Third Sunday in Advent, December 16, 2018

First Reading: Zephaniah 3:14–20

Epistle: Philippians 4:4–7

Gospel:  Luke 7:18–28 (29–35)

Today’s Old Testament Reading, Zeph 3:14–20, evokes the theme of Advent joy. The prophet calls Israel to rejoice and exult with all her heart because her King is in their midst to save them. The advent of the King of Israel, the judge of the nations, will be a day of salvation and restoration for those whom he will gather in among his people.  In Jesus, the Lord is restoring the fortunes of His people (Zeph 3:20). The advent of Christ is good news for those who are not offended by him.

Second Sunday in Advent, December 9, 2018

First Reading: Malachi 3:1–7b

Epistle: Philippians 1:2–11

Gospel: Luke 3:1–14 (15–20)

The season of Advent emphasizes preparation for the coming of God, or of the Messiah King. Such preparation does not take place in a neutral vacuum. Those who are to prepare the way of the Lord and make his paths smooth are those who are in the midst of struggle and difficulty and are burdened by personal sin. Thus, preparation assumes two important aspects: repentance and steadfast trust in the promises of God.

First Sunday in Advent, December 2, 2018

First Reading: Jeremiah 33:14–16

Epistle: 1 Thessalonians 3:9–13

Gospel: Luke 19:28–40


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.  The righteous Branch of David springs forth and now we have a new name: “The Lord is our righteousness” (Jer 33:16).

Last Sunday of the Church Year 25 November, 2018

First Reading: Isaiah 51:4–6 

Epistle: Jude 20–25

Gospel: Mark 13:24–37

On this the Last Sunday of the Church Year, we are reminded of the end of all things, for we will see the Son of Man coming in the clouds ( Gospel, Mk 13:26). Jesus’ purpose in these end times is to “gather his elect” (13:27) and to announce the deliverance of God’s elect.  The salvation of the Lord will last “forever” and his “righteousness will never be dismayed” ( Old Testament, Is 51:6).   So, “keep yourselves in the love of God, waiting for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ that leads to eternal life” ( Epistle, Jude 21) in the “new heaven and a new earth” ( Introit, 2 Pet 3:13).

Reformation Day (observed) 28 October, 2018

First Reading: Revelation 14:6–7

Epistle: Romans 3:19–28

Gospel: John 8:31–36

Today is our observance of the Reformation.  What is all the fuss about?  Is this the day where we remember and give thanks for the 95 theses on indulgences that Luther (supposedly) nailed to the doors of the Castle Church on the eve of All Saints day in 1517?  Perhaps we commemorate this day because this is when we Lutherans once again revel in our rich history and triumphantly look at other church bodies and say “Hah!  We’re better than you!”  Maybe this is just a glorified history lesson?  Luther did this, his friends did that, the chains of papal authority were thrown off, and all the princes and dukes were happy about their new found powers.  Is that what this is all about?  Well no, actually that’s not it.  It’s much easier than all of that, even though the history is interesting (for Reformation nerds like me at least) and it is important.  Here it is: the Festival of the Reformation celebrates the righteousness of God restored to its original purity in the church. 

21 But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law, although the Law and the Prophets bear witness to it— 22 the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe” (Ro 3:21–22).

It’s all about the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

Tomorrow’s Liturgy Today – September 30, 2018

The 19th Sunday After Pentecost, September 30, 2018

Old Testament :Numbers 11:4–6, 10–16, 24–29

Epistle: James 5:1–20

Gospel: Mark 9:38–50

In the third of the three Gospel readings from Mark chapter seven, Jesus heals two different people in different ways and in different circumstances.  Although the woman begs for mere crumbs, God’s grace is always much bigger.  By His grace we are established in faith through Word and Sacrament, and like the man in the second healing our ear are opened to hear and our tongues are loosed to confess.  God has come to save us through the sending of His Son, (Old Testament), and through Christ His ears are open to our pleas for mercy (Introit and Collect).  Ephphata!  Be opened!

Tomorrow’s Liturgy Today – September 9, 2018

The 16th Sunday After Pentecost, September, 2018

Old Testament: Isaiah 35:4–7a

Epistle:James 2:1–10, 14–18

Gospel: Mark 7:24–37

In the third of the three Gospel readings from Mark chapter seven, Jesus heals two different people in different ways and in different circumstances.  Although the woman begs for mere crumbs, God’s grace is always much bigger.  By His grace we are established in faith through Word and Sacrament, and like the man in the second healing our ear are opened to hear and our tongues are loosed to confess.  God has come to save us through the sending of His Son, (Old Testament), and through Christ His ears are open to our pleas for mercy (Introit and Collect).  Ephphata!  Be opened!

Tomorrow’s Liturgy Today – August 26, 2018

The 14th Sunday After Pentecost, August 26, 2018

Old Testament: Isaiah 29:11–19

Epistle: Ephesians 5:22–33

Gospel: Mark 7:1–13

God promises to be with us in His house, for this is where He comes to us in His Word and Sacrament.  The Introit today reminds us that when we are in God’s sacramental presence in the Divine Service we have the opportunity to proclaim our thanksgiving.  The Old Testament reading, which is quoted by our Lord in the Gospel according to St. Mark, shows the misuse of these gifts that God offers, how God’s people turn inward to their own counsel against God’s commandment.  Jesus rebukes the religious authorities because they nullify God’s Word for the sake of their own, showing us instead that He is the only path away from false teaching and error.

Tomorrow’s Liturgy Today – August 12, 2018

The Twelfth Sunday After Pentecost, August 12, 2018

Old Testament: 1 Kings 19:1–8

Epistle: Ephesians 4:17–5:2

Gospel: John 6:35–51

In light of our continuing Gospel reading g from John, this week we see references to food throughout the other propers. “You open your hand; you satisfy the desire of every living thing. Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good!” (Introit).  Jesus is the “true bread that gives life to the world” (Collect). Like Elijah in the Old Testament Reading, the multitudes on the grassy Galilean hillside needed real, physical food but, as always with our Lord, there is more. The “more” is Christ himself, because every good gift we receive—temporal and eternal— is specifically and directly a result of Jesus’ death on the cross reconciling us to God: “as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God” (Eph 5:2, Epistle).