A myHT Fortress

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Leaping for Life

Leap Day is not just simply a time to thank God for an extra day. For those who know the Oberdieck family, it is a time to thank God for EVERY day. A day to remember that every day is a precious gift from the Lord of Life.

Four years ago this afternoon, the Lord sent His holy angels to stop the car that Emma Oberdieck was driving, at precisely the inch necessary. She was driving in the "fast lane" of I-64, returning to Lanesville, IN from her work in Louisville, KY. The SUV in front of her swerved suddenly, revealing a broken down semi, stopped in that "fast lane." With no time to react, Emma's vehicle crashed into the tailgate of the semi.

One inch more would have meant that her earthly life was over, and she would have gone to the Lord that day. (And while it would have been joyful for her, it would have been tragic to her husband, her three sons, family, and all of us at that time at St. John's Lutheran in Lanesville.)

As it turned out, bruising, a broken knee, some shattered glass in her scalp, and multiple fractures in her wrist were the worst of the physical results. (Oh, and her new coat from Christmas that had to be cut to get her out of the crushed car.)

We are so thankful for the protection of God's holy angels, thankful for the gift of life, and thankful for our friend, Emma. Happy Leap Day, Emma!

Monday, February 27, 2012

(Not a) Bummer of a Birthmark: A Homily on Lent 1

Mark 1:9-15

1st Sunday in Lent

26 February 2012

St. John's, Chicago, IL

In the Name of the Father and of the +Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

A number of years ago, Gary Larson drew a Far Side cartoon that had two deer standing in the woods. As it was pure fantasy fiction, and in true Far Side fashion, they were standing on their hind

Yes, the buck had a birthmark shaped like a bullseye. A terrible predicament once hunting season started! He would be the obvious target!
legs. One of them had a series of concentric circles on his chest, which looked like a bullseye. The other remarked to him, "Bummer of a birthmark!"

Once He was baptized in the Jordan by John, Jesus became this obvious target. The devil set his sights on the Lord, and would unleash everything he had to try and stop the Savior. He had been a target all along, and Satan knew that this was the Son of God. But now, He was baptized, and His ministry was commencing. More than ever, it would be important to Satan to put an end to this saving mission of God.

So the old evil foe takes Jesus on. He confronts our newly baptized Lord and tempts Him. Satan the accuser twists and turns and manipulates the Word of God, providing temptation for Jesus to endure for forty days in the wilderness.

There He was, the new Adam, with the wild animals, just like our first father was with the animals in Eden. Only in that lush Garden, the first Adam fell for Satan's manipulation of God's Word to tempt him. Now in the wilderness, the New Adam, not so much -- in fact, not at all!

This whole event sets the stage and serves to foreshadow this showdown between Satan and Jesus. Here Christ refutes the devil and stands firm against temptation. He is defeating sin. And later, at the cross, the Lord brings that defeat of sin to completion, crushing sin, death, and the devil by His own suffering and death!

But wait. "Sure," you say, "that's easy for Jesus!" But what about you? How do you do in the face of temptation?

You see, at your baptism, you received a birthmark too. And it also was a target! But this target is cross-shaped. "Receive the sign of the holy cross, both upon your forehead and upon your heart, to mark you as one redeemed by Christ the crucified." As you received new birth and were washed into God's kingdom, you became an enemy of Satan. The tempter became your sworn opponent at that moment, and wants nothing more than your eternal suffering and death, since he hates Jesus and everyone in His Church. Satan knows that Jesus defeated sin, but he and his minions still will do anything they can to tempt you to misunderstand or outright reject God and His Word.

The thing is, sometimes it is not as easy as you think. Temptation can be strong, especially when it involves the things or people we love. The Lord commanded Abraham to sacrifice his only son, Isaac. But he loved Isaac. This was his son, promised by God, and given brith when Abraham was already 100 years old! Did God really say "sacrifice your son, your only son, Isaac?" I'm sure He really didn't mean that. Abraham would have been tempted not to listen to God. If Abraham had given into the temptation to refuse God, it would be a rejection of the Lord.

Sometimes temptation can seem to come in the guise of pity or actually helping someone. Did you see WGN's recent story on a man named Dan Kruse? Dan has been a quadriplegic since a car accident 25 years ago. He is pretty depressed, and now wants to die. He is tempted to take his own life, but physically cannot do it. Others may be tempted to end his life. After all, he is wishing for it. Look at his so-called "quality of life." Yet, death is not imminent. Removing his ventilator would be actively killing him, and thus, a sin. Society would call that a "mercy killing." God calls it murder.

Sometimes temptation can come regarding good and wholesome things, or friends and family you love. These people and things may be blessings from God. Yet when you end up placing them at the top of your priorities, and love or trust them more than God, you change the blessing into a curse. The person you love can be manipulated into an obstacle to faith.

Abraham was tempted to place the son he loved above all else and say that he was a blessing from God, so he should not do as told. Instead, we see God's plan unfold as He teaches Abraham what He himself will someday do: give up His Son, His only Son, Jesus Christ, to be sacrificed. God Himself will provide the Lamb. And He did. And when He did, Isaac was spared, just as you are spared.

When Abraham was at the point of sacrificing his only son, Isaac, the Angel of the Lord called out to him and stopped him, delivering God's Word to him. When Jesus endured temptation, Satan the fallen angel was harassing our Lord, But holy angels came and ministered to Him. They served Him and helped Jesus. When you are tempted, you have the blessing of knowing that His holy angels are ministering to you too. They protect you, and guard you, body and soul, fending off the old evil foe.

Dear friends in Christ, your baptism and the cross traced upon you at that moment are not a "bummer of a birthmark." No, that cross has given you a most blessed birthmark that is a witness to you and others, reminding you of all that the dear Lord Jesus did for you, as the only Son, sacrificed to take away the sin of the world. He has endured temptation and remained sinless. He washes you in that guiltlessness in Baptism, gifting you with the new life of the Son of promise.

Be comforted, dear tempted ones. God is your Mighty Fortress. He is the trusty Shield and Weapon that helps you free from every need that has you overtaken. He fights temptation for you. He fends off Satan and his fellow fallen angels, preserving you in the one, true faith. Because you are baptized, the kingdom yours remaineth! Amen.

Transfigured King: A Homily on the Transfiguration

Mark 9:2-9

Transfiguration of Our Lord

19 February 2012

St. John's, Chicago, IL

In the Name of the Father and of the +Son and of th Holy Spirit. Amen.

This month the Boy Scouts of America celebrated the 100th anniversary of the Eagle Scout award. The Boy Scouts had been in the United States for about two years when this all came to pass. The same can be said for our British counterparts.

In 1909, at the urging of Lord Robert Baden-Powell, King Edward VII of Great Britain created the King's Scout award for the two-year-old scouting organization. When the reigning monarch is a male, this is the name of the highest award in scouting in the nations of the United Kingdom. In a way, it corresponds to the United States of America's Eagle Scout, as each of these awards are given as the ultimate recognition of service to God and country. The King's Scout is honored as one who is a leader, a good citizen, one learning many skills, and a fine servant of the King. But in the United States, you have no king. Or do you?

You have no earthly king. Instead, God has given this nation the structure of a democratic republic. You elect many leaders; no individual is your monarch. At least, no mere human.

And that is the way you have been brought up. You tend to be a typical American, with an aversion to the monarchical form of government. You'd agree with the old Schoolhouse Rock cartoon, "No more kings." It carries over to spiritual choices. You fancy yourself as self-governing, or at least cooperating with other people. Often, you don't even appreciate the elected leadership! That is why entertainment such as Saturday Night Live is popular when they mock presidents, dignitaries, and last night -- history in the making -- even the president of The Lutheran Church -- Missouri Synod! But a King? That's not for you! So you think. You reject the idea of the true and everlasting King, and end up refusing Christ THE King.

Your King is the One who reveals Himself as He speaks with Moses and Elijah. Your King is bearing witness to His glory -- a glory that does not have its source in light or power, but a glory foreshadowed here, as the Old Testament bears witness and converses with the New, and directs our attention to the coming exodus.

What exodus? Exodus means, "going out." Jesus would soon suffer and die and rise again, and in that great event of Good Friday through Easter Sunday, He would be going out of death to life, and from this world to the heavenly realms. In His death and resurrection, the King of kings and Lord of lords shows His ultimate, perfect, righteous, holy glory!

That is the moment depicted in the beautiful stained glass window that faces Montrose Avenue. It is the Transfiguration. Moses and Elijah are on either side of Jesus. The artist did something a little unusual, combining themes, though, and instead of the transfigured Jesus, places our Good Shepherd in the center pane of the window. Still, the image reminds us of the Old Testament confirming and conversing with the New. That they were speaking of Jesus' death and resurrection all along. And that in those marvelous events, Christ comes as you King and serves you.

That is the beauty of the new cross that adorns this chancel. At one and the same time, it proclaims to your eyes the glory of Christ in both the cross and resurrection. The King Himself has given everything and suffered and died for you. He revealed His glory as He redeemed you on Calvary. Then He continued to reveal that glory as He rose. Your King is risen and victorious! And now He delivers the fruits of that victory to you as He serves as your priest, bringing you forgiveness and life through His sacraments. A picture is worth a thousand words. This picture of Jesus keeps speaking thousands of words to you, without end!

This King you see before your eyes is the King who was transfigured to comfort the apostles in the days ahead. As they witnessed the frightening events of Good Friday, even though they still did not understand, Jesus had the apostles "Be prepared." He readied them for Holy Week. He blessed them to see that He is God in the flesh.

The King does the same for you. Still. Now. Only not in the same way. You do not see Him with His clothes gleaming whiter than any bleach or launderer's soap could get them. You do not hear some booming voice from heaven.

Christ reveals His glory now in the miraculous gift of Baptism, Absolution, the preaching of His Gospel, and in His Holy Supper. The voice from heaven now comes to you through your pastor. The glorified Christ now comes to you through water, words, bread, and wine. And in these gifts, Jesus Christ makes you King's Scouts in His kingdom, gifting you to "Be Prepared" for His death and resurrection, this coming Lententide, and always. He prepares you for life everlasting with Him, as you come down from the mountaintop and go out into daily life, nourished, forgiven, and strengthened by the Lord. Amen.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Outcast: A Homily on Mark 1:40-45

Mark 1:40-45

6th Sunday after Epiphany

12 February 2012

St. John's, Chicago, IL

In the Name of the Father and of the +Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

As if having this disease was not bad enough, the reaction of others compounded it. Fear and contempt would issue from the eyes of the beholders. You were "unclean" in body, and contact with you would make anyone else unclean ritually, unable to participate in the liturgies and sacrifices at the Temple.

Once you had become a leper, you were cut off. Unclean. Unable to enter the presence of God in His house. Unable to gather for worship with others. Unable to even be with others, so long as you had leprosy. And since there was no real cure, aside from a few miraculous healings over the centuries, it usually meant life as an outcast.

Being outcast cannot be purely blamed on a disease, though. Just like our first parents in the Garden, you deny and defy the Lord, embracing the sin that cuts you off, making yourself outcast.

But Jesus is helping the outcast here. He beholds the overlooked. He lifts up the downtrodden. He cleanses the filth and makes all things new. Here is a man who is looked down upon by all of society, and Jesus comes to Him and delivers Him.

You are right there with this leper. As a faithful Christian, you are looked down upon by society. The national news has made that clear this week. There are those who are increasing their blatant defiance of Christ and His Church, and the compassion and conscience that accompany the Church. And they look down on, and some even despise you sad Christians.

Has it been too much for you? Do you give in to pressure? Is it easier for you to go along with the surrounding chaos and culture, rather than sticking with Christ-like principles?

Or have you even been the one making others to be outcast? Are your lips loose and unchristian, spreading gossip and breaking the eighth commandment? Do you antagonize, give glaring looks, and make others feel unwelcome? Then you are acting like those who held lepers at bay, and making others into outcasts, and you must repent! As a Christian, you are to be living a life of love and acceptance, defending the defenseless, helping the hurting, and being God's love and mercy in action.

Are you being outcast? Do not be overwhelmed. And do not give in to the pressures of the devil and the world, who say you are not realistic or current. If you have, repent! For you have been no better than they who are attacking Christ's Church.

They may label you as "old fashioned," "extreme," or even "uncaring about women's health." Yet nothing can be further from the truth. In Christ, you are filled with His compassion and love -- compassion and love that stand up to protect from the dangers and horrors of abortion and secular abandonment of God.

Yes, you are with Jesus, who Himself became the ultimate Outcast, being led out of the city and stripped, humiliated, and suffering a criminal's death on a cross. It was the soldier's whip, rather than a biological disease that ate away at His flesh; yet He endured all this so that you would not be outcast by the Lord God.

Jesus Christ took on the leprosy, the blindness, and the lameness -- anything that would make others outcast -- and bore it all in His body. He drew to Himself your sin and guilt, and claimed it as His own, paying for it all. Yes! Jesus was outcast for you, so that you would never suffer being outcast by Him! He was cut off, so that you would be welcomed into the assembly of God's people, receiving His grace.

Dear baptized and beloved, your Jesus has taken on this on Himself. He removes your guilt, and has borne your sin to be your Savior. You are freed from your outcast condition, and welcomed into the family of God, newly born into life with Him. Our Epiphany Lord has restored and renewed you, no longer an outcast, but a welcomed and cherished child of God! Amen.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Planned Parenthood and the Susan G. Komen Foundation: What's the Big Deal?

Last week we saw a large scuffle in the news regarding Planned Parenthood and the Komen Foundation over a grant. But what was really going on?

From a Christian point of view, one would hope that the threatened end to the grant was over the moral issue of abortion. Abortion is the major money-maker for Planned Parenthood. Supporters of PP point out that there are many other services, which aid many impoverished, unemployed, and under-employed women. That is not the point of debate here. The sad statistic is, that about 11% of the women served by PP are there getting abortions.

Eleven percent. Sad. But is that so awful? I mean, it’s only 11%. That is what the world is saying.

Eleven percent of the women served by Planned Parenthood each year, however, is somewhere above 300,000. That is right, 300,000 babies destroyed each year in the name of “birth control” and “helping women.” (If you estimate the average of 50/50 male/female population, that means PP is helping women, by killing about 150,000 women each year, before they are even born.)

In the end, while some shy away and pretend this is a political issue, the Lord of Life sees things differently. He says, “Let the children come to me; do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of God” (Mark 10:14 ESV.) Christ welcomes little ones, and knows them, making them their own individual selves from the moment of conception.

Sadly, the SGK Foundation gave in to pressure from Planned Parenthood and their media allies. It turns out that the motivation was not so much the moral issue, but a policy that said grants should go to groups that actually provided services. (PP simply makes referrals for mammograms, they do not actually perform them.) So SGK apologized and is trying to make up with PP.

Of course, the irony of the connection between abortion and the onset of breast cancer has been completely ignored in the media coverage I have seen. While disputed for a while, this connection is once again supported. Women having had abortions, especially in their younger years, are more likely to develop breast cancer. Why on earth would the Susan G. Komen Foundation support an organization that commits actions that conflict with SGK’s mission?

Pray for all involved. Pray for honesty in the reporting of these events. Pray for health and healing for those suffering from breast cancer. Pray for those who are tempted and hurting, considering abortion. Pray for those who deal with the guilt of having committed this sin, that they may repent and receive the loving forgiveness of Jesus! Pray for Christ to work through His Gospel to give forgiveness and healing to all, and open the hearts of all to humbly receive Him.

Not a "Catholic" Issue; But a "catholic" Issue

The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod owes its very existence to the religious freedoms in the United States. Many of the founding fathers of our church body emigrated from German states where their Lutheran faith was being infringed upon by other Protestant rulers. The state was imposing laws on the Church that were making it illegal to follow their Christian consciences. So they fled that oppression, and made America their home.

Recently the Department of Health and Human Services has issued a mandate requiring everyone, including religious employers, to offer insurance coverage that includes sterilization and contraceptives (including abortion-inducing drugs.) While many voices cry out “separation of church and state” when the church speaks, there is much silence in the public sector right now.

The Concordia Health Plans of our own Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod have been grandfathered, as officials in St. Louis have been monitoring this development. Sadly, many other church bodies have schools and organizations that will not be grandfathered, and are being told to transgress their biblically-informed consciences.

Dear friends in Christ, this is NOT a political issue. It is spiritual. The issue at hand is: what does the church do when told by earthly authorities to go against our understanding of God’s Word? Lutherans have always had a solid teaching of Romans 13, Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God. 2 Therefore whoever resists the authorities resists what God has appointed…”

Yet, along with the apostles, when we are given the sad choice of obeying God, or submitting to humans, we must confess: “We must obey God rather than men” (Acts 5:29 ESV.) The American bishops of the Roman Catholic Church have spoken bravely and clearly on this. So has our own LCMS President Matthew C. Harrison.

A church that gets caught up in earthly politics and picking favorite parties or endorsing candidates confuses itself. Remember, Jesus says, “You are not of the world (John 15:19 ESV.) Do not speak on behalf of the Church in matters of opinion, political philosophy, or policy. However, when others are opposing the biblically-informed conscience of the Church, we have no choice but to confess the Word of Christ, and kindly and respectfully ask the world to remove itself from such imposition.

For this reason, the entire Church on earth should be standing “shoulder to shoulder” with our friends in the Roman Catholic Church. We respectfully, yet with resolve, tell the world that it cannot force Christians to sin against our Scripture-led consciences. Let the Church be Church, and let the State be State.

Pray for our friends in the Roman Church. Pray also, that such infringements do not multiply. Lord, have mercy! Amen.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Fever! : A Homily on Mark 1:29-39

Mark 1:29-39

5th Sunday after Epiphany

5 February 2012

St. John's, Chicago, IL

In the Name of the Father and of the +Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

It is somewhere beyond Eden, several thousand years ago. Eve and Adam are frantic, nearly beside themselves, as one of them or one of their children are the first person to even come down with a fever. Touching the burning forehead, seeing how weak their loved one is. It is unpleasant for a family to begin with, and then, if hey had never experienced it before!

Then, ponder that first generation horror, knowing that your own sin had led to this. Your rebellion had brought the very existence of sickness into this world. That you, your spouse, and your children would not be suffering if you had not rejected God and His Word.

Now, you cannot point to a specific sin, and say that God is using a certain illness to punish you for it. He does not keep a chart at the end of your bed, noting your spiritual health and the rewards and punishments you deserve. Sickness is a result of sin, but not as a vindictive tit for tat. It is just a part of this fallen existence.

It seems so simple now. Such a little thing. It is just a fever. In today's Gospel reading, we'd say to give Peter's mother-in-law some tylenol, or even aspirin, and let her sleep it off. But it is not that simple. Those medicines are not yet discovered in the first century. No one really knows the cause of fevers; just that they can be deadly.

In the greater scheme of things, such medical conditions have been difficult until the modern era, with its major advances in the health sciences. Less than a hundred years ago, many thousands died in the influenza epidemic.

And do you remember Beth in the novel, Little Women? The book is set in the time of the Civil war -- just 150 years ago. Beth was deathly ill with scarlet fever. The fever finally broke, but she was never the same. Weakened, perhaps with a resulting heart condition, Beth March spent a mere six years more on this earth.

Granted, this was more than just a fever from an everyday infection, but without modern antibiotics and fever-reducing medicines, any fever was quite scary. Simon Peter isn't thinking, "If Mom doesn't take care of herself and get some rest, she'll stay sick longer." No. The reality in his mind is that she may very well die if Jesus cannot do anything.

They have just witnessed the Lord cast out demons. They have heard Him speak the Word of God with authority. Can He do this too? Immediately they tell Jesus about her. This is urgent, Jesus. She could die!

And what does the Lord do? He takes her by the hand, and what? NIV misses the mark here and simply says, "He helped her up." Yes, He did. ESV says, He "lifted her up." That is better. But the word that Mark uses to record this event is that Jesus "raised her up!" No she had not yet died, but it would have been possible. The Great Physician is the Lord of Life who Himself would rise from the dead. He is foreshadowing the amazing, miraculous rising that He would do later on.

This baptized Jesus is walking around, absorbing all the sicknesses and frailties of others, taking them on Himself. When He goes to the cross, He pays for it all, and defeats death, so that it cannot hold Him, and He victoriously rises! That is the beauty of this image of Christ our King: it reminds and shows us at the same time, the cross, on which Jesus took these illnesses and sins and paid for them, and our risen Lord, victorious champion over sin, death and the devil!

But you can be just like a person suffering from a fever. Sometimes when you have a fever, you don't realize you are burning up. Sometimes, while your body is hot with fever, you are feeling fine, or even chilled. "I'm fine," you say. I'm not that sick. Yet even a little sick, is still sick. And the next thing you know, you are so sick that you can't get up and function. You cannot do anything right.

Sin is indeed a sickness. It makes you ill to the point you cannot see your ailment. But Jesus has come, and brings healing. He renews and restores you through His holy gifts.

The physicians of this world realize that washing and cleanliness make a great and favorable impact on health and healing. In Holy Baptism, you were give the perfect, holy washing that cleansed you and rid you of impurities.

The doctors give you verbal instructions on what to do to care for the body and get better. Jesus speaks His Holy Word, which does what it says and bestows forgiveness and life to you.

Your physicians will prescribe medicine for you to fight the infections and hasten your recovery. Jesus is the Great Physician, who gives you the Medicine of Immortality -- the Sacrament of the Altar. Through His Holy Body and Blood, Jesus enters you, becoming that medicine, preparing you for perfect health and wholeness of a holy, resurrected life with Him, body and soul.

Jesus uses His gifts all the time, raising you up in body and soul. He is raising you as He gives forgiveness, life, and salvation. And He is preparing you for the day when He will raise you up from your grave, to live with Him and serve Him in everlasting righteousness, innocence, and blessedness.

Dear friends in Christ, what a joyful gift! You are healed! You are raised in Christ! He has restored you to heavenly health, and joyfully anticipates your perfect body's existence with Him in eternity. Amen.

Teaching With Authority: A Homily on Mark 1:21-28

Mark 1:21-28

4th Sunday after Epiphany

29 January 2012

St. John's, Chicago, IL

In the Name of the Father and of the +Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

"What is this? A new teaching with authority!" No other rabbis were speaking with such authority. Their teaching would often consist of comparisons of what one rabbi had taught, but on the other hand, there was such and such said by another. But here comes Jesus, and He just plainly says what the Word means, and is able to command diseases and rebuke evil spirits by the power of that Word. He has authority because He is the very God who gives that authority.

Of course, as a fallen, sinful human, you aren't too keen on authority, especially the Lord's authority. You want to be your own god, have your own way, try to get of your problems yourself, with out any help. You live in a nation that emphasizes the legendary American "rugged individualism." Culture, media, neighbors, and family all encourage you to be your own boss, do your own thing, and don't let anyone tell you what you can do.

But it doesn't quite work that way. Since Adam and Eve fell, every human except Christ Himself has been born under the authority of sin. You may think you are in control, but your broken and sinful Old Adam lusts after the things that the devil, the world, and your sinful self have to offer. And led astray by those unholy desires, you spin out of control, and remain under the authority of these enemies of God.

Yet this is not true authority. It is a sham. These menaces have no true authority over the baptized. "Sin, disturb my soul no longer." "Satan, hear this proclamation." "Death, you cannot end my gladness, I am baptized into Christ!" You have been freed from such evil. You are released from the bonds of the old evil foe, and are not under his false facade of authority.

That is because your Epiphany Lord God in the Flesh. He has the authority, as He is the source of the authority. He is the Lord of creation, who has made and sustains all things. And here He is, revealing Himself as the Lord God, who speaks His Word and makes it so.

In Star Trek: The Next Generation, Captain Jean-Luc Picard would regularly use that expression: "Make it so." He had the authority on his ship to declare something, to give a command, and expect that thing to happen. Yet, his authority came from a source, up through the ranks of Starfleet Command. He could expect lower ranking people to obey him, and he himself to respect and obey orders from those over him.

Jesus, on the other hand, has no officers above Him. He does not receive His authority from other individuals or groups. He is the Lord, and exercises the authority that simply is His.

But what does that mean, that Jesus has authority. Our friends in some church bodies get caught up in this idea, and will focus mostly on God as the Sovereign. For them, simplifying a bit, the chief message of Scripture is that there is a God and He has authority over all. For a Lutheran, the biblical understanding of Christ and the heart of Scripture is the Gospel: that God in His great, boundless love for you, became Man, suffered, died and rose again for you! The joy of His authority is that He clearly and definitively can proclaim His saving Gospel as the One who perfectly knows it and gives His forgiving message!

You can rejoice in this Jesus who has authority, as He is the "Prophet like [Moses]" -- but not just a prophet like Moses, but THE Prophet, the One bringing and preaching God's Word, declaring the Gospel that fulfills the law that came through Moses. The One whose authority is most splendid and glorious as He gave everything up, and endured death on a cross for you, dying to forgive you, and rising, justifying you.

No need to get wrapped up in someone whose authority is limited to comparisons or quotes. Jesus Christ speaks His own saving, life-giving Gospel! He speaks His salvation to you, and makes it so.

He speaks it and it happens. And we repeat His words. Today we especially give thanks for His repeating His authoritative, saving words through our teachers. This year, the Lord has begun to use Mrs. Holly Borrasso to repeat His words among us. And we thank Him that He has used Mrs. Nancy Bowman to do the same, until she recently began serving Him in other ways, outside of the classroom.

Praise the Lord who speaks with such authority! Praise the crucified and risen Lord who declares the merciful, forgiving Gospel to you! Amen.