Monday, January 14, 2019

Sermon Series, Stewardship: January 12-13, 2019

Stewardship: Living as God's Redeemed People
Title: God’s Stewards: Managers, Not Owners!
Text: 1 Chronicles 29:1–3, 6, 9–18; 2 Corinthians 8:1–7; 9:7–8; Luke 12:41–48

“Everyone to whom much was given, of him much will be required, and from him to whom they entrusted much, they will demand the more” (Luke 12:48).
I. God has trusted us with life and life’s resources
II. That’s a privilege, not and entitlement.
III. All this we’re privileged to manage for our needs (and even luxuries), for the truly needy, and for our Lord’s ministry and mission.
IV. So God’s people are generous.

Rev. Rexford E. Umbenhaur III, pastor, Our Savior Lutheran Church, Los Angeles, California

Sermon Series, Stewardship: January 5-6, 2019

Stewardship: Living as God's Redeemed People
Title: God’s Stewards: God’s Stewards
Text: Isaiah 43:1–3a; 2 Corinthians 5:14–21; Luke 19:1–10

17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come” 2 Cor 5:17

God’s Stewards Are God’s Stewards.

I. Apart from Christ, we are naturally self-centered.
II. But God is the Creator of all things and our Redeemer.
III. So now in Christ, we are his new creation, God’s stewards.

Rev. Rexford E. Umbenhaur III, pastor, Our Savior Lutheran Church, Los Angeles, California

Sermon Dec. 29-30, 2018 First Sunday after Christmas

Title: Christ brings access to the Father’s House for you!
Text: Col 3:12-17

12 Put on then, as God's chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, 13 bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. 14 And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. 15 And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful. 16 Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God. 17 And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.

Christmas is here!

But the world says … “It’s time to move on.”

The 24 hour radio stations that started playing Christmas music have had enough. It is back to your regularly scheduled programming. It is a bit of how it is for we in the church as well. Christmas Eve service and Christmas Day and then for many we go back to work. Granted some have the week off and the kids are out of school. But, after last weekend and services on Saturday, Sunday, Monday and Tuesday and all the family activities … I felt like it was time for a bit of a break too. But, I had to wait for Friday for that because Wednesday and Thursday came and another sermon needed to be prepared and some visits to home bound members and those in rehab had to be made.

Life is real. It doesn’t let you collect your thoughts and relax at times. You and I know how that is.

As Paul writes in our Epistle to the Colossians:

12 Put on then, as God's chosen ones, holy and beloved - compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience,

Paul here reminds the Colossians who they are - as God’s chosen ones, that they were the reason that God became man in Christ. The incarnation had to happen so that the once for all sacrifice could be made at the cross and because of that reality they are – in Christ – holy and beloved.

The world can bring out the best and the worst in people. Now also, we see at Christmas acts of kindness, generosity and love but it can fade quickly with Christians and Non-Christians alike.

Compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, are not the normal reaction of sinful man.

We tend to react in selfish, heartless, prideful, bold and impatient ways.

Ill.

My son and daughter-n-law were at the Salvation Army store in Rochester just before Christmas when a fight broke out between two patrons who were, I assume, doing some last minute Christmas shopping.

Fighting over what? Something the other person had, I guess. Peace on Earth went to Hell in a hand basket of good intentions as the fight ensued, the police were called, and Elizabeth hurried toward Jon looking for a bit of safety in the midst of the storm.

Earlier in Paul’s letter he had reminded the Colossians to put on the new self.

3 If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. 2 Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth.

[Let the Salvation Army’s treasures go to another as you demonstrate your new life in Christ.]

3 For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God.

As Christians, Christmas needs to be in our hearts and minds each and every day of the year.

Bearing with one another … forgiving each other; 14 And above all … putting on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. 

The Lord’s forgiveness should cause our own forgiveness to spring forth from us because we have been forgiven much.

But we remain sinful though forgiven and it is a struggle each day. The Colossians needed reminding and we too need reminding.

Selfish, heartless, prideful, bold, and impatient people need to be reminded that in Christ we have been changed.

Just as God’s son was forever changed when he became man at the incarnation, we also, in Christ have put on the new man. No longer are we God’s enemies but God’s friends. We are his beloved children, having been clothed in Christ, and that change should also be evident in our daily lives as well.

15 And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful. 16 Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God.

God’s word whether heard, read, meditated upon, or sung from a thankful heart is where God’s peace through the working of his Holy Spirit lives and can be found.

Here - at Peace, there is Peace proclaimed, peace sung, peace delivered and peace received each and every week. God has promised to be where his people gather and where his gifts of word and sacrament are rightly administered and delivered.

Here after another week in the world where it is often not loving, helpful, or kind and where the walls of division stand tall within our country if not around our country we can make a difference reflecting Christ.

Come and receive all that the Lord has to give and then reflect that gift of love, peace and forgiveness to others as you shine the light of Christ brightly in this New Year.

17 And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.

In the name of the Father and of the Son + and of the Holy Spirit
Amen




Wednesday, December 26, 2018

Sermon Dec. 25, 2018 Christmas Day

Title: The blessed hope has come in Jesus!
Text: Titus 2:11-14

11 For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, 12 training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age, 13 waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, 14 who gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works.

Many of you like me, I’m sure, remember the day your children were born. For me there was the time of Monica’s pregnancy, the doctor’s visits, anticipation, worry, anxiety, excitement and many other feelings associated with the coming of a child.

This was especially true with our first born. What would it be, a boy or a girl? At that time, we could have been told to a relatively high degree of certainty but we chose to wait happy to accept what the Lord would bless us with.

On the day of Monica’s last doctor’s visit she was already dilated and we hurried over to the Hospital. As the time of the birth neared and the head of the baby began to emerge; Dr. Dorfman looked up and said:

“Top half’s a boy … and as the baby was born … bottom half’s a girl!”

The excitement and joy of this birth blessed our family as only God’s gift of children can, and now with the Christ child we can all celebrate today that:

The blessed hope has come in Jesus!

11 For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people,

What had been anticipated during Advent has now appeared. God’s salvation for all people has come in a means most peculiar … a baby boy wrapped in cloths … lying in a manger.

This good news when proclaimed by an angel to the shepherds in the fields brought great fear.

10 [But] the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people.

13 And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying,

14 “Glory to God in the highest and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!”

Luke 2: 10, 13, 14

God in Christ has brought peace between God and man and all who are found in Christ have God’s favor on account of this child of lowly birth.

The blessed hope who is Jesus!

11 For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people,

12 training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age,

What you and I are called to do … we can’t. We miss the mark and fall daily into the sinful desires of a sinful people. But Jesus has done for us what we could not do for ourselves. He has humbled himself to be our substitute, yours and mine, and to make a way where there is no way.

God’s child has renounced ungodliness and the passions of this world and has lived the God pleasing life according to the Law of God and fulfilling every requirement in this present evil age – for you. He has done what you and I could not and he has given this all to you. This grace of God appearing in this child for you has been made know by the power of the Holy Spirit working in you to believe.

But now it is this child, this babe, this baby King in a manger who looks to be for many who see him … not a King … not the Lord … and certainly not the savior of the world, but only a child and a baby in weakness.

13 waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ,

In weakness he came but in glory he will come again. God’s creation fallen into sin waited for this day. This day when God would come, the blessed hope of salvation in Jesus name, in this Christ child, because he is the one who will be the one to redeem his people from their sin.

We celebrate his coming today too in the joy and peace he has won for us at the cross – by his death and resurrection.

Because:

14 [He] gave himself for us, to redeem us from all lawlessness, and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous [or have great zeal and joy] for good works.

And you might ask, “What are these good works?”

Those who were following Jesus asked him:

“What must we do, to be doing the works of God?” 29 [And he] answered them, “This is the work of God, that you believe in him whom he has sent.” John 6: 27-29

Jesus - this baby - is the sent one,

Begotten of his Father before all worlds,

God of God, Light of Light,

Very God of very God,

Begotten, not made,

Being of one substance with the Father,

born in a manger … for you.

This God who came in weakness lived a sinless life … for you.

This God who came in weakness was handed over, tried, convicted and nailed to a cross … for you.

This God who came in weakness was buried and three days later rose from the dead … for you.

This God who came in weakness showed himself to his disciples and to more than 500 others … for you. 

This God who came in weakness ascended to the right hand of God and he intercedes … for you.

He will come again in glory at the appointed time to take you to where he is because in Christ you are seen through the veil … which is Jesus Christ the righteous one, and in him you are forgiven, redeemed and adopted into God family!

The blessed hope has come in Jesus … for you!

An interesting map is on display in the British Museum in London. It's an old mariner's chart, drawn in 1525, outlining the North American coastline and adjacent waters. The cartographer made some intriguing notations on areas of the map that represented regions not yet explored. He wrote: "Here be giants," "Here be fiery scorpions," and "Here be dragons." Eventually, the map came into the possession of Sir John Franklin, a British explorer in the early 1800s. Scratching out the fearful inscriptions, he wrote these words across the map: "Here is God."

Unknown.

Well, as we celebrate the Christ child and the coming of Jesus and His incarnation we see in a manger, a baby boy and say: “Here is God!”

The blessed hope has come in Jesus for you! May you joy together with the church of God as we celebrate his coming and all he came to do for you and me and all who are a far off … all whom the Lord our God will call to faith.

A Merry and blessed Christmas to you!

In the name of the Father and of the Son + and of the Holy Spirit
Amen


Dec. 24, 2018 LSB Setting IV with Holy Communion Christmas Eve
Title: In Christ, God’s love is yours!
Text: 1 John 4:7-16

10 In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.

The Father’s love is made known to us – you and me - in the sending of his son Jesus the promised incarnate son of God from eternity past the Alpha and Omega the first and the last.

In the beginning when God spoke all things came to be. In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the word was God. God’s Christ – begotten of the father – born of a Virgin for you!

We hear this Good News in the words of our gospel tonight.

“Joseph, son of David, do not fear to take Mary as your wife, for that which is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. 21 She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.” Matt.1:20b-21

The fall into sin brought death. All are born in death and live a life of death.
You and I apart from Jesus and faith created by the Holy Spirit - have no hope.
But that is the Good News of a savior who saves, redeems and calls from death to life.

It is Good news tonight; it is good News tomorrow; it is good News because it is redemption, restoration and resurrection from death to life eternal.

In the past God spoke through the prophets of old as the writer to the Hebrews says but in these last days he has spoken through his Son.

14 Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign. Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel. (God with us)

God’s word made flesh, Jesus Christ, was spoken of, was prophesized and foretold, that the plan of redemption would come in God’s time and in God’s way. But who is this Jesus … and more importantly … as Jesus asked his disciples … who do you say that I am?

Your answer to this question determines quite literally life and death. 

This humble child that now lies in a manger is truly the King of Kings and Lord of Lords whether he is your King and your Lord depends on faith in him, this Jesus who created the heavens and the Earth, lived, suffered, died, and rose again from the dead for you … to bring peace to this broken world.

The Peace of the world is in Christ!

Dear friends we speak of heaven, of angels singing, and of all bowing before the King, no silent throng but mighty voices. 

It is impossible to imagine the perfection of heaven but we can get a glimpse … in this child in the manger – the Jesus.

The Perfection of God’s only begotten son sent down from Heaven and wrapped in swaddling clothes … would grow into the man Christ Jesus.

That God would become man shows the value of his life for you, and your life in him.

Since the incarnation when God, born of a virgin, became man - no longer is God separate from you on a mountain, or speaking to a prophet for you.

Now in his flesh he has come to unite his death, with your death, and his life, with your life, so that in him we are made righteous by the power of the Holy Spirit by faith.

John’s epistle confirms this when he writes:

13 By this we know that we abide in him and he in us, because he has given us of his Spirit. 14 And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent his Son to be the Savior of the world. 15 Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him, and he in God.

God remains hidden. He reveals himself by his Spirit through the word. If you wish to know him don’t look into the heavens as the angles told the disciples as they looked up as he ascended before them.

11b …This Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will come in the same way as you saw him go into heaven.” Acts 1:11b

The ascension is not the end.

The eternal victory is found in Christ’s glorious return to judge the living and the dead. Death is no escape. All will be judged. Some will depart to be with the Lord and others cast into … a hell of their own choosing.

The good news though is that the Lord is on his throne and he still calls those who have ears to hear.

Listen, come, and drink the living water for the river of life that is Jesus.

Unjustly killed Christ overcomes sin, death, and the devil for you. He is able to raise you up by the power of the simple things … water and word, bread and wine … for you and he continues through his church to make disciples.

Let the little children come to me he calls and as a little child born in a manger he came to be the savior of the world. And as the God/man in death he fulfilled all righteousness for you so that you too might be righteous.

As our epistle reading ends:

17 By this is love perfected with us, so that we may have confidence for the day of judgment,

Have no fear for in Christ you are forgiven and he has a place of everlasting comfort for you that awaits all who believe and trust in Christ.

Because as [Jesus] is so also are we in this world. 18 There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love.

But you are perfect in him forever!

In the name of the Father and of the Son + and of the Holy Spirit.

Amen











Sermon Dec. 22-23, 2018 Fourth Sunday in Advent

Title: In Christ, the blessings of the Lord are yours!
Text: Luke 1:39-45

41 And when Elizabeth heard the greeting of Mary, the baby leaped in her womb. And Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit, 42 and she exclaimed with a loud cry, “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb!

A few years ago in adult Bible Study we learned that Bethlehem Ephrathah means “the house of bread.” It will play a special role in God’s plan as the prophet Micah records in our Old Testament reading for today:

But you, O Bethlehem Ephrathah, who are too little to be among the clans of Judah, from you shall come forth for me one who is to be ruler in Israel, whose coming forth is from of old, from ancient days. (Micah 5:2)

This “house of bread”, Bethlehem, would become the place where the true bread from heaven, Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior would come down to save His people from the power of sin, death and the Devil’s working in their lives. From this tiny town the salvation of the world would emerge.

Mary, who just a little bit earlier in Luke’s gospel reading, would have a visitation from the Angel Gabriel, announcing that she would have a very special role to play in God’s plan for restoring the gulf that was fixed by sin between God and man and we also have heard these past two weeks how John the Baptist would be used by God to prepare the way.

Today our Gospel reading moves back a bit in the story, some 30 plus years, to Mary’s visit to Elizabeth, another women used by God for a very important role. She would bear the prophet, John, who would be the greatest of all prophets as Jesus said in our Gospel reading from last week,

28 I tell you … among those born of women none is greater than John.

But this visit of Mary to Elizabeth was a bit different.

Mary with joyful energy and as the text says, “Arose and went with haste into the hill country, to a town in Judah,” and came to the house of Zachariah, where she greeted Elisabeth, just as you or I might great a relative or dear friend. But then God performed a miracle. By the working of the Holy Spirit this unborn son of Elisabeth, at hearing Mary’s voice, was filled with the Holy Spirit. And so too Elisabeth, by this same Spirit acting in a miraculous way, also filled her as she spoke:

“Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb! 43 And why is this granted to me that the mother of my Lord (by special gifting of the Holy Spirit, Elizabeth was given the knowledge and trusting faith to know who this child Mary was carrying truly was) should come to me? 44 For behold, when the sound of your greeting came to my ears, the baby in my womb leaped for joy.” (Luke 1:42b-44)

In Christ, the blessings of the Lord are yours!

So what does the knowledge given you by the Holy Spirit about Jesus bring you? Is it an unstoppable kind of joy that might even cause you to leap?

If you’re like me, I joy in Christ … that he has given me freedom from sin … but the Christmas season can be a drag at times too. Having worked in retail sales for most of my adult life I have found it hard to get joyful working extra hard and being consumed with all that needs to be done – during the holidays.

Many find the Christmas Season extra hard to deal with. Suicides are a major concern this time of year. My nephew’s friend committed suicide the beginning of this month at the young age of 25 and Jessica Starr, the weather newscaster on Fox, did the same at the age of 35 just this past week shocking her Fox family and friends. If you had some joy looking forward to Christmas this year it can fall away quickly after this kind of news.

Now, add to all of this the fact that this child, this babe from Bethlehem, this Jesus, would become an offence to many.

He is an offense in our world for sure so much so that Merry Christmas has become just another happy holiday – handed down as corporate policy from the board rooms of many companies so that the true blessed meaning of Christmas has been neutered into just another sale or Hallmark or Lifetime movie – or lost altogether. Sound familiar?

The message of who Jesus is, who this child is that we wait for this Advent season … the one who caused the child in the womb of Elizabeth to jump for joy - this child Jesus Christ - came to conquer the power of evil and brokenness in this world, for you and for me.

Ill.

An old post was shared on Facebook this past week and I saw it from my former college professor Dr. Pat O’Connor. His post said, “I’m not sorry I missed this.”

“BREAKFAST WITH SATAN SATURDAY DECEMBER 14”

The reality is … it was a prank a few years ago and the spelling change was quickly fixed by the school and locked with a padlock on the sign.

School pranks are nothing new. Many years ago when I attended ARNO Elementary school in Allen Park we students who were in 3rd or 4th grade would think about climbing on the school roof where it had the letters A-R-N-O for Arno and wondering what it would take to take off the A and the R so that the building said NO SCHOOL.

We actually thought we wouldn’t have to go!

What about the future? In this PC and full inclusiveness cultural world that we live in, could we see Satan worshipers calling for equal time with Santa and Jesus at Christmas? It is not out of the realm of possibilities. What would they serve at their breakfast … Hot dogs, Tabasco sauce, maybe Deviled eggs?

It is not beyond the pale.

Don’t let the season be defined by the ways of the world.

Because, in Christ, the blessings of the Lord are yours!

For John in the womb and Elizabeth, the joy that is the Christ child came in a miraculous and unexpected way through Mary’s visit.

We too receive the joy that is Jesus Christ our Lord when He calls us to gather together in His name; where we receive his word and his sacraments giving us both faith and joy in this Christ child who came to free sinners, like you and me, from the enemy of our sin, from the death that it has brought to all who are conceived in sin and brought forth in iniquity, (Psalm 51.5) and finally to join us to Him who is God in the flesh for all eternity!

Our Joy is in the Christ child and that is for whom we await. He came for you and by the power of the Holy Spirit he gives you faith to leap for joy from the womb of death that you are born into, and by that same Spirit He lifts you into his loving arms never to let sin, death or the Devil pull you from the eternal life he gives.

In Christ, the blessings of the Lord are yours!

In the name of the Father and of the Son + and of the Holy Spirit

Amen




Sermon Dec. 19, 2018 Advent Midweek 3

Title: In Christ you are raised up!
Text: Luke 7:18-28

22 And [Jesus] answered them, “Go and tell John what you have seen and heard: the blind receive their sight, the lame walk, lepers are cleansed, and the deaf hear, the dead are raised up, the poor have good news preached to them. 23 And blessed is the one who is not offended by me.”

Back a few months ago Trudy Berousek took a fall at her home that required surgery, a stay at the hospital and rehab at the Neighborhoods of White Lake. You might remember that I had made an unannounced call to her home where she called for help as I knocked on the door. I saw her last week and she is doing great and we had a great visit and she received the Lord’s Supper.

I also say Marilynn Wendt this past week. Her car accident was in July and she is still in rehab but the good news is she has been cleared for full weight bearing on her leg and if all goes well she might be home on Christmas Day for a visit as she prepares to move home on a permanent basis and make a full recovery!

God is good!

The work of John the Baptist was talked about this past weekend. He was the one who would prepare the way, for another … but who?

The disciples of John had been reporting all these things to him and many of the healings. You might remember Jesus’ healing the Centurion’s servant. It is recorded earlier in Luke chapter 7 where the Centurion says:
“Lord, do not trouble yourself, for I am not worthy to have you come under my roof … But say the word, and let my servant be healed. 8 For I too am a man set under authority, with soldiers under me: and I say to one, ‘Go,’ and he goes; and to another, ‘Come,’ and he comes; … 9 When Jesus heard these things, … and turning to the crowd that followed him, said, “I tell you, not even in Israel have I found such faith.” (Luke 7:7-9)

Or, the funeral procession of the widow’s son from the town of Nain that Jesus came upon. And Jesus said to her also in Luke 7:

“Do not weep.” 14 Then he came up and touched, the man and he said, “Young man … I say to you, arise.” And he gave him back to his mother. (Luke 7:14-15)

So this is the question that John wanted his disciples to answer …
“Are you the one who is to come, or shall we look for another?”

John knew that his own calling was to prepare the way … to be the one crying out in the wilderness … to point his followers to the messiah, the Christ, the one who was to come. The question that they asked of Jesus, “Is it you? Are you the one? What should we tell John?”

Jesus, answering them said:

22 … “Go … tell John what you have seen and what you've heard: the blind receive their sight, the lame walk, lepers are cleansed, and the deaf hear, the dead are raised up, the poor have good news preached to them. 23 And blessed is the one who is not offended by me.”

Christ is the one to come, and we can rejoice in this Good News!

Ill.

It is been a busy time of year. Many of our members are on my mind as they with health concerns. Christmas Caroling to some of our shut-ins was a joy but seems after just three weeks, so long ago. Our mid-week services conclude today and then it is on to the weekend services and then on to Christmas Eve and Day services.

This past Saturday as I sat at my dining table having some breakfast when my phone rang. It was Ginny McDonald calling to tell me she was in the hospital. I was able to go see her in the afternoon and bring her communion, prayer, and a visit before coming to church.

Some years ago Pastor Tom Fisher from Rochester did a sermon at one of our Pastor Circuit Meetings about God interrupting lives through the preaching of John the Baptist. My life was certainly interrupted by Ginny’s call, Marilynn Wendy car accident and long rehab, Trudy Berousek’s fall at home and hospital and rehab stay as well.

Pastor Fisher’s message said, "We must always be prepared for being interrupted by God". This interrupting opens us all up to God’s will and is one of the core objectives of the Advent's message; … prepare ye the way of the Lord!"

My life, like yours, is interrupted by both joy and sadness. As we wrestled with the illnesses of those in the Hospital and rehab – Kim and Maddie Deckard, Pastor Merrell, Monica and I were also blessed by the joyful faces of God’s older children as we sang Christmas Carols to them.

… rejoice in this Good News!

“Go and tell John what you have seen and heard: the blind receive their sight, the lame walk, lepers are cleansed, and the deaf hear, the dead are raised up, the poor have good news preached to them. 23 And blessed is the one who is not offended by me.”
Jesus asks and wants to know a very important thing from these disciples who were following Him.

“What did you go out into the wilderness to see? A reed shaken by the wind? 25 What then did you go out to see? A man dressed in soft clothing? Behold, those who are dressed in splendid clothing and live in luxury are in kings' courts. 26 What then did you go out to see? A prophet? Yes, I tell you, and more than a prophet. 27 This is he of whom it is written,

“‘Behold, I send my messenger before your face,
who will prepare your way before you.’

28 I tell you, among those born of women none is greater than John.
Is there no one greater than John? This prophet who would prepare the way for the Lord? When you think of some of the prophets; Moses, Jeremiah, Isaiah, and on and on and John … is the greatest of all of these …

Yet the one who is least in the kingdom of God is greater than he.

Rejoice in this Good News!

You, who are the least in the Kingdom, are greater than John! Think about that! Christ has lifted you up. He has redeemed you. He has made you His own. He has called you to be his child. He has washed you clean in the blood of the Lamb. He will feed you on His very body and blood given and shed for you.

You who deserve death have been given new life in Him. Rejoice in Him!
Martin Luther who was not only a great theologian and defender of the faith but quite a good hymn writer as well wrote this little hymn that it a great comfort for all who live this Christian life of faith:

“Feelings come and feelings go, and feelings are deceiving;

My warrant is the Word of God—[nothing] else is worth believing.

Though all my heart should feel condemned, for want of some sweet token,

There is One greater than my heart, whose Word cannot be broken.

I'll trust in God's unchanging Word, till soul and body sever,

For, though all things shall pass away ... HIS WORD SHALL STAND FOREVER!”

― Martin Luther

This Advent as we watch and wait, know that there is one who knows you and has known you from the foundation of the world and has called you to be His own child.

In the name of the Father and of the Son + and of the Holy Spirit.

Amen