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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:

Saturday, January 4, 2020

Pondering Christ

After retrieving our eternally fresh plastic Christmas tree from the garage, I always know what my daughter is going to ask. "Dad, how long will have the Christmas tree in the living room". I reply, "we'll see, you know how it goes". Sometimes it stands there until February. Other times, the tree sits there until Easter. I wonder why? Yes, it's not a fire hazard. Yes, it will not wilt and grow old. But maybe there is something more that desires to keep the tree up just a little longer.

As the world is turning the page quickly to the New Year, they ponder the goals, the hopes and all the possibilities of what is to come. And yes, we too are caught in pondering the next things. But let us take the time to remember the words of Mary as she heard all that the shepherds had heard and witnessed from the angel of the Lord...

"Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger" Luke 2:10-12 ESV

When the shepherds hastily went to Bethlehem to discover the meaning of these words, they found the baby wrapped lying in a manger. With great joy, the shepherds proclaimed all that had been told to them concerning the Christ.

"But Mary treasured up all these things, pondering them in her heart" Luke 2:19 ESV

As the carols have been sung, the presents opened and all the decorations being put away for the next Christmas, what shall we do now? As the world is saying, "next!", it is such an important time to ponder: to think about Christmas and dwell upon the meaning that our Savior was born. Reflect upon the story of His birth, and treasure in your heart what this truly means for you.

Sent by the Father, Jesus came to you in flesh and blood so that He could die in your place. Even in our sin and every frailty, it is our merciful Lord who died and rose so that by His gracious work we are given eternal life, forgiveness and salvation. And as Mary treasured the eternal significance of the Christ, we too, rejoice in the Gospel to all eternity!

So, if you have a plastic tree, keep it up a little longer. You never know, it may serve as a reminder of all the treasured things that the Lord brings in our Savior Jesus Christ.

May you all have a blessed New Year!

✝️ Pastor Jeong

The full newsletter can be found here:

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