just as He reached out to the sick in Capernaum (OT).  Through His mighty power we are restored, by His anointing we receive the Gospel message of salvation, and through the means of grace the Holy Spirit keeps us steadfast in the true faith (Collect).  Where the Lord of Life enters there is no room for death (Gospel).

Third Sunday After the Epiphany, January 21, 2018

Old Testament: Jonah 3:1-5; 10

Epistle: 1 Cor. 7:29-31

Gospel: Mark 1:14-20

Third Sunday After the Epiphany

 Theme for Today’s Liturgy

Repent and believe in the Gospel!”  These are the first words of Jesus recorded by St. Mark, and they announce that the reign and rule of God has drawn near and is now at hand (Gospel).  “Repent and believe” is the most basic statement concerning the Christian faith.  The Holy Spirit works through the means of grace, Word and Sacrament, to create and sustain this faith in the lives of His people.  The people of Nineveh heard this Word from the prophet Jonah and believed, and turned from their sins to the mercy of the Father (Old Testament).  Like them, in repentance we ask God to look with mercy upon us (Collect) and to grant “peace and heavenly rest” to all, especially the weak and doubting heart (Hymn of the Day).

Second Sunday After the Epiphany, January 14, 2018

Old Testament: 1 Samuel 3:1-10

Epistle: 1 Cor. 6:12-20

Gospel: John 1:43-51

Second Sunday After the Epiphany

Who found whom?  In the Gospel reading for today Jesus is the one who finds Philip, who then follows Jesus.  Jesus does the finding, and we respond along with Nathaniel, “You are the Son of God!  You are the King of Israel!”  The Lord has heard the cry of His people and sent His Son to save (Introit).  He mercifully hears the cry of His people and sends us His peace, He finds us in our sinful condition yet still restores us to fellowship with the Father through the Holy Spirit (Collect, Hymn of the Day).  Jesus is the heavenly escalator by which God reaches down and finds us, and through Jesus we ascend to God by the power of the Holy Spirit, all in the Divine Service! (Gospel)

The Baptism of Our Lord, January 7, 2018

Old Testament: Gen. 1:1-5

Epistle: Rom. 6:1-11

Gospel: Mark 1:4-11

The Baptism of Our Lord

Yesterday, January 6th, was Epiphany, when the church celebrates the manifestation of Christ to all people. The baptism of our Lord Jesus Christ is another kind of epiphany, for hear we hear a visible and audible manifestation of the Trinity, the Father who speaks, the Son who stands in the Jordan River, and the Holy Spirit who descends like a dove (Gospel). In His baptism Jesus truly identifies with all of us, for He now participates with us in our sinful condition as One who has no sin, and as One who then takes on all our sin in exchange for His righteousness (Epistle, Gospel). Jesus receives the Holy Spirit and is anointed as God’s Holy One in order to accomplish this purpose, to save His people (Introit, Collect). At the baptism of Jesus the heavens are opened to all believers, who are inheritors with Him of everlasting life (Gospel, Collect).

First Sunday in Advent, December 3, 2017

Old Testament: Isa 64:1-9

Epistle: 1 Corinthians 1:3-9

Gospel: Mark 11:1-10

Image result for advent icon

Advent Begins

Today is the first Sunday of Advent and the first Sunday of the new church year.  Advent is a time for us to prepare for the coming of the promised Messiah, and along with Lent has been considered a time of solemn anticipation and repentance.  Unfortunately the consumerism that defines the secular observance of the Christmas season has contributed to the decline of Advent even in the Christian church, as all the myriad activities that now define the Christmas season increasingly remove our focus from the spiritual to the material.  But let us not overlook Advent!  We should not be too quick to get to Christmas, but instead we should allow the Word to guide our preparations; we should allow the Son of God to have His rightful place in the midst of our busyness.  Our King is coming, righteous and having salvation (Zech. 9:9).  Let us welcome Him with hearts prepared with the blessings of Word and Sacrament, for the coming Saviour will break in on our world and gather His people together for eternity (Old Testament).  During this Advent season let us look to the protection of the Lord who rescues us from our sins and saves us by His might deliverance (Collect).

25th Sunday after Pentecost, 26 November, 2017 – The Last Sunday in the Church Year

Old Testament: Ezekiel 34:11-16, 20-24

Epistle: 1 Corinthians 15:20-28

Gospel: Matthew 25:31-46

Image result for icon Jesus sheep from goats ravenna

The Theme of Today’s Liturgy

The Introit for the last Sunday in the church year is not a Psalm as we are accustomed, but instead is from 2 Peter, and brings into focus the anticipation of the Christian who waits for the return of Christ (Introit).  The Christian looks with great hope for the new heaven and the new earth that Jesus has promised to all those who are clothed in His righteousness (Introit, Collect).  This is the hope of the world, that although our lives here are fleeting and marred by sin and temptation, Christ will deliver us from sin, death, and devil, and bring us into His presence for all time.  This is not because of anything we have done on our own, but solely because of His death on the Cross.  He is therefore the first fruit of those who will be raised again, our brother like us in every respect except that He is without sin, who will gather all nations together and rescue His sheep from all the places they have been scattered (OT).  Before a Word is spoken or any deed listed, the King will separate and judge the nations.  Works are not sufficient for righteousness, but through faith we receive the forgiveness of sins and eternal life and bear fruit for the Kingdom of Heaven (Gospel).

24th Sunday after Pentecost, 19 November 2017

Old Testament: Zephaniah 1:7-16

Epistle: 1 Thessalonians 5:1-11

Gospel: Matthew 25:14-30

The Theme of Today’s Liturgy

The Gospel reading today portrays Christ as the giver.  The parable of the talents show that Jesus entrusts His property to His stewards while He is temporarily away, He has shown that He wants to save humankind because He has given preachers of the Word to His church (Gospel).  The Word is dispensed through the servants of Christ in order that faith may be granted to those who hear, and those who hear then likewise contribute all things to their neighbour’s advantage (Gospel, Collect).  Jesus warns that the one without the gifts of salvation face an eternity apart from God’s righteousness.  The prophecy of Zepheniah against the apostasy of Judah foretells the judgement that awaits those who lack these gifts (OT).  St. Paul therefore admonishes the faithful to be awake and sober while the Lord is away, turning aside the works of darkness and living in the light of Christ (Epistle).