30 March 2014

Day Calls Unto Night and Pours Forth His Light

The truth is that everyone is blind.  No exceptions.  Because no one can see God — not until Christ Jesus enters in and shines His Light upon the world.  And surely it is true that He does.  He speaks, and it is so!  The Light shines in the darkness; yet, the darkness does not comprehend it.

All of creation depends upon the Word of the Lord, not only for existence, but for enlightenment.  Apart from His speaking, there is no Life, nor Light, nor Love.  So, when His Word is rejected, darkness and death descend like a pall over everything.  Wherever you turn, the nighttime reigns.

It is a far deeper darkness than this or that sin by you or your neighbor or your parents; unless you trace it back to the sin of that one man, Adam, in whom all men sin and all men die.  The curse and consequences of sin — the creeping death of mortality, with all its ravages of time and space and its wrecking of relationships — does go back to the fall of Adam; it is inherited by all his children; indeed, it is suffered by the entire world, which groans under the burden of human sin and death.

But now, understand that the Lord has cursed His creation on account of Adam, not in futility, but in the hope of the New Creation in Christ Jesus.  He spits on the ground that He has made, from which He has taken the man, in order to put sin and death to death, and so to make all things new.  Out of the curse, He brings forth the blessing; out of death, new Life; and out of darkness, Light.

This Lord Jesus is the Word of God by whom all things are created and sustained.  He is Himself the Light, which, coming into the world, enlightens every man.  He comes in the flesh of Adam’s flesh, in the blood of Adam’s blood, conceived and born of the Woman, to become the true Man.

In Him, eternal Day calls unto night, and, at the speaking of this Word made Flesh, there is a New Beginning.  For His own Body is the Light in the darkness.  As He shall be crucified in the frailty of our mortal flesh, and raised from the dead by the Glory of the Father, so does He bring about the resurrection of the New Man from the dust of the ground, a New Creation from the clay.  And by the washing of the water with His Word, He opens up blind eyes to behold the Light in Him.

These are the good works of God in Christ, which are manifested, also now for you, in the man who was born blind: Not only in the opening of his eyes to see, but in his coming to faith in Christ, and in his courageous confession of Christ Jesus.  The latter works are no less miraculous than the first, for he is raised from death to life in both body and soul.  He becomes a brand new person.

Jesus catechizes this man, as He catechized Nicodemus in the night and the Samaritan woman at the well, and He leads him by this catechesis of His Word and work to the enlightenment of faith. He leads the blind man on a Way he did not know, and thereby makes the darkness into Light.

The same Lord Jesus Christ does the same for you.  He still works on the Sabbath, in order to give you relief from all your burdens and infirmities, and to give you perfect peace and rest in Himself.  He opens up the blind eyes of your heart and mind, by His Word and Spirit of the Gospel, so that you now see and understand, you believe, and you confess, what before you could not comprehend.  More than that, He makes your body and soul brand new in His own Body of flesh and blood.

Those who resist and reject the Word of Christ, who refuse to receive the work of God or even to recognize their own blindness, are not only ignorant in doing so, but blasphemous and idolatrous.  For not only do they profane the Name of God, but they put their trust in that which is not God.

The one true God is known only in the flesh and blood of the Incarnate Son, Christ Jesus.  Apart from the Man called Jesus, whatever it is that you see and know, or whatever it is you think you see and know, it’s not what you think; and it surely is not the Lord.  No matter how bright and shiny it may be, and no matter how good it may appear to you or anyone else, it is not that true Light of the world, nor real Life, nor the Love of God, but only darkness and death.

Not even the Law of God can be gotten right apart from Christ, who is the fulfillment of the Law and the Prophets.  You don’t actually know Moses, nor can you be his disciple, if you do not know and follow Jesus Christ, the Lord, to whom the Prophet Moses pointed in all his words and works.

Buried alive, as it were, in the dust of the earth — confused and confounded by the darkness, and breathing only your own poisoned air — you don’t know what is real and what is imagined, true or false.  All you really know, then, apart from Christ, are death and dying and hallucination.

So it remains, until Christ Jesus comes and saves you.  He raises you up, opens your blind eyes, and breathes His Life-giving Holy Spirit into your flesh with His Holy Absolution of the Gospel.  Only then do you begin to see and know the Truth; which is to say that you know God in Christ.

What also happens, then, is that the world in its darkness, and those who desire to be religious in their own self-righteousness, in the blindness of their ignorance and unbelief, will hate you and persecute you for the faith and confession of Christ Jesus.  For the works of darkness are exposed and made evident by the shining of the Light; and, as the Light now shines on you, and is displayed in you, it drives the darkness to great fear and frustration, and finally to outright fury.

You will be threatened in all sorts of ways, sometimes subtle, and sometimes savagely blunt.  You may lose friends, or miss opportunities, or suffer insult and rejection.  Your own family may let you down, rather than risk being caught up in the scandal of calling this Man, Jesus, the Christ.

But do not succumb to fear!  Do not love the praises of people more than God.  Rather, cling to Christ, and trust in Him to care for you.  The One who calls you is faithful, and He will do it.  The deeds of darkness, by contrast, are unfruitful; they bring forth nothing but death and damnation.

Recognize and repent of your own dark deeds, of your infirmity and blindness, inside and out.  Instead of relying on yourself and your own righteousness, which cannot help but fail, find your Life and Light and your Salvation in the Lord Jesus, who speaks to you in Love.

Repent and be baptized, every one of you; or, return to the significance of your Baptism.  Wash in those waters of forgiveness, which flow for you from Christ Jesus unto the Life everlasting.

Awake, sleeper, and rise from death!  For here Christ shines on you with His Gospel.  Listen to what He says, and look to Him, that you may see.  Hear and heed His Word to you, even in the midst of deep darkness all around you; and worship Him from the heart in the witness of your words and with the works of God in your body and life.

Though you cannot see Him — no more than the man born blind could see Him when Jesus first approached, and anointed his eyes with mud and spit, and sent him to wash in the water — yet, by His grace, you believe in Him and love Him, who first loved you and recreated you in mercy.

Once you were darkness, but now you are light in the Lord.  Walk in His Light by giving attention to His Word and His works.  See, His sent ones are here to serve you in His Name, to work the works of God while it is Day.  And it is now Day, since Christ has come, even in the darkness of the night, and even in the face of death and the grave.  It is the Day of His grace and salvation, so long as the Gospel is preached and the gifts of God are given to His Church.  In the Light of the Word and Spirit of Christ Jesus, your eyes and ears, and your whole body and soul, are healed.

So it is that you, who are born again of water and the Word in Holy Baptism, shall also be raised up from the clay in the Resurrection of all flesh; and then with your own eyes you shall see your Redeemer face to face, when He stands at last upon the earth and every knee shall bow to Him.

You shall see Him as He is, and you shall be like Him: all glorious in His righteousness, because you are forgiven all your sins, in which you were born, and which you have committed ever since, and you are justified by His grace, by His Cross and Resurrection in the flesh.

Even now, by faith, you are able to see His salvation in His Body and His Blood, given and poured out for you here at His Altar.  Fix your eyes on Jesus, therefore, in these gifts He freely gives you.  Be ever looking to Him, the Lamb of God who takes away your sins, who feeds you with His flesh and covers you with His Blood; for He shall pluck your feet out of the net and raise you up from death to life.  Even now He lifts up your head, as He lifts up His countenance upon you.

Behold the fair beauty of the Lord.  Seek and find Him in His Temple.  Worship Him with your body and your soul in the splendor of His holiness.  Kneel and bow down before Him.  For He is the Light of the world, who shines upon you in Peace; and in His Light, you have Life.

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

23 March 2014

Living Water from the Wellspring of Christ

He knows her, as He knows the hearts and minds of all people.  He knows her, before she has spoken a single word, as He has known her from before the foundation of the world in His Love.

Oh, yes, He knows her sin, her sordid past, her scandalous life.  He knows her serial adultery and present fornication, that she is living in sin with a man who is not her husband.  He knows, too, that she is thirsty, not only for water, but for love, for acceptance and companionship, for meaning and purpose in her life, for self-worth and value.  He knows that she won’t find it on her own.

But He is the Gift of God, who has come down from the Father in heaven to save sinners like her: To rescue them from sin and death; to pour out the living water of the Holy Spirit generously upon them, into their hearts and minds, and into their flesh and bones, to give them eternal life.

He also is thirsty; and hungry, too.  Not merely for the food and drink that perish, though His body on earth needs both, no less than yours.  But He hungers and thirsts for the will of His Father, to seek and to save the lost to the glory of His holy Name, to become the true worshipers of God.

Therefore, as He has known this Samaritan woman all along, so does He also come to wait for her, to meet her at the well, to give her what she needs and what she’s looking for without knowing it.

In love for her, with tender mercy and compassion, He catechizes her with the Wisdom of God.  He leads her by His Word, from guilt and shame, from doubt and fear — first of all to curiosity and interest — to the dawning of some new hope within her troubled heart, which has for so long ached with disappointments — finally to repentance, and to faith in the One who is speaking to her.

He declares to her all things.  Not only all the things that she has been doing wrong, but the things concerning Himself; that she might learn to know Him, and the power of His Resurrection, and the fellowship of His Cross and Passion; that, being conformed to His death, by the Gift of His Spirit, she might also attain to the resurrection of her body and the life everlasting of her body and soul.

He quenches her thirst with the free gift of His Word and Spirit; and, in doing so, He leads her and He brings her to the worship of the Father in the Spirit and the Truth, for which she was created.

He does the same for you.  For He is the Gift of God.  Ask of Him, and He will quench your thirst, your burning, desperate thirst for something more than what you’ve got, for something to satisfy your aching, empty heart.  Indeed, He pours out the Love of God into your heart, and fills you up with the Living Waters of His Spirit, which freely flow in you, and well up as a fountain in you, unto eternal life, to the worship of the Father in the Holy Spirit, through Jesus Christ our Lord.

What is it that you’ve been chasing after and trying to find, instead of this Gift of God in Christ?  What are you trying to do and achieve and to get for yourself?  And whose well do you run to, in the heat of the day, in order to fill up your bucket?  How many men have you had?  Or how many women?  Or how do you compete and keep the score?  What is it that you worship with your body and your soul, with the investment of your heart and the exercise of all your strength and spirit?

The Lord knows your heart and mind, your thoughts and words and actions.  There are no secrets hidden from Him.  He knows your sin, and all that you have ever done or failed to do.  He knows your guilt and shame, your doubts and fears, your ignorance and confusion.  He knows your frailty and weaknesses.  He knows that you have tried to quench your thirst with all the wrong liquids.

And even knowing all of that, He has come to you in mercy and compassion, in tenderness and loving care, in order to bestow the Gift of His Spirit upon you, and to bring you to the Father in Himself, in perfect peace and genuine hope and real joy, which shall remain and not be used up.

Thus it is, that, even in the desert, He pours out Living Waters to quench your thirst, to cleanse you and refresh you, both inside and out, in body and soul; to shatter your rocks and wear down your mountains, but also to float your boat on the ocean waves, and to preserve your life in the rapids.  Tribulation, therefore, does not cause your shipwreck, but brings forth perseverance, and builds up your faith, hope, and love in Christ Jesus, who shall never let you down or disappoint you.

Behold, then, how He does so: How it is that your Hope in Him is not disappointed, and that you are not put to shame and disgrace, but are vindicated and exalted in this dear Lord, Jesus Christ.

He is the Rock on the Mountain of God; and He is the One who is struck by the Staff of Moses, by the command and judgment of the Law of the Lord.  So it is, that, from His sacrificed Body flow the cleansing rivers of the water and the blood, and times of refreshment in His Atonement.

For by His Cross and Passion, at about the Sixth Hour, He has grown weary and thirsted, in order to strengthen and preserve you in the one true faith, and so to provide you with His Sabbath Rest.

In the completion of His good work, He gives to you His Holy Spirit through His Word of Holy Absolution, the free and full forgiveness of all your sins — those you know and regret, and those you don’t even realize or remember — He removes them all, and He remembers them no more.

As He is thus lifted up in death upon the Cross for your salvation, and as He thus returns to the Father in His Resurrection and Ascension, so does His own Holy Body become the true Temple of God.  The Mountain of God, henceforth, is wherever He is, with His preaching and catechesis, His Body given and His Blood poured out, from Jerusalem to Samaria and the ends of the earth.

Here, friends, is the Gift of God for you: Living Water from the Rock of Ages, the Spirit of the Father in the Word and Sacrament of Christ, His Son.  Here, by His grace, through faith in Him, you worship the Father in the Spirit and the Truth.  Such is your life and your salvation evermore.

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

16 March 2014

Born Out of Nothing by the Word

As good as dead, that’s what Abram was.  He was already 75 when the Lord first spoke to him about his offspring; and, a couple decades later, he was still childless and not getting any younger in his 90s.  His barren old wife, Sarai, too; her womb was dead and dying.  Their bodies were dust, and returning to dust.  Born of the flesh and blood of Adam, they were subject to the sin and death of Adam.  That is the legacy of fallen man; from sire to seed the curse descends.

It is the same for you, as well.  You receive it from your parents, and you pass it on to your children, if you have any.  No amount of intelligence, strategy, hard work, luck, or wealth will break that cycle.  No matter how successful you may be, it will end.

As you face the future, then, what hope do you have?  What is the point in going forward, going anywhere at all, in doing or attempting anything?  What does it matter, and why do you bother?

If your aim and hope were for this life only, that would be a most pitiable shame.  Whether it be an education, a job, a spouse and family, or fame and fortune; and whether you manage to achieve such goals, or fail at them all; it would make no difference in the end, and it wouldn’t matter.  Not only that, but the rest of the story would be worse than pointless, separated from God in the eternal darkness and despair of ongoing death: existing, but without life or light or love anymore forever.

Except, that isn’t all He wrote or spoke; that isn’t the whole story; because the Author and Giver of Life has created you in Love, in order to give you His own Life; and, in that same divine Love, He causes the Light to shine upon you by His Word.

His Word.  That is really all that Abram and Sarai had when they set out from their home and family to a new place they had never seen before.  On a wing and a prayer, you might say, but the Lord’s promise came first and led them forward.  “I will surely be with you and bless you,” He pledged; and, of all things, He would bless the whole world in the Seed of Abram.  The old man and his barren old woman would have children, not according to the power and promise of their powerless and perishing flesh, but according to the Word and promise of the Lord their God.

It doesn’t sound like much to go on.  In fact, it seems like nothing at all.  And when the promised Seed of Abram finally comes, the Word of God made flesh of our flesh and blood of our blood, He doesn’t look so promising, either; leastwise not when He reaches the goal of His coming.  The long-awaited Son is born to die.  The beloved and only-begotten Son is to be sacrificed upon the Wood of His Cross.  What sort of hope is that?  Well, it’s not one that depends upon you or your understanding, that is for sure.

The Light shines in the darkness, but the darkness cannot comprehend it.  The shadow of death appears to overwhelm it.  Men are born, they grow old, and they die.  Or, too often, they do not even grow old; neither do they get a second childhood.  However long or short the days may be, the nighttime descends, and all is dark and cold.

Even so, the darkness is not able to prevail against the Light of the Word, nor overcome it.  True, you cannot see where it is coming from, nor can you tell where it is going; but listen, anyway, to the Voice of the Spirit, which is the Word of God the Father, spoken to and for you by His Son.

This is the very Word by whom all things were made out of nothing, by whom and for whom all things exist and are upheld.  He is the Light of the world, who even now calls forth the Light out of the darkness; for He is the Life of all mankind, who brings forth Life out of death.  And He has come down from heaven to earth, into the flesh and blood of man, into the depths of sin and death; not because there is no hope, but precisely to fulfill the promise of His Father, and to become the Blessing — that is, the “Good Word” of God — by whom all the nations are blessed.

He comes to make all things new, to bring about a New Creation by the new birth of water, Word, and Spirit.  It’s not a “second try,” nor “old plan B,” but the actual completion of the Lord’s original intention in the Person of the Incarnate Son.  In His Body of flesh and blood, conceived and born of the Blessed Virgin Mary, He is the Image and Likeness of God, in which you are raised from the dust of the earth and created anew.  By His Voice, by His speaking of the Gospel, God the Father breathes the Holy Spirit into your mortal flesh, in order to give you His own immortal Life in body and soul.  So does He shine the Light upon you in divine and holy Love.

That you might believe in Him, and, believing, have abundant Life in His Name, St. John the Baptist was sent to preach the Holy Baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins, and St. John the Apostle was sent to preach and to publish the Holy Gospel.  By the same Word and Sacrament, even to this day and place, the Holy Spirit also testifies that Jesus of Nazareth, the Son of Mary, crucified and risen from the dead, is the Christ, the Son of the Living God; that He has come in the flesh to save you from sin, death, the devil, and hell.  And we know that His testimony is true.

It is in love for His only-begotten Son that God the Father has created you, and in love for His Son that He has given Him to save you; and it is in love for His Father that the Son of God has come to bring about this great salvation, that you might live with God in Love, in the Spirit of the Father and the Son.  He has come down from heaven, from the bosom of the Father, St. John testifies, and He has become flesh, in order to reveal the Father to you; to manifest the fulness of divine grace and truth in Himself.  He has come to redeem you from sin and death, as the very Lamb of God who bears away your sin in His own Body to the Cross.  And He has come to raise you up and to bring you into His own relationship with God the Father, as the beloved and well-pleasing Son.

So it is that you are begotten of God and born from above through this one Lord, Jesus Christ.

By His Incarnation (His becoming flesh for us), and by His Holy Baptism in the Jordan River, the Word and Spirit of God are now to be found in the flesh and blood of this Man from Nazareth.  For His Body is the very Word of God, and the Holy Spirit rests and remains upon Him forevermore.

As the one true God has thus become true Man, so does He also reveal and give Himself to you in earthly means, and He pours out His Spirit upon you, as well, through earthly means of grace, as the Spirit also reveals and gives the same Christ Jesus to you in His Word and Holy Sacraments.

Significantly, the Christ who is thus revealed to you, who gives Himself to you and pours out His Spirit upon you, is the very One who is crucified, dead, and buried for you.  Such is the depth of His Love for you, and, at the same time, the height of His divine Glory as the Lord your God.

He comes down from heaven, in order to raise you up by His Cross, to bring you to the Father in His own crucified and risen Body.  He descends, in order to ascend, and to bring you in and with Himself to God.  Thus, you now see and enter the Kingdom of God by the way of His Cross.

The Cross itself — that is to say, the lifting up of the Son of Man in Crucifixion — strange as it may seem, that is already His exaltation, His glorification, and His return to the Father in perfect faith and perfect love.  It is the voluntary sacrifice of God, by which He wins the victory of life and salvation for you and all the nations.  From the death of His Body comes the life of all the living, even the Life everlasting.

It is a striking and mysterious paradox, which you cannot understand until you are enlightened by the Spirit of Christ through the catechesis of His Word.  For He is lifted up on the Wood of the Cross in the form of the serpents, as it were; that is to say, in the likeness of the very sin and death which are killing you, in order to save you from those fiery serpents and their poisonous sting.

The Resurrection of the same Lord Jesus Christ, therefore, is also your rescue from the serpent, sin, and death, your reconciliation with God the Father, your righteousness, and your salvation.  It is the New Creation of God by His Word — in the Flesh of the Word, crucified and risen — out of the nothingness of sin and death.  It is the Light of God, shining in the darkness of sin and death; the Light which He also causes to shine forth in your heart by the preaching of this Holy Gospel.

For the Resurrection of Christ Jesus from the dead is the Life of all who believe and are baptized into Him.  It is the power and authority by which you are born again of water and the Spirit, a Sign as miraculous as the conception and birth of Isaac to Abraham and Sarah, and as marvelous as the conception and birth of Jesus Himself to the Blessed Virgin Mary of Nazareth.

So are you begotten and born of God — in body and soul — by faith in Christ Jesus.  And such faith, itself, is conceived and born in you by His Word and Spirit, by repentance and forgiveness of sins; which is to say, by the Cross and Resurrection of Christ, not only for you, but in you.

You are put to death, in order to be reborn to newness of life.  You are buried with Christ, by your Baptism into His death, in order to be raised with Him in His Resurrection, unto life everlasting.

Which means that, even now, by the Mystery of His Cross, as you are daily being put to death, so are you being lifted up and offered to God the Father as a sweet-smelling sacrifice in Christ Jesus.

As you thus live and die on earth by faith in Him — and as He thus lives and abides in you by His Word and Spirit, with His own flesh and blood — so it is that your flesh and blood, your body and your soul, your heart, mind, and spirit, likewise ascend before God and live in His Presence.

Wherever you go, be it near or far, the Lord goes with you by His Word; and you live with Him by faith in His Word.  And by His Word and promise, you are blessed, no matter come what may.  Has He not given you the guarantee and pledge of these heavenly things in His own earthly things, in His holy Body and precious Blood, given and poured out for you, for the forgiveness of sins?

If you perish, you perish, but only from this mortal life on earth; for whether you live or die, you are the Lord’s, in whom you shall not perish but live forevermore.

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

12 March 2014

The God Who Saves You for Life with Himself

The Lord Jesus Christ is your true and only God, who has brought you out of Egypt, out of the house of slavery into the freedom of faith, into the household and family of His Father. You shall have no other gods than Him. For there is life in no one else, and there is no other name by which you shall be saved.

Call upon the Name of this Lord Jesus; look to Him for all that you need, and for all good things; trust Him and rely upon Him, and proceed in such faith and confidence. Know that He is with you, that He loves you, and that He will help you in the future, as in the past. For the sake of His great mercy and compassion, He shall not leave you, not ever, but He will save you from sin, death, the devil and hell; He will rescue you from every evil of body and soul.

As surely as He has borne your sins in His own Body on the Cross, laid down His life and shed His blood for you as the Lamb of God, and risen from the dead, so surely does He conquer all your enemies, cleanse you from all unrighteousness, and bring you out of death and the grave into His own life everlasting. As He has ascended to the right hand of His God and Father in heaven, so does He seat you with Himself in the heavenly places, even now, and forever and ever.

He is your hope, your faith and life, your strength and your song, as He has become and ever is your salvation.

Cling to Him, therefore, and worship Him alone — and the Father and the Holy Spirit in Him — with your heart and mind, your soul and body. As you have been baptized in His Name, into His Cross and Resurrection, by the washing of water with His Word, so confess His Name in both your words and actions, and pray in His Name to your Father in heaven, by the grace of His Holy Spirit, as He has taught you and invited you to pray.

Let your whole life, also, be a confession of Christ Jesus and a prayer of faith in Him. With your body worship Him in reverence and humility before Him, in fear, love and trust in Him above all else, and so in loving and self-sacrificing service to your neighbor.

Do not make or worship any other gods, nor attempt to be a god unto yourself. That is to say, do not put your hope and confidence in yourself, nor anyone else, nor anything else, but in the Lord Jesus Christ, the Incarnate Son of the Father. Do not invest yourself, your heart and mind, your time and energy in anything apart from His Word. Do not give your body over to that which His Word forbids, nor to that which He has not given to you, but exercise and train your body to live unto righteousness according to His Word. Likewise, do not speak except as He has spoken, that all your words might be good and right and true, and so glorify the Lord your God.

It is a matter of living in His house, as a child and heir of God the Father. It is a matter of resting in His gracious providence, abiding in His peace, receiving His good gifts, being cared for and protected by the One who loves you and bestows His own life upon you. It is a matter of finding your own place, your refuge and your home, with Him who has called you to Himself in Christ and called you by His own Name, adopting you for the sake of His love and granting you a glorious inheritance forever.

The rules of His household and family are not a new kind of slavery or bondage, though your old Adam is constrained and constricted by such rules. Children in this fallen world do not always honor their fathers and mothers, and brothers and sisters do not always love each other and care for one another as they should. Therefore the rules of the Father's house so order things for the benefit of one and all, that wickedness and hurt and harm may be curbed, and that help may be given and good promoted. So, too, the rules of the house aim to keep you close to your Father and your family, to guard and keep you safe from danger, and to provide for you the rhythm and stability of real life in the peace and harmony of Christ, your Savior.

Thus, His rules set before you the good life that Christ Jesus has lived for you, which He has given and still gives to you in His Ministry of the Gospel. The Father invites you into that life, as it is established and steadfast in the beloved Son, who continues to bear the good fruits of that life, so that you might eat and drink and live with Him.

He jealously guards you against the false gods that would entice or force you away from Him, which promise life but have nothing but death and despair to share with you. He invites you to pray, and teaches and encourages you to pray, and even commands you to pray, that you should thereby learn to speak and live by faith in Him who is your true and only God. So does He also call you daily back to your Sabbath Rest in Him, to His Word and His good works. For He would feed you at His Table and give you peaceful sleep in the bed that He has made for you, in your own room in your dear Father's house.

The pillow upon which your heart and soul, your mind and body rest is the sweet forgiveness of His Gospel. For He Himself loves you in the way that He commands you to love your neighbors, your brothers and sisters, and in such love He also forgives you all your sins. He does not hold your trespasses against you, but as His mercies are new every morning, so is your Father's house always open to you. Your place at His Table remains, and your Sabbath Rest in Christ Jesus, the Incarnate Son.

Such love and forgiveness are the good fruits of His good tree, which He bears for you in His mercy and perfect faithfulness.

By these He does not hurt nor harm you in body or soul, but He gives you His own life.

He does not rob you, but He gives you Himself and all the treasures of His Kingdom.

He is an ever-faithful husband, who cherishes and cares for you as a member of His beloved Bride. Where you have strayed, as often as you have turned away from Him to other gods, He woos you back to Himself, and reconciles you to Himself, and welcomes you home to His strong arms and loving embrace.

With His Word He forgives you, enlightens you, teaches you all things and gives to you His Holy Spirit, and defends you against all the assaults and accusations of the devil. He covers your shame with His honor. He speaks well of you and credits you with His own righteousness.

This is the firm foundation of His Father's house, which stands fast on earth as it is in heaven, and which shall not be blown away or wrecked by wind and wave, by hurricanes or floods. For all the Law and the Prophets have been fulfilled in Him, in His Incarnation, in His flesh and blood, in His Cross and Resurrection, in His faith and love. He has kept and still keeps the rules of the house for you, so that His Sabbath Rest remains and His good life continues for you, and that shall not be shaken or removed.

That is why the Word of Christ has such authority. He does not simply interpret or teach the Law, but He has kept and fulfilled the Law — and His fulfillment of the whole Law, of the Ten Commandments and all that His Father has spoken, has become His Gospel to and for you. Thus does He forgive your sins — your faults and failings, your breaking of the Law and your neglect of faith and love. As He has given Himself for you in atonement for all that has been wrong, so does He give Himself to you in peace, in mercy and compassion, to repair what has been broken, to set right whatever is amiss, to fill up whatever is lacking, and to bring you home.

Do not be afraid. The Lord has set you free, but He shall not let you go. You are His own beloved, and He truly is the Lord your God. As He has brought you out of slavery, so shall He bring you in freedom into the good land of His heaven. Even now, in the midst of the wilderness, He is with you, and He shall never leave you nor forsake you.

The One who promises is faithful, and He shall do it.

His peace be with you.

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

09 March 2014

The Faith and Life of the Son

Here, then, is how the Son of God lives: by faith in His Father.  It comes naturally to Him, since He is the only-begotten Son of the Father from all eternity: God from God, Light from Light, very God of very God.  But, see here how He lives the same divine Sonship — He lives by fear, love, and trust in His God and Father — also now in our human flesh, in the nature that He has received from His Mother in the fullness of time, in which He is now and forevermore your blood Brother.  Not only that, but He lives by such faith, this beloved and well-pleasing Son, even under the curse and consequences of Adam’s fall into sin.  He shares the sin and death of all men, as though it were His own, even though He Himself commits no sin, nor is there anything but grace upon His lips.

He knows the weakness, pain, and urgent tug of hunger in His gut.  He knows the slow and steady passage of time, from one moment to the next, within which He waits upon the Lord and looks to Him in patient trust.  The days and nights come and go for Him, as they do for you, and His flesh feels their weight and burden, while He yet waits for His Father to feed Him in due season.

Although He is a Son — He is, and was, and ever shall be the Son of God by nature — yet, for you and your salvation, He learns the obedience of sonship through His suffering and temptation in His Body of flesh and blood.  He learns, not as one who is ignorant, but as the One who is compassionate.  He learns by the experience of your condition.  He bears your griefs and shares your sorrows, in order to become your merciful and great High Priest in all things pertaining to God.

This is what it’s all about.  This is what it means.  Everything that Jesus does and says and suffers, He does it all for your sake, in order to save you from sin and death, to the Glory of His God and Father.  For this is the Glory of God, that He is the Savior of sinners; the Savior, not of fallen angels, but of fallen men and women, who are precious to Him.  Therefore, He becomes like them, in order to rescue them, to raise them from the dust of the earth, and to recreate them in His Image and Likeness.  He comes in the likeness of your mortal flesh, in order to enliven your flesh and blood, your body and soul, with His Holy Spirit and His divine Sonship; so that you become a child of the heavenly Father in this Lord Jesus Christ, who loves you.

The Temptations of our Lord are both unique to Him and universal to all the children of man.  For He is tempted in all the ways that you are, yet without sin.  And whereas temptation arises for you, not only from without, but also from within you — from the discontent and covetous lust of your own sinful heart — for Christ our Lord, there is no sin within Him.  His heart and mind are set upon His God and Father from the inside-out; therefore, His Body also lives and dies in peace and love, because He always abides in perfect faith.  At all times and in all places, He gives all thanks and praise to the Father, in and with the Holy Spirit.  He is confident and content in the Word and promise of His Baptism, even in the wilderness, and even on the Cross.  He prays to and trusts in the One who is able to raise Him up from death.

But, so that He might be tempted as you are, in order to become your great High Priest and Savior, He deliberately deprives His Body of food: He prays and keeps the fast of forty days and nights.  Even this He does not do at His own whim, but the Spirit of His Father leads Him up from His Baptism into the wilderness, and in faith and love He goes.  He becomes hungry, and so experiences the bodily need and desire for nourishment: not covetous lust, but a real hunger of the flesh.  In this way He is tested by God, like Israel in the wilderness before Him, and He is subjected to the temptations of the devil, to strengthen His obedience to the Father by an active exercise of faithfulness in adversity.

It is more than an example, and more than simply empathy for you.  He suffers this voluntary weakness and want in order to provide for you — to raise you up from sin and death to faith and life — by the way and means of His own persistent faith and perseverance.

In Adam all men die, because in Adam all men sin.  Although the first man and woman lacked nothing, they were tempted by a desire for more, for the one thing that God had not given them.  And by their disobedience, they gave up the contentment and peace of the Garden of Eden, and the friendship of the Lord their God, in exchange for hardship and toil, pain and death.  Such is your inheritance as a child of their fallen blood and flesh.  But, so too, the promise of God to them is also for you and your kin.

Now it is, that One of the sons of Adam, the Seed of the Woman, has become the Head of a new humanity.  He is born without sin, because He is the Son, begotten of God the Father from eternity; but He does not keep His distance from the sons and daughters of affliction.  He does not hold Himself aloof, nor go His own way.  Although He is incarnate God, He humbles Himself and makes Himself nothing, in order to become the Firstborn of many brothers and sisters; that He might be fruitful and bring forth a multitude of children for His God and Father in heaven.

He puts Himself in your place; not in a lush Paradise of plenty, but in the harsh wilderness of blood, sweat, and tears, where you work and work to make ends meet, and still you perish.  In that place of hardship and hurt, of hunger and hard labor, He lives as a true Son.  He returns to the dust of the earth from which you and father Adam are taken, in order to make you and all things brand new by His faith and faithfulness in the promise of His Father in heaven.  Thus, He becomes the new Israel, also, passing through the water into the desert, in order to live by every Word that proceeds from the mouth of God.  He is tempted, tried, and tested, so that His Sonship, His fear, love, and trust in God, and His obedience of faith, are established deeply and forever in His human flesh and blood: for you and all people.

When the Lord your God disciplines you, as a father disciplines his son in love, and when He allows you to go hungry before He opens wide His hand to feed you, He does so to humble you, to break your prideful heart, and to bring you in repentance back to Himself.  He teaches you not to rely upon your own futile self-righteousness, but to rest yourself in Him, to call upon His Name, and to wait upon His providence.

With Christ Jesus, it is the same experience, but also the opposite.  For, unlike you, He is Life in Himself, and He is able to do all things; and yet, He is not prideful or presumptuous.  He has no need of any repentance for Himself.  Rather, He humbles Himself and bears the discipline of His Father on your behalf, and thereby extends His faith and righteousness to you.  He relies upon His Father, and awaits the Father’s rescue from death and the grave, so as to raise you up from the dirt in His Resurrection, to glorify you as a beloved and well-pleasing son or daughter by faith in Him.

That is why He faces what He faces in the desert.  He takes on the tempter and your temptations of heart and mind, body and soul, in order to atone for your sins and failures, and to open up a new way of life to you.

The Way of Life that He opens up and sets before you is the way of faith in the Word that God has spoken.  Such faith does not contrive or compromise; it is not desperate or impatient; it does not seek detours or short cuts around the Cross that God has appointed.  Faith is neither reckless nor presumptuous; it does not attempt to prove God by putting Him to the test, nor to use Him for personal gratification.  Faith loves and worships the Lord, the one true God, and does nothing to contradict or disobey His commandments.  It cannot and will not trade the Kingdom of God and His righteousness for the false and fading glory of this world and its politics of power and prestige.  Faith abides in the Word and Spirit of Christ, come hell or high water against it; no matter how foolish or unreasonable it may seem.

Such faith and life are yours in Christ Jesus; because He has made it so, and He has given these to you by your Baptism into Him.  Here is the new inheritance and legacy of the new and better Adam, which is for you, and for your children, by His grace.  As He entered the wilderness to be with you here by the waters of His Baptism in the Jordan River, so does He bring you through the waters of your Baptism, through His own Cross and Resurrection, out of death into life; out of the desert into the Canaan of His Church on earth; and finally, into Paradise.

By your Baptism into Christ, you have a new genealogy, a new Father, a new and right Spirit, and a new Sonship.  You have a new life.  Or, to say it better, you have a Life instead of death.

How, then, shall you live this life that you are given in Christ Jesus?  How shall you live by faith in God, your dear Father in heaven?  And how shall you survive your time in this wilderness, surrounded by temptations within and without, on your pilgrimage to the Promised Land?

The command and promise of the Lord is this: Resist the devil, and he will flee from you, as surely as he departed from Christ and left Him.  Because the devil actually has nothing but lies and deception.  Even when he cites the Holy Scriptures, he spins and twists the truth into falsehood.  He is crafty and clever, but not creative, because he is not God; he is a creature himself, who has nothing but what the Lord permits and tolerates.  So it is, that, even on your lips, the Word of God defeats him, and Satan must flee as the Lord commands.  Do not doubt that it is so.

In truth, the Lord your God is faithful; He will do and provide for you all that He has promised.  He is the One who preserves you in the wilderness, even in spite of your mortal frailty and sinful weaknesses.  Indeed, by His own resistance of the devil, in flesh and blood like your own, Christ your Savior has already defeated that old dragon, and has established His Victory for you.

As Christ has united Himself to you, and you to Him, in Holy Baptism, and as He now feeds you with Himself — with His Word, and with His flesh and blood, a better Manna from heaven than Israel received — so does He strengthen and sustain you in body and soul, in His own faith and faithfulness: against the devil, and unto God the Father.

To be sure, the Lord does not constrain you against your will.  He does not violate your heart and mind, nor rob you of your freedom in this body and life.  He has created you for love and friendship, and so He leaves you free to love, to be a friend of God and man in peace.  But so are you also free and susceptible to genuine temptations in this present wilderness.  You can and do fall into such temptations, into sins of thought, word, and deed, and into the snares of the devil.  You are tempted by the hungers of your mortal flesh, as it desperately attempt to cling to this life on earth.  You are tempted by the scheming of your mind and fallen reason, by your great brain and money-loving heart, to use and abuse the gifts of God to seize the kingdoms, and the power, and the glory of this perishing world.  And you are tempted by the vanity of your sinful heart, which covets for yourself the glory that belongs to God alone.

Therefore, guard your heart and mind with the Word of God in Christ.  Exercise the new heart, soul, mind, and spirit He has given you, by resisting the devil and turning away from his deceit.

And, where you have failed and fallen, now repent of your sins and return to the Lord your God.  Hear and receive, and rehearse by prayer and confession, the Word and promise of the Gospel in His means of grace.  Above all, seek out His free and full forgiveness of your sins, which is here given to you by His ministers in His Name.  So also, cease and desist from the sins that have ensnared you; not that you will save yourself from them, but that the Lord has rescued you from sin and every evil, and He has made you a child of God, anointed and filled by His Holy Spirit in body and soul.  Be sure of this: He who is in you is greater than he who is in the world.

Beloved, the Lord who loves you, your merciful and great High Priest, your Savior and your God, He is in you and with you, closer than a brother.  He is with you on the battlefield.  He is by your side upon the plain with His good gifts and Spirit.  He has already won the Victory for you, as your Champion against Satan, sin and death; and even now He defends and protects you, rescues and restores you, forgives your sins, and reconciles you to the Father.  Here He cares for you in mercy. Here He feeds you with this living and life-giving Bread, for which you did not toil and could not pay, but which you receive from His hand, who, by His fasting and temptation, by His hard labor and bloody sweat, and by His Tree of the Cross, has brought forth life from out of death.

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

05 March 2014

Store Up for Yourself Treasures in Heaven

Why do you do what you do? And why do you not do what you should?

What is it that drives you and motivates you? What is it that you’re after? What do you love?

Where do you invest yourself and hope to find your life?

Your true and lasting life, your future and your hope, are not found with man on earth but only with God in heaven.

You have life with Him forever, not by your own reason and strength, not by your own works and efforts, but by the grace of God in Christ.

So what does that mean for you, and what does it look like? How shall you not receive this grace of God in vain?

He’s after your heart; that’s what He wants, what He demands. He doesn’t need your stuff; it's really His. He doesn’t need your help, for all that you are and have comes from Him and depends upon Him. No, He’s after your heart — that you should fear, love and trust in Him.

But when He has your heart — and you thus have divine, eternal life in Him — then He also has your body and soul, your reason and all your senses, your time, treasures and talents, your home and family, and all your stuff besides (which all belong to Him by right, but He entrusts them to you in love).

When He has your heart, then your entire body and life are offered to Him as a living sacrifice in loving service to your neighbor. Then you practice your righteousness (by faith) before Him alone at all times, while outwardly you pour yourself out in love for your neighbor — family, friends and foes alike — with forgiveness of their trespasses against you, and with no expectation of thanks or reward.

This is how you live by faith: You entrust yourself entirely to God, and trust Him truly for everything that you need; and so you give generously to others without counting the cost or considering what’s in it for you.

In this way do you live with your heart already with God in heaven, and your body and soul shall hereafter follow forever and ever.

If, on the other hand, your heart, soul, mind and strength are spent upon this world, invested in this life on earth, and motivated by the kingdoms and treasures of man, then your body and soul will perish finally and forever along with all of these false gods you prize so highly.

You may stockpile a real treasure trove here and now, but it will not last or survive — it will not save you — it will not remain yours — you won’t take it with you.

Let go your heart of that which is not God.

Give up your adulterous affair with the idols of this world.

Repent of all your misplaced love and affection, and return to the Lord your God.

Stop stuffing your mouth and your stomach with that which ultimately ends up in the sewer, and stop pampering your body with creature comforts as frail and finite as you are.

Do not look for life and love anywhere else but the Lord Jesus Christ. Here He is with you and speaks to you by His Ministry of the Gospel.

He has reconciled Himself and His Father to you and all the world by His Cross: by His fulfillment of the Law in perfect faith and love, and by His suffering of the punishment that you (and all) have deserved.

He has reconciled the world to Himself. You, then, be reconciled to Him. Hear and trust His Word. Rely upon His gifts.

It is by His prayer, by His faith and His fasting, by His agony and bloody sweat, by His Cross and Passion, by His divine charity toward you, that you are presented to the Father in righteousness for peace and rest and life everlasting.

And behold, He has left behind a grain offering and a drink offering for you: bread and wine, which are His Body and His Blood — the acceptable sacrifice that He has offered to the Father on your behalf — with which He now feeds you for the forgiveness of all your sins, for the nourishment of faith and life.

Eat, therefore; and drink. Here is your treasure. Here is the heart of Christ for you. Here is your foretaste of heaven.

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

02 March 2014

The Light Shining in this Dark Place

What does such Transfiguration with Light mean?  What does it signify or indicate?  It is a return to the Baptism of Our Lord, and a reassertion of the Father’s Word concerning His beloved Son.  It is therefore also a proclamation of His Righteousness in the coming Cross and Resurrection of our Lord, whereby He atones for the sins of the world and makes all things brand new.

It means that He who is the Christ, the Son of the Living God, will enter into Glory, with His own flesh and blood, through the narrow passage of His Passion, by His innocent suffering and death.

It means that He who comes down from heaven into the dust of the earth and the depths of Sheol will also emerge and arise and go up again to the Right Hand of the Father in the heavenly places.

And it means that He will do so, for you and for all, in His own flesh and blood as the true Man.

We have celebrated, and shall evermore continue to celebrate the Incarnation of the Word, that is, the becoming flesh of the Son of God.  In the Transfiguration of this same Lord Jesus Christ, we are given to behold, through the eyes of Peter, James & John, the Deification, or “Verbification,” of our human flesh in the Person of the incarnate Son.  For His own flesh, which He shares with us by His conception and birth of the Blessed Virgin Mary, is the very flesh of the Word of God.

Henceforth, if you would hear and have the Word of God, then you must hear and heed this Man of flesh and blood.  For it is in and with and through His Body that the Glory of God is realized.

This Divine Glory in the Flesh of Christ is the Word of God to you, which is the Light of the Lord shining for you in this dark place.  It is a Lamp unto your feet, a Light upon your path.  The Father speaks to you by His Son, and He inscribes His Voice forever and ever in the flesh of this same Lord Jesus Christ; His Holy Spirit writes with the Blood of this Man upon the vellum of His skin.

So it is, that, by this Word-Flesh of Jesus, you are given confidence and sure and certain hope in this dark place; in the midst of sin and death; in circumstances of hardship and hurt; in a context of doubt and fear; in the face of stark adversity and precarious uncertainty.  Sufficient for each day is the trouble thereof; and you know well enough your own concerns and challenges.  There are some who would say, to a young couple like Nathaniel and Sarah, “Why are you adding to your burdens by having children?”  And, “Should any of us bring children into this cold hard world?”

The darkness not only surrounds you and presses upon you from the outside; it is also within you, filling you with fear and sadness, unbelief and anger.  It is a darkness of heart and mind, the root of sin and death in you.  It permeates your flesh and blood.  It infiltrates your words and actions.

Such darkness cannot persist in the presence of God, nor can it survive the appearance of His radiant Glory.  When His Light shines in the darkness, the darkness can neither comprehend nor overcome it.  No, the darkness is instantly consumed, or it is scattered, by the Lighting of the Lord.

That is a problem, then, for you who are up to your eyeballs in deep darkness, within and without.  How shall you persist or survive?  How shall you live?  Not without the Lord your God, who alone is the Author and Giver of Life.  That is certain!  You have no hope nor any help apart from Him.  But how can you live with Him, either?  How shall you abide His glorious presence?

That was the dilemma for Israel, too, at Mt. Sinai and beyond.  The Glory of God upon the Holy Mountain was a consuming fire, thunder and lightning, and a billowing Cloud of fierce power.  The people could not approach or touch that mountain, except at the invitation of the Lord, lest they die; and they pleaded with Moses that the Lord should not speak to them directly anymore.

There was no solution to be found in the people then.  Neither is there any solution to be found in you now.  In you there is the darkness of death; not holiness, but profanity and perversity.  You are sinful and unclean, and it is surely true that what you deserve is nothing else but punishment.

Yet, the Lord, the Lord, He is gracious and merciful, compassionate and patient with His children; He is slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast Love.  Therefore, what He did for His people then, in His grace and mercy toward them at Mt. Sinai, was to establish His Holy Covenant with them by the flesh and blood of sacrifice; and then to prescribe the Tabernacle and the Priesthood, the Liturgy of the Covenant, whereby He would dwell among them, and they would abide with Him.

Within that glorious Cloud that covered Mt. Sinai, Moses received from the Lord the heavenly pattern for the earthly tabernacle that he would build with Israel, in accord with God’s command.  That same Cloud, which is the Glory of God, then filled that tabernacle when it was finished; not for the destruction of the people, but as the gracious presence of God for their life and salvation.

Now, beloved, the very One who is, Himself, the heavenly Pattern of that Old Covenant Liturgy, He has come, in the flesh; and He has accomplished and fulfilled this great Salvation for you and for all people, which is the Glory of God revealed and perfected in His crucified and risen Body.

This one Lord, Jesus Christ, the Son of God and Mary’s Son, is the fulfillment of the Law and of all the Prophets who came before Him in days of old.  He is the Priest, the Sacrifice, the Tabernacle and the Temple, the Holy of Holies, and the gracious Presence of God in Person, in the Flesh.

He comes from God the Father, and He returns to the Father by the way of His Cross and Passion, in His Resurrection and Ascension, all for the sake of His Love, for the purpose of gathering you up in Himself and bringing you to His God and Father as a beloved child in His own Sonship.  He comes down, so as to bring you up the Holy Mountain to see God, to eat and drink in His presence.

The trouble is, that, what you see and feel and experience, for now, in this poor life of labor, is not only the darkness of sin and death, inside and out, but also the darkness of the Cross itself, which is a deep dark Cloud of Glory in its own right.  It is hard to understand, and difficult to bear.  Not only for the Christ, who has no “easy” job awaiting Him at the bottom of the Holy Mountain, in the valley of the shadow of death.  But, as it was for Peter and the other Apostles in their day, so is the Cross of Christ a deadly divine Glory for you to share and carry as a disciple after Him.

In order to prepare and strengthen the Apostles for their witness to His Cross and Resurrection, and for their administration of His Gospel in the Days of His Ascension, He reveals the majesty of His Glory to three of them, who will afterwards strengthen their brothers; and, through their witness, they strengthen the whole Church on earth in all times and places, even to the close of the age.

Not that they are able to comprehend what they behold at the time.  It really can’t be understood until the Cross and Resurrection have been accomplished.  Yet, they are able see and perceive that it is good; for it is a vision of the New Creation, perfected in the flesh of Christ.  And, in retrospect, it all comes together and makes perfect sense, leastwise to those who, by faith, are His disciples.

The Glory of God is manifest in the flesh of the incarnate Son, precisely because He is crucified for our sins, and because He is raised for our justification.  In His Cross and Resurrection, and in His crucified and risen Body, the Word and promises of God are established and certain forever.  Not with the blood of bulls and goats, but, in and with His own Blood, the Lord has signed and sealed His new and everlasting Covenant with His Church, even under the Cross that she bears.

It is in His Church that His preaching and teaching sound forth, and that His Holy Sacraments are administered in His Name; such as you hear and see and witness for yourself, here this morning.

Wherever the Word of Jesus Christ is spoken and heard in His Name, and His Body and Blood are given and received in remembrance of Him, there is the Tabernacle of God among men.  By these ways and means of grace, the Majestic Glory dwells with you, and you with Him; though in such a way that is yet hidden from your eyes in a dark Cloud.

Listen to Him, and pay attention.  Hear and heed His Word to you.  Give attention to His Law for your life, which is patterned after His Life for you; and walk in obedience to that Word of the Lord.

So also, listen to the utterance of His Gospel: His gracious Word and promises to you; His free and full forgiveness of your sins; and His blessing upon you.  For as the Father spoke to Christ at His Baptism, and as He has spoken to Gwendolyn this morning by the same Son, Jesus Christ, so has He spoken to all of you who are baptized into Him, into His Cross and Resurrection, in His Name:

You are beloved of God and well-pleasing to Him.  Yes, even you.  You are His own dear child, His son or daughter in Christ.  You are clothed in the radiance of His righteousness and holiness.

And so shall you, also, in the resurrection of your body, also shine like the sun, and like the stars forever and ever, reflecting the Glory of Christ that you share by His grace through the Gospel.

Listen, too, and hear how He invites you not to be afraid, but to rise from the dust and the dirt, and to live by faith in His mercy toward you.  He stretches out His hand — not against you, to hurt or punish you — but in gentleness and tender kindness, to raise you up in peace, and to feed you.

In the hearing of His Gospel, by faith, this Morning Star now rises in your heart, in your body and your life: He scatters the darkness and shatters the gloom that have beclouded your vision and shrouded your thoughts.  Now you are able to see, here and now, by faith, in humble bread and simple wine, the Body and Blood of God Himself for you: The God who is with you, in whose flesh is the Majestic Glory of the Holy, Holy, Holy One.

Here, then, at His Altar, is the Holy Mountain of the Lord your God: He is the Lord, the Almighty, the Merciful One, who keeps His Covenant in faithfulness, whose steadfast love endures forever.

Oh, come, let us worship Him; let us kneel and bow down before the Lord, our Maker.  Let us fall down in reverence before His Footstool on earth, and worship the Holy One upon His Holy Hill.

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