Christmas! Do we forget the wonder, holiness, and absolute importance of Christmas? Sadly, in this year of the Lord 2021, so many of us do! Oh, yes, we still decorate and we still buy presents by the dozens for the people we love. Yes, it’s a bit different this year because of the supply chain problems. But, we still soldier on.
Yet, there is a very sad and lonely vibration this Christmas. The Lord Jesus was born in Bethlehem so long ago. He is Savior and Lord. This birth, the incarnation, that is, the birth of True God and True Man for our salvation–for our eternal life–is despised by many of our own people. To be despised in not really to be hated so much as to be ignored and deprecated. The birth of Christ is relegated to a season of lights and family gatherings. The deep mystery of God’s love is glossed over by cheap and gaudy human inventions.
The fear of the Lord, which is the very sign of wisdom, is very absent in this day and age. Oh yes, we have a religion, but is it a religion of sentimentality and selfishness. It is a religion that has no salvation, that is only for this life, that has only rules and regulations made up by ourselves and those who would control our free
exercise of the true religion. We say "Oh, how I love Jesus!" But we leave Him in His manger bed, just as ignored as He was when Mary gave birth in that stable in Bethlehem.
God sent Saint John the Baptist to prepare the way for Jesus when He grew up. John did not mince his words. "You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come? Bear fruits in keeping with repentance." John speaks for God! It’s time for us to celebrate the love of God–Christmas!
Dear Christian friend, the Holy Spirit, who lives within you by virtue of God’s love in Christ, is testifying to you today. He would have you to live a life of repentance. That is, the life that depends on God, that recognizes our own sinfulness and weakness, that clings to the cross of Christ, that makes itself known in acts of love and mercy for the sake of Christ. In that life alone is forgiveness and eternal life.
Throw off the trappings of this passing away world. Come into the daylight’s splendor of the birth of Jesus Christ. Let Him give you Himself, crucified and risen, in the Holy Supper. And come often. You need to, for your own sake, and for the sake of your family and friends and neighbors. As they see you coming to worship with the shepherds at Christ’s manger bed, they will wonder and perhaps, by the Holy Spirit, come to believe the Truth that only can set them free. See you at CTK this Saturday, Sunday, Wednesday, Christmas Eve, Christmas Day! Merry Christmas!
November is always a time wherein we thank God for all the Christian folk who believe on the Lord Jesus Christ for life and salvation down through the centuries. As William W. How’s great text proclaims, "Thou wast their rock, their fortress, and their might." That is, Jesus Christ alone is the author and finisher of our faith. Without faith n Jesus Christ as only Lord and Savior one is outside in the darkness of sin and unbelief.
You, dear Christian friend, are a Saint of God. You are a Holy One and beloved of God. And all because of His love for you in Christ Jesus. You are baptized into Christ. You are made to be a member of His Body, the Church. How should that work out in your life? After all, we need nourishment for our bodies and minds every day of our lives. The same is true of your relationship with God.
So many of us, the Saints of God, have fallen prey to the fears and follies of this world of sin and death. Many of us are afraid in the world with the greatest and most pervasive of all fears: the fear of (physical) death. This is the fear that is stoked and published by Satan, the murderer and liar. Of course, short of the Resurrection of all flesh when Jesus returns, all of us will suffer the pangs of physical death. It’s inevitable.
But you need not live in fear!
The actual fear of physical death has a negative effect on the Body of Christ at CTK. Folks who were regular in the reception of the Lord’s Supper in the Divine Services of CTK absent themselves using fear of sickness and death as the excuse. And, yes, some prudential practices may assist us in staying sickness free. But, as the evidence demonstrates, there is nothing that you can do to be proof against sickness and
When you were baptized God gave you a Spirit of courage and perseverance. He gave you faith to withstand this world. You are a Saint of God. His promises of eternal life and forgiveness of sins in the blood and sacrifice of Jesus are sure and certain and lead you to eternal life with Him forever. This gives you the freedom to live without fear. And being in Christ, hearing His Word, being with your fellow Saints of God in Worship provides you with the patience and courage to endure, knowing that God will give you the power and grace to overcome any and all disasters.
Staying away from God and His Word and Sacraments is like refusing the medicine necessary to heal you of disease. Build your spiritual health by being in God’s own hospital, CTK. You’ll be restored and transformed in Christ.
The strong and true words of Martin Luther way back in the 16th century echo through the years. "God is our refuge and strength! A very present help in trouble." Times change. The years roll by. You and I change. But God never changes. "Jesus Christ, the same. Yesterday, today, and forever." Dear Friend in Christ! It is past time that we take God at His Word and trust Him to bring about that which is His will for you and I and for the whole world. The Word of Christ rings out, "Fear not! I have overcome the world."
Here at CTK we have continued, through all the troubles, to offer the Divine Services of God’s House. Each Saturday and Sunday the saints of God gather together and celebrate the power and majesty of God in Christ. We hear His Word. We confess our sins. We receive the Absolution and are sins are removed. We confess our faith. And, the apex of every Divine Service, we receive the Body and Blood of Christ for forgiveness and eternal life.
Now is the time for you who have been absent because of the troubles in the world to come back in person. Now is the time for you to reach out to your friends and fellow members of CTK and invite them to return to the in person, congregational worship that is the salient feature of the whole Christian Church in heaven and on earth.
"Fear not!" must be our watchword. The patently ridiculous contemplation of people thronging to ball games, restaurants, family gatherings, and stores and absenting themselves from the only things that have an eternal dimension simply proves that "the jig is up!" Unless one is ill, there is no reason to absent oneself from Jesus and His Word of Life in person at CTK.
We are marvelous with Worship, Bible Study, and Sunday School. We have cleared the decks so that fellowship and friendship once again will be a defining characteristic of CTK. Each week we open the Scriptures and proclaim Christ and receive all His gifts. Please, don’t miss out! Jesus "holds the field forever." You need not fear and you need to stop making excuses. "Repent and believe the Good News!" See you this weekend. God bless you.
Dear Friend in Christ!
“Come into the daylight’s splendor.” It’s time, dear friend, to “pick yourself up. Dust yourself off. Start all over again.” Yes. This past eighteen months and more we have been buffeted by the fear that naturally rises when there is danger of disease and death. But now, as we look back and take stock of the realities of the situation, we find that risk of very serious illness and death is much diminished. Vaccines and much better therapeutics are now available and we may be justifiable more confident in our health and safety.
Of course, the last eighteen months and more has been a very trying time for CTK, too. Prudential decisions based on safety and health prevented many folks from regular attendance at the Divine Services of CTK and reception of the Lord’s Supper. And, sadly, those who are spotty in attendance already, are even more absent from God’s means of grace at CTK.
Yes, we’ve been online with Live Stream Services each week and with our Bible Studies through the week each week, and this is good. But there is no substitute for in person participation with your friends and neighbors of CTK. Why? Because that’s what Jesus calls you to. He Himself was active in both Temple and synagogue worship with His family and friends. Saint Paul urges, “And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another; and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.”
Dear friend, Satan loves to separate you from Christ and each other. The very best way for him to do this is to convince you that being in the Word of Christ and His Sacraments is optional and not important or, worse still, a health risk. But we risk much more than health and safety when we stay away. We risk our own immortal soul. Why sacrifice your faith for the sake of convenience and fear? It’s a dangerous path and leads to destruction.
But, dear friend, you believe in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior! He has conquered the power of Satan and the wickedness of this passing away world. “Come into the daylight’s splendor!” Sunday, September 12 is our Homecoming Day. Come to Church at 9:30 and stay for a great fellowship dinner following. You will hear the Word of Christ. You will eat His body and drink His blood. Your faith will be renewed. Let’s pray for one another and gather in Spirit and in Truth.
God bless you, Pastor Loewe.