Thursday, January 17, 2019

The Holy in Holy Baptism

"...and when Jesus also had been baptized" (Luke 3:21).

The first question tends to be, Why?  Why would Jesus, holy and without sin, undergo baptism?  Good question.

A good answer: "Through the Baptism in the Jordan of Your beloved Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, You sanctified and instituted all waters to be a blessed flood and a lavish washing away of sin."  These words are part of a baptismal prayer found in Lutheran Service Book, page 269.

In other words, the baptism of Jesus put the Holy in Holy Baptism.  And so it wasn't that He needed baptism.  Baptism needed Him.

In the Old Testament, Moses threw a log into the water of Marah, "and the water became sweet" (Exod. 15).  Jesus is the true log by which the water of baptism becomes holy and sweet to the soul.

"Certainly not just water, but the word of God in and with the water does these things,* along with the faith which trusts this word of God in the water" (Small Catechism).  And that word of God is both Mark 16:16 and Jesus Himself.

He is the Word (John 1).  His baptism is the Word of God in and with the water.  Trust this Word of God in the water of your baptism.

*"It works forgiveness of sins, rescues from death and the devil, and gives eternal salvation."

Thursday, January 10, 2019

Two Epiphany Notes

"When they saw the star, they rejoiced exceedingly with great joy" (Matt. 2:10).

Once again we have heard the story of the wise men and their gifts.  I see a couple of new things this year.

One is, the verse quoted above is, to my knowledge, the single strongest statement of joy in the New Testament.  That's saying something.  Richard Lenski explains the cause of this joy: "Not only was God directing them miraculously, they also knew they would soon be in the presence of the King."

And will not that same joy be ours on the way to church, knowing we will soon be in the presence of the risen King of love?

The other is, I have a clearer understanding of this part of the hymn "What Child Is This": "So bring Him incense, gold, and myrrh; Come, peasant, king, to own Him.  The King of kings salvation brings; Let loving hearts enthrone Him."

I never saw the two "brings" before.  To the one true King who has brought us the Gift of salvation, let us, rich or poor, bring the gift of a throne - our hearts.

Blessed Epiphany!

Wednesday, January 2, 2019

Anything But Silent

To the members of Faith: Merry Christmas, Day 9!  Below is a recap of my Christmas Eve sermon.  This Sunday we'll celebrate Epiphany and the visit of the wise men.  In ABC we'll dig a little into the liturgy.  And Sunday School for the children!

"...a multitude of the heavenly host [army] praising God" (Luke 2:13).

I'm with you.  I love to sing "Silent Night."  Not Christmas without it.  I'm just not sure where we got the idea.

The first Christmas was anything but silent.

For starters, the angel delivers a very powerful sermon: "Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of a great joy..." (Luke 2:10).  Said Luther, "These are angelic words shouted down from heaven into this world; it is a message which, praise be to God forever, has also been made known to us."

Then the choir sings - the largest, loudest choir ever assembled.  The Greek word is "army."  Fitting, as God had declared war on sin, death, and devil.

Still want to go with "silent"?

Then the shepherds do nothing but talk, spread the good news, wake people up (who in turn begin to talk), and glorify and praise God.

And if we think about it, Christmas was the night God broke His silence.  The birth of His eternal Son was a deafening cry of the Divine Love.  And don't be deceived.  The Baby's breath was in reality the mighty roar of the Lion of Judah.

Still looking for silence and calm?  There is one place you will find it: the consciences of the repentant who because of Christ no longer must endure the accusation and condemnation of the Law and Satan.

There is in the Christian conscience now only peace and quiet.  And in the Christian heart only faith and joy.  A joy - a great joy - that sings with the angels and makes Christmas, again, anything but silent!