23rd Sunday after Pentecost, 12 November, 2017

Old Testament: Amos 5:18-24

Epistle: 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18

Gospel: Matthew 25:1-13

The Theme of Today’s Liturgy

“Wake, awake, for night is flying!”  The urgent plea that opens Philip Nicolai’s beautiful hymn points us to the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, who “will descend from heaven with a cry of command, with the voice of an archangel, and with the sound of the trumpet of God” (Epistle).  Those who have already fallen asleep in the Lord, meaning those who have already died, will be awoken in the resurrection, responding to the Word of Christ who says “Arise!” as He leads His church into His eternal wedding feast (Epistle, Collect).  For those who await the coming of Jesus, we are called to wakefulness here and now, to cast off our sinful inclinations toward spiritual indifference.  Instead, we go to meet the Bridegroom with the bright lamps of our faith showing the way, faith which was given to us in our Baptism and nurtured through the Word and Holy Communion, with the open-eyed vigilance of the hopeful church (Gospel).

All Saints Day (observed) November 5, 2017

First Reading: Revelation 7:2-17

Epistle: 1 John 3:1-3

Gospel: Matthew 5:1-12

The Theme of Today’s Liturgy  On All Saints Day we remember those who have gone before us in the faith, the ones who have “washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb” and now stand before His throne with praise and worship (First Reading).  In the Beatitudes, our Lord lays out the promises of those who are blessed: the promises we have already received through the grace and mercy of the Father who sends his Son, and also those promises yet to be fulfilled on the last day (Gospel).  Even as we await the final consummation of all things when Christ returns, we know that our almighty and everlasting God has brought all of his saints together in one holy communion, and in the Divine Service we have a foretaste of the everlasting banquet that awaits (Collect).  We are indeed surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses as we hear His word and as we partake of the Body and Blood of our Lord Jesus Christ, numbered with all of the blessed saints in all time past, present, and yet to come, who have received the redemption of the Cross (Introit).

20th Sunday After Pentecost, October 22, 2017

Old Testament: Isaiah 45:1-7

Epistle: 1 Thessalonians 1:1-10

Gospel: Matthew 15:15-22

The Theme of Today’s Liturgy  The questions of politics and tax money loom large in the imaginations of the Pharisees and the temple authorities, but only God looms large before the eyes of Jesus.  Jesus has come to Jerusalem to die in order to fulfill all righteousness, to be the payment for our sins (Gospel).  Christ, being the image of God (2 Cor. 4:4), does not bear the image of Caesar.  So also we have been made a new creation in Christ through our Baptism, and no longer bear the image of the man of dust but the image of the Man of heaven (Gospel, see 1 Cor. 15:49).  Christ has borne all things for us in this world, so that we may have life in abundance, that is the forgiveness of sins and eternal life (Collect).  The Lord who is our keeper and our shade has sent His only begotten Son, the image of the invisible God, the chosen Messiah, and He delivers us from the wrath to come (Epistle).

Thanksgiving Sunday, October 7, 2017

Old Testament: Deuteronomy 8: 1-10

Epistle: Philippians 4: 6-20

Gospel: Luke 17: 11-19

The Theme of Today’s Liturgy “Now thank we all our God!” Thanksgiving is the day we set aside to acknowledge the many blessings our God has given us and especially for the great mercy he has shown us by sending a Saviour who takes away all our sins. And so while today is a special time of Thanksgiving observance, we also remember that Lutheran worship is grounded in the praises and thanksgiving of God’s people who respond to the gifts they have received through the Holy Spirit, the forgiveness of sin and eternal life (Collect). The Psalmist says that the Lord satisfies the desire of every living thing, and so we rejoice knowing that “the Lord is at hand” and we can bring forth our prayers and supplications with thanksgiving knowing that He has already provided for our eternal life (Gradual, Epistle). We cry “Lord have mercy” every week in the Kyrie confident that through Christ our prayers are heard, giving thanks that the mercy of the Lord endures forever (Gospel, Gradual).

Fourteenth Sunday After Pentecost, 10 September, 2017

Old Testament: Ezekiel 33:7-9

Epistle: Romans 13:1-10

Gospel:Matthew 18:1-20

The Theme of Today’s Liturgy The Kingdom of Heaven is revealed to us by the Holy Spirit who shows us a Saviour who stands in our stead and gives us the righteousness of God.  The Kingdom of Heaven is also where God dwells with his people, and through the incarnation of the Son of God we enter into this Kingdom through repentance and the forgiveness of our sins, turning away from temptation and iniquity, having been made holy through the atoning sacrifice of Christ Jesus (Gospel, OT, Epistle).  This turning is not something we do for ourselves but a gift we receive with the trusting faith of a child.  Even little children are able to have faith through the means of grace! (Gospel)  Having received our place in the Kingdom of Heaven we joyfully give back our praises and thanksgiving as a redeemed kingdom of priests, set aside as Christ’s church for good works (Introit, Epistle).  “In heaven is fixed his dwelling, His rule is over all; O hosts with might excelling With Praise before him fall” (Hymn of the Day).

Thirteenth Sunday After Pentecost, 3 September, 2017

Old Testament: Jeremiah 15:15-21

Epistle: Romans 12:9-21

Gospel: Matthew 16:21-28

The Theme of Today’s Liturgy What a difference a week makes!  In last week’s Gospel reading Peter confessed that Jesus is the Christ; in today’s reading Peter is rebuked because he takes the side of man instead of the side of God (Gospel).  Jesus willingly placed himself on the cross for our sins and calls us to patiently bear our own trials, trusting in His great mercy for assurance of our salvation (Gospel, Collect).  The atonement of Christ Jesus was indeed necessary for us sinners who on our own could not withstand the wrath of God.  Instead his wrath was poured out on his only Son for our sake (Gospel, Epistle).  For those whose trust is in Christ Jesus the Lord will make restoration, he will save and deliver his people (OT).

Twelfth Sunday after Pentecost, 27 August 2017

Old Testament:  Isaiah 51:1-6

Epistle: Romans 11:33-12:8

Gospel: Matthew 16:13-20

The Theme of Today’s Liturgy To confess that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God who takes away the sins of the world, is to say back to God what he has revealed to us by the Holy Spirit in Word and Sacrament (Gospel, Introit). Our confession is one of faith that is formed through Christ, and only He makes us fit for fellowship just as He did for the disciples (Gospel). The confession “Jesus is the Christ” is the rock upon which the church is built (Hymn of the Day), and thereby the powers of sin, death, and devil are overcome. Having made our confession of faith through the Holy Spirit, we pray for a steadfast walk that leads to eternal life (Collect of the Day).