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Archive for December, 2013

The Light and lights……..

weird lights

I was experimenting one day with my iPad and took this picture.  It is kind of fascinating to me.  Of course the old joke is that some of us, (most of us) can be distracted by shiny objects and light.  I spent a lot of time in this restaurant just staring at these Christmas lights below and this was a week before Thanksgiving.  We don’t seem to get tired of lights either.  Some of my neighbors will have their Christmas lights up until February.  It’s expensive but they enjoy it and so do I.  Anyway look at the number and the way the word “light” is used in Johns first three chapters.

John 1:4

In him was life, and the life was the light of men.

John 1:5

The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.

John 1:7

He came as a witness, to bear witness about the light, that all might believe through him.

John 1:8

He was not the light, but came to bear witness about the light.

John 1:9

The true light, which gives light to everyone, was coming into the world.

John 3:19

And this is the judgment: the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil.

John 3:20

For everyone who does wicked things hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his works should be exposed.

John 3:21

But whoever does what is true comes to the light, so that it may be clearly seen that his works have been carried out in God.”

So my prayer is the light of Christ will penetrate and permeate and illuminate your life this New Year in His grace.

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The Light and Light….

weird light

So Trinity Lutheran Church in Drayton has a Chrismon Tree.  It is a big one.  In the picture the lights are unplugged and the only light on the tree is coming from the windows.  This one Chrismon shines with a very interesting light.  I am sure that there is a scientific reason for it.  Somehow the light coming through is refracted in our through this one Chrismon.  It stays like that for a long time too.  I would think that after an hour the light would dim but this one keeps going.

Anyway it is supposedly the Chrismon that symbolizes the star that led the Wise men to the Messiah.  We stood around and took pictures of it Sunday after the lesson about the murder of the innocents and the Holy families trip to Egypt.

“How vain the cruel Herod’s fear, When told that Christ the King is near! He takes not earthly realms away, Who gives the realms that ne’er decay.

The Eastern sages saw from far And followed on His guiding star; By light their way to Light they trod, And by their gifts confessed their God.”

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Unto Us a Son is Given – Luther on Isaiah 9 – the 5th day of Christmas

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Unto Us a child is Born, unto us a Son is given, and the government will be upon His shoulders.  Luther takes off on this in one of his sermons.  Note how he ends it – “when I have time and am healthy I will preach more about this.”  I can’t find the rest of the sermons that I hope he preached.

Isaiah, however, stays down here [on earth, saying], “He is the kind of lord who takes the government on his shoulder—and thus a genuine lord.” Let whoever can figure out what that means! A unique and wonderful lord, who wears his authority around his neck! This shows how the rule of Christ differs from the kingdoms of the world. For Christ says, “The kings of the Gentiles lord it over them.”  They have to exercise power, to rule strictly, and make use of the law; but they do not need to fleece and flail [people]. [All] secular governments have to rule and punish with severity; but it is [only] the villains and tyrants who fleece and flail [their people]. In the latter case, the subjects have to carry these lords, magistrates, heads of families, etc., on their shoulders. And they do have to carry them, or the tyrants will be on them with blows and executioners. But we are speaking here of good rulers, not of tyrants. Yet even the good authorities are carried on the shoulders of their subjects. But the rule of that Son who was born to us works the other way around: he carries us! We rest on his shoulders; he is our bearer. See how Isaiah turns everything around, contrary to the customs of the world. Where is Christ’s rule, his land, and his people? Our duke’s rule includes Saxony, Thuringia, and Meissen. But Christ’s rule includes all believers, of whom he is Lord. So we are his people and his land. And where is his government? On his shoulder! This is wonderful. Christ’s kingdom is not under his feet, nor is it in Rome or in Babylon; it is on his shoulder.

But only those are Christians who are on his shoulder, that is, those who firmly trust him and allow themselves to be carried by him like the lost sheep. To sum up: no one is a Christian who does not rest on the shoulder of Christ.

The sheep must say, “Dear Shepherd, you carry me, not I you!” It would be some crazy sheep that wanted to carry him! Would it ever get something to carry! But Christ says, “Hop on! I will carry you well—and all your sins are forgiven.” And the world persecutes this treasure of the kingdom [of Christ]! Isaiah says, “You have the Son.” So, hop on! We should gladly and confidently run to him, believing that he will answer for us and pay for us. This message goes forth into the world, but I have no idea about our gratitude [for it]. “Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” Now, by adding these  names, [the prophet] explains how the carrying takes place. When I have time and am healthy, I will preach about that.   If not, someone else will do it, since it is written in the books as well as I can preach it[here].

 

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Unto Us a Child is Born….Christmas day 4.

The fact that the child in manger was born for me changes everything and that is why I wrote this song – “As near as my heart beat.”

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Luther preached three Sermons on Christmas Day – this is a part of one

“Conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the Virgin Mary”.  For whom was he conceived and born? For whom did he suffer and die? For us, for us, for us! Always add us! That is why the fathers rightly put the word [in the creed]: And in Jesus Christ, our Lord.” We should relate this word to every sentence: conceived for us and born for us, suffered for us and raised for us, ascended for us and sitting at the right [hand of God] for us. For [it is no accident that] the words, are followed And in Jesus [Christ his only Son] our Lord.”   With these words, we seek to take him unto ourselves, to make him our Lord, the head of our family, our  Father.

In the same way, this word “ our Lord” must be included with all [the following] sentences so they don’t just stand there naked. They are all about us. Christ didn’t need these works.  He would have remained a lord quite well without them. Rather, his conception and birth, his suffering and death, his ascension and sitting at the right hand are all for our benefit. They belong to us. Note that well!

That is why Isaiah says, “To us a child is born, to us a son is given.” It is like when women [approach a baby’s cradle and] say, “Oh, a baby! What is it?” And I answer, “It’s a boy—and he’s ours!” What an incredible thing to say, that all of us should somehow be the mothers of one whom we have not carried [in our womb]!  He is given to us as though he were our own son. How proud and honored we are that he is our son, that he belongs to us. But it is not enough that he is “born” to us; he is also “given” to us. What does “given” mean? He is a [pure] gift, a present. There is nothing I have to give or pay in return. Woe to the godless and ungrateful world that disdains this gift.

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Luther on the question – Are you a Christian?

psalm 73

Take yourself in hand, examine yourself and see whether you are a Christian!  If you can sing:  The Son, who is proclaimed to be a Lord and Savior, is my Savior; and if you can confirm the message of the angel and say yes to it and believe it in your heart, then your heart will be filled with such assurance and joy and confidence, and you will not worry much about even the costliest and best that this world has to offer.  For when I can speak to the virgin from the bottom of my heart and say: O Mary, noble, tender virgin, you have borne a child; this I want more than robes and guldens, yea, more than my body and life; then you are closer to the treasure than everything else in heaven and earth, as Ps. 73 [:25] says, “There is nothing upon earth that I desire besides thee.”  You see how a person rejoices when he receives a robe or ten guldens.  But how many are there who shout and jump for joy when they hear the message of the angel:  “To you is born this day the Savior?”  Indeed, the majority look upon it as a sermon that must be preached, and when they have heard it, consider it a trifling thing, and go away just as they were before.  This shows that we have neither the first nor the second faith.  We do not believe that the virgin mother bore a son and that he is the Lord and Savior unless, added to this, I believe the second thing, namely, that he is my Savior and Lord.  When I can say:  This I accept as my own, because the angel meant it for me, then, if I believe it in my heart, I shall not fail to love the mother Mary, and even more then child, and especially the Father.  For, if it is true that the child was born of the virgin and is mine, then I have no angry God and I must know the feel that there is nothing but laughter and joy in the heart of the Father and no sadness in my heart.  For, if what the angel says is true, that he is our Lord and Savior, what can sin do against us?  “If God is for us, who is against us?” [Rom. 8:31].  Greater words than these I cannot speak, nor all the angels and even the Holy Spirit, as is sufficiently testified by the beautiful and devout songs that have been made about it.  I do not trust myself to express it.  I most gladly hear you sing and speak of it, but as long as no joy is there, so long is faith still weak or even nonexistent, and you still do not believe the angel.

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Away In a Manger

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We want our Christmas to be peaceful.  I usually write these blogs very early in the morning while I watch the news and our world and life is anything but peaceful. I wonder what will happen next.  This morning for instance the Humphrey Terminal at the Airport in Minneapolis is closed down because of a bomb threat.  Every day brings some crazy new “news” and it never seems to end.  There is a war against Christmas and Christianity and disputations in the public square about what we can say.  The “Duck Dynasty” craziness is going on and I am waiting this morning for the groups that support the “thieves, the greedy, the drunkards the slanderers and the swindlers” to jump on board and attack the duck guy.  (See 1 Corinthians 6:9-10 NIV)

There was nothing peaceful about the first Christmas either.  Life was chaotic and much like our world, people’s live were turned upside down by the actions and rulings of political leaders that thought that simply by speaking the word, they could make something work.  I sympathize with you if you lost your health insurance but think if you had to walk to your home town to register to pay the exorbitant taxes that it is going to cost all of us to pay for the insurance that you lost.  Politicians have never been friendly to Christianity even when they pretend to be Christians  Remember Jesus was a political refugee before he was five years old.

Anyway this is my second favorite version of “Away in a Manger”.  This is the Kirkpatrick tune.  I like the Murray tune better but to each their own.  Please don’t organize any boycotts of the blog because I stated my opinion.  By the way isn’t a “boycott” sexist and an affront to women?

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Gentle Jesus Meek and Mild

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Slow Song – meant to be – wait for it.

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Mary’s Little Baby

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Luther had a wonderful “take” on Christmas and the birth of Christ “for us”.  Here it is…………………….

Christ has a pure, innocent, and holy birth. Man has an unclean, sinful, condemned birth; as David says, Ps. 51, 5, “Behold I was brought forth in iniquity; and in sin did my mother conceive me.” Nothing can help this unholy birth except the pure birth of Christ. But Christ’s birth cannot be distributed in a material sense neither would that avail any thing; it is therefore imparted spiritually, through the Word, as the angel says, it is given to all who firmly believe so that no harm will come to them because of their impure birth. This it the way and manner in which we are to be cleansed from the miserable birth we have from Adam. For this purpose Christ willed to be born, that through him we might be born again, as he says John 3: 3, that it takes place through faith; as also St. James says in 1, 18: “Of his own will he brought us forth by the word of truth, that we should be a kind of firstfruits of his creatures.”

 We see here how Christ, as it were, takes our birth from us and absorbs it in his birth, and grants us his, that in it we might become pure and holy, as if it were our own, so that every Christian may rejoice and glory in Christ’s birth as much as if he had himself been born of Mary as was Christ. Whoever does not believe this, or doubts, is no Christian.

 0, this is the great joy of which the angel speaks. This is the comfort and exceeding goodness of God that, if a man believes this, he can boast of the treasure that Mary is his rightful mother, Christ his brother, and God his father. For these things actually occurred and are true, but we must believe. This is the principal thing and the principal treasure in every Gospel, before any doctrine of good works can be taken out of it. Christ must above all things become our own and we become his, before we can do good works.

But this cannot occur except through the faith that teaches us rightly to understand the Gospel and properly to lay hold of it. This is the only way in which Christ can be rightly known so that the conscience is satisfied and made to rejoice. Out of this grow love and praise to God who in Christ has bestowed upon us such unspeakable gifts. This gives courage to do or leave undone, and living or dying, to suffer every thing that is well pleasing to God. This is what is meant by Isaiah 9: 6, “Unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given,” to us, to us, to us is born, and to us is given this child,

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Gloria In Excelsis Deo.

 

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Martin Luther on the Angels Song………….

Finally we must also treat of the angels’ song, which we use daily in our service: Gloria in excelsis Deo. There are three things to be considered in this song, the glory to God, the peace to the earth, and the good will to mankind. The good will might be understood as the divine good will God has toward men through Christ. But we will admit it to mean the good will which is granted unto men through this birth.

The first is the glory to God. Thus we should also begin, so that in all things the praise and glory be given to God as the one who does, gives and possesses all things, that no one ascribe any thing to himself or claim any merit for himself. For the glory belongs to no one but to God alone, it does not permit of being made common by being shared by any person.

Adam stole the glory through the evil spirit and appropriated it to himself, so that all men with him have come into disgrace, which evil is so deeply rooted in all mankind that there is no vice in them as great as vanity. Every one is well pleased with himself and no one wants to be nothing, and they desire nothing, which spirit of vanity is the cause of all distress, strife and war upon earth.

Christ has again brought back the glory to God, in that he has taught us how all we have or can do is nothing but wrath and displeasure before God, so that we may not be boastful and self-satisfied, but rather be filled with fear and shame, so that in this manner our glory and self-satisfaction may be crushed, and we be glad to be rid of it, in order that we may be found and preserved in Christ.

The second is the peace on earth. For just as strife must exist where God’s glory is not found, as Solomon says, Prov. 13, 10, “By pride cometh only contention;” so also, where God’s glory is there must be peace. Why should they quarrel when they know that nothing is their own, but that all they are, have and can desire is from God; they leave everything in his hands and are content that they have such a gracious God. He knows that all he may have, is nothing before God, he does not seek his own honor, but thinks of him who is something before God, namely Christ.

From this it follows that where there are true Christians, there is no strife, contention, or discord; as Isaiah says in 2, 4, “And they shall beat their swords into plowshears, and their spears into pruning hooks; nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more.

Therefore our Lord Christ is called a king of peace, and is represented by king Solomon, whose name implies, rich in peace, that inwardly he may give us peace in our conscience toward God through faith; and outwardly, that we may exercise love to our fellow men, so that through him there may be everywhere peace on earth.

The third is good will toward men. By good will is not meant the will that does good works, but the good will and peace of heart, which is equally submissive in every thing that may betide, be it good or evil. The angels knew very well that the peace, of which they sang, does not extend farther than to the Christians who truly believe, such have certainly peace among themselves. But the world and the devil have no reproof, they do not permit them to have peace but persecute them to death; as Christ says, John 16, 33, “In me ye may have peace. In the world ye have tribulation.”

Hence it was not enough for the angels to sing peace on earth, they added to it the good will toward men, that they take pleasure in all that God does, regard all God’s dealing with them as wise and good, and praise and thank him for it. They do not murmur, but willingly submit to God’s will. Moreover since they know that God, whom they have received by faith in Christ as a gracious Father, can do all things, they exult and rejoice even under persecution as St. Paul says, Rom 5, 3, “We also rejoice in our tribulations.” They regard all that happens to them as for the best, out of the abundant satisfaction they have in Christ.

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The Real Meaning of Christmas according to………….Luther

nativity 2

If Christ has now thus become your own, and you have by such faith been cleansed through him and have received your inheritance without any personal merit, but alone through the love of God who gives to you as your own the treasure and work of his Son; it follows that you will do good works by doing to your neighbor as Christ has done to you. Here good works are their own teacher. What are the good works of Christ? Is it not true that they are good because they have been done for your benefit, for God’s sake, who commanded him to do the works in your behalf? In this then Christ was obedient to the Father, in that he loved and served us.

Therefore since you have received enough and become rich, you have no other commandment to serve Christ and render obedience to him, than so to direct your works that they may be of benefit to your neighbor, just as the works of Christ are of benefit and use to you. For the reason Jesus said at the Last Supper: “This is my commandment that ye love one another; even as I have loved you.” John, 13: 34. Here it is seen that he loved us and did every thing for our benefit, in order that we may do the same, not to him, for he needs it not, but to our neighbor; this is his commandment, and this is our obedience. Therefore it is through faith that Christ becomes our own, and his love is the cause that we are his. He loves, we believe, thus both are united into one. Again, our neighbor believes and expects our love, we are therefore to love him also in return and not let him long for it in vain. One is the same as the other; as Christ helps us so we in return help our neighbor, and all have enough.

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