Over the years I have written several "book" or "booklets" and many, many, many newsletter and bulletin articles. Because the book market seeks writings to meet specific needs at specific times, my material has never been accepted. I have a tendency to write what is on my mind and so I am left with self publishing. So, with the encouragement from my wife and others, I am beginning this blog in order to put my "ramblings" "out there"! I hope you enjoy!


Please note that while my intentions are to use good grammar, because of the way in which some of the material presented here is presented (orally) the grammar and syntax might not always be the best English. Also note that good theology is not always presented in the best English so there may be times when the proper grammar rules are purposely broken.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Wheat and Weeds

The elders have been discussing how to work with members of St. Matthew who continually absent themselves from the gifts of God, thus refusing and rejecting those gifts. The difficulty is that in working with those who refuse and reject the gifts of God, because of close connections with other members of the congregation, hard feelings begin to abound. Thus, we have looked to God and His Word, especially to Jesus’ words in Matthew for guidance.
“24He put another parable before them, saying, “The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a man who sowed good seed in his field, 25but while his men were sleeping, his enemy came and sowed weeds among the wheat and went away. 26So when the plants came up and bore grain, then the weeds appeared also. 27And the servants of the master of the house came and said to him, ‘Master, did you not sow good seed in your field? How then does it have weeds?’ 28He said to them, ‘An enemy has done this.’ So the servants said to him, ‘Then do you want us to go and gather them?’ 29But he said, ‘No, lest in gathering the weeds you root up the wheat along with them. 30Let both grow together until the harvest, and at harvest time I will tell the reapers, Gather the weeds first and bind them in bundles to be burned, but gather the wheat into my barn’” (Matthew 13:24-30).
In his commentary on Matthew 11:2-20:34, Dr. Jeffrey A. Gibbs suggests that Jesus is telling us it may be that instead of working to “write off” members of a congregation who continually absent themselves, refusing and rejecting the gifts God gives, it might be better to continually invite and encourage them to return before it is too late, because in the end, God will sort it all out.

A corollary of the Wheat and the Weeds is what we have been studying in Leviticus in Bible Class. From our study we have this question and answer. Leviticus Chapter 15 “shows us that while holiness can’t be transferred by touch, uncleanness can. How does understanding this truth affect our actions as parents? as members of a congregation? Holiness before God isn’t genetic. Many parents think that if they are faithful members while their children drift, the children will still be okay with God. Delinquents think that if they have their name on the membership list, somehow that covers them with purity before God. But read Ezekiel 18:20! How important it is for parents to see that their children remain in contact with the Word and sacraments, which alone can cleanse from sin. How important it is to seek the lost and lead them back to the Word, which alone can purify by creating faith in the Son of God.”

So, if our excuse for refusing and rejecting God’s gifts include any of the following: “I am mad at the pastor” (to which it was noted there are many other congregations to which God has called faithful pastors); “I am mad at some other member of the congregation;” “My children live in another town, but have always been members of this church;” or even, “My parents made me go to church as a child and I did not like it.” Please consider what God actually tells us in His Word, that is that He will ultimately hold each and everyone of us accountable for our own actions, either absenting ourselves, refusing and rejecting the gifts He has to give through His means of grace and the one He has called to distribute those means, or making regular and diligent use of those means, meaning being in Divine Service and Bible Class as often as offered.

My prayer as your pastor and our prayer as a Board of Elders is that God would stir in your heart to be the later.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Doctrine and Practice in Divine Service Serve to Unite and Divide

While unity in worship serves to unit in doctrine, diversity (which has in the very word the word divide) in worship service to divide in doctrine. As “proof” of this statement, I offer the following extensive quote from the book, Gathered Guests.

The history of North American hymnbooks is beyond the purview of this book, but needless to say, it is varied and interesting. About the middle of the twentieth century a new interest in liturgy arose throughout Christendom. Liturgical movements flourished among Catholics, Lutherans, and Episcopalians, as well as among several nonliturgical denominations. Man^of these movements quickly recognized the close ties between worship and doctrine. Believing that worship could move groups together, the ecumenically minded leaders in some denominations were especially cognizant of the impact that worship forms could have on the church.

Two branches of Lutheran hymnals grew in somewhat parallel fashion in the latter half of the twentieth century. In 1941, the LCMS published The Lutheran Hymnal, prepared by all six member denominations of the Inter-Synodical Committee of Hymnology and Liturgies of the Evangelical Lutheran Synodical Conference of North America. This joint project of six synods (Missouri, Ohio, Wisconsin, Illinois, Minnesota, and the Norwegian) employed the Common Service of the previous century, which exhibited the best English-language liturgy of the time. Two years later, several Lutheran groups proposed a Joint Commission on the Liturgy Because the LCMS had just completed its hymnal, President John Behnken declined the invitation; however, “bodies, representing about two-thirds of Lutherans in North America, did respond positively.” As a result of these efforts, the Service Book and Hymnal of the Lutheran Church in America was produced in 1958. As expected, joint worship practices led to corporate mergers among several Lutheran groups. Of the eight Lutheran bodies that had worked on this hymnal project, four formed the ALC and the other four became the LCA. In 1959, the LCMS initiated discussions with these same Lutheran churches to develop a joint hymnal for all North American Lutherans. Again, because the Service Book and Hymnal had just been published, there was no great desire on the part of the other Lutheran groups for such a project. Instead, the LCMS developed its Worship Supplement, which was published in 1969.

Meanwhile, Pope John XXIII (1881-1963) called the Roman Catholic Church together for the Second Vatican Council, which opened on October 11, 1962, and concluded on December 8, 1965. One major emphasis of this council was the introduction of worship variations through the “Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy.” Lay participation in worship (including the possibility of receiving Communion in both kinds), liturgy in the language of the people, and a greater emphasis on Scripture readings (along with sermons) were a few of the momentous changes. Protestants took note of and were invited to consider these changes in light of their own traditions, particularly the use of a common liturgical calendar.

In early 1966, as a result of synodical convention resolutions in the summer of 1965, Oliver Harms (1901-1980), president of the LCMS, invited the ALC and the LCA to form a joint worship commission. This group became the Inter-Lutheran Commission on Worship (ILCW). Beginning in 1969, the ILCW produced several study documents, which were to be reviewed by local Lutheran congregations and national synods. Regrettably, because theological controversy erupted nationally within the LCMS during the early 1970s, most LCMS congregations paid little attention to these liturgical studies. However, throughout this period of upheaval in the LCMS, plans continued simultaneously among other North American Lutherans for a joint hymnal.

In 1977, the LCMS rejected the proposed Lutheran Book of Worship on theological grounds, though church politics were also involved as an underlying cause of the rejection. The ALC and the LCA, along with the new AELC (a group that broke away from the LCMS shortly before this hymnal was rejected), adopted Lutheran Book of Worship. Ten years later, in 1988, these three Lutheran bodies formed the ELCA. (Gathered Guest, Concordia Publishing House, p. 43-49)

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Lifestyle Evangelism is . . . An Easter Thing.

I know a man who exemplified what being a good witness is all about. This man lived his life as a witness of God’s great love. Wherever he went, whatever he did, you could see the love of God the Father through him. So often I would see him stop to help (those who seem to us to be) the helpless. He never thought of himself, what dangers he might be in if he stopped to help, or if he would be late if he stopped, or even what other people would think if they saw him. He made a difference in the lives of so many people, and he did so without expecting anything in return. However, in return for his goodness, he did get what he expected. He was ridiculed, called names, and there were even plots to kill him because in his sincerity, he made the establishment look bad. He was not synodically trained; he did not even have a college education, but he did not use that as an excuse or let it stop him from witnessing. Because so many people loved him, so many more hated him. He never made excuses and never gave a second thought about a person’s past.

Today, although we all should, no one can compare his/her feeble attempts of witnessing with this man’s, but instead we compare ourselves to those we see as worse witnesses.

During the Easter season each year, we should think that we are good witnesses, that it would be easy to be a good witness. After all, this time of the year is that Christians celebrate the resurrection of our God, Jesus rising from the dead. How about if we exemplify Jesus, the man about whom I was speaking above, in our daily lives?

As you read about Jesus, true God and true man, I pray that you will not feel guilty but will be inspired to rededicate your life, with his help, to Jesus. I pray that you will recommit your life to be a living example of Jesus, your brother and your God.
52 of 52 © Rev. Ronald A. Bogs

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Lifestyle Evangelism is . . . Following the Golden Rule.

“I’m but a stranger here, heaven is my home.” This song so well describes the Christian state of being. We are living in this world, but we are not of this world. The Lord tells us to separate ourselves from the heathen. This Lifestyle Evangelism tip is one way in which we separate ourselves from the unchurched and non-Christians.

Two Bible passages help us focus on this separation. “So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you” (Matthew 7:12). And “Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing” (emphasis added) (1 Thessalonians 5:11).

Our world today is a “step on or be stepped on world.” We are quick to show criticism or to put someone down in order to build ourselves up. How easily we, too, as Christians can slip into this negative mind set. We even read the Golden rule, Matthew 7:12, in a negative way. We think “If I do not hurt someone, then they should not hurt me.” But, Jesus gave us the Golden Rule in a very positive way and in a way which does separate us from the world. Jesus tells us to first take it upon ourselves to go out and do something unto (for) others, something we would want others to do for us. One such something is what Paul says in Thessalonians, that is, to encourage and build up one another. However, Jesus is saying more. He is saying that we are to go about doing good and building up others and not expect anything in return. It is when we go about doing good and expecting good in return that we get messed up because we are not doing good for the right reason.

Your Lifestyle Evangelism tip is to go about encouraging and building others up. Try giving five compliments to everyone before giving one criticism. In doing so, you will be separate. Others will see your powerful positive witness of Jesus Christ’s love for all.
51 of 52 © Rev. Ronald A. Bogs

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Lifestyle Evangelism is . . . Life in Perspective.

This month I have a message of urgency I need to relate to you. I would like to start by asking you to think about your life. You will live a long life of 70, 80, 90, or even 100 years. To each of us, that span seems like a long time. Now, I would like for you to think about that length of time in respect to how old the earth is. If we take the Bible as it is, the earth is somewhere between four to six thousand years old. Now, I want you to go one step further. Think about how long you will live in respect to eternity. If you have been following what I have been saying, you will see that our long, long life time on this earth is merely a twinkling of an eye in comparison to eternity. To get a different view on this time length, think about it this way: if a football field were the timeline of the age of the earth (100 yards) there would be an infinite line extending in both directions for eternity and our lifetime here on this earth would fit as a one and one-half inch segment of that line.

So why is it so urgent that I tell you this? Because I do not think that we think about or realize the urgency of which we must tell others about Jesus Christ our Savior and only hope for eternal life in heaven. We feel like we are here on this earth for a long time, and we forget that there are people “out there,” even some of our own friends and family members, who, when they die, are going to go to hell for eternity. Jesus does not say they will go to hell for just a while and then He will bring them to heaven. He does not say that earth is hell. No, He says that at death, we are judged to go to heaven or hell for eternity. It cause me great pain me to know that some of my own family and friends are not going to heaven but will be in hell for eternity.

The sad part, however, is that some prize being accepted and “normal” here on earth more than they prize their friends being in heaven for eternity. Of course, I may not say so to others, but the truth is that, what they say by their actions and by the way they live their life is that life in this world matters more than eternity.

What can we do? We can make a commitment to invite our unchurched friends and family to church and church activities where they can meet and see Christ in others and hear of Him through the preaching and teaching that takes place. And we can be an example in our own lives by our regular church, Bible class, Bible study attendance, family and private prayer and devotion times and in this way be ready to give an answer to those who must hear to be saved for the faith that is in us.
50 of 52 © Rev. Ronald A. Bogs

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Baptized for Forgiveness - January 8, 2012 - The Baptism of Our Lord/First Sunday after the Epiphany - Text: Mark 1:4-11

Two days ago we celebrated Epiphany and the end of our Christmas season (remember, Advent ends on Christmas Day and the twelve days of Christmas begins with Christmas and lasts until Epiphany). So, what is epiphany? Epiphany is the celebration of the coming of the Wise men or Magi or Kings to see the Baby Jesus who is in a house where they were staying. Epiphany is the revealing of the Savior of the world to the non-Jews, the Gentiles which is why it is often referred to as the Gentile Christmas. Unfortunately, this day is rarely celebrated because it seldom falls on a Sunday, because it is always on January 6. Actually, I would rather crassly say that it is not celebrated because it is not as saleable of a celebration as Christmas and Easter (what would you sell to celebrate Epiphany?). And so, this year, like many other years, we skip our Epiphany celebration and go straight to our celebration of the Baptism of Our Lord, which brings us to our text for today.

We, you and I, are or have been brought into the Holy Christian Church with these words, “I baptize you in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.” With these words we become members of the communion of Saints. We are given faith, forgiveness of sins, abundant life in this world, life in the world to come, eternal life, salvation. God’s name is put on us. He claims us as His own, we are His. My question to you is, how often do you take the time to remember your baptism? What a wonderful gift we have in our baptism as well as in remembering our baptism. Every morning we can wake up and remember, “I have been baptized. I am forgiven. I can start over.” And after a few hours, by about nine or ten in the morning, after we have been frustrated from driving to work, being yelled at by our parents, our spouse, our boss, and so forth, and after cursing them in our own minds, we can again remember, “Oh, yeah, I have been baptized. I am forgiven. I can start over.” What a great thing we Christians have in our baptism. This morning we are reminded of our own baptism as we come to bear witness of Jesus’ baptism by John in the Jordan River.

You might notice, right off, that John’s Baptism is different from our Holy Baptism today. Not a lot different, but some different. John’s Baptism was a “Baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins.” John’s baptism was a baptism of repentance. Repentance is somewhat like our New Year’s Resolutions, it is the attempt to “turn over a new leaf.” Notice I said an “attempt.” It is an attempt, because by ourselves we are not able to do the good that we want to do (as Paul reminds us in his letter - the good that I would do I do not do, the evil I do not want to do is what I do). Repentance, however, goes beyond a resolution. Repentance means first to acknowledge and confess our sins, the wrong and bad things we do, or the good things we have failed to do, but it goes on to mean that we attempt to not sin again. Let me say that again, it means that we attempt, with God’s help, to not sin again. To repent means to turn 180 degrees, from sinning, from going in the direction of sinning, to not sinning, to turn away and go in the other direction away from sinning. And again, this is not something we are able to do by ourselves. This is something we can do, only with the help of the Lord.

John’s Baptism is a Baptism of repentance for a purpose, “for the forgiveness of sins.” Just about every Sunday morning we confess, “if we say we have no sin we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us, but if we confess our sins, God, who is faithful and just, will forgives us all our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” God is faithful. We see His faithfulness standing before John ready to be Baptized. God is faithful, He sent His one and only Son, Jesus to pay the penalty for our sins, to give His life, to suffer the eternal spiritual death for us, in our place. If we do not confess our sins, if we do not acknowledge that we have sins that need to be confessed, then we are refusing forgiveness. It is only as we confess our sins (and this we do because of our own need to confess) that forgiveness, won for us by Jesus on the cross, becomes ours.

Repentance can be seen in this illustration which I have used before, there was a teacher who passed out new crayons to the entire class. She told all her students to be careful and not break them. One child pushed a little too hard and broke one of his crayons. The teacher then asked for the children to put any broken crayons on the top of their desk. In order to “stay out of trouble,” the one child hid the broken crayon in the box, putting the bottom part in the box and the broken off top part on top. The teacher then went around the room and instead of “yelling” at the students, she exchanged new crayons for broken ones. Unfortunately, the child with the hidden crayon did not receive a new crayon. In much the same way, our sins that are unconfessed, although the price has been paid for those sins, to us they are not forgiven. We have refused that forgiveness. And our sins that are confessed are forgiven, not because of our confession, but because Jesus paid for them.

John came Baptizing and proclaiming. His proclamation was that the One coming after me is more powerful than I am, so much so that I am unworthy even to untie His shoes. John knew his place. He knew his role. He was content with being the Lord’s servant and so he proclaimed boldly concerning Jesus, who He is and what He will do.

John proclaimed that he baptized with water, but Jesus will baptize with the Holy Spirit. On Pentecost we see this Baptism by the Holy Spirit. When each one of us was Baptized, we were Baptized in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. We were Baptized in the name of the Holy Spirit. We are filled with the Holy Spirit, each one of us, and I might add, whether we act like it or not. I do not mean that we are each filled with the Holy Spirit so that we jump up and down, whoop and holler or anything like that, but I do mean that we act like we are filled with the Holy Spirit by boldly living our lives in such a way that we do stand out in a crowd, that others do see us as being different, acting like we are a members of the body of Christ.

What is there to life except to live life “on the edge” as the saying goes? And as a Christian I would suggest that living life on the edge is living life with a complete awareness of what life is all about. Life is about being on this earth for a very short period of time. Life is about acknowledging that each day is a gift from God and that each day might actually be our last day on this earth. Life is about living each day to its fullest and I do not mean that in any decadent way, I mean that in a way which says, I am a Christian and I believe in a God who is so great that you ought to believe in Him too and that is living life on the edge, because in our world and in our society, to live life in such a way will surely bring criticism from others.

Getting back to our text, by God’s grace, through Mark’s Gospel we are privileged to witness Jesus’ baptism by John. As we witness Jesus’ Baptism we are allowed to witness what we call the trinity of our God. First, we witness God the Son in the person of Jesus Himself. God the Son is true God, conceived by the Holy Spirit, as we confess and as Matthew, Luke and John also tell us in their Gospels, and He is true man, born of the Virgin Mary, again, as we confess and as Matthew, Luke and John also tell us in their Gospels.

Second, we witness God the Father in the voice from heaven. God the Father speaks and says, “You are my Son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased.” God the Father attests to the fact that Jesus is true God, the Son of the Father. He also attests to the fact of Jesus’ sinless nature, being truly God and being pleasing to the Father.

And third, we witness God the Holy Spirit in the form of a dove. Thus, we are privileged to witness our God as a triune God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

This morning we are privileged to be witnesses of Jesus’ Baptism. And as we witness Jesus’ Baptism I pray that we are each reminded of our own Baptism. Our witness of Jesus’ Baptism is important because through this account we are convinced beyond a shadow of a doubt of who Jesus is and what is His mission. John attests that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of the Living God. God the Father attests that Jesus is the Messiah as we hear His words from heaven. Jesus attests to Himself that He is the Messiah as He is there present fulfilling all the Law and the prophets completely, even subjecting Himself to be Baptized by John in the Jordan.

As we venture through the Gospels this year we will see Jesus time and again doing signs and wonders which will attest that He is the Messiah. You will notice that the Gospel writers write in order to assure us that Jesus is the Messiah. The Holy Spirit works through these words of the Bible in order to bring us to faith, strengthen us in faith and to keep us in faith until Christ comes again.

Thus, we believe that Jesus is the Messiah and through His means of grace; confession and absolution; the Word, the Bible; and the Sacraments, Holy Baptism and the Lord’s Supper, we are given His gifts; faith, forgiveness, life and salvation, which is why divine service is so important. Sure, we can stay at home and read our Bibles, but here in divine service is the time to come to the Lord’s Spiritual grocery store to be given His good gifts and blessings. Each of us must eat in order to survive. If we do not go to the grocery store to buy food, then we do not have any food to prepare and no food to eat which would mean that eventually we would starve. Likewise, each of us must have spiritual food in order to survive. When we do not come to the Lord’s house for divine service, to be given His spiritual gifts, we can eventually starve spiritually, that, too, is gift refusal.

This morning we rejoice to be given God’s good gifts and blessings. We rejoice in the forgiveness of sins, earned for us by Jesus on the cross. We rejoice at being able to witness Jesus’ baptism and His acceptance by God the Father. We rejoice in the reminder that through our Baptism we too have a part in God’s Kingdom. We rejoice in our opportunity to be in divine service where we are reminded of our Baptism through the invocation and benediction, we are given forgiveness through confession and absolution, as well as through the Word and the Lord’s Supper, we are strengthened in our faith through the proclamation of the Word of God, and we are encouraged in our vocations as Christians, to live our lives as living sacrifices to the Lord always being ready to give an answer for the hope that we have in our faith in Jesus. And finally, we are moved by the power of the Holy Spirit to rejoice and say, to God be the glory, for Jesus’ sake. Amen.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Lifestyle Evangelism is . . . Inviting to “Come and See.”

“The next day Jesus decided to leave for Galilee. Finding Philip, he said to him, ‘Follow me.’ Philip, like Andrew and Peter, was from the town of Bethsaida. Philip found Nathanael and told him, ‘We have found the one Moses wrote about in the Law, and about whom the prophets also wrote—Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph.’ ‘Nazareth! Can anything good come from there?’ Nathanael asked. ‘Come and see,’ said Philip” (John 1:43-46).

“Come and see” is the answer we can give to the questions from friends and strangers alike. How do I know what you say is true? “Come and see.” How do I know that what you live is true? “Come and see.” We are conscious of our lives’ being a witness for Christ. We live so others can see Christ through us. We even tell others about Jesus, but what do we say when asked, “Is it true?” We say as Philip did, “Come and see.” Come to worship and Bible class, come to fun and fellowship, come and see that Jesus is the Christ and the way to heaven.

Philip was not sure what to do about feeding the multitudes, as John relates in John 6:5-7. He was not sure what to do with the Greeks (Gentiles) that came to see Jesus, as told in John 12:20-21. Maybe Philip was a bit shy or timid; maybe he just did not know what to say, but he did watch and see, and he invited others to come and see.

Today, we do not always have all the answers. We have our own little doubts. We are shy and timid at times. Don’t we also watch and see, watch and believe? At times our response to the questions and excuses of our circle of influence should be, “Come and see.” For when our questioners do come and see, the Holy Spirit works growth through the seeds that are planted, and the Word of the Lord will not return void. Bring your unchurched family and friends to “come and see” and to believe in Jesus. Come and see Christ do great things.
49 of 52 © Rev. Ronald A. Bogs

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Lifestyle Evangelism is . . . An Unconfused Witness.

Every year as we approach Christmas Day, it becomes more and more evident that we are living in a vastly confused world. For example, if you listen closely, you might hear, “I can’t believe it; those Christians are now trying to take our Christmas fun, too, and make it a religious holiday.” Did you stop and explain to that person just what the Christ-mass is all about?

To add to the confusion we have our Federal Government, which we whole-heartedly support as being placed over us by God (cf. St. Paul, Romans 13), trying to pass more and more legislation to keep religion out of government. It is my understanding that the United States of America wrote its Constitution for just the opposite reason, to keep government out of religion.

As Americans we have religious freedom. We have the freedom to be a member of whatever religious organization we wish and to worship in whatever manner we desire. Unfortunately, as Americans, we have come to take our freedom of religion to mean freedom from religion. We are not mocked, ridiculed, or tortured for our faith as many Christians are in many countries of our world. As a matter of fact, our faith is a mere luxury if anything, so we sometimes ask ourselves, “since I do not have to, why go to church?”

The Christmas season and the Easter season are the two seasons of the year, especially when we see our great worship of creation rather than the Creator. Our thinking is that life on earth will be for a very long time and eternity is some vague concept a long time away. Our surprise will come when at the end of our brief life here on earth, we will face eternity, either in heaven or in hell. Have we confused our focus of what is really important here on earth?

We have also confused our focus in our witnessing efforts. We tend to focus on the differences between believers and unbelievers, not wanting to associate with those non-Christians—afraid it will rub off. Instead, we should be focusing on the difference faith makes. We focus on ourselves as witnesses instead of on the Holy Spirit, who gives us the power to speak and who does the converting of the heart.

Time is linear; it is heading someplace-to eternity. There is an overarching purpose to all that happens. You do not have to look very closely to see Satan’s game plan at work in corrupting our world today. God is not the author of confusion; Satan is, as he is the father of lies. With the help of the Holy Spirit, we can refocus our love, trust, and guidance.

As we redirect our focus, the witness opportunities become even more clear. As the Psalmist says, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding” (Psalm 3:5).
48 of 52 © Rev. Ronald A. Bogs

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Jesus Is the Christ - January 1, 2012 - First Sunday after Christmas - Text: Luke 2:22-40

Seven days ago we celebrated the birth of Jesus. Today we fast forward forty days to what is called the presentation of Jesus in the temple. The purification rites after the birth of a son required the mother to wait for forty days before going to the temple to offer her sacrifice for purification. The sacrifice was to be a lamb and a pigeon or dove. If the person could not afford this sacrifice, then the sacrifice could be two pigeons or doves. This morning we journey with Mary and Joseph as they present Jesus in the temple, in accordance with the Law, to fulfill the Law.

Our text begins by introducing us to Simeon. Simeon was a righteous man and he was devout. He was waiting for the consolation of Israel. In other words, he was waiting to see the one promised from God, the Messiah, the Savior. Luke tells us that it was revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not die until he had seen the “Lord’s Christ,” the Savior. By the way Luke recounts these events we would believe that Simeon is now rather old and is waiting to see the Savior so that he might die in peace. And so, not by any coincidence, but by the action of God moving in Simeon, he went to the temple at the same time that Mary and Joseph came to present the baby Jesus and for Mary to make her sacrifice for purification. Have you ever wondered about what we call coincidences? I believe there is no such thing as a coincidence, instead what we are seeing is God’s, usually, unseen hand acting in our time to make something happen to His glory. Such is the case with the events of our text. Simeon, moved by the Holy Spirit, came into the temple to see the consolation of Israel.

As Mary and Joseph enter the temple Simeon is there to receive the child. He takes the child and by inspiration of the Holy Spirit he gives to us the words which we sing in the Nunc Dimmitus, or in English, the Now Dismiss. Simeon praises the Lord because He has allowed him to see the Savior of the world. Simeon’s words are words of faith. He is now ready to be dismissed. Literally, He is ready to die and be taken to heaven because he has seen the one who was promised and who was to come to save the world. Notice that Simeon’s words are not just focused on God’s chosen people, the children of Israel, but are words which reveal that Jesus came to save all people, Jew and Gentile alike as he says that Jesus is “a light for revelation to the Gentiles and for the glory of your people Israel.” Here we are reminded, once again, that God has always had one covenant with the people of the world, never two covenants. Jesus came to save all people, even and especially us, you and me.

Luke tells us that “the child’s father and mother marveled at what was said about him.” I think that might have been an understatement. Yes, God had revealed to both Mary and Joseph that Jesus was God born in human flesh, but still, for Mary and Joseph, these events would all be quite “marvelous,” unexpected and maybe somewhat dumbfounding.

But Simeon does not stop with the Nunc Dimmitus, he continues by speaking to Mary and Joseph. He tells Mary in particular that Jesus is “appointed (or as some translations put it, “destined”) for the fall and rising of many in Israel, and for a sign that is opposed (and a sword will pierce your own soul also), so that thoughts from many hearts may be revealed.” Jesus is destined to be the one who will save many people and at the same time, to those who do not believe, He will be their fall, they will be doomed to eternal spiritual death, hell in other words. Jesus is a sign. He is the one who came speaking about His Father and His relationship with His Father. Many would not believe that He was God, that He and the Father were one. The hearts of the unbelievers was shown through their speaking out against Him. And this continues to be the way it is in our world today. Many people do not believe in Jesus. Many do not believe He is God in flesh, as He shows and tells us in His Word. Many do not believe and instead are destined to eternal spiritual death in hell and this is not God’s fault nor Jesus’ fault as some attempt to blame Him. Those who fall, those who are destined to hell are destined because of their own fault, their own refusal and rejection of Jesus as the Savior.

Probably the hardest words that Simeon speaks, however, are the words to Mary that a sword will pierce her own soul too. Mary, who pondered all these things and kept them in her heart is, after all, the mother of this child whose destiny is a cross. She will watch her own child be cursed by others, be hated by others, be deserted by all His friends and be hung on a cross. She will watch her own Son die, for the sins of all people. Certainly a sword of pain will pierce through her own heart.

Luke, the faithful Doctor and Historian shows us that Jesus is the Messiah, but if Simeon’s words are not enough “proof” if you will, he also introduces us to Anna, who is also in the temple. About Anna we are told that she was “very old” and that she was a widow since the time of her husband’s death which occurred after only their seventh anniversary and that now she was eighty-four years old. She now lived her life in the temple. Luke tells us “she did not depart from the temple, worshiping with fasting and praying night and day.” And again, like Simeon, she did not come into the temple at this time by accident or coincidence, but by the leading of the Holy Spirit.

Anna came up to Mary and Joseph and said a prayer of thanks to God and spoke about this child to all who were looking forward to the redemption of Jerusalem, that is to all those who were still looking for the coming of the promised Messiah, those who had not given up hope. Like Simeon, her words confirm the fact that Jesus is the one who was sent from God to save, not only the children of Israel, but all people, of all places of all times, you and me included and I would say, especially.

Finally, our text tells us of one final fulfillment of Holy Scripture, it says that Mary and Joseph returned to Nazareth. Luke writes with a purpose. His purpose is to give proof of Jesus and who he is. He shows us that Jesus came to fulfill the Law and that He fulfilled the Law perfectly. His parents did what was required. Again, we are reminded that the fulness of the Gospel is seen in the fact that what Jesus did He did for us, in our place, everything that we are unable to do. He fulfilled the Law perfectly, for us, in our place, because we cannot. Even more, Jesus came to fulfill the Law perfectly for the whole nation of Israel, again, because they could not, even as God’s chosen people.

We are told by Luke that Jesus moved to Nazareth, thus was fulfilled the promise that He would be a Nazarene. And we are told that the child grew and became strong. He was filled with wisdom and the grace of God was upon Him. And as we know, as we have seen, as we continue to rehearse in our story of the life of Jesus, after this event we do not hear of the events of Jesus’ life until we hear the account of Him in the temple at the age of twelve, but that is for another time.

This morning we have Luke’s accurate account of these events as an assurance of our faith in Jesus. Luke’s words assure us that Jesus is the Messiah. He is the one promised by God. He is the one who fulfilled all the law perfectly, for us, in our place, because we are unable to.

Luke’s words assure us that Jesus came to give His life. How comforting to know that we will not be held accountable for our sin and their punishment. The wages of sin is death and Jesus paid that price for us.

Luke’s words assure us that we have forgiveness of sins. Because of what Jesus did, because He lived perfectly for us in our place, because He took all our sins upon Himself, because He suffered the eternal spiritual punishment for our sins, because He gave His life for ours, because He paid the price for sin, by faith in Him, which He gives to us as well, we have forgiveness, which means that when God looks at us He sees Christ’s perfection.

Which means that Luke’s words also assure us that we have life, eternal life. By faith in Jesus, His death has become our death, His life has become our life. By faith in Jesus we have forgiveness of sins and life, life in this world and eternal life in the world to come, heaven. By faith in Jesus, when we pass on from this world, we will be robed with His robes of righteousness as we are gathered together will all the saints in heaven.

This morning we come to worship our Lord. We come to rehearse the events of old. We come to hear the good news of salvation. We come to see, once again, as an assurance of our salvation, that Jesus is the One promised of old. This morning we come to be strengthened in our faith and being strengthened in our faith we are moved to say, to God be the glory, for Jesus’ sake. Amen.