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Month: December 2016

Old World and New Year – Thoughts on the News Always Being Bad.

When the exceedingly expensive ball drops on New Years Eve many folks are saying that 2016 can’t go away fast enough.  All the talk of hope and change over the last few years brought about nothing but an endless campaign and fund raising and disastrous policies that even the party that thought they were in power have trouble explaining.  Admirers of the Soviet Union when it existed are all of a sudden talking like “hawks”.  Russiaphiles are suddenly Russiaphobes and it is hard to keep score on the flips and changes and strange goings on.  People who were our friends aren’t anymore and there are concerted efforts to destroy the only real allies the US has had since WWII.  The old Chinese curse keeps coming into my mind – “may you live in interesting times”. I came across a statement by St. Augustine that applies to new years and old years and interesting times.  “You are surprised that the world is losing its grip, that the world is grown old? Think of a man. He is born, he grows up, he becomes old. Old age has many complaints: coughing, shaking, failing eyesight, anxious, terribly tired. A man grows old; he is full of complaints. The world is old; it is full of pressing tribulations. . . . Do not hold on to the old man, the world. Do not...

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Before the Face of All People.. Those Christmas Missionary Texts and Missionaries

Old man Simeon saw the baby Jesus and wrote those marvelous words – “Oh Lord let your servant depart in peace, your word has been fulfilled for my own eyes have seen the salvation that you have prepared before the face of all people” I can die now he is saying.  I can be at peace because God’s Word is fulfilled.  I can face my future unafraid because whatever happens to be I am redeemed and safe.  He has seen the salvation of the world.  This is a missionary text.  God prepared salvation for the whole word. Christians may face the future unafraid also because of the knowledge of His salvation for all people. God’s purposes will be accomplished also in these days of greed and selfishness and confusion, Even these days serve the purpose of spreading the Gospel all over the world. For such a wonderful Savior, whose plans for the world of the future and the future salvation are being carried out give praise. On Him cast all your cares as the new year dawns. This is also the time to look for ways to help our missionaries as well.  We have been talking about Julie McManus, one of our Mary Okeyo travelers and her need for help to stay where she is needed to help.  We have glowing reports of Julies work in caring for children at Project...

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Christmas and Missions.

The Christmas Octave including Steven’s death, John the Apostles ministry, and the death of the babies in Bethlehem by Herod can teach us much about missions. Stevens death overseen by Saul is the opening of the great drama which will see Saul become Paul the greatest missionary in history. John’s heart, warmed by the gift of God’s love in Jesus Christ, the Savior, reached  out in love toward others. He wanted them to have a part and share with him in the blessed fellowship which he himself had found. “That which we have seen and heard declare we unto you that ye also may have fellowship with us” (1 John 1: 3). Christian faith is not static. It is active. “Faith worketh” (Gal. 5 : 6). It does what it can to see itself multiplied in the hearts of men everywhere. And it worketh “by love” (Gal. 5: 6). You give gifts to those whom you love -as a rule, perhaps, the largest and best gifts to those whom you love most. Christian love encircles the world, and there is no better gift of love that you can give anyone anywhere than to show him his Savior, that he also may have fellowship with you in the communion of saints through faith in Christ Jesus. Christmas, therefore, should be for us a tremendous  festival of missions, spurring us on to...

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Martyrs in Deed But Not Will.

Last Sunday was Christmas Day, the first day in this eight-day celebration of the Octave of Christmas.  There are often three celebrations December 26, the day after Christmas, is the Feast of St. Stephen, the first Martyr. The reading from Acts takes us into the story of his being stoned by an infuriated crowd. December 27: On December 27th, we traditionally celebrate the Feast of St. John, Apostle and Evangelist. On December 28th, we celebrate the Feast of the Holy Innocents. This celebration takes us back into the infancy narrative of Matthew. The account of how Jesus begins his journey to become one with us, is powerfully told as a journey of Jesus’ entering into the journey of his people, with the flight into Egypt and the horrible slaughter of the innocent children. This very difficult scene is important for us to reflect upon as we imagine the unborn and the newly born who are so unjustly deprived of dignity and life today.  Thus the feast of the birth of the King of martyrs is followed by the “heavenly birthdays” of the first martyr in will and in deed (Stephen), the apostolic martyr in will but not in deed (John), and the infant martyrs in deed but not in will. Continuing the Octave is the Festival of the Circumcision and the Name of Jesus; it concurs with the New Year’s...

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St. John the Theologian – continuing Christmas Observances

On the Liturgical Calendar used in the LCMS, today is set aside to remember St. John. He was a son of Zebedee and brother of James the elder (whose festival/feast day is July 25). John was among the first disciples to be called by Jesus (Matthew 4:18-22) and became known as “the disciple whom Jesus loved,” as he refers to himself in the Gospel that bears his name (e.g., John 21:20). Of the Twelve, John alone did not forsake Jesus in the hours of His suffering and death. With the faithful women, he stood at the cross, where our Lord made him the guardian of His mother. After Pentecost, John spent his ministry in Jerusalem and at Ephesus, where tradition says he was bishop. He wrote the fourth Gospel, the three Epistles that bear his name, and the Book of Revelation. Especially memorable in his Gospel are the account of the wedding at Cana (John 2:1-12), the “Gospel in a nutshell” (John 3:16), Jesus encounter with the Samaritan woman at the well (John 4:1-43), Jesus’ saying about the Good Shepherd (John 10:11-18), the raising of Lazarus from the dead (John 11), and Jesus’ encounter with Mary Magdalene on Easter morning (John 20:11-18). According to tradition, John was banished to the island of Patmos (off the coast of Asia Minor) by the Roman emperor Domitian. John lived to a very...

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