09 January 2010

God Is Your True Father, and You Are His Beloved and Well-Pleasing Child

If you make something or buy something, and it doesn’t work, you fix it or replace it. But if you are a father, you love your children and take care of them; no matter what may be broken or wrong or not working.

The Lord your God is your Maker and Redeemer. He has created you, and He has bought you back; He has purchased you for His own possession.

But He has also chosen you and called you to be His child. He has chosen to become your Father, and He has called you by His Name.

He is your Creator, not by necessity, but by His gracious choice, for the sake of love. And He has not only made you and formed you, like a work of art or as a machine, but He has adopted you to be His own dear child and heir; to share the Sonship and inheritance of Christ Jesus, in and with His Name. His discipline, also, is that of a loving Father, and He does not disown you.

He has created you and given you life, and He still provides for you and takes care of all your needs. But there is still more to His being your Father than simply your existence and biology.

He is your true Father, a real Daddy. He loves you, and He honors you; for you are precious in His sight. He has redeemed you from your sin and death, and He daily forgives you all of your trespasses. He rescues you from every evil of both body and soul. And all that He is and has, He freely bestows upon you by His grace, along with His Name and His Spirit.

That is what it is and what it really means to be a father.

Men, if you are given a family, learn from Him, your Father in heaven, to care for your children on earth. And whether you are given children of your own, or not, learn from Him to care for His children within the household and family of His Church.

Women, know that in your God and Father you have One who is faithful, loving and true; who does not take, but gives you life; who loves you and delights in you; and who will never leave you nor forsake you. That is where you find and receive the confidence and strength to live and to love as His child; to honor your father and mother on earth; to submit to your husband, if you have one; to care for your children, or for others; to love your neighbor; to guard your heart and mind, body and soul, in purity and peace. You can do all things with such a Father as you have.

Little children, you also are safe and secure in your Father’s loving care. He hears and answers your prayers, because He has named you with His Name and adopted you to be His very own.

Of course it is true that fathers on earth are not always like this. Even the best of human fathers are not always faithful and kind; not always dependable, patient or attentive.

And there are too many fathers who are not like this at all. Men who beget children outside of holy marriage, not by any gracious choice, but by fornication and adultery. Men who become biological fathers, but are no real Daddies to their sons and daughters. Men who neglect their wives and children; who berate them, demean them, or use them; who do not listen, are rarely there, and do not give but take. Men who make demands and issue punishments, but who do not teach and do not forgive.

There are many men like that. In fact, as all men are sinners, all men are tempted and prone to such unfaithfulness. Where you have been like that or done so, repent, and become otherwise.

But that is not what it is or what it means to be a father. And that is not what your true Father in heaven is like.

Only, how can you be sure and certain, confident and at peace, that such a true and faithful Father as He is, will not disown you and send you away in your guilt and shame?

For if there are unfaithful, negligent and absentee fathers on earth, there are also rebellious and disobedient children, prodigal sons and wayward daughters, who dishonor their parents and daily sin much against their Father in heaven.

God’s Law requires that such children should be stoned to death.

You also have sinned against heaven and in God’s sight, and you surely deserve nothing but punishment. For the soul that sins shall die. You cannot fix or repair that.

How, then, can you be sure of your Father who art in heaven? How shall you call upon His Name and have any hope or expect to be heard?

How shall you be released and set free from sin and death? And how shall your broken-ness ever be repaired?

The answer is right here in the Baptism of Christ, which has been given to you as your own Holy Baptism. And the certainty and confidence of that answer is Christ Himself.

It is for His sake that the Father has created you in love, that the only-begotten Son might become the first of many brethren.

And it is by Him that the Father has redeemed you, purchased and won you, from sin, death, the devil and hell.

He is the Son begotten of the Father from eternity, and it is precisely His divine Sonship that is shared with you in Holy Baptism and given to you by the Gospel. For He has become true man, conceived and born of the Blessed Virgin Mary, that you might become a child of God in Him.

It is His Name, which He shares with the Father and the Holy Spirit, which is now given to you.

It is the same Holy Spirit, who proceeds from the Father and the Son, who with the Father and the Son is worshiped and glorified, who descends upon Christ Jesus at His Baptism, and rests and remains upon Him, bodily, who is also poured out upon you generously with the water and the Word of Holy Baptism.

These gifts of God Himself are granted to you, freely and fully, with all the steadfast faithfulness of the same Lord God who gives them, because they have been received by Christ Jesus in His own Body of flesh and blood like yours, in your stead and on your behalf. Not arbitrarily, but with justice and righteousness.

Have you not heard?

When all the people were baptized, Jesus also was baptized.

When you were baptized, Jesus also was baptized with you. For He has taken His stand with you, here in the waters of the Jordan, in the waters of your Baptism, in order to pass through the waters with you out of sin and death into life.

I baptize you and your children with water, but the One who is mightier than I, the One who is your Redeemer, the One in whose Name I baptize, He comes to you in the washing of that water with His Word and baptizes you with the Holy Spirit through the forgiveness of all your sins.

You die with Him in the water, as He dies for you, but so do you also arise and emerge from the water, and from the dust of the earth, from death and the grave, just as He is risen from the dead and lives forever and ever.

Having died with Christ, you are set free from sin. And rising with Him, you live, as He lives. For He takes you up in the water, in and with Himself, and out of that watery tomb into an open heaven. In His prayer, you ascend to His God and Father. And in His Sonship, you are a beloved and well-pleasing son of the same God and Father. That is your relationship with God, as sure and certain as Christ Himself, His Body and His Resurrection and Ascension.

All of this is made yours in Holy Baptism.

Therefore, the fire of His Holy Spirit does not consume or destroy you; you are not scorched or burned up, but cleansed and purified in body and soul.

You don’t yet see it or experience it, not fully, but only in part. For now, both death and life are at work in your body, as the Spirit has been poured out upon you bodily in Christ. You suffer the consequences of sin in your mortal flesh and blood. But you also bear the fruits of the Spirit in your body and life on earth.

All of this is taken up and worked out in the daily significance of your one Baptism for the forgiveness of sins: that you drown and die through contrition and repentance, and rise and live with Christ in His risen and ascended Body.

Already, His own Resurrection is your once-for-all Absolution, which is spoken and given to you, again and again, in the Gospel.

And as His Cross and Resurrection were the completion and fulfillment of His Baptism in the Jordan River, so shall your Baptism into Him be completed and fulfilled in the death and resurrection of your body, unto the life everlasting.

Then what is already true and sure and certain for you in Christ Jesus, will be fully realized in you.

That is the Glory of your Father in heaven, and that is your inheritance as His dear child in Christ. He has staked the honor of His holy Name upon it, for with His Name He has bound Himself to you, and you to Him. And He has tenderly invited you to call upon His Name in faith.

Do not be afraid, but take refuge in Him here. It is your Father who feeds you at this Table, with His beloved Son, because you are so precious to Him. He will uphold you, and guard your going out and coming in, from this time forth, even forevermore.

The Peace of the Lord be with you always.

In the Name + of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

08 January 2010

Hymns for Epiphany Tide Series C

The Epiphany of Our Lord
Isaiah 60:1–6
Ephesians 3:1–12
Matthew 2:1–12
 
Processional Hymn
Wake, awake, for night is flying (LSB 516)
 
Sequence
O Savior of our fallen race (LSB 403)
 
Hymn of the Day
O Morning Star, how fair and bright (LSB 395)
 
Offertory Hymn
Come, your hearts and voices raising (LSB 375)
 
Hymns for the Distribution of the Holy Communion
As with gladness men of old (LSB 397)
All my heart again rejoices (LSB 360) (Catechetical)
Songs of thankfulness and praise (LSB 394)
O Jesus Christ, Thy manger is (LSB 372)
 
Processional Out
Come, Thou bright and Morning Star (LSB 872)
 
Alternative Hymns
Arise and shine in splendor (LSB 396)
Break forth, O beauteous heav’nly light (LSB 378)
Brightest and best of the stars of the morning (LSB 400)
Hail to the Lord’s anointed (LSB 398)
How can I thank You, Lord (LSB 703)
Jesus has come and brings pleasure eternal (LSB 533)
Lift up your heads, ye mighty gates (LSB 340)
O Christ, our true and only light (LSB 839)
O God of God, O Light of Light (LSB 810)
O God of light, Your Word, a lamp unfailing (LSB 836)
O light whose splendor thrills and gladdens (LSB 891)
O splendor of God’s glory bright (LSB 874)
Rise, shine, you people (LSB 825)
Salvation unto us has come (LSB 555)
The only Son from heaven (LSB 402)
The star proclaims the King is here (LSB 399)
 
 
The Baptism of Our Lord
Isaiah 43:1–7
Romans 6:1–11
Luke 3:15–22
 
Processional Hymn
I bind unto myself today (LSB 604)
 
Sequence
O Savior of our fallen race (LSB 403)
 
Hymn of the Day
To Jordan came the Christ, our Lord (LSB 406)
 
Hymns for the Distribution of the Holy Communion
Jesus, once with sinners numbered (LSB 404) (Catechetical)
A Lamb goes uncomplaining forth (LSB 438)
O love, how deep, how broad, how high (LSB 544)
All Christians who have been baptized (LSB 596)
 
Processional Out
God’s own child, I gladly say it (LSB 594)
 
Alternative Hymns
All who believe and are baptized (LSB 601)
Baptized into Your name most holy (LSB 590)
Come, Holy Ghost, Creator blest (LSB 498/499)
Come, you faithful, raise the strain (LSB 487)
From God the Father, virgin-born (LSB 401)
Have no fear, little flock (LSB 735)
If Your beloved Son, O God (LSB 568)
O God, O Lord of heaven and earth (LSB 834)
O Morning Star, how fair and bright (LSB 395)
Once in the blest baptismal waters (LSB 598)
Songs of thankfulness and praise (LSB 394)
Thanks to Thee, O Christ, victorious (LSB 548)
The gifts Christ freely gives (LSB 602)
The only Son from heaven (LSB 402)
The star proclaims the King is here (LSB 399)
Thy strong word did cleave the darkness (LSB 578)
To Jordan’s river came our Lord (LSB 405)
We know that Christ is raised (LSB 603)
When all the world was cursed (LSB 346)
Wide open stand the gates (LSB 639)
 
 
Second Sunday after the Epiphany
Isaiah 62:1–5
1 Corinthians 12:1–11
John 2:1–11
 
Hymn of Invocation / Catechetical Hymn of the Week
The star proclaims the King is here (LSB 399)
 
Hymn of the Day
The only Son from heaven (LSB 402)
 
Hymns for the Distribution of the Holy Communion
The Bridegroom soon will call us (LSB 514)
O Morning Star, how fair and bright (LSB 395)
All glory be to God alone (LSB 948)
Jesus, priceless treasure (LSB 743)
 
Hymn of Departure
Crown Him with many crowns (LSB 525)
 
Alternative Hymns
All praise to Thee, for Thou, O King divine (LSB 815)
Alleluia! Let praises ring (LSB 822)
At the Lamb’s high feast we sing (LSB 633)
Christ, the Word of God incarnate (LSB 540)
Come, Holy Ghost, Creator blest (LSB 498/499)
Come, join in Cana’s feast (LSB 408)
Creator Spirit, by whose aid (LSB 500)
Hail to the Lord’s anointed (LSB 398)
Jesus has come and brings pleasure eternal (LSB 533)
Lord Jesus Christ, the Church’s head (LSB 647)
May God bestow on us His grace (LSB 823)
O God, O Lord of heaven and earth (LSB 834)
O Holy Spirit, enter in (LSB 913)
O Holy Spirit, grant us grace (LSB 693)
Songs of thankfulness and praise (LSB 394)
Soul, adorn yourself with gladness (LSB 636)
The Church’s one foundation (LSB 644)
The people that in darkness sat (LSB 412)
To God the Holy Spirit let us pray (LSB 768)
Wake, awake, for night is flying (LSB 516)
 
 
Third Sunday after the Epiphany
Nehemiah 8:1–3, 5–6, 8–10
1 Corinthians 12:12–31a
Luke 4:16–30
 
Hymn of Invocation
O God, O Lord of heaven and earth (LSB 834)
 
Hymn of the Day
O Christ, our true and only light (LSB 839)
 
Hymns for the Distribution of the Holy Communion
Sing praise to God, the highest good (LSB 819)
O God of light, Your Word, a lamp unfailing (LSB 836) (Catechetical)
From God the Father, virgin-born (LSB 401)
Praise to the Lord, the Almighty (LSB 790)
 
Hymn of Departure
O God of God, O Light of Light (LSB 810)
 
Alternative Hymns
Almighty God, Your Word is cast (LSB 577)
Arise and shine in splendor (LSB 396)
Come, Thou bright and Morning Star (LSB 872)
God has spoken by His prophets (LSB 583)
God’s Word is our great heritage (LSB 582)
Hail to the Lord’s anointed (LSB 398)
Hark the glad sound (LSB 349)
I know my faith is founded (LSB 587)
I trust, O Lord, Your holy name (LSB 734)
Lord, keep us steadfast in Your Word (LSB 655)
O God of light, Your Word, a lamp unfailing (LSB 836)
O Word of God incarnate (LSB 523)
Once He came in blessing (LSB 333)
Praise be to Christ in whom we see (LSB 538)
Praise the One who breaks the darkness (LSB 849)
Preserve Your Word, O Savior (LSB 658)
The gifts Christ freely gives (LSB 602)
We are called to stand together (LSB 828)
We know that Christ is raised (LSB 603)
Where charity and love prevail (LSB 845)
 
 
Fourth Sunday after the Epiphany
Jeremiah 1:4–10 (17–19)
1 Corinthians 12:31b—13:13
Luke 4:31–44
 
Hymn of Invocation / Catechetical Hymn of the Week
O love, how deep, how broad, how high (LSB 544)
 
Hymn of the Day
Son of God, eternal Savior (LSB 842)
 
Hymns for the Distribution of the Holy Communion
Jesus has come and brings pleasure eternal (LSB 533)
Evening and morning (LSB 726)
I lie, O Lord, within Your care (LSB 885)
Jesus, Thy boundless love to me (LSB 683)
 
Hymn of Departure
In Thee is gladness (LSB 818)
 
Alternative Hymns
As with gladness men of old (LSB 397)
All the earth with joy is sounding (LSB 462)
Blessed Jesus, at Your Word (LSB 904)
Entrust your days and burdens (LSB 754)
God has spoken by His prophets (LSB 583)
Hail to the Lord’s anointed (LSB 398)
If God Himself be for me (LSB 724)
Jesus Christ, my sure defense (LSB 741)
Jesus, priceless treasure (LSB 743)
Lord of our life and God of our salvation (LSB 659)
Lord, Thee I love with all my heart (LSB 708)
O God, my faithful God (LSB 696)
O God of light, Your Word, a lamp unfailing (LSB 836)
O God, our help in ages past (LSB 733)
Praise be to Christ in whom we see (LSB 538)
Praise the One who breaks the darkness (LSB 849)
Seek where you may to find a way (LSB 557)
Take my life and let it be (LSB 783)
The gifts Christ freely gives (LSB 602)
Where charity and love prevail (LSB 845)
 
 
Fifth Sunday after the Epiphany
Isaiah 6:1–8 (9–13)
1 Corinthians 14:12b–20
Luke 5:1–11
 
Hymn of Invocation
Lord Jesus Christ, be present now (LSB 902)
 
Hymn of the Day
Hail to the Lord’s anointed (LSB 398)
 
Offertory Hymn / Catechetical Hymn of the Week
Let all mortal flesh keep silence (LSB 621)
 
Hymns for the Distribution of the Holy Communion
Isaiah, mighty seer in days of old (LSB 960)
Holy, holy, holy! Lord God Almighty (LSB 507)
Thy strong word did cleave the darkness (LSB 578)
Entrust your days and burdens (LSB 754)
 
Hymn of Departure
How clear is our vocation, Lord (LSB 853)
 
Alternative Hymns
Abide, O dearest Jesus (LSB 919)
Baptismal waters cover me (LSB 616)
"Come, follow Me," the Savior spake (LSB 688)
Crown Him with many crowns (LSB 525)
Eternal Spirit of the living Christ (LSB 769)
Holy God, we praise Thy name (LSB 940)
If thou but trust in God to guide thee (LSB 750)
Jesus sinners doth receive (LSB 609)
Lord Jesus Christ, with us abide (LSB 585)
Lord of our life and God of our salvation (LSB 659)
May God bestow on us His grace (LSB 823)
O day of rest and gladness (LSB 906)
O God, my faithful God (LSB 696)
O God, O Lord of heaven and earth (LSB 834)
O light whose splendor thrills and gladdens (LSB 891)
The only Son from heaven (LSB 402)
To God the Holy Spirit let us pray (LSB 768)
Voices raised to You we offer (LSB 795)
What God ordains is always good (LSB 760)
Wide open stand the gates (LSB 639)
 
 
Sixth Sunday after the Epiphany
Jeremiah 17:5–8
1 Corinthians 15:(1–11) 12–20
Luke 6:17–26
 
Hymn of Invocation
Come down, O Love divine (LSB 501)
 
Hymn of the Day
Songs of thankfulness and praise (LSB 394)
 
Hymns for the Distribution of the Holy Communion
Come, Thou bright and Morning Star (LSB 872) (Catechetical)
Salvation unto us has come (LSB 555)
Jesus Christ, my sure defense (LSB 741)
Alleluia! Sing to Jesus (LSB 821)
 
Hymn of Departure
Praise the Almighty, my soul, adore Him (LSB 797)
 
Alternative Hymns
Alleluia! Jesus is risen (LSB 474)
Be still, my soul; the Lord is on your side (LSB 752)
Blessed Jesus, at Your Word (LSB 904)
Christ is arisen (LSB 459)
Entrust your days and burdens (LSB 754)
I am content! My Jesus ever lives (LSB 468)
I am trusting Thee, Lord Jesus (LSB 729)
I trust, O Lord, Your holy name (LSB 734)
If Christ had not been raised from death (LSB 486)
Lord, Thee I love with all my heart (LSB 708)
May God bestow on us His grace (LSB 823)
O Christ, our hope, our hearts’ desire (LSB 553)
O Holy Spirit, grant us grace (LSB 693)
Open now thy gates of beauty (LSB 901)
Renew me, O eternal Light (LSB 704)
Seek where you may to find a way (LSB 557)
Thanks to Thee, O Christ, victorious (LSB 548)
The will of God is always best (LSB 758)
We know that Christ is raised (LSB 603)
Word of God, come down on earth (LSB 545)
 
 
Seventh Sunday after the Epiphany
Genesis 45:3–15
1 Corinthians 15:21–26, 30–42
Luke 6:27–38
 
Hymn of Invocation / Catechetical Hymn of the Week
From God the Father, virgin-born (LSB 401)
 
Hymn of the Day
O God, O Lord of heaven and earth (LSB 834)
 
Hymns for the Distribution of the Holy Communion
"Forgive our sins as we forgive" (LSB 843)
Be still, my soul; the Lord is on your side (LSB 752)
My soul, now praise your maker (LSB 820)
I am content! My Jesus ever lives (LSB 468)
 
Hymn of Departure
May God bestow on us His grace (LSB 823)
 
Alternative Hymns
All mankind fell in Adam’s fall (LSB 562)
Entrust your days and burdens (LSB 754)
I will sing my Maker’s praises (LSB 977e; TLH 25; LW 439)
In Adam we have all been one (LSB 569)
In the shattered bliss of Eden (LSB 572)
Jesus Christ, my sure defense (LSB 741)
O God, my faithful God (LSB 696)
O love, how deep, how broad, how high (LSB 544)
O Morning Star, how fair and bright (LSB 395)
O splendor of God’s glory bright (LSB 874)
Our Father, who from heav’n above (LSB 766)
Praise, my soul, the King of heaven (LSB 793)
Praise to the Lord, the Almighty (LSB 790)
Rise, shine, you people (LSB 825)
Songs of thankfulness and praise (LSB 394)
Thanks to Thee, O Christ, victorious (LSB 548)
The only Son from heaven (LSB 402)
The tree of life with ev’ry good (LSB 561)
Where charity and love prevail (LSB 845)
With high delight let us unite (LSB 483)
 
 
Eighth Sunday after the Epiphany
Jeremiah 7:1–7 (8–15)
1 Corinthians 15:42–52 (53–58)
Luke 6:39–49
 
Hymn of Invocation
These are the holy Ten Commands (LSB 581)
 
Hymn of the Day
Sing praise to God, the highest good (LSB 819)
 
Hymns for the Distribution of the Holy Communion
In the very midst of life (LSB 755)
O God, my faithful God (LSB 696)
All depends on our possessing (LSB 732)
Let us ever walk with Jesus (LSB 685)
 
Hymn of Departure / Catechetical Hymn of the Week
O Lord, we praise Thee (LSB 617)
 
Alternative Hymns
Awake, my soul, and with the sun (LSB 868)
Be still, my soul; the Lord is on your side (LSB 752)
Built on the Rock the Church shall stand (LSB 645)
Christ be my leader by night as by day (LSB 861)
Entrust your days and burdens (LSB 754)
Father, we praise Thee (LSB 875)
From God can nothing move me (LSB 713)
How firm a foundation, O saints of the Lord (LSB 728)
I am content! My Jesus ever lives (LSB 468)
If God Himself be for me (LSB 724)
In Thee is gladness (LSB 818)
Jesus Christ, my sure defense (LSB 741)
Jesus lives! The vict’ry’s won (LSB 490)
My hope is built on nothing less (LSB 575)
Seek where you may to find a way (LSB 557)
Thanks to Thee, O Christ, victorious (LSB 548)
The Law of God is good and wise (LSB 579)
What God ordains is always good (LSB 760)
Who trusts in God a strong abode (LSB 714)
With high delight let us unite (LSB 483)
 
 
The Transfiguration of Our Lord
Deuteronomy 34:1–12
Hebrews 3:1–6
Luke 9:28–36
 
Processional Hymn / Catechetical Hymn of the Week
Sing with all the saints in glory (LSB 671)
 
Hymn of the Day
O wondrous type! O vision fair (LSB 413)
 
Offertory Hymn
Beautiful Savior, King of creation (LSB 537)
 
Hymns for the Distribution of the Holy Communion
Wide open stand the gates (LSB 639)
‘Tis good, Lord, to be here (LSB 414)
O Morning Star, how fair and bright (LSB 395)
Lord Jesus Christ, with us abide (LSB 585)
 
Processional Out
Alleluia, song of gladness (LSB 417)
 
Alternative Hymns
All praise to Thee, for Thou, O King divine (LSB 815)
Alleluia! Sing to Jesus (LSB 821)
Arise and shine in splendor (LSB 396)
Come, you faithful, raise the strain (LSB 487)
Father, we praise Thee (LSB 875)
From God the Father, virgin-born (LSB 401)
Guide me, O Thou great Redeemer (LSB 918)
Isaiah, mighty seer in days of old (LSB 960)
Jesus on the mountain peak (LSB 415)
Let all mortal flesh keep silence (LSB 621)
O God of God, O Light of Light (LSB 810)
O God of light, Your Word, a lamp unfailing (LSB 836)
O Savior of our fallen race (LSB 403)
Praise be to Christ in whom we see (LSB 538)
Swiftly pass the clouds of glory (LSB 416)
Thanks to Thee, O Christ, victorious (LSB 548)
The God of Abraham praise (LSB 798)
The only Son from heaven (LSB 402)
Thine the amen, Thine the praise (LSB 680)
Thy strong word did cleave the darkness (LSB 578)

04 January 2010

Greater Things than You Have Yet Seen

It is easy to be cynical in this poor life of labor. The one who works hard to plant and to build may lose it all and languish. The one who lazes about and does nothing may prosper like a king.

And in the end, for both alike, there is death and decay. Expensive caskets and whitewashed tombs do not give life or raise the dead, but worms and dust reclaim both rich and poor, the lazy and industrious, the young as well as the old, whether they burn out or fade away.

Your infant may die in your womb; your toddler may be cut down and buried in the bud of life; and your elderly neighbor may die in loneliness, bitterness, or fear.

The cheerful and optimistic die, too.

But can anything good come out of death?

Come and see, and follow the One who has died, and yet who lives. For He has purposed to find you, He seeks you out and calls you to Himself. Follow Him.

Before you have called upon Him, He has answered the deepest prayer and longing of your heart. While you are yet asking your cynical questions, He is already moving to act: to save you.

He has seen you from before the foundation of the world, and while you were yet in the loins of your father, and even in your mother's womb, He has known you in love. For you are His own workmanship, crafted by His hand for life; created not for calamity, but fearfully and wonderfully made in His Image and after His likeness.

So has He come for you now, the Seed of the Woman, of Abraham, Isaac and Israel; the branch and stem from the root and stump of Jesse; the new bud that has blossomed from that fair flower, the daughter of David.

And such a King He is, this great Good Shepherd of Israel!

He has come in humility to humble death. He has become the little boy to slay the giant Goliath with that fierce enemy's own terrible sword.

And now with His Word of the Cross, He lays His head upon your stony heart and calms your fears. He quiets your suspicious mind. He meets your doubts with forgiveness you have hardly dared to hope or ask for, removing even those sins of which you have not been aware, along with those that have haunted you like ghosts and hunted you like wolves.

For by His Cross He has entered death's domain, and He has shattered all its caskets and tombs. That is why His Resurrection from the dead is your Absolution — for His glorious Body, crucified and risen, is the very Gospel of peace, the greatest good thing that has come out of death into life.

Heaven has therefore been opened to you, although you were conceived and born in sin, and though your flesh is subject to death and decay.

Heaven has been opened to you, and it shall never be closed again.

Indeed, heaven has come to you and is opened to you here, where the Body of Jesus is found. Truly, the Lord is in this place. This is the House of God. This is the gate of heaven.

You hear it and receive it now with your ears, according to the Scriptures, and it is placed into your mouth and into your body, although it is yet hidden from your sight under the humility of bread and wine.

Even so, in the resurrection of your body — out of death into life — with your own eyes, you shall see Him in glory, as He is. Then shall you see, what is true already now, that where the Body and Blood of Jesus are, there the angels and archangels and all the company of heaven are gathered; and you are gathered with them.

Come and see, that though you die, yet shall you live.

In the Name + of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.