Cruce Tectum

Cruce tectum, hidden under the cross, a blog for Epiphany Lutheran Church, Dorr, Michigan

Location: Moscow, Idaho

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Fifth Sunday after Pentecost

Fifth Sunday after Pentecost (A – Proper 11)

July 17, 2011
Text: Is. 44:6-8

Beloved in the Lord, this morning the LORD speaks to us of the First Commandment through the mouth and pen of the Prophet Isaiah. “Thus says the LORD, the King of Israel and his Redeemer, the LORD of hosts: ‘I am the first and I am the last; besides me there is no god” (Is. 44:6; ESV; emphasis added)! When God first gave the Ten Commandments to Moses and the children of Israel, He said, “I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery” (Ex. 20:2). Therefore, on the basis of this great redemption, on the basis of the fact that no other god has been able to deliver you, because no other god exists, on the basis of the fact that I have purchased you to be my very own people, “You shall have no other gods before me” (v. 3). “What does this mean? We should fear, love, and trust in God above all things” (Luther's Small Catechism [St. Louis: Concordia, 1986]).

“You shall have no other gods before me.” Before me. The kids who went to Higher Things last week know the theological Latin phrase for this, Coram Deo, the theme of our conference. It means “before God” or “in the presence of God” or “in the face of God” or “in God’s sight.” Thus the First Commandment does NOT mean that we can have other gods as long as we put God first and don’t put the other gods before Him. No, it means this: You shall have no other gods in the presence of the one true God. Get them out of His face! Get them out of His sight! You are not to have any other god at all! Because the one true God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, has redeemed you to be His own people. As He brought the children of Israel out of slavery in Egypt, He has brought you out of slavery to sin and death. It cost Him the blood of His Son, Jesus Christ. It had to be done, because apart from Jesus, coram Deo, before God, you are an unrighteous sinner, a vicious enemy of God, and a stinking corpse. But now that Christ has shed His precious blood for you, buying you back for God, and now that you are baptized into that reality, baptized into Christ, into His death and resurrection, nownow you stand coram Deo, before God, as God’s own child, righteous, with the righteousness of Jesus Christ, His Son. Therefore you are to have no other gods. You are always in the presence of God, coram Deo, and in that presence, He alone is to be your God. He is jealous for you. He will not share you. You are to fear Him above all things. You are to love Him above all things. You are to trust in Him above all things (which is what faith is, by the way). Because He put you above all things to make you His own.

Well, you may be saying, the good news is, Pastor, that I only worship the one true God. I only come to church here. I only pray to Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. I don’t pray to the god of the Muslims or the Jews or the many gods of the other false religions. I don’t have any figurines carved of wood and stone to which I pray. So I have this commandment pretty much in the bag. I don’t have a problem with idolatry… Really? Of course, it’s true that there is such a thing as blatant idolatry, blatant worshiping of false gods, whether they’re carved from wood or stone or are the more sophisticated gods of the other world religions. Israel was guilty of this blatant idolatry, worshiping the idols of the nations in Canaan, and as a result, God sent them into exile in Assyria and Babylon. Isaiah was sent into this very context as God’s prophet, to announce God’s judgment against idolatry and to comfort the exiles with God’s promise to restore them as His people and redeem them from their sin. Israel’s idolatry serves as a warning to us in the New Testament Church. So if you’ve avoided that kind of blatant idol worship, good for you! But as you know, that doesn’t get you off the hook. Because a god is whatever you fear, love, and trust the most. Our society, for example, ever since the so-called age of Enlightenment, has displaced God with science and reason. Science and reason are two of the chief gods of this age. Health, wealth, and prosperity are three more in the pantheon. Sex and self-determination (autonomy) are two of the favorite deities in our culture. “It’s my life and my body and I’ll do what I want with it!” But the problem is not just society or culture or other people. It’s you. Because even though you do a good job keeping the First Commandment outwardly, even though you attend church regularly and publicly decry the evils of society, inside you are full of idolatry. Really. What do you fear? What do you love? What do you trust? That’s your god. It can be a thing. It can be a person. It can be (and is!) yourself. It is all of those things. If you’re counting on your 401-k or Social Security to provide for you in your later years, you’ve made those things into your gods. It’s not wrong to have them, but they could be gone tomorrow. God will provide for you. Trust Him alone. Money is a big god for Christians. Sex, too. If you love fornication, if you love looking at pornography (which, by the way, is demonic… it allows demons to come and wreak havoc with you), if you love these things even though you know they grieve your God, you have displaced Him with perversion. People can be gods, when you love your family or friends more than you love God, or trust them more, or even fear them more. Stuff can be gods, especially when you covet, because you are counting on the thing you covet to fulfill you and make you happy and whole. And of course, the main god universally worshiped among us is the self. That is, in fact, the definition of sin. It is to place the self before God as god. That is what Adam and Eve were seeking in the Garden. That is what you seek every time you sin. You say to God, “I will be my own God, thank you very much. I will decide what is good and what is evil. I will determine my own course. And as a matter of fact, I will save myself.”

Repent, beloved. Turn again to the God of your salvation who has purchased and won you with the holy, precious blood and the innocent suffering and death of Jesus Christ His Son. For your idolatry has separated you from God. Whatever god reigns in your life, when you unite yourself to a false god, you no longer stand before the one true God, coram Deo, in Christ Jesus, but you are once again in your sins, and you’re damned. Because none of those other gods can deliver you from sin and death and hell. None of those other gods can redeem you. Thus says the LORD to you this morning, “Who is like me? Let him proclaim it… Is there a God besides me? There is no Rock; I know not any” (Is. 44:7-8). You’ve fashioned many gods after your own image, but the truth of the matter is, they are not gods. They are nothing like God. They can’t even begin to compare to God. For not only did they NOT create you, they cannot save you. They cannot help you. They can’t even hear you when you cry out to them. They don’t deliver on their promises. They don’t fulfill you, they don’t make you happy, and they don’t complete you. But God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, does. He is your Rock. He is your sure foundation. Great is His steadfast love toward you, so great that He sent His only-begotten Son to die for you and for His sake forgives you all your sins. He saves you and gives you life. He brings you out of exile in sin and the kingdom of Satan and brings you into the Promised Land of His Kingdom, the Church, and His heaven. He is the first and the last, the be all and end all, the beginning and the end. He created you for Himself. He redeemed you for Himself. And He will have you for Himself for all eternity, standing coram Deo, before God, with the righteousness of Christ, covered by the blood of Christ, God’s own child.

It’s happening here and now as you stand before this altar, coram Deo. God places His Name upon you once again, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, the Name into which you are baptized. He forgives all your sins. He speaks to you in His Word. And He places the very body of Christ on your tongue and pours His blood down your throat for the forgiveness of all your sins, that you may with all confidence stand here, coram Deo, without sin, because Jesus has taken all your sins away and nailed them to the cross. It is all by grace, without any merit or worthiness in you. Because that’s the God we have. He is longsuffering, gracious and merciful and full of steadfast love and faithfulness. Other gods? Why would you want them? Get rid of them! You have everything you need in the one true God, the King of Israel, the LORD of hosts. Look, He places His feast before you. Come with great rejoicing to His Table and kneel before Him to receive His gifts. For He is your one and only. He is the only God. And here He gives Himself to you. In the Name of the Father, and of the Son (+), and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Fourth Sunday after Pentecost

Fourth Sunday after Pentecost (A – Proper 10)

July 10, 2011
Text: Is. 55:10-13; Matt. 13:1-9, 18-23

“For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart” (Heb. 4:12; ESV). The Prophet Isaiah proclaims to us this morning that the Word of the Lord is so powerful and effective that it never returns to God without accomplishing that which He purposes and succeeding in the thing for which He sent it (Is. 55:10-11). It is 100% effective. When God speaks, His Word accomplishes what He says. God speaks: “Let there be light,” and there is light (Gen. 1:3). God speaks the whole creation into existence by His Word. God preserves the whole creation by His Word. By His Word God creates a people for His own possession, the holy Christian Church. By His Word, God brings you into His Church, to saving faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. By His Word, the Lord preserves His people in peace. God speaks His holy Name over you in Baptism, and you are His own child. God speaks His holy Absolution through His called and ordained servant, and all your sins are forgiven. God speaks in Scripture and preaching and liturgy, and you are brought to a deeper knowledge of Him and of His will, your faith is strengthened, and you are enabled to live your Christian life in the world. God speaks, and bread and wine are now the true body and blood of our Lord Jesus Christ. When God speaks, His Word accomplishes what He says. The Word of the Lord is performative. He speaks and it is done. Powerful stuff, the Word. Living and active, indeed!

The Word of God is like the rain and the snow that come down from heaven, says the LORD through the Prophet Isaiah. Before the rain and snow return to heaven as vapor, they water the earth, so that it brings forth fruit-bearing plants, “giving seed to the sower and bread to the eater” (Is. 55:10). This is how God provides our daily bread. But of course, “man does not live by bread alone, but man lives by every word that comes from the mouth of the LORD” (Deut. 8:3; cf. Matt. 4:4). The Word of God is like the rain that brings forth vegetation. The Word rains down in Scripture and preaching and Sacrament and it does not return to the Lord without watering the hearts of the hearers and, wherever the Holy Spirit pleases, bringing forth faith in Jesus Christ, and the fruits of faith, namely, love and good works. Thus preaching is never in vain. Your confession of Christ in your daily life and vocation is never in vain. Likewise, it is never in vain when you come to church or attend Bible class or Sunday School. It is never in vain when you read the Scriptures. You have here God’s sure and certain promise: His Word will always accomplish what He purposes and succeed in the thing for which He sent it.

The Word is living and active, and 100% effective. And of course, it’s all we’ve been given as the Church of Jesus Christ to be the rule and norm of our doctrine and life. The Church lives by the Word of the Lord. Everything else perishes. “‘All flesh is like grass and its glory like the flower of grass. The grass withers, and the flower falls, but the word of the Lord remains forever.’ And this word is the good news that was preached to you” (1 Peter 1:24-25). The Word of the Lord abides. It is inspired by God, breathed into the writers, the apostles and prophets, by the Holy Spirit, so that it is absolutely trustworthy, inerrant, God’s pure Word. St. Paul writes, “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness” (2 Tim. 3:16). Likewise, St. Peter writes that we have “the prophetic word, to which you will do well to pay attention as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts, knowing this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture comes from someone’s own interpretation. For no prophecy was ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit” (2 Peter 1:19-21). Thus the Holy Spirit is the divine Author behind all the various authors of the books of the Bible. This is God’s own Word to us. No wonder it is so effective. This is why the Church does not question or deny any part of God’s Word, but simply believes it and confesses it. This is why we rely on the Word of God alone to teach us the way of salvation, namely, Jesus Christ our Savior. And this is why we rely on the Word of God alone, not the whims of society or the scruples of political correctness, to show us what is good and God pleasing, and what is sinful and an abomination before the Lord. This is why the Word alone can grow the Church, and not our clever man-made gimmicks. Gimmicks may bring people through the front door, but gimmicks cannot bring people to faith. The Holy Spirit brings sinners to faith in Christ their Savior through the Word. It’s the only way. And since the Church is nothing less than holy believers in Jesus Christ, the Word alone can grow the Church. The Church lives by the Word, and we sing with King David: “Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path” (Ps. 119:105).

But there is a truth even more glorious about the Word of God. That is, the Word of God is not just words spoken or words on a page, though it is that. Most importantly, the Word of God is God Himself, the second Person of the Holy Trinity, the Son of God. “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God… And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us” (John 1:1, 14). The Word was conceived by the Holy Spirit and born of the Virgin Mary. The Word became a Man for us men and for our salvation. The Word through whom all things were created when God spoke, is now flesh and blood, one with His creation. He came down from heaven, and He does not return to the Father empty. He accomplishes the purpose of God, and succeeds in the thing for which the Father sent Him. The Father sends the Son to suffer and die for the sins of the whole world. The Father sends the Son to make atonement for your sins. The Father sends the Son to rescue you from death and hell. The Son accomplishes the purpose of God when He suffers physical torture, hell (which is the forsakenness of God), and death on the cross. For you. In your place. That you may be saved and have eternal life with God. And He was successful in accomplishing your salvation. Therefore God raised Him from the dead, the firstfruits of them that sleep. God raised Him from the dead and exalted Him to His right hand, to rule all things for His Church. And yet He is not gone. He still comes to us, the Word made flesh, in His Word. And He comes in the flesh, with His true body and blood in the Supper. Wherever there is Baptism and Absolution and Scripture and Preaching and the Lord’s Supper going on, there is Jesus Christ, the Word made flesh, accomplishing the will of His Father, applying to you the benefits of His cross and death and forgiving all your sins. He is the Gardener, driving away the evil one who seeks to pluck the seed of God’s Word from you, removing the stones and weeding out the thorns, and tilling the soil of your heart to make it into good soil where the Word can take deep root and grow and sprout into saving faith, fruitful with love and every good work.

Indeed, the Word made flesh undoes the very curse of Eden. Remember the curse? In the sin of Adam and Eve, all creation was subjected to futility and now groans as in the pains of childbirth, awaiting the new creation (Rom. 8:20-22). Man has to work the earth by the sweat of his brow for his daily bread, struggling with thorns and thistles until he returns to dust in death (Gen. 3:18-19). But look at what happens in our text when the Word comes down from heaven (Is. 55:12-13). You shall go out in joy and be led forth in peace. Not toil. Not enmity. Not death. Joy and peace. And creation? It no longer groans. The very mountains break forth into singing and the trees of the field clap their hands in praise of what the Savior has done. And the thorns and the thistles? Gone! Instead of the thorn shall come up the cypress. Instead of the brier shall come up the myrtle. By a tree, the serpent once led mankind into sin and death. But by the tree of the cross, the serpent has been defeated, and mankind restored along with all creation. The Word ushers us back into the Garden of Eden! You get a foretaste of it every time you eat and drink the fruits of His cross, beloved. For His cross is the tree of life. And one day, Eden will be revealed in all its glory, even more glorious than before, as creation is fully restored to perfection. And you will walk with God and see Him face-to-face and live. You will live because of His wounds, which you will see with your own eyes. Because the Word of God has accomplished His purpose and succeeded in the thing for which He sent it. The Word of God has redeemed you and restored you as God’s own child. God has spoken, and His Word does what He says. In the Name of the Father, and of the Son (+), and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

Thursday, July 07, 2011

Witness, Mercy, Life Together (Part III)

Pastor’s Window for July 2011
Witness, Mercy, Life Together (Part III)

Beloved in the Lord,

The third component of our three-fold Synodical emphasis is Life Together, from the Greek word koinonia (κοινωνία), meaning communion, fellowship, close relationship, participation, sharing. This is the common life of the Church, the Body of Christ. We are brought into life together with our Triune God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, in our Baptism. And so also, in this way, we are united to one another as individual members of Christ’s Body, the Church. This life together, this communion, is expressed most intimately and visibly in the Lord’s Supper, where we are united as brothers and sisters in Christ around the true body and blood of Christ given and distributed for our forgiveness, life, and salvation. When we come to the altar together, we confess that we are one Body, united in our confession of Christ, united in biblical doctrine, united in purpose as we proclaim Christ and Him crucified and extend His hand of mercy in our daily vocations.

Our life together flows from the cross of Christ and the altar of His body and blood into and through the various activities of the Church. It includes not only our Sacramental life, but our worship together, our study of the Word together, our witness and confession of Christ, our works of mercy, our gifts of love, our mutual conversation and consolation, our intercessory prayers (remember, the Church always prays together, even when you pray alone! We always pray Our Father…), and everything that the Church does as the Body of Christ.

Our life together has multiple levels. We confess one, holy, Christian, and apostolic Church that includes the Church of all times and all places. Then there is our life together as a church body within the Body of Christ. The word synod, as in The Lutheran Church – Missoui Synod, comes from the Greek syn (with/ together) + hodos (way), so that the idea of a synod is that we walk the way together with our brothers and sisters in Christ of the same confession. Thus the Missouri Synod is an expression of our life together in doctrine and mission. The Synod, as a collective of congregations, is able to do things that we cannot do individually as congregations, like missions, publishing, relations with other church bodies, universities and seminaries, etc. We also participate as a congregation with other congregations in districts (we are a member congregation of the English District of the LCMS) and at the circuit level (a smaller group of congregations whose pastors meet regularly to discuss doctrine and practice). And at the congregational level, we recognize that together we are the Body of Christ, and individually members of it.

St. Paul writes about this in 1 Corinthians 12: “For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ. For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body – Jews or Greeks, slaves or free – and all were made to drink of one Spirit. For the body does not consist of one member, but of many… Now you are the body of Christ and individually members of it” (vv. 12-14, 27; ESV).

This also means that every individual is important to the functioning of the Body of Christ in our life together. St. Paul goes on to say, “as it is, God arranged the members in the body, each one of them, as he chose. If all were a single member, where would the body be?” (vv. 18-19). No, every member is important and placed where he or she is, in the role he or she has, by God Himself. In fact, “the parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, and on those parts of the body that we think less honorable we bestow the greater honor… But God has so composed the body, giving greater honor to the part that lacked it, that there may be no division in the body, but that the members may have the same care for one another” (vv. 22-25). We are united in heart and mind and will in such a way that “If one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honored, all rejoice together” (v. 26).

And the point is, of course, that as Christians, we are not just autonomous individuals. We are parts of the whole, members of the Body. You belong to your fellow members of the Body, and they belong to you. In Christ, we are one. That’s why we miss you when you aren’t here on Sunday morning. That’s why we need you here. You’re important to us. You’re important to Christ. So important, He shed His precious blood to redeem you, that you may be His own, and be one with Him and with your fellow believers in our common life together.

Pastor Krenz

Sunday, July 03, 2011

Third Sunday after Pentecost

Third Sunday after Pentecost (A – Proper 9)

July 3, 2011
Text: Zech. 9:9-12; Matt. 11:25-30

The Prophet Zechariah, preaching some 500 years before the birth of Christ, preaches to you today that your King, Jesus, the Savior, comes to you. And this is reason for great rejoicing! The Prophet preaches to the daughter of Zion, the daughter of Jerusalem, the holy Christian Church, you, beloved. Your King comes to you. He comes as a righteous King, just in His decrees, and full of justice for His people. Yet He does not come to condemn you in His righteousness, which of course, He could rightly do on account of your sin and rebelliousness. But this King comes having salvation. He comes to save you from your sins, from death, from hell, and from the power of the devil. He comes to suffer and to die in your place, and by His death He makes full atonement for your sins and reconciles you to the Father. He comes in humility, as one of us, God in the flesh, born in a stable, the Son of the Virgin Mary. Everything He does, He does not for Himself, but for you. Everything He speaks, He speaks not for Himself, but for you. He fulfills His ministry in a state of humiliation, only rarely using His divine powers as the Son of God, so that He can suffer unjustly at the hands of sinners, for the sake of sinners, for you. So He comes to Jerusalem, riding on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey, the Passover Lamb led to the slaughter, for you. Behold, your King.

He does not claim His Kingdom by violence or force. He claims His Kingdom by suffering a violent death. His Kingdom, His precious blood-bought Church, receives the violence of the world, but she does not respond in kind. This King has brought an end to the chariot and the warhorse and the battle bow for His people. The only weapon of this King and this Church is the Word of the Lord, the Word of peace. This King speaks peace to the nations. This King speaks peace to you. He rules in peace over the whole earth, over the whole creation, for you, from sea to sea and from the River to the ends of the earth. He rules over all things for the sake of His people. And He comes to bring freedom by the blood of His covenant. In shedding His blood on the cross, the Lord Jesus frees you from the waterless pit of hell. Jesus Himself is your stronghold, your tower, your mighty fortress. Return to Him in repentance over your sins, trusting in Him for help and salvation, with great rejoicing. For He will restore to you double.

Yes, your King declares in our text that He will restore to you double. What does that mean? Remember that in the prophetic preaching the original context is the Assyrian exile of the 10 tribes of the Northern Kingdom, and the later Babylonian exile of the Southern Kingdom, Judah. In the immediate context Zechariah is proclaiming the joyful return of the exiles to the Promised Land. And He speaks of the coming Messiah who will restore Israel as the chosen people of God. This is a direct prophecy of Christ. When Christ comes, everything that has been taken away from you in exile, and more importantly, everything that has been taken away from you by your fall into sin: your relationship to God, your righteousness, your salvation, your life itself, will be restored to you double. In Christ, God gives you so much more than you’ve lost. He restores to you double. Not only are you restored as God’s people, you are called children of God. Not only are your sins forgiven, you are given the perfect righteousness of Christ. Not only are you restored to the Promised Land, you are given heaven and the sure and certain hope of bodily resurrection from the dead on the Last Day. Not only has death as the wages of sin been defeated, you are given eternal life with God, restored to His image. Not only does Israel come back from exile to inhabit Palestine once again. Messiah comes, the Christ, the Lord Jesus, as the true King of Israel, to lead His people to the true Promised Land of the Father’s Kingdom, and to expand the Israel of God, the chosen nation, the holy Christian Church, to include also the Gentiles, multitudes from every nation, tribe, people, and language, to include you, beloved.

The Lord Jesus fulfills this prophecy as He rides into Jerusalem on a donkey to the shouts of “Hosanna in the Highest! Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is He who comes in the Name of the Lord” (cf. Matt. 21 and John 12), and as He sheds the blood of the covenant, the blood to which all the sacrifices of bulls and goats pointed, the blood that cleanses us of all sin. Jesus rides into Jerusalem to die! He sheds His blood and dies for Israel and for all people. He is risen, and lives and reigns to all eternity as the King of Israel, which is not only the physical descendents of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, but all who are sons of Abraham by faith, all Christians, all who believe in Jesus Christ. He leads you out of your Babylonian exile in this fallen world and in the kingdom of the devil. He frees you from the waterless pit of hell by His own blood shed on the cross. By Baptism, He makes you, who were not His people, who are Gentiles by birth, who are sinners by the nature of your corrupt flesh, to be His own people, His own possession. It is all by grace. It is all His undeserved mercy and kindness. That your King Jesus comes to you is reason for great rejoicing, indeed.

He came then in the flesh, to do His saving work. But how does He come to you now? He comes to you by revealing Himself to you in His Word. There is no other way to access Him. He does not come in such a way that human wisdom and understanding can comprehend Him. He comes as to little children who believe His Word, precisely because it is His Word. He comes to you in His Word preached and inscripturated. He comes in Absolution spoken in His stead and by His command by His called and ordained servants. He comes in water combined with God’s Word, and in bread and wine that by virtue of His Word are His true body and blood, the very same body and blood of the Word made flesh that was nailed to the cross for your salvation. That is how He comes to you. And He is received by faith. Faith is simply trust in Jesus, trust in His salvation, trust that what He says is true. Faith believes the Word by which your King comes to you. He still comes in humility, though He is now eternally in His state of exaltation, always and fully using His divine powers for you. Still, He comes in humility in this sense: He condescends to you in your weakness and limitation. He comes to you in a way in which you can grasp Him, by words and water and bread and wine. Through these means He comes to you right in the midst of your exile, right in the midst of your weariness and burden bearing, right in the midst of your weakness and the sins of your flesh, your idolatry, your lust, your covetousness. He comes to give you rest, the rest of sins forgiven, the rest of eternal life, the rest of joy in the Lord Jesus.

Notice He still comes in your midst to the shouts of “Hosanna in the highest! Blessed is He who comes in the Name of the Lord!” He comes right to this very altar with His true body and blood to give you His rest. All of this to sustain you in the midst of your exile here in this fallen world of sin and death, to sustain you under the burden of the old sinful nature. For your exile is coming to an end. Christ will come again visibly. And that, also, will be a Day of great rejoicing. Because there is no fear of judgment for you. You are already judged righteous in Christ. That Day is a Day of deliverance for you, a Day when, with great rejoicing, you enter for all eternity the Promised Land of a new heaven a new earth. “Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion! Shout aloud, O daughter of Jerusalem!” (Zech. 9:9; ESV). Rejoice and sing, dear Church of Christ, purchased by His blood! Your King comes to you now. And He is coming soon visibly. He gives you His righteousness. He gives you His salvation. It is His free gift. He is your stronghold, O prisoners of hope! He restores to you double. Behold, your King! In the Name of the Father, and of the Son (+), and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.