Sunday, February 16, 2020

Sermon for 2/16/2020: Sexagesima

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The Sower Keeps Sowing

Grace to you and peace from God our Father and from our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.  Amen.

           
There is a dark side to the Gospel: not everyone believes. The Lord will not force Himself on anyone. Some reject His Word and gifts; they are damned. Some hear for a moment but give up when tempted. Some are choked out by worry and greed. There will be a sifting process, a judgment on the last day. God gave us ears so that we sinners would hear His Word and be changed.
Every Christian endures the attack of demons, the temptations of the flesh, and daily trials of the world. No one gets out unscathed. This parable is a warning. The attacks you suffer are dangerous; if you does not abide in the Word of God, you will lose your faith and suffer the fate prepared for Satan and his angels on the last day. Repent. None of us fears God’s punishments as we should. All of us have sinned thoughtlessly.
But there is also good news. The Sower keeps on sowing. He does not look for good and noble hearts. He simply looks for hearts: corrupted, weary, fearful hearts. He sows His Word without regard to how likely it is to take root and grow, for He knows the power is in the seed and not in the soil. He seems reckless, wasteful, to the eyes of men. He simply throws His seed without tilling the soil. He sends out His Word to those who need it, who cannot save themselves, the ones demons would claim for themselves.
The disciples are models of faith here. While they did not immediately understand the parable, they were hearing. They were seeking God. The parable hid God from unbelievers and even damned them; it drew the disciples to listen more closely, to ask Jesus what it meant. They were seeing and hearing what the prophets longed to see and hear. The mysteries of the Kingdom of God were given to them, and through them the mysteries of the Kingdom of God are given to you.
Faith on this side of glory always wants more. The disciples want answers from Jesus. The Christian widow might piously assert that she is at peace because her husband no longer suffers and is at rest; at the same time she longs to join him, eager for the culmination of her faith and the end of her sorrow. We confess that Jesus lives. We are confident that our sins are forgiven. We trust that Jesus is present for us in bread and wine. Even so, we are still being snatched at, tempted, and choked with worry.
The will of God is sometimes hidden from us. The same is true of His Word. We do not understand all that we are given, all that we are promised. Still, we trust by grace that His Word is true. We trust that His is will good and that it is best for us. We will be snatched at, tempted, and threatened by choking worries until we are brought home. The only antidote to that snatching and worry is more: more Word, more Jesus. So God provides a constant and ongoing application of the Word. We cannot stand against God’s enemies. We are weak; they are strong. But He gives us a promise: His Word does not return void; it will accomplish what He sent it to do.
The Word was sent by the Father to become flesh and dwell among us. His Word bore all the accusations against you, all the false names, all the slander. His Word was sent to go to the slaughter, to accept your guilty verdict, to be killed for crimes that you committed. God cannot die. Yet on the cross, God died, and that sacrifice set you free and gave you life. He rose, opening heaven to you. He speaks you righteous. He declares you innocent. Instead of thorns, up comes the cypress. The Lord bears a hundredfold harvest of faith in you. It is a miracle. For to you it has been given to know the mysteries of the Kingdom of God, including the mystery of Holy Supper, where He comes in that human body and blood to join you to Himself. In the name of the Father and of the Son (+) and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.     
           
            The peace of God which passes all understanding will keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus always.  Amen.

Sunday, February 09, 2020

Sermon for 2/9/20: Septuagesima

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A Vineyard of Grace

Grace to you and peace from God our Father, and from our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Amen.


The workers who worked all day wanted more. It made sense to them. After all, they had worked longer than the rest—and much longer than those who started to work at the final hour. It was only right, only fair that they'd get more. It would be foolish of the landowner to give a worker who slaved all day the same as someone who had worked for just an hour. If you do more work, you should get more pay. But they didn’t have a legitimate argument. They had agreed to work for a day’s wage, and that’s exactly what the landowner paid them. These longest-serving workers would have called their union rep if they could. As it is, all they could do was object to the landowner, and the landowner gave them exactly what He promised.
But the Landowner doesn't run His vineyard by what anyone else deems fair. He pays the ones who work all day the same as the loiterers He grabs off the street and puts to work an hour before quitting time. It's His vineyard; isn't it lawful for Him to do what He wants with His Vineyard? From the eyes of the long-serving workers, the landowner was cruel. From the eyes of those hired at the last hour, perhaps the landowner seems generous. Yes, the landowner is that good. His vineyard, His Kingdom isn't about what work you do or how long you have done it. He is not about giving you what you deserve. No, it's much better than that! The kingdom of God is what God gives to you in Christ.
The Lord gives the wages. He gives the gifts. He gives the last worker the same as He gives the first worker. He gives you the same as He gives Jesus. That's how He runs His Kingdom, His vineyard. What a perfect way to start the preparatory season of Pre-Lent! When we put our eyes on what we think we deserve from God for all that we have done for Him, this parable calls us to repent. The Kingdom of God is not about what you do for Him. Turn away from that kind of thinking. If God gives you what is fair, if God gives you what you deserve, you won’t like what you get.
Because the truth is, you are not the long-serving worker in this story. You are the one who has been standing around, pretending you have been willing to work, when in reality you have been comfortable where you are. You have been comfortable in your sin. You have been comfortable in believing that you are worthy of God’s love, His attention, His forgiveness. What you do, what I do, is no more than what we owe to God. You have been standing around, waiting for Him to ask you to do something.
And at the eleventh hour, the Landowner, your heavenly Father, gives you daily wages and more! He gives you Jesus, the One who worked all day in the hot sun for you. He worked Himself to death in the vineyard, bearing the heavy load of your sin in the heat of the day, bearing it on the cross. It was not fair; it was not what He deserved. But He took the wages of sin which He did not earn; He suffered and died the death He did not deserve. He did this to give you the whole day’s worth of God’s mercy. He didn’t even complain about it; He went to His work willingly, so that you could live with Him in righteousness and purity forever. And for the sake of the suffering and death of His Son, our Father willingly calls you His “friend.”
That is the Kingdom of God. It is not about your work. It is not about what you earn or what you have deserved. The Kingdom of God is about a Landowner, your heavenly Father, who gives everyone the same wage: the eternal life earned by the hard work of His Son. Purely by grace He washes you clean of your sin. Purely by grace He speaks His word of forgiveness to you. Purely by grace He feeds you the innocent body and blood of Jesus. What a wonderful Vineyard; what a wonderful Savior! In the name of the Father and of the Son (+) and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

The peace of God which passes all understanding will keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus always. Amen.

Wednesday, February 05, 2020

HYMN: O Lord, I Lift My Soul to You

In the process of writing texts for every Sunday of the Church Year in the 1-Year Lectionary, I've written some which I considered to be of lesser quality, and others I've found difficult to sing. My text for the First Sunday in Advent, Hosanna, Mighty Savior, Come, was more of the latter than the former. Before I (self-)publish my texts, I'm trying to fill in some of the holes, strengthen some texts, write new texts to replace others. This text combines bits from all the readings and Propers for Advent I and addresses both our Lord's entry into Jerusalem and His return in glory on the last Day. Feedback is love.


O Lord, I Lift My Soul to You


O Lord, I lift my soul to You.
I wait for Your salvation.
As Zion’s joyful children do,
I cry in acclamation:
Hosanna, David’s greater Son,
My righteous Lord, the blesséd One.

The peril of my sin is great.
The devil would enslave me.
I trust in You. I hope. I wait.
I beg You, come and save me.
My Jesus, come! Your people free
From guilt and Satan’s tyranny.

The night of death will soon be past,
Putting to death my lusting.
My joy shall wake with dawn at last,
Your Word most surely trusting.
This present dark shall pass away,
As You, my Light, bring endless day.

The day shall surely come, my Lord:
The day of Your returning.
I shall be made anew, restored,
Your Word no longer spurning.
Oh, come, my humble Savior King
With mercy You alone can bring.


© 2020, Alan Kornacki, Jr.
87 87 88
MACHS MIT MIR, GOTT (LSB 688)
Advent I; The Last Day




Sunday, February 02, 2020

Sermon for 2/2/2020: Transfiguration of Our Lord (observed)

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Down the Mountain

Grace to you and peace from God our Father, and from our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.  Amen


We have been watching Jesus. The One who humbled Himself to become a true Man in flesh has also revealed Himself as God. We’ve seen Jesus declared as God’s own Son at His Baptism, the Spirit descending upon Him. We’ve seen Jesus turn water into wine. We’ve seen Jesus healing the sick and suffering. And now we once again hear the Father’s voice from heaven, declaring Jesus to be His beloved Son. Jesus is transfigured, radiant in His holiness, right in front of Peter, James, and John. His face shone like the sun and His clothes became as white as light.
In the previous chapter of Matthew’s Gospel, Jesus was talking about His cross. The Son of Man must go to Jerusalem, where God dwelt among His people in the Holy of Holies. He must suffer many things at the hands of the religious powers and the secular authorities. He must be killed, and then, after three days, He will be raised from the dead. Among all these wonders and miracles, this message was more than a bit of a downer. Peter didn’t want anything to do with that sort of Christ. Peter wanted to follow a glorious Messiah, a Savior who would restore Israel, a King who would overthrow both foreign and domestic overlords. That would be the right kind of Christ! This is the kind of religion Peter wanted. That is why He was so overwhelmed by the Transfiguration. If it were up to Peter, they would never come down from the mountain. Lord, it is good for us to be here! says St. Peter. Let us stay here and see your glory forever.
That is the sort of Jesus we want, too. The idea of a suffering Savior; the idea of a Church made up of suffering sinners; the idea of repentance; the idea of a cross to pay the price of redemption—all these things are downers. Let us not hear about suffering. Let us do away with all this repentance talk. Let us not speak of the cross or dying, Jesus. We want a happy Jesus, a powerful Jesus, a victorious Jesus. A powerful Jesus will bring about a powerful Church, we think: a Church where Jesus gives Christian congregations growing membership numbers and overflowing bank accounts. But that Jesus on the cross seems to fit all too well in this postmodern age, with a shrinking and closing congregations, with buildings that are falling apart, with membership rosters that are shrinking with the death of the saints and the departure of those who had once been faithful members.
But the suffering Christ is reality. The voice of the Father from above, the bright cloud appearing—it seems like Jesus is supposed to be glorious. But while Jesus is revealed once again as God in the flesh, the Father reminds the trio of disciples that Jesus was there for more than just the glory. “Hear Him,” the Father says. Listen to Him. When Jesus tells you that He has come to die, believe Him. You can’t stop Him, nor should you want to stop Him. He has come to die for you. He has come for your salvation.
Jesus would lead them down the mountain. He would lead them to Jerusalem, to the cross. The disciples were saved. You have been saved. We are saved, but not merely by the bright shining Jesus of the Transfiguration. Our salvation is won by the Jesus who comes down from the Mount and heads for Lent, for Holy Week, and for Good Friday. Moses was gone; the Law could not save them. Elijah was gone; the prophets could only look forward to Jesus. Only Jesus—humble, lowly, suffering, dying—could save them. This is exactly what He said must happen. Listen to Him.
God continues to be glorious, even though He hides that glory. Jesus invites you to come with Him, to receive Him in water, hidden in His Word at the font. He invites you to hear His Word, read to you, proclaimed to you in the pulpit, placed upon you in Holy Absolution. He invites you to receive His body and blood, hidden in His Word in bread and wine. As the Father directed, fix your eyes and ears on Jesus. Now that He has revealed Himself to you, He brings you down the mountain. He suffers with you. He suffers for you and for your salvation, just as He said He must. In the name of the Father and of the Son (+) and of the Holy Spirit.  Amen.

The peace of God which passes all understanding will keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus always.  Amen.  

Sunday, January 26, 2020

Sermon for 1/26/20: Third Sunday After the Epiphany

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Willing

Grace to you and peace from God our Father, and from our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Amen.


Did you notice the leper’s respect and humility? He does not demand that the Lord heal him. He does not presume to tell Jesus what to do. He expects nothing from Him. In fact, the leper sounds like he thinks Jesus shouldn’t heal him, as if he is unworthy of any help that Jesus might give or any word that Jesus might speak. He said, “Lord, if you are willing…”
The truth is, the leper does believe Jesus will help. If he didn’t believe, the man would never have come to Jesus or spoken to Him. The leper fully believes that Jesus shouldn’t heal him, that he has no right to ask for the Lord’s help, that he’s unworthy of even the smallest kindness. Jesus has every right to refuse him.
And the leper believes this because the leper knows himself. He knows what’s inside him, and what comes out of him: how little he truly prays, how easily he doubts, how often he’s lived by fear rather than by faith. The leper knows that his faith is weak, pathetic, barely alive. He knows he’s not worthy.
That’s exactly what the centurion says. This soldier who fears no man, who stares death in the face—this man trembles before Jesus, just like the leper. And for the exact same reasons, he says, “Lord, I am not worthy…” And how does our Lord respond? He doesn’t say, “I only help those who truly trust Me, and you don’t yet believe in Me as you should.” Instead, our Lord both hears their prayers and grants their requests. To the leper Jesus says, “I am willing.” And to the centurion He says, “Let it be done for you.”
These men certainly don’t teach us anything about boldness and confidence before the Lord. They certainly don’t teach us that we need a strong faith when we pray. Still, they teach us an important lesson. When we cry out for mercy and help; when we pray for comfort and strength; when we plead with the Lord to show us the right way or to sooth our grief; when we look for any good from God—we need to know ourselves. We need to swallow our pride. We need to crush the barriers that we’ve built so that people think we’re strong. In place of pride and self-delusion, we need to come before the Lord in true humility, realizing we deserve nothing from Him and, by all rights, He owes us nothing. We need to pray, knowing that He really shouldn’t hear us, much less do for us. We need to admit our weakness. And we need to be willing not only to say, but also to believe the words, “Lord, I am not worthy.”
By the Holy Spirit, we come to know ourselves. By the Holy Spirit, we come to know and believe that we are “sinful and unclean,” and that we sin against God “by thought, word, and deed.” And so, by the Holy Spirit, we have the courage and the faith to say, “Lord, I am not worthy,” and to pray, “Lord, have mercy.”
The Lord is always willing. The Lord goes to great lengths to help us in our need. Look at what He does for the leper. He touches him, unafraid of getting sick, unafraid of being declared unclean. Look at what He does for the centurion. The Lord immediately eases the man’s mind and calms his heart by saying that his servant is healed. The Lord is always ready, always available, always willing to have mercy.
At this altar, in this Holy Supper, the Lord lays out for you the medicine of His own holy Body and His own precious Blood. His mercy is available in the most intimate manner possible. He is willing to restore and renew and refresh your life in Him. Come. Confess your sin. Confess your unworthiness. And confess your Savior, knowing that your Lord says to you, “I am willing.” In the name of the Father and of the Son (+) and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

The peace of God which passes all understanding will keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus always. Amen.

Sunday, January 19, 2020

Sermon for 1/19/20: Second Sunday After the Epiphany

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Wine in Plenty

Grace to you and peace from God our Father, and from our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.  Amen. 


He had been baptized. He had already called some of His disciples. And yet, at the wedding in Cana, our Lord’s hour had not come. His patient mother Mary, having waited all those years, had asked for nothing. She only made a simple observation to her Son: “They have no wine.” And for this prayer, she is rebuked: “O woman! What have you to do with Me? My hour has not yet come.”
Mary’s life is a life of faith. She must trust that God is good, even when it seems that He is not. She has no right to complain, and so she doesn’t. She recognized that He was the only One who could help. She had faith. And this is the life of faith on this side of glory. The old Adam needs to hear the Law, to be knocked down so that the Gospel might elevate the new man. This rebuke from her divine Son is not damnation. He rebukes her so that she might repent. And it works. Her faith is stronger for this preaching of the Law.
He did not promise a thing. Even so, she believes. She remembers that all things will be possible for Him. She knows that, whatever happens, He is God. He has come to save her. That is what matters. So she says to the servants, “Do whatever Jesus tells you.” This is a clear confession of faith. And so it is that He relents. He makes glad the hearts of men. He brings order from chaos, joy from sadness, hope from dejection, wine from water, believers from unbelievers. He is the Creator, present in His creation to recreate it, to restore it, to redeem it! And His disciples believed in Him.
And what of us? How often have we prayed sad, melancholy prayers? Have often have we complained against God? How often have we bemoaned the fact that we are not richer, thinner, healthier, or better employed? How often have we led ourselves into the gloom of covetous depression, the jealousy that leaves us dissatisfied with what we have? How often have we moaned out the lament against the God of joy, “They have no wine”?
Repent. Repent, for we know that God is good. We know that His hour has come: nails were driven into His hands and feet, and finally a spear pierced His side; the sun went dark, the earth shook, and the dead rose. His hour is the hour He submitted to the death of the old Adam within all of us, so that the restored Adam, the baptized children of God, would live. He overcame that dark hour. He rose from the dead, giving us life and joy.
He will answer your prayers. He will even answer those you fail to pray. He prays for you! He makes glad the hearts of men. He gives wine. He knows what you need. He knows your heart’s desire. He knows what is best. He will teach you in the cross to have joy in sadness, triumph in defeat, and life in death. In your own crosses, your own suffering, your own obstacles and trials, you will learn to come to His cross. There you will find perfect joy and peace beyond measure. You will know that He is your only Joy, your only Hope. There—in Him, in His cross—you will find contentment.
He is still present in creation. He is with us always. His hour is delivered to us in the bloody water of Holy Baptism, in His crucified flesh and blood in the Holy Supper, in His Word of Holy Absolution. In these gifts, the fruits of His hour on the cross are poured forth to cleanse the dirty hearts of men, removing the sadness and the pain, making them glad again! You are united to Him in a bond that no one can sever. All good things are given to you, even His blessed Name. All shame, all guilt is removed. He does not fail. We have wine. Thanks be to God! In the name of the Father and of the Son (+) and of the Holy Spirit.  Amen.

The peace of God which passes all understanding will keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus always.  Amen. 

Monday, January 13, 2020

Sermon for 1/12/20: The Baptism of Our Lord (observed)

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Baptized into Christ

Grace to you and peace from God our Father, and from our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.  Amen.


Baptism is one of the most despised and forgotten gifts that God gives to His children. Many Christians believe and confess that Baptism means nothing. It’s just an outward show. It doesn’t do anything. The only way you’re saved is if you put some effort into it. If you prove your piety, if you work at your salvation, then God will bless you. Even in some Lutheran churches, Baptism doesn’t really mean anything in your life. Often the font is hidden in a closet. The idea of remembering your baptism or trusting in God’s promises given there are smiled at and tolerated by a few, but they go on their merry way, believing that salvation is all about what they do. They live in fear of never being good enough for God.
How can we so forget God’s promises in Baptism and act as if they don’t matter to us anymore? The biggest part of the answer is that we simply don’t believe that we’re missing much. At our Lord’s Baptism, the heavens were opened, the Holy Spirit descends like a dove, and the Father speaks from heaven and says, “This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.” Because of His baptism, the Father says the same to you in your baptism. But those words will mean nothing to you if you do not believe that heaven is closed to you without them. If you believe that you are basically a good person; if you believe you are good enough for God; if you believe that God is satisfied with your attempts to follow His Law perfectly; if you truly believe that you are good enough to gain heaven on your own, then you don’t need baptism. It is just water, nothing more.
The devil and the world want you to believe that message. Your enemies want you to believe that the most important thing is that you forgive yourself, find peace with yourself, be your best you. And when you can be happy with yourself and forgive yourself, then things are good in the world. Do not believe the lie. You can’t forgive yourself. By definition, forgiveness must come from outside of you. You may lie to yourself, but you can’t lie to God. He sees all and knows all. There is no hiding from Him. And He demands perfection, which you cannot possibly accomplish. Repent of your so-called self-forgiveness. Repent of believing you can live without God.
Suddenly, in light of God’s Law, Baptism is much more important. When you realize that you have rebelled against God; when you recognize that you are in the clutches of sin, death and the power of the devil; then God’s Word to you is sweeter than anything else you have ever heard. God says to you, “I baptize you in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. That is God’s work in you.
The only way that you are saved, the only way you have a right relationship with God, is because of His great love for you. And He gives that to you in your baptism. This is the bath which washes away your sins and presents you in the blood-washed robe of Christ’s righteousness: spotless, clean, holy before His heavenly throne. This great work which He does for you literally opens heaven for you. It is your key and door to eternal life. St. Peter says in no uncertain terms, “Baptism now saves you.” Your sins are washed away. Satan is crushed under your feet. Death has no power over you! You can look at the grave without fear, for Christ has opened the gate to paradise.
This is the beauty of Holy Baptism. Look upon those waters as proof that God loves you and wants only what is best for you. When your heart and soul doubt God’s love, look to your baptism. When Satan tempts you to abandon Christ, look to your baptism. And when death and the world assail you, look to your baptism! The world may despise the gifts God gives you in His holy waters, but you know better. In the face of these enemies you can cry out:

There is nothing worth comparing
To this lifelong comfort sure!
Open-eyed my grave is staring:
Even there I'll sleep secure.
Though my flesh awaits its raising,
Still my soul continues praising:
I am baptized into Christ;
I'm a child of paradise! 

In the name of the Father and of the Son (+) and of the Holy Spirit.  Amen.

The peace of God which passes all understanding will keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus always.  Amen.

Sunday, January 05, 2020

Sermon for 1/5/20: Epiphany of Our Lord

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Joy for Gentiles

Grace to you and peace from God our Father, and from our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.  Amen. 


The Church has spent these past twelve days celebrating the Nativity of Our Lord. For some, the fervor of that celebration has remained high. For some, it has waned. And for many, even among us, Christmas ended the moment the gifts were opened and the meal was done, and all that remains is a weary resignation, relief that it’s over. But the celebration of Epiphany is an opportunity to rekindle our joy, to renew our worship of our Savior, Jesus Christ. The little Babe born in Bethlehem is not simply the Messiah for the Jews; as the angels shared, the Savior would be for “all people.”
That evidence is given in the Magi who saw the star in the East, who followed the guiding of that Star, who arrived in Bethlehem so that they could worship Christ as King. The arrival of these Magi shows us that this promised Messiah is born to rescue and deliver and restore all men to communion in God. The star leads them for our sake, so that we might see that the promise to the Jews now extends to all peoples. We are now able to be numbered as children of the Father.
So let us celebrate today with great and holy joy. Today we see that we too are children of the promise, descendants of Abraham by the power of the Spirit. Now we also, standing alongside the Magi, get to adore the Christ Child, not simply as the Creator of the universe, but also as the Savior of all those who pin their hopes to Him. What Isaiah says has come true: The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who dwelt in the land of the shadow of death, upon them a light has shined. You have multiplied the nation and increased its joy; they rejoice before You.
This is the day that Abraham saw, and rejoiced to see, for in the Spirit, Abraham saw that his children would be children both of blood and of faith. Like his physical descendants, these foreign children would be blessed by his ultimate Son, Jesus. King David also saw rejoiced to see this day; he prophesied, “All nations whom You have made shall come and worship before You, O Lord, and shall glorify Your name.” And in the Magi, David’s prophecy is fulfilled; the Lord’s Word is proven to be true and dependable.
So let us join King David in singing to the Lord, “For He has done marvelous things; the LORD has made known His salvation; His righteousness He has revealed in the sight of the nations. He has remembered His mercy and His faithfulness to the house of Israel; all the ends of the earth have seen the salvation of our God.”
So let us be full of joy and rejoicing today. Let us imitate these steadfast and righteous Magi. Truly they are Wise Men, since they seek the Christ, the power and wisdom of God. And let us imitate their humility and faith. For in humility they prostrated themselves before the Holy Child; and in faith, they offered back to Him what He had first given them, trusting that He would receive their sacrifices and bless them. And finally, let us imitate their obedience and perseverance. For no matter what happened along the way, no matter how many hurts they suffered or how many barriers they encountered, no matter how much the devil tried to deceive them in wicked King Herod, these Magi let nothing stand in the way of worshiping their Lord and King.
Come and kneel before Him in joy. Though we are gentiles by flesh, in Christ we have become children of Abraham and, more importantly, children of the heavenly Father in Holy Baptism. He has made Himself known to us in His Word. He reveals Himself to us in flesh, just as He did to those wise men so long ago, though hidden now in bread and wine. Come and be refreshed by your Lord. Come and have your joy renewed. In the name of the Father and of the Son (+) and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

The peace of God which passes all understanding will keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus always.  Amen.