The Baptism of Our Lord
January 9, 2022 AD
January 9, 2022 AD
December 31, 2021 AD
February 13, 2021 AD
Old Testament Lesson: Ecclesiastes 3:1-4
Epistle: I Corinthians 5:20-23, 51-58
Gospel: John 14: 1-6
January 10 2021 AD
Listen to the service:
July 19, 2020 AD
Old Testament: Exodus 20:1-17
Epistle: Romans 6:3-11
Gospel: Matthew 5:20-26
Listen to the service:
March 23, 2018 AD
February 14, 2016 AD
Old Testament: 1 Samuel 17:40-51
Epistle: Hebrews 4:14-16
Gospel: Matthew 4:1-11
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Grace, mercy, and peace be to you from God our Father, and from our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Amen.
Our text for this day is from the third and fourth chapters of St. Matthew’s Gospel:
And when Jesus was baptized, He went up immediately from the water, and, behold, the heavens were opened, and He saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting on Him; and, lo, a voice from heaven saying, “This is my beloved Son, with Whom I am well pleased.” Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. And the tempter came and said to Him, “If you are the Son of God, command these stones to become loaves of bread.”
It was of course C. S. Lewis who said that Satan’s greatest success in modern times is his success in persuading countless souls that he is a harmless myth— despite the fact that the last century saw evil perhaps unparalleled in human history. And what shall we say of this new century, now halfway through its second decade? Well, C. S. Lewis was right! Satan’s greatest success is his success in persuading countless souls that he is a harmless myth, a joke.
Not so St. Paul who wrote of Satan, “We are not ignorant of his devices.”
The gospel writers Matthew, Mark, and Luke all tell us that immediately after Jesus’ baptism He was led by the Holy Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the Devil.
Now there is a great deal which can be said about this deeply mysterious story of God-Incarnate’s battle with the Prince of Darkness, but for today let’s focus on just one aspect of that battle. At Jesus’ baptism, just before His fasting and temptation, Jesus hears the voice of God the Father proclaim: “This is My Beloved Son.” But what then does Satan do? He tries to sow seeds of doubt in our Lord’s mind and heart. God the Father says, “This is My beloved Son!” Satan whispers, “If you are the Son of God…”— if you are the Son of God— “command that these stones be made bread… if you are the Son of God, throw yourself down from the pinnacle of the temple…,” as if to say, “God the Father’s word is not enough. ‘This is My beloved Son’? Let’s have some proof here.” Satan says, “If you are the Son of God,” echoing his words to Eve at the very beginning of the human story: “Did God say? Did God really say?” No wonder we call Satan “The Old Evil Foe”— up to the same old tricks he’s been up to since the beginning.
Now at your baptism, you didn’t literally hear God the Father say, “This is my beloved Child,” but you were through the waters of that heavenly washing truly made “the child of God, a member of Christ, and an inheritor of the kingdom of heaven.” But just as Satan tried to sow seeds of doubt in the mind and heart of our Lord, just so he tries the very same thing with us. He tries to bring about doubt as to what and who by God’s tender mercies we truly are.
Sinners, yes! But sinners forgiven and cleansed through Jesus’ precious blood: as our baptism assures us, as the word of absolution assures us, and as Christ’s truly present-in-the-Sacrament Body and Blood assure us. More than anything else Satan wants you to forget, to forget all that. He wants to sow seeds of doubt in your mind and heart: “You? You as you are!— a child of God?” Satan whispers, “How can that be? Just look at all your troubles and difficulties. Yes, look at your sins!” And Satan is past master at bringing to life the memory of sins long ago repented of, forgiven, but which still come back to trouble our conscience. “You, you as you are, a child of God?”
Our Lord held fast to the word His Father spoke at His baptism: “This is My Beloved Son”; just so we cling to God’s word of tender mercy put upon us with the water of our baptism whose power is the Blood of Jesus. Just listen to some wonderful words of that splendid preacher John Donne. Donne says:
Against this [accusation of the devil] there is no other medicine but the blood of Christ. And therefore, whensoever this apprehension of God’s future judgment bites on you, be sure to present to it the blood of your Savior. Never consider God’s judgement for sin alone but rather in company with the blood of Christ. It is but the hissing of the Serpent, the whispering of Satan when he surprises you in a melancholy midnight of dejection of spirit and lays your sins before you. Look not on your sins so inseparably that you cannot see Christ, too! Come not to Confession to God without consideration of the promises of the Gospel.
In the words of John Newton:
How sweet the name of JESUS sounds
In a believer’s car!
It soothes his sorrows, heals his wounds,
And drives away his fear.
By Him my prayers acceptance gain,
Although with sin defiled;—
Satan accuses me in vain
And I am owned a child.
And the peace of God which passes all understanding keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus to life everlasting. +Amen.
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
Because Easter Day is so early this year, March 27th, we already ﬁnd ourselves at the beginning of Lent. I hope that everyone who is able to do so will make the effort to be in God’s house on Ash Wednesday, the First Day of Lent. Lent has been kept by Christians since ancient times: then it was the ﬁnal period of preparation of adult converts for baptism which took place at the Vigil of Easter Eve. Holy Scripture teaches that in baptism we are made one with Christ in His saving death and resurrection, are born again of water and the Spirit, receive the forgiveness of sins and are made members of Christ’s mystical body, the Church. And because we have been baptized we are called to daily repentance. As we learned in the Catechism, Baptism “signiﬁes that the old Adam in us should through daily contrition and repentance die and be drowned with all sins and evil desires, and that a new man should daily emerge and arise to live before God in righteousness and purity forever.” That is the daily life of Christians. Lent is simply a time of intensiﬁed effort to do just that through the discipline of prayer, fasting and almsgiving which the Lord Jesus assumes His followers will be engaged in as He says in the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 6: 1-21). God does not need our Lenten discipline but we do – so that we may grow in likeness to Him. I am always glad to answer any questions you may have about the observance of Lent. My telephone number is 410.554.9994; my email address is email@example.com.
Again this year we will have the Wednesday evening Lenten Vespers at 7:30 PM preceded by a simple soup supper at 6:30 PM. The meditations this year will focus on the Passion of Christ as seen in the Book of Psalms. When our Savior appeared to His disciples on the evening of His resurrection He said, “These are my words which I spoke to you while I was with you, that everything written in the law of Moses and the prophets and the psalms must be fulﬁlled. Then he opened their minds of understand the scriptures” (Luke 24:44t). All Scripture speaks of Christ. As we reverently and intently listen to God’s Word written, our sin is uncovered, we see the greatness of Christ’s forgiving love, and His mind is increasingly formed in us.
And speaking of Holy Scripture I should also mention the adult Bible Class which meets every Sunday morning at 9:45 A.M. We study the appointed readings– the Old Testament Lesson, the Epistle and the Gospel– for the day. Come and join us!
During the third week of January Vicar Trent and I attended the annual Symposium on the Scriptures and the Lutheran Confessions at Concordia Theological Seminary in Fort Wayne, Indiana. Fortunate we were to arrive home just before the blizzard really took over! And speaking of our Vicar, he and his wife eagerly await the arrival of their first child early in March. The Baptism is tentatively set for Saturday, March 19th, at noon. Let us keep both parents and child in our prayers. There will be a Baby Shower on Sunday, February 21st.
In reviewing the annual parish report which is sent to Synod each year I was happy to note that in 2015 four people were conﬁrmed in our congregation and both an infant and a young person baptized. We also received two new members by letter of transfer. The Lord continues to build His Church in this place and throughout the world.
Now we begin our annual journey to Easter, the glad feast of the Lord’s Resurrection. I hope and pray that this Lent will prove to be for each one of you a time of renewal in faith and hope and love.
Alfectionately in our Lord,
Divine Service, 7:30 PM
Liturgy of Good Friday, 7:30 PM
The Easter Vigil, 7:30 PM
A word of thanks to our church family for the generous outpouring of nonperishable holiday food items and for the donation of eight frozen turkeys which we provided to designated families in our community. The turkeys were provided by individual member donations and from a Thrivent Gift. Because of the abundance of canned and packaged food donations, we were able to deliver several extra boxes to GEDCO’s community food pantry where there is always great need.
The process of assembling and labeling individual baskets went swiftly and smoothly thanks to our team of volunteers: William Hawkins, Mary Techau, David West, Judy Volkrnan, and James Smallwood. Please continue to support our food outreach to our neighbors.
– Quilla Downs