Matthew 21:1-11 – Worthy

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Matthew 21:1-11

1 Now when they drew near to Jerusalem and came to Bethphage, to the Mount of Olives, then Jesus sent two disciples, 2 saying to them, “Go into the village in front of you, and immediately you will find a donkey tied, and a colt with her. Untie them and bring them to me. 3 If anyone says anything to you, you shall say, ‘The Lord needs them,’ and he will send them at once.” 4 This took place to fulfill what was spoken by the prophet, saying,

5   “Say to the daughter of Zion,

‘Behold, your king is coming to you,
humble, and mounted on a donkey,
on a colt, the foal of a beast of burden.’”

6 The disciples went and did as Jesus had directed them. 7 They brought the donkey and the colt and put on them their cloaks, and he sat on them. 8 Most of the crowd spread their cloaks on the road, and others cut branches from the trees and spread them on the road. 9 And the crowds that went before him and that followed him were shouting,

“Hosanna to the Son of David!

Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!
Hosanna in the highest!”

10 And when he entered Jerusalem, the whole city was stirred up, saying, “Who is this?” 11 And the crowds were saying, “This is the prophet Jesus, from Nazareth of Galilee.”

Grace, mercy, and peace to you from God our Father and from our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Amen.

jesus-triumphal-entry-palm-sundayJesus didn’t tell His disciples to find a chariot and a mighty war horse to chauffeur Him into Jerusalem. He could have, but He didn’t. Jesus’ entrance into Jerusalem was not a red-carpet event. He didn’t make His way on top of a long runner of fine, royal fabric. Again, He could have, but He didn’t. Instead, Jesus told the disciples to find a donkey and a colt – common beasts for common, poor people. And your Savior entered Jerusalem passing over the cloaks of the people who welcomed Him and over the palm branches they found nearby.

Imagine the equivalent today: Imagine the president not riding in black, fancy, armored limos and SUV’s but in a baby-blue ’98 Malibu surrounded by a fleet Impalas. Imagine that on Inauguration Day, the dais wasn’t covered in red carpet but ln a layer of flannel shirts and raked up leaves. You would think that the country full of poor, backwards yokels.

When Jesus rode into Jerusalem as King, He came in humility but not because His kingdom is humble and lowly. Jesus came humbly because He wants you to know that His kingdom is for the humble and lowly.

See what kind of God you have. Your God is not an engineer who creates the world, sets it in motion, and leaves it to spin itself out of control. No. Instead, your God is a gardener who tills, fertilizes, and prunes. Your God is a shepherd who tends, leads, feeds, protects, and searches. Your God is a loving Father doting on you, delighting in you, caring for every one of your needs, and knowing every hair on your head.

You do not need to get your God’s attention with your works and efforts, you already have God’s attention. He knows every one of your needs, and He does something about it.

This first Sunday of the Church year, this first Sunday of Advent, we are preparing ourselves for the coming of our Savior. And it is fitting that we read about Jesus’ entrance into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday. Advent isn’t just about getting ready to meet the baby Jesus in a manger. Instead, we are getting ready to meet the crucified and risen Lord who humbly rode on a donkey into Jerusalem to die but who also rode out of Joseph’s tomb alive (Rev. D. Petersen).

Though Jesus is divinely powerful, though He commands the entirety of the heavenly host, though you have sinned against Him and disobeyed Him, and though you have run after other false gods, Jesus is not coming as Judge. Instead He is coming humbly and gently. He is seeking you and your salvation because, despite your unworthiness, He has deemed you worthy to be part of His kingdom. This same Jesus will arrive again in glory and power to judge the living and the dead. But, today, He still comes humbly, gently, lowly, and with grace through His Word and in Baptism.

Dear Eleanor and Greta,

Baptism 2Today is a day to celebrate and be glad. You have been adopted into a loving, caring family. Your parents have chosen you to be their children. You have the unique privilege of never having to wonder if your parents wanted you or not. You will always know that your parents have intentionally brought you into your family and have promised to care for you and love you.

Eleanor and Greta, what your parents have done is a small picture of what your God has done for you today. Though you were sinners, though you were in open rebellion against Him, your God has come to you. He has washed away your sins. He has placed His name on you, and He now calls you His beloved child. He has brought you into His family and promises to be your loving Father today and for all eternity.

Dear Eleanor, Greta, and all you Baptized children of God,

God the Father who created the heavens and the earth; God the Son who has purchased and redeemed you with His holy and precious blood; and God the Holy Spirit who calls, gathers, enlightens, and sanctifies you; does not think of you as someone who is unworthy. Instead, your God looks at you in the midst of your lowliness, and says, “Though the world may not value you, I do. You will always have a place in My kingdom.”

Lamb of Judah Jesus Revelation 5Dear saints, though you have nothing to offer God, though you are unimportant in the eyes of the world, and even though the world looks at you and thinks that you could be replaced by any other body, this is not what your God thinks about you. The God who entered Jerusalem that Palm Sunday does not think about you that way.

Instead, your God and Savior looks at you and says, Though the world may not value you, I do. You are the reason I wanted to have a kingdom in the first place. Therefore, you will always have a place in My kingdom for eternity (Rev. H. Fiene). Amen.

The peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. Amen.

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Luke 23:27-43 – The King’s Prayer and Promise

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Luke 23:27-43

27 And there followed him a great multitude of the people and of women who were mourning and lamenting for him. 28 But turning to them Jesus said, “Daughters of Jerusalem, do not weep for me, but weep for yourselves and for your children. 29 For behold, the days are coming when they will say, ‘Blessed are the barren and the wombs that never bore and the breasts that never nursed!’ 30 Then they will begin to say to the mountains, ‘Fall on us,’ and to the hills, ‘Cover us.’ 31 For if they do these things when the wood is green, what will happen when it is dry?”

32 Two others, who were criminals, were led away to be put to death with him. 33 And when they came to the place that is called The Skull, there they crucified him, and the criminals, one on his right and one on his left. 34 And Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” And they cast lots to divide his garments. 35 And the people stood by, watching, but the rulers scoffed at him, saying, “He saved others; let him save himself, if he is the Christ of God, his Chosen One!” 36 The soldiers also mocked him, coming up and offering him sour wine 37 and saying, “If you are the King of the Jews, save yourself!” 38 There was also an inscription over him, “This is the King of the Jews.”

39 One of the criminals who were hanged railed at him, saying, “Are you not the Christ? Save yourself and us!” 40 But the other rebuked him, saying, “Do you not fear God, since you are under the same sentence of condemnation? 41 And we indeed justly, for we are receiving the due reward of our deeds; but this man has done nothing wrong.” 42 And he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” 43 And he said to him, “Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise.”

Grace, mercy, and peace to you from God our Father and from our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Amen.

Jesus Crucified 1Be careful as you consider this text. This text requires faith – faith to see what is really happening. At the crucifixion, only Jesus and His Father know what is happening.

The crowd that follows Him does not know what is happening. They weep and lament because they see a miracle worker and good teacher beaten, battered, and marching to His death.

The soldiers do not know what is happening. They are simply doing what soldiers do – kill. They are putting a man to death at the order of their superiors.

The rulers do not know what is happening. Believing Jesus to be vastly inferior to them, they scoff, “He saved others; let Him save Himself, if He is the Christ of God, His Chosen One!”

The criminal does not know what is happening. He plays the stereotypical, “I didn’t do it/I shouldn’t be punished,” card. He rails (lit. ‘blasphemes’) at Jesus, “Are you not the Christ? Save yourself and us!” But he only wants to temporarily escape death.

Too often, we do not see what is happening either. Reading the accounts of the crucifixion may make us solemn and sad, but we have heard it before. We know what happens outside of Jerusalem on that dark Friday between the hours of noon and three will soon be replaced with the dawn of the resurrection. Too often, we would much rather run, skip, and jump ahead to Easter and not be so caught up and bogged down with Good Friday.

Repent.

As unpleasant as it is, the cross is where Jesus delivered you from the domain of darkness and transferred you to His kingdom. In Christ’s pain and suffering on Good Friday, you have redemption, the forgiveness of sins. By His holy and precious blood shed on the cross, Christ reconciled to Himself all things – all things, whether on earth or in heaven (Col. 1:13-14, 20).

Today, see what is really happening at the crucifixion:

Soldiers become priests as they offer up the sacrifice of the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.

Satan thinks that he is winning, but he is crushing his own head.

The place of The Skull becomes the place where Jesus’ life is poured out for all.

God in the flesh is condemned, but there Jesus rules as King of kings and Lord of lords. Thrones become a crown. And the cross becomes a throne where Christ the King prays a gracious prayer and promises eternal life.

seven-last-words-of-jesus-father-forgive-themOur text reads, “Jesus said, ‘Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.’” But the Greek there should be translated either “Jesus was saying,” or “Jesus began to say.” “Father, forgive them.” The point is that this was not just a one-time prayer. This was Jesus’ constant plea to His Heavenly Father.

Too often, we read this as just a straightforward prayer that God would not hold those directly responsible for crucifying Jesus as guilty. But there is more here than that. The only way God can forgive those who unjustly put Jesus on trial and put Him to death is if Jesus is sacrificed for their sins. In praying, “Father, forgive them,” Jesus is praying that He would suffer God’s wrath rather than them.

“Father, forgive them,” is a prayer for more than just the soldiers, the crowd that called for His crucifixion, Pilate, and Herod. Jesus is praying for forgiveness for the rulers who had wanted Him put to death for years. Jesus is praying for forgiveness for the disciples who constantly fail. And He is praying for you. Jesus prays for your forgiveness from the cross – the very place where that prayer is answered by the Father.

Jesus is also praying for the two criminals who are being crucified with Him, and His prayer for forgiveness bears fruit. Jesus’ forgiveness changes and recreates the criminal. So he prays to Christ, “Jesus, remember me when You come into Your kingdom.” He asks the dying King for forgiveness because he knows that the crucifixion won’t be the end of Jesus.

seven-last-words-of-jesus-today-you-will-be-with-meChrist the King promises, “Truly, I say to you, today you will be with Me in Paradise.”

How Jesus was for that criminal is how Jesus is for you. Jesus has made peace between you and God by the blood of His cross.

Once you too were alienated and hostile in mind, doing evil deeds. But now, Christ has reconciled you in His body of flesh by His death. Jesus did this in order to present you holy, blameless, and above reproach before God (Col. 1:21-22). By staying on the cross, Jesus saves you. Jesus’ suffering and death is what saves sinners; it is what saves you. Amen.

The peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. Amen.

Luke 21:5-36 – Pray & Work

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Luke 21:5-36

5 And while some were speaking of the temple, how it was adorned with noble stones and offerings, he said, 6 “As for these things that you see, the days will come when there will not be left here one stone upon another that will not be thrown down.”

7 And they asked him, “Teacher, when will these things be, and what will be the sign when these things are about to take place?” 8 And he said, “See that you are not led astray. For many will come in my name, saying, ‘I am he!’ and, ‘The time is at hand!’ Do not go after them. 9 And when you hear of wars and tumults, do not be terrified, for these things must first take place, but the end will not be at once.”

10 Then he said to them, “Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. 11 There will be great earthquakes, and in various places famines and pestilences. And there will be terrors and great signs from heaven.

12 “But before all this they will lay their hands on you and persecute you, delivering you up to the synagogues and prisons, and you will be brought before kings and governors for my name’s sake. 13 This will be your opportunity to bear witness. 14 Settle it therefore in your minds not to meditate beforehand how to answer, 15 for I will give you a mouth and wisdom, which none of your adversaries will be able to withstand or contradict. 16 You will be delivered up even by parents and brothers and relatives and friends, and some of you they will put to death. 17 You will be hated by all for my name’s sake. 18 But not a hair of your head will perish. 19 By your endurance you will gain your lives.

20 “But when you see Jerusalem surrounded by armies, then know that its desolation has come near. 21 Then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains, and let those who are inside the city depart, and let not those who are out in the country enter it, 22 for these are days of vengeance, to fulfill all that is written. 23 Alas for women who are pregnant and for those who are nursing infants in those days! For there will be great distress upon the earth and wrath against this people. 24 They will fall by the edge of the sword and be led captive among all nations, and Jerusalem will be trampled underfoot by the Gentiles, until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled.

25 “And there will be signs in sun and moon and stars, and on the earth distress of nations in perplexity because of the roaring of the sea and the waves, 26 people fainting with fear and with foreboding of what is coming on the world. For the powers of the heavens will be shaken. 27 And then they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory. 28 Now when these things begin to take place, straighten up and raise your heads, because your redemption is drawing near.”

jesus-fig-tree-temple29 And he told them a parable: “Look at the fig tree, and all the trees. 30 As soon as they come out in leaf, you see for yourselves and know that the summer is already near. 31 So also, when you see these things taking place, you know that the kingdom of God is near. 32 Truly, I say to you, this generation will not pass away until all has taken place. 33 Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away.

34 “But watch yourselves lest your hearts be weighed down with dissipation and drunkenness and cares of this life, and that day come upon you suddenly like a trap. 35 For it will come upon all who dwell on the face of the whole earth. 36 But stay awake at all times, praying that you may have strength to escape all these things that are going to take place, and to stand before the Son of Man.”

Grace, mercy, and peace to you from God our Father and from our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Amen.

Jesus says that as His return draws closer, there will be signs. He tells us about those signs because He expects us to be able to read them. The signs mean His return is as near and as sure as buds on a tree mean leaves are about to bloom.

The signs Jesus mentions are not pleasant. They hang over all of us with impending doom, and we see the signs even today. If you haven’t noticed, the world isn’t getting better. Violent, unstable rulers have the capability to use nuclear or biological weapons. Terrorism continues to spread. Anti-biotics might stop working. Christianity is being persecuted more and more. Violence is on the rise.

Creation is falling apart because our sins have polluted it. But none of this is a surprise. Jesus said it would happen, and He has told us to notice. He told us to notice so that we wouldn’t react to these signs like the unbelievers do.

When unbelievers notice the signs of Christ’s return and the end of the world, they react in two main ways. First, they fear and their fear leads them, secondly, to do works that they think will make themselves righteous.

FranticThe first reaction is fear. For those who do not have faith in Christ, for those who do not know God’s mercy, love, and forgiveness, these signs cause distress. Unbelievers are weighed down with fear, dissipation, and drunkenness. And how else should they respond? Fear is proper and appropriate for those who think that this world is all there is. As they see the creation falling apart and people fighting against each other, they know that everything they hold dear is coming undone. They fear.

Their fear is good and proper – it shows that their conscience is working. Fear is the first part of repentance, but it isn’t true repentance. It isn’t full repentance. It isn’t true, full repentance because it is lacking the most important part of repentance, faith. Faith is the most important part of repentance. Faith that clings to the promise that Christ has died and taken away their sin.

This fear often leads to the second way unbelievers react to the signs of Christ’s return and the end of the world which is to make up all sorts of works which they think will give them a clean conscience. But these works cannot justify them because they are motivated by fear – fear of wrath, punishment, and judgment.

You see this in the so-called ‘radical Muslims.’ In fear of Allah’s wrath, they try to follow the Koran. They use violence and terror in an effort to bring about total submission to Allah.

You see it in climate activists. They see the signs of the end of the world in nature and blame people who have huge carbon footprints, drive gas guzzling SUV’s, and spew “toxic” carbon dioxide into the ozone. So they do their good works. They try to save the planet by buying carbon credits and driving hybrid cars. And they evangelize. They preach that the only way to save the world is to do the ‘good works’ of reducing emissions.

And, you even see it in Christians too. Some think that electing this politician or passing that law will slow or stop the terrifying collapse of society. Some believe that we can make our nation become Christian, but nation’s don’t have faith – only individuals do. Brothers and sisters, the Church has worshipped far too long at the altar of politics and prayed too many prayers to the god of government.

None of this will stop or delay Christ’s return and the end of the world. It won’t! Because of sin – your sin and my sin and the sin of those who have come before us and the sin of those who will come after us – because of sin this world will end. It doesn’t matter how many good works you do or how many sins you avoid. This world will end. Christ will return. You will stand before God on Judgment Day.

The only response to the signs that Christ tells us about is to repent. Turn away from your sins and believe, trust in Christ.

The signs of the end of the world do demand repentance, but not a repentance that manifests itself in a self-made righteousness of works done in fear. Rather a repentance of the heart. When you see these signs, don’t be indifferent and don’t try to amend your life thinking that you will stop or delay the end of the world.

Glory of the CrossInstead, Jesus says, “When these things begin to take place, straighten up and raise your heads, because your redemption is drawing near.”

This takes faith – faith in the words of Christ. You have faith in something that stands firm even in the midst of all these terrors. You have faith that Jesus has come to restore this fallen, decaying creation. Christ will bring that work to completion when He returns. Jesus says, “Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will not pass away.” And Jesus’ word to you is, “You are forgiven because of My death and resurrection.”

Believer, do not despair. Do not grow weary in doing good (2 Thess. 3:13). Jesus doesn’t tell us that the world will end so that we would try to fix it. Jesus has already fixed it. He will, He absolutely will – bring His work to completion. Jesus also doesn’t want you to should retreat.

The kingdom is drawing near. Jesus tells you this so that you will have joy and so that you will pray. And while you pray, you should work. Do the works that God has prepared beforehand that you should walk in (Eph. 2:10). What are these good works? They are laid out for you in the Commandments:

Have no other gods. Fear, love, and trust in God above all things.

Do not take God’s name in vain. Call upon God in every time of need and worship Him with prayer, praise, and thanksgiving.

Remember the Sabbath. Keep God’s Word holy by being here to listen to God’s Word where He absolves you.

Honor your parents and all in authority over you. Honor, serve, obey, and respect them.

Do not kill. Help and befriend your neighbor in every need.

Do not commit adultery. Honor and defend marriage. Husbands and wives, love and honor each other.

Do not steal. Help your neighbor improve and protect his property and living.

Do not bear false witness. Defend your neighbor. Speak well of him. Put the most charitable construction on all that he does.

Do not covet. Be content with what God has given you.

Don’t do those works to escape Christ’s return or to give yourself a good defense when you stand before God on Judgment Day. Instead do those works because God called you to them.

Brothers and sisters, your Savior says, “Stay awake at all times praying that you may have strength to escape all these things that are going to take place and to stand before the Son of Man. As you see these things taking place, straighten up and raise your heads, because your redemption is drawing near.” Amen.

The peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. Amen.

Matthew 5:1-12 – Blessed Are You, Saints

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Matthew 5:1-12

1 Seeing the crowds, he went up on the mountain, and when he sat down, his disciples came to him. 2 And he opened his mouth and taught them, saying:

3   “Blessed are the poor in spirit,
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

4   “Blessed are those who mourn,
for they shall be comforted.

5   “Blessed are the meek,
for they shall inherit the earth.

6   “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness,
for they shall be satisfied.

7   “Blessed are the merciful,
for they shall receive mercy.

8   “Blessed are the pure in heart,
for they shall see God.

9   “Blessed are the peacemakers,
for they shall be called sons of God.

10 “Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake,
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

11 “Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. 12 Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.”

Grace, mercy, and peace to you from God our Father and from our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Amen.

Dear saints,

FranticJesus announces blessings in the Beatitudes. However, we do not feel very blessed, in fact, just the opposite. We feel cursed. We begin to wonder, “How could a God who promises to love us allow us to be surrounded by so much hate? How could a God who promises to care for us let us feel so alone? How could a God who promises to have mercy on us let us feel so guilty?”

Now, there are times when we feel blessed. When the sun is shining, when your spouse is smiling, when your kids empty the dishwasher without being asked, when you get a promotion with a big pay raise, when your parents let you play video games all day, then you feel blessed. You can start to think that your life is one blessing after another. God does give us those times for our enjoyment, but that is not when Jesus says that you are blessed.

So, because we feel so unblessed and cursed, we take these beautiful words of Jesus and make them into Law, into things that we should and must do. We hear these words from Jesus and think, “If I want to have God’s blessing, then I’d better do these things. I’d better be poor in spirit, meek, merciful, pure in heart, and a peacemaker.” However, Jesus says that we are blessed precisely when we feel so cursed.

Jesus says that you who are poor in spirit, you who feel empty, you are blessed. To you belongs the kingdom of heaven.

Jesus says that you who mourn, those of you whose guts are wrenched by sorrow, you are blessed. Comfort will be given to you.

Jesus says that you who are meek, you who get trampled down by the strong, you are blessed. You will inherit the new creation.

Jesus says that you who hunger and thirst for righteousness, you who feel your guilt and shame because of your sins, you are blessed. You will be filled with Christ’s righteousness.

You don’t feel it, but don’t let that surprise you. As our Epistle text (1 Jn. 3:1-3) says, “Behold what manner of love the Father has given unto you, that you should be called children of God, and so you are.”

The world will not recognize this. If you do not know the parent, how will you recognize their children? The world will not identify you as children of God because the world does not know who God is. That will change. When Christ returns, every knee will bow and every tongue confess that He is Lord. You will be revealed to be sons and daughters of God, and you will be like Jesus because you will see Him as He is. And even now, you hope in Him. And you are pure.

All Saints 1In the vision that John saw in our first reading (Rev. 7:2-17), John saw you. John saw you who have come out of the great tribulation of this world which Jesus has overcome (Jn. 16:33). John saw you who have been baptized, absolved, have had your hunger and thirst for righteousness quenched by Communion, and have washed your robe white in the blood of the Lamb. You have Jesus, the lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world, as your Shepherd.

Dear saints, you are blessed. Jesus says that you are blessed here and now. You may not feel it, but who or what are you going to trust, Jesus and what He declares or your feelings?

We are going to sing a wonderful hymn For All the Saints (#164 in your hymnal). Turn there, please because this hymn contains so much Scriptural comfort.

  1. For all the saints who from their labors rest,
    Who Thee by faith before the world confessed,
    Thy name, O Jesus, be forever blest.
    Alleluia! Alleluia!

We sing blessing to Jesus for all the saints who rest from their labor because they confessed faith in Jesus before the world. This isn’t just talking about those who have died in the faith. You are praising Jesus because He has saved them, and He has saved you. You rest from your labors. You are forgiven, absolved, restored. You do not have to work and labor your way back to God. Alleluia! Alleluia!

  1. Thou wast their Rock, their Fortress, and their Might;
    Thou, Lord, their Captain in the well-fought fight;
    Thou, in the darkness drear, their one true Light.
    Alleluia! Alleluia!

Dear saints, Jesus is even now your Rock, your Fortress, your Might. He leads you into battle against the devil, the world, and your own sinful flesh. In this present darkness, He is your one true Light. His light shines into your darkness and the darkness will never overcome you. Alleluia! Alleluia!

  1. Oh, may Thy soldiers, faithful, true, and bold,
    Fight as the saints who nobly fought of old
    And win with them the victor’s crown of gold.
    Alleluia! Alleluia!

You pray for yourself and for the saints who are with you and will come after you. “God, grant that we may continue to fight the good fight of faith. May we come into the unspeakable joys that await us.” The crown of life is awaiting you. Alleluia! Alleluia!

  1. O blest communion, fellowship divine,
    We feebly struggle, they in glory shine;
    Yet all are one in Thee, for all are Thine.
    Alleluia! Alleluia!

Those who have died in faith are not separated from you. Like them, you also are in Christ. You still struggle in this world with your sin and temptation, yet Jesus is with you. They shine in glory around the throne of the ascended Jesus. And at this altar, you will join with them as you eat Christ’s body and drink His blood which is a foretaste of the eternal banquet that is to come. Alleluia! Alleluia!

  1. And when the fight is fierce, the warfare long,
    Steals on the ear the distant triumph song,
    And hearts are brave again, and arms are strong.
    Alleluia! Alleluia!

All SaintsWhen you are weary of the fight, when the war seems unwinnable, when you reach the end of yourself, hear the victorious battle song. Remember that the battle has been won. On the cross Christ, your Savior, defeated all your enemies. Be encouraged. Stand again. Fight with a heart made brave and arms made strong by Jesus’ body and blood. Alleluia! Alleluia!

Dear saints, God invites you to this altar. And as you come here to receive Christ’s body and blood, you, “come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to innumerable angels in festal gathering, and to the assembly of the firstborn who are enrolled in heaven, and to God, the judge of all, and to the spirits of the righteous made perfect, and to Jesus, the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood that speaks a better word than the blood of Abel” (Heb. 12:22-24).

You who feel so cursed, Jesus says you are blessed. Jesus declares it, and so it is. Amen.

The peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. Amen.