“Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.” Hebrews 10: 25
For all my life I have been a regular church attendee. Granted, my motivation wasn’t always that pure. As a child I went because my parents made me. Consequently, much of my “inspiration” came from the threat of punishment. Despite my occasional protests, particularly in my teen years, they still made me go. They wouldn’t have it any other way and, to be honest, looking back on it, neither would I.
I say that because the “habit” of worship is in many ways just that . . . a habit. Now, typically we think of habits as things we have to kick. However, there are good habits as well and attending worship is one of them. It is a learned behavior that has to be instilled in us because, on our own, our Old Adams would never choose to go. The inclination of our sinful nature, if we are to be honest, would always be to choose to do something else other than worship. This is especially true in this day and age when there is so much competition for our time and attention most of which is easily accessible and much more appealing to our sinful flesh. Worship was always a good part of my life; I just didn’t realize it when I was younger. Unfortunately, it just took my maturity level a little while to catch up.
Neglecting the “habit” of worship can be dangerous for the believer. Worship is where God gives us his gifts of Word and Sacrament. These are the very things which sustain our faith and keep us focused on Christ and his cross. That’s why the author of Hebrews gives the warning in the above verse for those who were beginning to develop a new habit (which was probably an old habit) of not gathering together for worship. The risk, to be blunt, was an atrophying faith that could not stand in the face of that “Day” when it came.
That “Day” he refers to in this passage is the “Day of the Lord” or “Judgment Day.” Granted, that certainly has an ominous ring to it but it does for a reason . . . it is ominous. At some point in the future, at a time we just don’t know, Christ our Lord will return and there will be a reckoning. How firm will our faith be at that time?
The encouragement given in this verse is, in light of the coming judgment, we as Christians are not to neglect the things that feed and strengthen our faith. Grace upon grace comes to us in worship as we confess our sins, receive absolution, hear God’s Word about Christ death and resurrection for us and for our sins, and as we eat his body and drink his blood in his holy supper. Forgiveness of sins abounds in worship and where there is the forgiveness of sins there is life and salvation. To put it simply, worship is what we need.
Gracious God, you are the giver of all good gifts. We thank you that in your goodness you give to us the gift of worship whereby you feed and nourish our souls. Help us always to hunger and thirst for your word that we might be continually strengthened to walk with you all the days of our lives until you come in your glory to take us to be with you. In Jesus’ name. Amen.
Colossians 3:1-4 If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on the earth. For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.
See what Paul teaches you: You died! Yet your life still exists! It is hidden, safe and sound, in heaven with Jesus! When Jesus returns, you will be with him, glorified—that is, living eternally.
You died with Jesus in your Baptism. Romans 6:3 reads, “Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death?” Paul says it here again—through your Baptism, you died with Jesus. You do well to recognize this and to live this way.
But, just as Jesus’ story does not end with death, so neither does yours. You are united with Jesus and Jesus rose from the dead. You are united with him also in his Resurrection! The souls of all the faithful remain alive and in the protective care of Jesus, who reigns from heaven. You are assured that when Jesus returns on the last day, you will have your body and eternal soul reunited! You will be glorified with Jesus’ own glory.
Therefore, how ought you to live? Should you live in fear and worry, tossed to and fro by all the cares of this world? Should you live in terror of death? Should you live for pleasure—“let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die?”
No, this is keeping your mind on earthly things. The earth—with all its worries and terrors and pleasures will pass away—but Jesus lives forever. And through Jesus, you too will live forever. Therefore, set your mind on Jesus and the eternal life he grants to you. Amen.
Dearest Lord, amid all the troubles of this life, fix our eyes where true joy is to be found—in the death and Resurrection of Jesus Christ, and the glories that are granted to us through him; through Jesus Christ, your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.
Colossians 2:1-3 For I want you to know how great a struggle I have for you and for those at Laodicea and for all who have not seen me face to face, that their hearts may be encouraged, being knit together in love, to reach all the riches of full assurance of understanding and the knowledge of God’s mystery which is Christ, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.
What is Paul’s struggle for these Christians at Colossae that have never seen Paul in the flesh? Paul struggles mightily for these and all Christians (including you) so that they would be assured of “God’s mystery which is in Christ,” so that they would understand “God’s mystery which is in Christ,” and so that through knowing “God’s mystery which is in Christ,” you would see your heart knit together with the hearts of all other Christians (including even Paul) and that you would have great courage in this world.
So, this begs the question? What is this mystery that Paul speaks of? What is the mystery that unites you with other Christians? What is the mystery that fills you with courage in a dangerous and deadly world?
The mystery that Paul writes of…Jesus!
Paul wants us to be assured that Jesus is truly God, born into human flesh—fully God and fully man. Paul wants you to understand that Jesus has taken your sins upon himself and paid their price on the cross. Paul wants you to take courage that Jesus has risen from the dead and, because you are united with Jesus in your Baptism, that you will also rise to eternal life with Jesus! This is the mystery Paul wants you to know and believe.
So, why is it a mystery? Because human reason and wisdom can’t figure it out. You can think, and think, and think some more and you won’t figure it out. You can reason, ponder, translate, and work mathematical equations and you still won’t have a clue. This mystery isn’t one that is “figured out” or discovered—this mystery is only revealed by the Holy Spirit.
The Holy Spirit works through the Word and the Sacraments to make Jesus known to you this day! Believe it! And receive all the blessings that come through knowing the mystery of Jesus!
Dearest Lord, in your love you have made known your Son, Jesus Christ, and the forgiveness, life, and salvation that is hidden in him. Receive our thanks for all the blessings we richly receive through Jesus, and continue to make this mystery known to all people; through Jesus Christ, your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.
Luke 1:46-55 And Mary said, “My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for he has looked on the humble estate of his servant. For behold, from now on all generations will call me blessed; for he who is mighty has done great things for me, and holy is his name. And his mercy is for those who fear him from generation to generation. He has shown the strength with his arm; he has scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts; he has brought down the mighty from their thrones and exalted those of humble estate; he has filled the hungry with good things, and the rich he has sent away empty. He has helped his servant Israel, in remembrance of his mercy, as he spoke to our fathers, to Abraham and to his offspring forever.”
Friday, August 15th is the day that the Church remembers Mary, the Mother of Our Lord. That sounds odd, doesn’t it? How can God have a mother? Scripture teaches us that all things were created by the Father through Jesus and that Jesus existed before anything else in all creation—including Mary.
So, how could Jesus be born of the woman that he, himself, created? How could Jesus spend 9 months in a womb that was created through him? How is it that the God who created all things is now a helpless baby, nursing at a breast? How is it that the one before whom the holy angels bow is now submissive to his mother and dependent upon her for food and diaper changes?
This is the mystery of Jesus’ Incarnation. Although we have trouble coming to terms with it, the all-powerful, all-knowing, Creator and King of all things became a fetus. He became a helpless baby. He nursed and needed diaper changes and someone to make his lunch.
Jesus had no problem humbling himself on our behalf. He took upon himself our flesh and thus made all flesh holy. Jesus was cared for by a mother and thus blessed all motherhood. Jesus also took upon himself all sin—taking what is rightly ours—so that we could be like he is: living eternally with Jesus, holy in God’s sight, free from all sadness and oppression and danger.
Mary was a lowly woman. Jesus was born lowly. Jesus then took Mary, you, me, and all the other lowly people into his loving care to raise us all up on the Last Day.
Grant, we humbly pray, O Lord, to your servants the gift of your heavenly blessing that, as the Son of the virgin Mary has granted us salvation, we may daily grow in your favor; through Jesus Christ, your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.