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Wednesday, February 26, 2020

Conversations in Lent

Here are the following Gospel readings for every Sunday in the month of March.

Matthew 4:1-11 [March 1st]
After fasting for 40 days and 40 nights, Jesus was tempted by the devil, saying, "If you are the Son of God, command these stones to become loaves of bread". Jesus says, "man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord"[Mt4:3-4]. In this conversation, it is Jesus who not only brings the Word of God but He is the Word that stands victorious over the devil. Jesus is the faithful one who walked the road for you. A comforting conversation this is!

John 3:1-17 [March 8th]
After Nicodemus came to Jesus at night, he asked, "Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher come from God, for no one can do these signs that you do unless God is with him. Jesus answered him, 'Truly, truly, I say to you , unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God" [Jn3:2-3]. In this conversation, Jesus teaches that human reason can only go so far. But rather, it is faith [as a gift] that is given by the Holy Spirit that we are born from above and made anew by His Word. A blessed conversation this is!

John 4:5-26 [March 15th]
Jesus passed through Samaria to meet the woman at the well. Though she had thirsted for many things in life including her adulterous ways, it is the Lord that reveals that He is the Living Water. "Whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again. The water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life" [Jn4:13-14]. In this conversation, Jesus proclaims "I who speak to you am He". He comes to give eternal life to this woman. A living conversation this is!

John 9:1-41 [March 22nd]
The blind man from birth was suffering in his human condition. No one could help but the Lord. In this conversation, the disciples wondered what this man had done to deserve this particular affliction. Jesus answered, "it was not that this man sinned, or his parents, but that the works of God might be displayed in him" [Jn9:3]. As He spat on the ground to make mud with saliva, Jesus anointed the man's eyes with the mud saying "Go wash in the pool of Siloam". By the Word of the Lord, the blind man could see! In this conversation, Jesus reveals the mighty work of God as He makes the impossible things possible. A life-reversing conversation this is!

John 11:1-45 [March 29th]
With Lazarus already dead, Mary and Martha said, "Lord if you had been here, my brother would not have died" [Jn11:32]. Yet, in this conversation, as the deathly reality of Lazarus emanated through their hearts and minds, Jesus says, "Lazarus, come out". Through His powerful word, Jesus makes the dead arise! And even more, as He is the Word, He gives the blessed words, "I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live" [Jn11:25]. A joyous conversation this is!

Lent is a time of somber reflection as we dwell upon the reality of our own sin. Sin that has brought us to these words, "For you are dust and to dust you shall return" [Gen3:19]. Like Nicodemus, or the woman at the well, and even the blind man and Lazarus, they are humble reminders of our own helplessness. Yet when Jesus enters the conversation, He brings deliverance and hope as the true Light of the World. In His holy conversations, He brings to light the reason why He came. "This illness does not lead to death. It is for the glory of God, so that the Son of God may be glorified through it" [Jn11:4].

Friends, though we like sheep have gone astray, everyone turning to their own way [Is53], we are not left in our sin, for it is the Lord who laid on Him the iniquity of us all. In our helpless and hopeless state, Christ comes to you in His Word, His glorious conversation that points you to His victorious work at the Cross and Empty Tomb. We are not left here to fend for ourselves, rather it is Jesus who crushes the devil, and delivers you the forgiveness of sins. These are the graceful words that Christ converses to you. And through the season of Lent, I pray that you may dwell upon these conversations as they point you to God's merciful promise through Christ alone.

Blessings to you all,
✝️ Pastor Jeong

The full newsletter can be found here:

Friday, January 31, 2020

The Posture of Faith

The posture of faith is the antithesis of self-reliance. Faith receives and depends upon the Giver alone. Faith trusts in the Word which promises the gifts of eternal life, forgiveness and salvation given through Jesus Christ alone. Faith trusts in the means of grace to which our Lord connects His promise-filled Word to the elements. And therefore, every Sunday we begin the Divine Service with the invocation, "in the name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Spirit".

Rev Dr. Jordan Cooper writes in his book "Liturgical Worship", "One must properly understand the direction of worship, which is always heaven-to-earthward. God takes the initiative in human salvation, and he does the same in the context of human worship. Worship is about the divine presence and the gifts that God gives to sinners. The invocation reminds the congregation that the Triune God is the one who has brought the congregation together and who has united his people in one body. The role of the congregation is simply to receive God's gifts and then offer thanksgiving for the gifts received" [Cooper, 38] Yes, it is the Triune God that has brought you into His name through the water and the Word of Holy Baptism. These words point to the posture of Faith and at the same time, strips us from our own self- reliance. For, Holy Baptism is a gift from God. The Lord is the one who gathers us together by His Word and through faith [as gift- Eph2:8-9, Rom10:17], we thank the Lord for His merciful work. It's all a gift!

The Gospel is a free gift to you! The Word and the Sacraments are a free gift for you! And through these gifts, by the grace of God, your faith resides in what God has given you by His Word. Everything comes from God. It's all about direction. God comes to us! From God to Man, it is our Lord who initiates and works salvation for us. And in the same way, the Lord comes to us in His divine presence to give us His gifts. To know that our gracious Lord is the one who continues to give us these Gospel gifts through the Word.

It's all about what He has done. As we have gone through a long week with many hurdles, challenges and even struggles, we come to church to receive His Word that points to what He has done for us. It's not about filling the pews "to do the churchy or Christian thing", rather it is to come to receive the Word that delivers you the comforting remedy- forgiveness of sins.

It's all about Jesus. The Gospel! That while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us! Through His merciful work, we come to receive and hear the Christ and His work for us. Receiving, feeding, receiving, feeding, sustaining, renewing through God's Word [Rm10:17] that always directs from repentance to the forgiveness of sins. And where there is forgiveness, there is also life and salvation.

It's all about the gifts. Through the fruits of the Cross and His victorious resurrection, we dwell upon His promises and receive the gifts through the tangible means of grace. There in faith, we dwell upon the life He has given to us in Holy Baptism but also, feeding upon His very body and blood in the Sacrament of the Altar-given and shed for the forgiveness of your sins. What a blessing it is to invoke the name of the Triune God. Not simply a rote ritual that we go through every week, but a moment to dwell upon the posture of faith and how we are completely reliant upon the Lord and His gifts. So the next time you come to church and hear, "In the name of the Father and of the +Son and of the Holy Spirit", joyfully receive His name as you dwell upon your Baptism to which God has called you in by His grace [Is43:1].

Have a blessed February!

✝️ Pastor Jeong

The full newsletter can be found here:

Faith Lutheran Church • 123 Park Lane • Moorpark, CA 93021 • (805) 532 1049 • Send Email