FIRST SUNDAY IN ADVENT

2 December 2018

 

Jeremiah 33:14–16

1 Thessalonians 3:9–13

Luke 19:28–40 or Luke 21:25–36

 

The Lord Jesus Comes in Humility to Redeem Us

 

The season of Advent focuses on the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, and this first Sunday establishes this theme for the rest of the season. The Son of God came long ago to be our Savior, “a righteous Branch” descended from David (Jer. 33:15). As He then came into Jerusalem, riding on a lowly donkey to sacrifice Himself for the sins of the world (Luke 19:28–40), so does He come to His Church today in the humility of Word and Sacrament to deliver the fruits of His Passion: the forgiveness of sins and eternal life. He absolves us and establishes our hearts “blameless in holiness before our God and Father” (1 Thess. 3:13). The same Lord Jesus, who came to Jerusalem then and who comes to us now in peace, will come again with power and great glory on the Last Day. Then there will be “distress of nations in perplexity,” with “people fainting with fear.” Yet, as we anticipate that great and terrible day, He bids us to rest securely in Him: “Raise your heads, because your redemption is drawing near” (Luke 21:25, 26, 28).

LAST SUNDAY OF THE CHURCH YEAR

25 November 2018

 

Isaiah 51:4–6 or Daniel 7:9–10, 13–14

Jude 20–25 or Revelation 1:4b–8

Mark 13:24–37 or John 18:33–37

 

In Repentance We Are Alert to the Coming of Christ

 

The signs of the end are all around us, constant reminders that “heaven and earth will pass away.” But all of these signs are centered in the cross of Christ, whereby He has conquered sin and death, that we might be raised with Him in righteousness through His Word of the Gospel, which “will not pass away” (Mark 13:31). He is “the firstborn of the dead,” who in His great love “has freed us from our sins by his blood” (Rev. 1:5). His salvation is certain because “his dominion is an everlasting dominion” and His Kingdom “shall not be destroyed” (Dan. 7:14). For this purpose He came into the world, to reign in love through His voice of the Gospel, which is the truth (John 18:37). So is the righteousness of Christ “a light to the peoples,” which “will never be dismayed” because it is the justice of His cross and resurrection (Is. 51:4–6). As He “is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you blameless before the presence of his glory,” so wait upon “the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ that leads to eternal life” (Jude 20–24).

TWENTY-SIXTH SUNDAY AFTER PENTECOST (Proper 28B)

18 November 2018

Daniel 12:1–3

Hebrews 10:11–25

Mark 13:1–13

 

The Crucified and Risen Body of Christ Jesus Is the True Temple of God

 

Despite its “wonderful stones” and “great buildings,” the Jerusalem temple would be torn down, with not one stone left upon another, just as this present world and its kingdoms will come to an end (Mark 13:1–8). But that temple pointed beyond itself to Christ, to His sacrifice upon the cross and to the resurrection of His body as the true Temple of God. In the midst of sin and death, by the proclamation of the Gospel, He now gathers disciples into His body, wherein “the one who endures to the end will be saved” (Mark 13:10–13). For He is “a great priest over the house of God,” who “will remember their sins and their lawless deeds no more.” By the pure water of His Baptism, they “draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith,” and by His flesh and blood, they enter the Holy of Holies (Heb. 10:17–22). Thus are His people delivered, “everyone whose name shall be found written in the book.” For by the wisdom of His Gospel, He turns “many to righteousness,” so that “many of those who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake” to everlasting life (Dan. 12:1–3).

TWENTY-FIFTH SUNDAY AFTER PENTECOST (Proper 27B)

11 November 2018

 

1 Kings 17:8–16

Hebrews 9:24–28

Mark 12:38–44

 

The Lord Freely Feeds and Provides for Us with Everything He Has

 

Those who contribute “large sums” from “out of their abundance” have done very little. They cannot purchase God’s favor with their money. But the “poor widow” with her two small coins, who “out of her poverty has put in everything she had,” entrusts herself and her life to the mercy of God (Mark 12:41–44). Such faith is not disappointed, for the Lord is faithful, and He provides for His people by His grace. Thus was the poor widow of Zarephath able to feed the prophet Elijah “for many days,” as well as herself and her household, “according to the word of the Lord that he spoke by Elijah” (1 Kings 17:15–16). He feeds us, too, by His Word, not only with daily bread for this body and life, but unto the life everlasting in Christ Jesus. “By the sacrifice of himself,” by the giving of His body and life and all that He had, He has entered “into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God on our behalf” (Heb. 9:24–26). He is our great High Priest and the Temple of God, as well as the priestly food with which He feeds us.