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Sunday, December 28, 2014

January 2015

New Year's Message From The Pastor

Happy New Year! I hope you all had a marvelous Advent and Christmas celebration. I am praying that the New Year will be one in which your faith is strengthened and your hearts and minds are focused on the Lord Jesus! To this end, something that is getting me very excited for the next year is that we are in Series B for our lectionary readings!!!! I know! Can you even stand it!

Ok, joking aside, let me explain what that means. Every Sunday we have three readings from the Holy Scriptures in our church service. One reading is from the Old Testament, one is from a letter in the New Testament, and the third is from one of the four Gospels. Typically, I don’t pick these readings. They are assigned in what is known as the lectionary, which is simply a list of scripture readings. These readings correspond with the seasons of the church. So, in Advent and Christmas we get a lot of readings about Christ’s coming, for example. The lectionary we follow here runs on a three year cycle based on one of the three gospels: Matthew, Mark, or Luke. Why does John not get his own year? I don’t know! But, he does have readings spread throughout all the other cycles. This year, we will be in what is called Series B. In it all the readings are based around the Gospel of Mark.

Are you still awake? Great! The reason this gets me excited is that Mark is my favorite of the Gospels. Mark gives us a picture of Jesus that is a bit more surprising and perplexing than the other Gospels. For example, after healing people and performing incredible miracles, He will tell those who have received the blessings to keep quiet about it. As soon as crowds come to Him for healing, He moves on to the next town. He shocks people by feeding thousands with scant amounts of food. He walks on water and lectures storms and disciples for interrupting His sleep. He works on the Sabbath Day and doesn’t bother washing His hands before dinner! Yet, everywhere He goes, everything that is wrong or sinful is healed and forgiven. The blind see, the dead are raised, the hungry are fed, and the poor receive good news. And just when everything is going so well, Jesus tells us that He must suffer, die, and rise. Then, He calls us to do the same! This Gospel is one spell-binding thriller of a read!

Jesus shows up in this Gospel and surprises everyone. He doesn’t work according to the ways of the world; what we might call the “old” ways. The people are constantly saying, “We have never seen anything like this!” (2:12) Some of those people can’t handle it because they can’t handle him. Jesus brings new wine that causes the old wineskins to burst. (2:22) The old ways of this world can’t handle Jesus, so the world kills Him. This leads to something entirely new: His resurrection!

One of the many reason’s I love this book is that it gives us something new, something different from the old ways of this world. It gives us Jesus who humbles those the world makes proud, and who exalts those the world deems unworthy. It gives us a Jesus who is downright frustrated by the brokenness of everything around Him and who knows the only way to restoration is by taking that brokenness into Himself. It gives us a Jesus who makes all things new!

This is the Jesus of Mark. And this is your Jesus! He takes all of your old, tired, broken, and sinful ways away from you into Himself. And He gives you new things: new sight, new joy, new life, new forgiveness every single day. This is not a Jesus you or I or anyone could have conceived of. But, He is the Jesus who has come to save you and make you new. So, I can’t wait for this New Year and for our time in Series B! For there, Jesus will come and make us new! See you in church!

Pastor Bob

The full newsletter is available here:

Monday, December 1, 2014

December 2014

The Coming of Our Lord

The Advent/Christmas season is upon us... and I love it! I know, I know, we can all complain about how commercial the season has become and about the store clerk’s politically correct “happy holiday” greeting. But none of this brings be down this time of year. I simply love this season. I am excited for the Advent Dinner and our sing along! I am excited for our Living Nativity! I can’t wait to shop for the giving tree! I mean, I am writing this article a week before Thanksgiving while listening to Christmas carols. I know it is early. But, I just can’t wait to start this season! Every year I can’t wait for this season to arrive!

“Arrival” is what Advent and Christmas are all about. During Advent we join the prophets as we anxiously anticipate the arrival of our Lord. At Christmas we sing with shepherds and angels at His coming. Our focus over the last few weeks has been the second coming of Christ, but as we move into the Advent / Christmas season, our focus shifts more to the first coming of Christ. However, the reality is that we are still in a place of waiting for Christ to return. Though we live in the age that the prophets anticipated, we still await the final return of Christ when He will set up His eternal kingdom in the new heavens and the new earth.

Christ does not leave us alone while wait His final return. In fact, Jesus comes to us with great regularity. I read a sermon about the second coming of Christ recently where the pastor pointed out that we aren’t really waiting for Christ’s second coming, but for his “umpteenth” coming. What he meant was that Christ comes to us all the time in His Word and in His sacraments. Though we do not see Him, Christ is present with us when His Word of forgiveness is preached into our ears. He is at work washing away sins in the waters of baptism. He is placing Himself in the bread and wine at the Lord’s Supper. He comes to us constantly while we await His final and ultimate return.

This Advent Season we will be focusing on the various ways Jesus comes to us in our lives. On Sunday mornings we will begin a series called “Come Down” where we will hear God’s promises concerning the first coming of Christ. We will be focusing on various prophecies given to the prophet Isaiah. Then, for our Wednesday midweek services, we will be learning about the ways in which Christ comes to us now in His Word and sacraments. Each week a different pastor will be here to preach about baptism, confession and absolution, or the Lord’s Supper. It is always a blessing to have other pastors from our circuit come and preach so be sure you join us at 7:15 on Wednesday nights this Advent season.

Finally, please be sure you join us for our Christmas Eve and Christmas Day services. You will find a schedule for all the services in the newsletter. This is a wonderful time of year to invite people to church. I encourage you to let your friends and family know about our Christmas Eve service where they will hear about the only gift that matters, Jesus Christ.
Dear brothers and sisters, remember as we go through this busy season, the Lord Jesus has come for you. Merry Christmas! And may the words from Luther’s hymn “From Heaven Above to Earth I Come” give you great joy this season:

This is the the Christ, our God Most High, 
Who hears your sad and bitter cry;
He will Himself your Savior be 
From all your sins to set you free! 
From Heaven Above to Earth I Come vs. 3

Pastor Bob

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