Tag Archives: Revelation

All Saint’s Day

OSLC 5All Saint’s Day

November 1, 2020 AD

First Lesson: Revelation 7: 9-17
Epistle: I John 3: 1-3
Gospel: Matthew 5: 1-12

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The Festival of the Reformation

OSLC front Holga-ishThe Festival of the Reformation

October 25, 2020 AD

First Reading: Revelation 14:6-7

Epistle: Romans 3:19-28

Gospel: Matthew 11:12-19

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90th Anniversary of the Dedication of the Our Saviour Church Building

OSLC front Holga-ish90th Anniversary of the Dedication of the Our Saviour Church Building

October 4, 2020 AD
Rev. Dr. David Stechholz, Bishop Emeritus, English District

Old Testament: I Kings 8:22-30
Epistle: Revelation 21:1-5
Gospel: Luke 19:1-10

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All Saints Day (2015)

OSLC 5All Saints Day

November 1, 2015 AD

First Reading: Revelation 7:9-17

Epistle: 1 John 3:1-3

Gospel: Matthew 5:1-12

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Whenever we say the Apostles’ Creed— and if we follow Dr. Luther’s instructions in the Small Catechism we say the Apostles Creed twice a day, morning and evening— whenever we say that Creed we confess our faith in the Holy Christian Church the Communion of Saints: the Holy Christian Church which is the Communion of Saints. And it is especially on this Festival of All Saints that we rejoice in this truth— or, to speak more accurately, in this blessed reality.

It was Pastor Wilhelm Löhe, one of the great Fathers of the Lutheran Church during the nineteenth century, who said:

When I was young I thirsted for an eternal fellowship. Now I know an eternal fellowship which becomes more and more close and binding— the holy Church! From it death shall not separate me, but death will for the first time bring me to complete enjoyment of love and fellowship. [For] there is one eternal Church, part to be found here, and part to be found in eternity.

I believe in the Holy Christian Church, the Communion of Saints— here on earth and there in heaven. As we sang in William Walsham Howe’s wonderful hymn:

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

Or as we sang in the sermon hymn:

One family we dwell in Him,
One Church above, beneath:
Though now divided by the stream
The narrow stream of death.

I believe in the Holy Christian Church, the Communion of Saints.

Long before the coming of our Lord the author of the Book of Proverbs said: “Where there is no vision, the people perish.” Well in the first reading from Holy Scripture we have a fragment of the vision of Saint John exiled on the island of Patmos in the Aegean Sea. We usually call that vision The Revelation to Saint John. And at its very beginning Saint John says, “I was in the Spirit on the Lord’s Day”— the day when all the seven churches of Asia Minor to which he wrote would have been gathered for the weekly celebration of the Holy Communion on the day of the Lord’s resurrection. The late Austin Farrer put it this way:

One Sunday it happened that St John could not be at church with his friends, for like Elisha, like Jesus, he was taken by the armed men and held in prison. But God consoled him with a vision: he saw the Christian sacrament that morning not as we human beings see it, but as it is seen in heaven. His spirit went up; he saw the throne of glory and the four cherubim full of eyes in every part who sleep not saying Holy, Holy, Holy. And he saw the Lamb of God: a Lamb standing as though slaughtered; a Lamb alone worthy to open for mankind the blessed promises of God. He saw the Lamb, and then the angels. I saw, he says, and heard the voice of many angels round about the Throne, the number of them ten thousand times ten thousand and thousands of thousands, saying with a loud voice: Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to be receive power and riches and wisdom and honor and glory and blessing…

And he saw the saints standing before the throne of God and the Lamb. And who are the saints? Those who had come out of great tribulation and had washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb, the gentle Lamb who leads to springs of living waters and wipes away every tear from their eyes.

You and I are not yet there. We are only on the journey; they are at journey’s end— in the nearer presence of the Lord in whom is all our life and hope. As Pastor Löhe said, “There is one eternal Church, part to be found here and part to be found in eternity.” But it is one eternal Church, and both here on earth and there in heaven Christ’s people worship before the throne of God and the Lamb. In heaven the saints see Him. Here on earth we find Him hidden under the outward appearances of bread and wine. But we with the saints in heaven acclaim Him as the Lamb slain for us all, washing away our sins through His most precious Blood, feeding us with the heavenly Food for our journey— His Body given, His blood shed— and worshipping Him as do the saints and the angels in the words of the thrice holy hymn: Holy, Holy, Holy, Lord God of Sabaoth: Heaven and earth are full of Thy glory. Hosanna in the highest!

I believe in the Holy Christian Church: the Communion of Saints. God grant that we may rejoice not only on this All Saints Day but every day in that blest communion, fellowship divine, until we too are called to Christ’s nearer presence and join in worshipping Him before the throne of God and the Lamb.

And now the peace of God which passes all understanding keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus, to live everlasting. +Amen.

 

The Festival of the Reformation (2015)

OSLC front Holga-ishThe Festival of the Reformation

October 25, 2015 AD

First Reading: Revelation 14:6-7

Epistle: Romans 3:19-28

Gospel: Matthew 11:12-19
 
 
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The Joint Reformation Service which will take place this afternoon is an old Baltimore tradition. Way back in late October 1949 my father told me that the preacher at the Joint Reformation Service that year would be a certain Dr. Pelikan. Only a few weeks before our family had been in Florida, and for the first time in my life I had in fact seen pelicans. And so my seven-year-old mind wondered what on earth a Dr. Pelikan would look like! Well, he in fact looked much like any other pastor. I don’t remember what he said, but as the years went by I learned that this Dr. Pelikan was one of the greatest Church historians in twentieth-century America.

My reason for talking about Dr. Pelikan this morning is that he said something worth thinking about as we celebrate this Reformation Sunday. And what he said was this:

The Reformation was a tragic necessity. It was tragic because the opposing groups could not agree and so the visible unity of the Western Christian Church was destroyed and remains so to this very day. But the Reformation was also a necessity because in the late medieval Church the Gospel had been obscured, the Good News that we are saved not by anything we do, but by what has God has done and continues to do for us through His Son Jesus Christ.

Of course the Gospel had not been completely lost, because the Church cannot live without the Gospel, and Christ promised that “the gates of hell would not prevail against His Church.” And so despite all the errors of the Church before the Reformation it was still the Church— the one flock of Jesus the Good Shepherd who never fails to feed and protect all those who place their trust in Him. And so Dr. Martin Luther was not the founder of some new religion but rather the Reformer whom God raised up to restore to His Church the Gospel in its purity.

I’ve often said from this pulpit that so many people think of the Gospel as good advice. “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” Or to put it in Biblical words: “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and your neighbor as yourself.” These words are of course true but they are not the Gospel, because the word ‘Gospel’ doesn’t mean good advice but good news. The world has all the good advice imaginable but what the world does not have apart from the Gospel is the forgiveness of the world’s chronic inability to live by the good advice it already knows, or to put that in biblical language, forgiveness for its sin.

And by sin we don’t simply think of murder and drunkenness and adultery and fornication and stealing but also of the resentment and hatred in our hearts, our indifference to the plight of those in such desperate need, our discontent and lack of gratitude for all the gracious gifts of God, our anger that our prayers have not been answered in the way we wish, our impatience with God, and lack of trust in His goodness and love. And so we are sinners in need of forgiveness of our sins.

The Gospel is the good news that our sins are forgiven by God who loves us not because we are so lovable but because He is love. As Dr. Luther sings in one his many wonderful hymns:

But God beheld my wretched state
Before the world’s foundation.
And mindful of His mercies great
He planned my soul’s salvation.
A father’s heart He turned to me
Sought redemption fervently:
He gave His dearest treasure.

He spoke to His beloved Son,
“‘Tis time to have compassion,
Then go, bright Jewel of My crown,
And bring to man salvation.
From sin and sorrow set him free,
Slay bitter death for him that he
May live with thee for ever.”

Yes, God sent His dearest Treasure to be our Saviour. And in a wonderful Christmas hymn Dr. Luther sings:

He whom the worlds cannot contain,
Doth in Mary’s lap repose.
He is become an Infant small
Who by His might upholds all.

Look to the Child of Mary, look to the crucified Savior! That is where we see God with eyes of faith, that is where we see His love. The preaching of the Gospel points you to Him. Baptism clothes you with the spotless robe of Jesus’ blood and righteousness. And now again at the altar He truly feeds you with His precious Body and Blood.

Yes, the Reformation was tragic in the which followed, but it was also necessary so that believers might again see with clarity the love of God which brought Him to the manger and the cross, the Lord who now lives and rules all things for the good of His holy Church, His Body and beloved Bride which in the end He’ll bring to the Marriage Supper of the Lamb in His kingdom.

And now the peace of God which passes all understanding keep your hearts and minds through faith in Christ Jesus unto life everlasting. Amen.

 

+INJ+