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Archive for December 2017

Waiting for the Consolation

Waiting for the Consolation

Luke 2:22-40

First Sunday of Christmas

Philippians 1:2 (ESV) 2 Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

Merry Christmas, it is still the Christmas Season. For as the song goes the church celebrates Christmas for 12 days. So don’t be afraid to say Merry Christmas when you greet someone, up through January 5th. On January 6th we move into the season of Epiphany.

So on the First Sunday of Christmas, we have the account of the baby Jesus being presented in the temple. Following the custom of the Law, Jesus was to be presented in the temple on the 40th day after his birth. Unbeknownst to Mary and Joseph, there was a special visitor waiting for them. His name Simeon, who had receive a unique promise from God. That unique promise was that he would see the Christ Child. How did Simeon know this was the Child Child, in the midst of so many families coming to the temple? By Faith. By Faith Simeon sees the small infant body and knows this is the promised Savior of the world. Human reason would not see the savior of the world in a baby. By faith, Simeon sees the divinity, God who takes on human flesh.

When Simeon see the Christ Child, he breaks out with Joy and

Luke 2:27–32 (ESV) 27 And he came in the Spirit into the temple, and when the parents brought in the child Jesus, to do for him according to the custom of the Law, 28 he took him up in his arms and blessed God and said, 29 “Lord, now you are letting your servant depart in peace, according to your word; 30 for my eyes have seen your salvation 31 that you have prepared in the presence of all peoples, 32 a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and for glory to your people Israel.”

We call these words, the Nunc Dimittis, which means Now Depart. In the traditional liturgy of the church we use these words after Holy Communion. Not in the sece that we are ending the Divine Service soon, but there is a special significance of Simeon’s words.

Luke 2:25 (ESV) 25 Now there was a man in Jerusalem, whose name was Simeon, and this man was righteous and devout, waiting for the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was upon him. What is that consolation? It is like a promised Peace and deliverance from God. It is an expectant Hope, that everything will be re-made, a peace that is beyond anything this world can provide, because only God can accomplish it.

Simeon then holds the baby Jesus in his arms and says,

Luke 2:29–30 (ESV) 29 “Lord, now you are letting your servant depart in peace, according to your word; 30 for my eyes have seen your salvation

Simeon can go in the peace from God for God has kept His promise of Salvation. What, or who, is that salvation? Jesus! And this Jesus was presented before the eyes of all people as the salvation for Gentile and Jew. It wasn’t just for Simeon, but for all people.

Now, let’s consider Simeon’s words in light of their position after Holy Communion. It’s no accident that we sing them after the Sacrament of the altar. Recall the words we sing before the Sacrament—the Agnus Dei. How does that song conclude? With a prayer for peace: “O Christ, Thou Lamb of God, that takest away the sin of the world, grant us Thy peace.” This prayer is followed by the pastor’s words—“The peace of the Lord be with you.” And then we receive the Sacrament—the true body and blood of Jesus given and shed for the forgiveness of our sins—and hear the pastor dismiss us with these words: “Depart in joy and peace.”

With what words can we respond? Simeon’s! We confess that we are able to depart in peace precisely because we have seen God’s salvation in the Sacrament of the Altar. Our eyes have seen Christ, present in His body and blood, and we acknowledge that we have received the very peace for which we prayed in the Agnus Dei. This salvation is for us, for everyone.

In the Small Catechism What is the benefit of this eating and drinking in the Lord’s Supper? Luther writes, These words, Given and shed for you for the forgiveness of sin.” shows us that in the Sacrament forgiveness of sin, life and salvation are given us through these words. For where there is forgiveness of sin, there is also life and salvation.”

And that’s a reason to sing it after receiving the Sacrament of the Lord’s Supper.

What gives us Peace? Does being here as Peace Lutheran Church in Plainfield gives us true peace. It does as long as Peace continues to proclaim this Christ Child as the one who delivers the whole world from sin and death. For our true Peace comes from the incarnation, that is the Christ Child being true man and true God.

That is why in the prayer of the day, we prayed: O God, our Maker and Redeemer, You wonderfully created us and in the incarnation of Your Son yet more wondrously restored our human nature. Then notice what we asked for in the prayer, Grant that we may ever be alive in Him who made Himself to be like us; Yes, by faith, we are alive in Christ Jesus, through the forgiveness of sins, which we received especially in the Sacrament of the Lord’s Supper.

May Christ continue to keep us alive as we also are Waiting for the Consolation of God.

In His Holy Name Amen.

Philippians 4:7 (ESV) 7 And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.


Written by dballa

December 30, 2017 at 3:15 pm

Posted in Lord's Supper, Sermons

God’s Comfort

God’s Comfort
Isaiah 40:1-11
December 10, 2017

Philippians 1:2 (ESV) 2 Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

How often does it seem that when we are speaking to someone that they are really not listening. The typical culprits are teenagers, husbands, and people during the sermon. What did you say pastor I didn’t get it? The idea that is often expressed is that the message goes into one ear and goes out the other. So how does one make the message stick to the heart instead of being meaningless air.

Consider the opening words of our the Old Testament reading for today. Comfort. Comfort my people. So God speaks the word comfort for His people. So what did we hear in connection with the word Comfort?

Are we thinking of a recliner, with some sort of beverage on the side. Or maybe a house-elf or servant answering our every call. Or maybe as one of my professors in Seminary to said that life begins when the kids move out and the dog dies. It doesn’t matter if you are thinking of a warm tropical island, a skiing or hunting getaway, the better question might be what does God mean when He says comfort.

The comfort that God brings is always focused upon that baby born in Bethlehem, our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. That may not have been what was the first thought that entered into our minds. Remember the Prayer of the day: Stir up our hearts, O Lord, to make ready the way of Your only-begotten Son, that by His coming we may be enabled to serve You with pure minds;

While we make think that the creature comforts of this life are wonderful. Please notice that Isaiah Isaiah 40:7–8 (ESV) 7 The grass withers, the flower fades when the breath of the Lord blows on it; surely the people are grass. 8 The grass withers, the flower fades…So our creature comforts won’t do us any good. Remember you can’t take it with you when you die.

So God give the comfort that will endure forever. The rest of Isaiah 40:8 (ESV) 8 The grass withers, the flower fades, but the word of our God will stand forever. God’s Comfort is eternal and is focused around Jesus Christ. Why Jesus? Because Jesus is unique, for in Jesus we have God who takes on human flesh and blood.

What happens when that word of God which endures forever meets up with flesh.
God without flesh is useless for us. But upon the flesh of Christ, Christ takes up all human flesh and redeems it.Christ Jesus died, so that we are who like grass may not die eternally, but live, because of the Word of the Lord endures forever.

The meaning of the Second article of the Apostles’ Creed.
I believe that Jesus Christ, true God, begotten of the Father from eternity, and also true man, born of the Virgin Mary, is my Lord, who has redeemed me, a lost and condemned person, purchased and won me from all sins, from death, and from the power of the devil; not with gold or silver, but with His holy, precious blood and with His innocent suffering and death, that I may be His own and live under Him in His kingdom and serve Him in everlasting righteousness, innocence, and blessedness, just as He is risen from the dead, lives and reigns to all eternity.

So we put the focus not upon my flesh and it creature comforts, which by itself which is like grass. Instead we shift our minds from the comfort that we desire to the comfort that God brings by taking on human flesh and blood. the baby Jesus, the Word of God made flesh. It is only through the baby Jesus crucified, what we can receive God’s Comfort. Apart from Christ, God Comfort does not exist..

Romans 12:2 (ESV) 2 Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.

For it is through the Word of God that we see the Christ Child as true man and true God our only Savior. Our problem as Christ Jesus said to Peter Matthew 16:23 (ESV) 23b. For you are not setting your mind on the things of God, but on the things of man.”

So during this Adventide, we gather around God’s Word, through which we receive God’s Comfort. And we continue to ask God to: Stir up our hearts, O Lord, to make ready the way of Your only-begotten Son, that by His coming we may be enabled to serve You with pure minds;

In Christ’s Holy Name, Amen.
Philippians 4:7 (ESV) 7 And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Written by dballa

December 9, 2017 at 3:05 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

Formed by Christ

Formed by Christ
Isaiah 64:1-9
December 3, 2017

Philippians 1:2 (ESV) 2 Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

We are beginning the new Church year, the color is blue, the season is called Advent, which is a season that prepares us for Christmas. How do we prepare for Christmas? You see the tree, you see the Advent Wreath, but there is much more, not outside decoration, but much more. Advent is a time for excitement but also a proper fear. We are to be shaken to the very depths of our souls, so that they may wake up to the truth of who we really are. For why do we need a Savior to be born in Bethlehem, as a baby, but also true God? Because when we look at the nature of our soul, we don’t see sugar plums and fairies, but death. So we need a savior, who will change us, form us, re-birth us. This re-birth as Luther Reminds us in the Small Catechism under Baptism

What does such baptizing with water indicate?
It indicates that the Old Adam in us should by daily contrition and repentance be drowned and die with all sins and evil desires, and that a new man should daily emerge and arise to live before God in righteousness and purity forever.

Keep this in mind, as we start our Advent preparation to receive Christ at Christmas.

Isaiah actually begin our Old Testament reading for today.

Isaiah 64:1 (ESV) 1 Oh that you would rend the heavens and come down, that the mountains might quake at your presence—

While this may initially seem like a good thing, that God would come down and the mountain would shake, but we are reminded that

Exodus 33:20 (ESV) 20 But,” he said, “you cannot see my face, for man shall not see me and live.”

There is a reason for this and Isaiah notes this is verse 6

Isaiah 64:6 (ESV) 6 We have all become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous deeds are like a polluted garment. We all fade like a leaf, and our iniquities, like the wind, take us away.

This is not a good. This is why we need the time of Advent. What we need is a Savior, and Christ Jesus is that Savior, but as

Isaiah 64:7 (ESV) 7 There is no one who calls upon your name, who rouses himself to take hold of you; for you have hidden your face from us, and have made us melt in the hand of our iniquities.

Notice that God is hidden from us. This may sound strange, but think of it this way. The reason for God being hidden from us is because of our sin. There are many people who don’t see God active in their lives. There are many who even deny God exists, who have no problem with their lives and don’t want God to re-create them. Skipping Advent and moving from Thanksgiving to Christmas isn’t a problem for them because they don’t see the problem within them.

But once we realize the consequences our of sins and need of a Savior, which is what the Advent season is all about, then we are at the right place to be re-born, re-newed, ready for the Christ child to be born. Isaiah shows us how this looks in:

Isaiah 64:8 (ESV) 8 But now, O Lord, you are our Father; we are the clay, and you are our potter; we are all the work of your hand.

As Isaiah notes, now we are ready to be formed, re-created into the image of God. Isaiah notes that we are the work of God’s hand. Notice this is God’s work to be done to us, to be formed by Christ, is to realize that we need that baby to be born in Bethlehem.

The beautiful Christmas Gospel, needs a Advent reminder, that even after the Fall into sin, even after our own sin, we are still the Work of God’s hands. We are still part of His creation, God has not abandon us, but as Isaiah notes will still redeems us. So in regards to matters of God, we are indeed like clay in the hand of the potter. For there we do not choose, we do not do anything; but we are chosen, we are equipped, we are born again.

So the prayer of the day summarizes this for us, we prayed: Stir up Your power, O Lord, and come, that by Your protection we may be rescued from the threatening perils of our sins and saved by Your mighty deliverance.

Yes, Advent has begun, and we prepare to celebrate the birth of our Savior Jesus the Christ, by realizing that we need to be formed in Christ. We remember our Baptism where Christ first forms us. We ask Christ to soften our hearts so that He can continue to shape us during Advent, as we move closer to celebrating the Feast of the Nativity, that is Christmas. In His Holy Name. Amen.

Philippians 4:7 (ESV) 7 And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Written by dballa

December 2, 2017 at 4:26 pm