I have found an interesting article over at Steadfast Lutherans that I wanted to share. I found a quote as well that I love:
“I shoot into the darkness at anything that moves. Sooner or later, I will hit the evil one.”
In writing that’s called showing, not telling. Enjoy!
We’ve all seen it, the wreath in the front of the church. It’s brought out of the back or the downstairs storage closet every year right around Thanksgiving, dusted off, and put up by the pulpit. The acolyte comes out and lights one or more candles throughout Advent, and it adds to the lighting and majesty of our preparations for the coming of Christmas. But what do those four (or five) candles mean? Why is a new one lit each week? And what is up with the PINK ONE?!
From an lcms.org/faq document concerning questions about Worship/Congregational Life and the Church Year:
The traditional use of Advent candles (sometimes held in a wreath) originated in eastern Germany even prior to the Reformation. As this tradition came down to us by the beginning of this century, it involved three purple candles and one pink candle. The purple candles matched the purple paraments on the altar (purple for the royalty of the coming King). The pink candle was the third candle to be lit (not the fourth) on Gaudete Sunday, the Third Sunday of Advent. “Gaudete” means “Rejoice!” in Latin, which is taken from Philippians 4:4.
(“Rejoice! . . . the Lord is near”). Hence a “pink” candle was used to signify “rejoicing.” Some also included a white “Christ candle” in the middle to be lit during the 12 days of Christmas (December 25-January 5).
We light a new candle each week to signify the coming of Christmas, and the excitement of Christ’s birth. It’s a countdown of sorts, there to remind us that He, Christ Jesus,our Lord and King, came into the world. He was a baby, born of woman, grew, learned, ate, breathed, walked, talked, worked, taught, suffered, died, rose again, and will return. Until then, we can still partake in Him in the Holy Supper, receiving from Him the forgiveness of sins bought and paid for on the cross, when He took on the weight of the sins of all mankind.
“For God so loved the world, that He gave His only Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through Him. Whoever believes in Him is not condemned,” John 3:16-18a.
Come, Lord Jesus!
Grace to you and peace from God our Father, and from our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.
Dear Christian Friends,
There’s certainly been a lot of talk as of late about the End of the World. When I will happen, what it will be like, and who’s going to get it first. The Mayans are getting more discussion as of late than during a seventh grade history lesson. The world is going to end on THIS day (December 21st), or THAT day (the 22nd), or at 11:11 (but which time zone?), or at 5:15 (AM or PM?). Every one is very worried that they’ll have to go to work on Friday morning, but that no one will get Christmas presents three days later. Or, my favorite, that the gravitational pull of the Earth will be reversed, in some cosmic, hilarious, twisting of every tested Law of Physics known to man about the attraction of objects, and all of the stuff not tied down will be blasted into space…I think I’ll just chuckle about that one and move on.
“But concerning that day or that hour, no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.” -Mark 13:32
It seems silly to attempt to predict the end of the world. It is stated very plainly throughout Scripture that we won’t get to know when it’s coming. We can guess all we want, but it’s just a guess. The LORD will not reveal it to us. It makes us anxious because we, as sinful people, want to be in control. We try to know it all. We want to be in charge. We want to be like God. It’s First Commandment stuff here, people.
The words of Christ comfort us as we begin to fret about the end and our lack of control. In Luke 12:25-26 Christ says, “And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? If then you are not able to do as small a thing as that, why are you anxious about the rest?” The end is not for our concern. We do not live by our anxiousness. “The righteous shall live by faith.” -Romans 1:17
We live in the knowledge that Christ died for us. He suffered on the cross, bore our sins, and is our Savior. He gives us life and salvation through His Word, and the faith that comes by His Sacraments, which are the means of grace through the elements and His Word. Because, in the end, it always comes back to Jesus and His Word.
The verse in Mark above is important about the day and hour of the end, but the verse immediately preceding holds all the truth we need about the end of days.
“Heaven and earth will pass away, but My Words will not pass away.”
Come, Lord Jesus. Amen!
O give thanks unto the LORD, for He is Good, for His Mercy endures forever! –Psalm 118
Among the evil and sin of the world we seek refuge; the Mercy of the LORD endures forever.
Through the suffering and pain of loss and heartache, we desire peace and strength; the Mercy of the LORD endures forever.
When man’s sinfulness consumes him in body and soul, and he commits heinous acts against others; the Mercy of the LORD endures forever.
We struggle to understand why the evil of this world overtakes us; the Mercy of the LORD endures forever.
We pray for the families, friends, and loved ones of those affected by violence and hatred; the Mercy of the LORD endures forever.
When we come to the altar of the LORD in repentance; the Mercy of the LORD endures forever.
As we receive His forgiveness in the Holy Supper; the Mercy of the LORD endures forever.
We go forth from His Table singing praises and saying, “The Mercy of the LORD endures forever!”
Amen! Come Lord Jesus! Amen!
It’s difficult to accept the fact that there are things the Lord doesn’t tell us. He doesn’t let us in on all the plans. He doesn’t give us all the insight, or the scoop on the whys and hows of the universe.
Our feeble, human minds cannot hold all of the knowledge of God, for He is so much bigger than we could ever be. And yet, we still try. Because our sinfulness will not allow for something to be bigger, greater, more important, more mysterious, more powerful than we want to let it. This is basic First Commandment stuff, people. There’s a reason that God put it first on the list.
“You shall have no other gods before Me.”
But we try so hard to reign God in. We give Him limits when He is limitless. We remove His majesty, divide His divinity, denigrate His name. We put God in the box of our minds and try to keep Him there.
“A good and just god would have turned away the hurricane.”
“A righteous and fair god wouldn’t have let that child be molested.”
“God can’t be in the bread and wine at communion, or in the waters of baptism. That just doesn’t make sense.”
“For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.” – Isaiah 55:9 (ESV)
God is a mystery to humans. He is higher, stronger, bigger, and more kind and compassionate than any person. He is more confusing, strange, and difficult to comprehend than anything we can possibly image, because He is beyond our imagination. How can we ever hope to prove ourselves to a being that is unprovable to the human mind? And that is why it is our faith that is so important, given to us not by our own thoughts or our works, but through the Spirit. It is that faith, which comes from His Word, that saves us. It is our faith in His Word that brings us comfort before His magnitude. Faith brought through His Word in the Sacraments. Faith that allows us to say, “His Body IS the bread, and His Blood IS the wine, and we receive forgiveness in our communion with that Body and Blood.”
Oh Lord, Jesus Christ,
So many things happen in this world which we do not understand, cannot comprehend, and will never be able to explain. In these times of struggle for those who are suffering, we ask for Your comfort and protection. Bring peace to those who are in the tempest of sin and earthly strife. Bring Your healing hand where it is Your Will, and let Your Word be preached to all the nations. Lord, we thank you for that which we do have, for that which You have given and will give to us. Allow us the strength to provide for those who need our help, and send Your Spirit to grant faith and hope to all.
Come, Lord Jesus!
Grace and Peace to you from Our Father and Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
Dear Christian Friends,
Temptation sucks. It really does. The Evil One is a powerful being, able to entice you with things that look just so good. He’s “like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour,” says 1 Peter 5:8. He’s silver-tongued, the serpent, who “was more crafty than any other beast of the field” (Genesis 3:1). He tells you that you can be great, even God-like, and wants you to step up to your sinful nature and just do whatever you want, because no God should be able to tell you what to do.
Jesus knows our struggles with temptation. He’s experienced it first-hand, face-to-face with the Evil Foe himself. The devil wrestled with Jesus for 40 days and 40 nights, and the Christ, the Son of the Living God beat him back again and again. And He did it with the Word.
“Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God” – Matthew 4:4, taken from Deuteronomy 8:3.
“You shall not put the Lord your God to the test” – Matthew 4:7, taken from Deuteronomy 6:16.
“You shall worship the Lord your God and Him only shall you serve” – Matthew 4:10, taken from Deuteronomy 6:13.
Christ uses the very Words of God, of His own, to beat back Satan. He shows us the path of strength through the power of the Word.
In the story of the temptation from Mark 9, we see yet another source of strength for Jesus during His temptation. Mark 1 begins with the Baptism of Jesus, and then He “immediately” proceeds to His temptation in the wilderness. He is prepared for His trials through His Baptism.
And the trials of Jesus do not end there. Before the garden of Gethsemane, when He must begin to endure the worst pain in history, we see our Lord institute His Supper, partaking the bread and wine, and then in the garden, praying to the Father for all strength.
What does this mean for us? Jesus shows us the way to deal with pain, temptation, and trials. It is through that which He Himself commands, Baptism and the Lord’s Supper, and that which He teaches, prayer and the Word. These are the things we use to pass the struggles of our lives, our humans lives, which Christ Himself has experienced. Jesus beat back the devil with the Word because He was, as a true human being, tempted by the Evil One. He was baptized and partook of the Supper to show us where to find strength before trials and tribulations. He prayed on that Friday morning because it gave Him comfort and peace before the Father willed Him to suffer and die on the cross. And He silenced the roaring lion forever by rising to life on that blessed Easter morning.
“And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to His eternal glory in Christ, will Himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you.” – 1 Peter 5:10
Grace, Mercy, and Peace be to you from our Father, and from our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.
Dear Christian Friends,
Blessings are wonderful, aren’t they? Warm, sunny days in the summer when the wind is just light enough to touch the sweat off your brow. The smile and heart-felt cheer of good friends and family as they surround you in the loving embrace of togetherness. Victory via new fencing over that long-suffered rabbit who keeps getting into the vegetable patch and stealing the carrots.
Our Lord blesses us in so many ways, undeserved and, many times, unfortunately, under-appreciated. But I can think of one blessing as I sit here that the Lord chooses to grant us that gives more wonder, hope, and love than all the others: children.
God chooses to bless us with children so that He can teach us and build our faithfulness. Luke 18:16b-17, “Let the children come to me, and do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of God. Truly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it.” Jesus used the imagery of children to guide us toward faithfulness. It is not by the power of our own minds or the desire of our hearts that we receive His grace. Instead, by the simple faith of a child, an undeterred belief, placed in our hearts by the Holy Spirit through God’s Word, we know our Savior Jesus Christ.
He preaches His Word to us through the memory verses and prayers our children recite to us, giving us the ability to hear the Gospel even from those we are instructed to teach. Romans 10:17a, “So faith comes from hearing.” And not just our own children. God grants children to His congregation and to the world for the same purpose, to provide another outlet for His Word.
It is our vocation, as parents and guardians of children, both ours and our neighbors’, to protect them, reborn into the Spirit through Baptism, newly born into this world through the pains of childbearing, or as yet unborn from the womb but existing, for our Father knows them all. “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you,” Jeremiah 1:5.