Pastor David Nehrenz
Dearly Beloved in Christ,
If you have been lacking light in your life and struggling with darkness, then the Epiphany season is for you!
If you have been struggling mightily with temptations that besiege you, then the Lenten season is for you!
Let me explain…
This month we will complete the Epiphany season and begin the season of Lent.
The last Sunday this month, February 23, is Transfiguration Sunday. It is the climax of the Epiphany season. Matthew the disciple and apostle writes, “And after six days Jesus took with him Peter and James, and John his brother, and led them up a high mountain by themselves. And he was transfigured before them, and his face shone like the sun, and his clothes became white as light. And behold, there appeared to them Moses and Elijah, talking with him. And Peter said to Jesus, “Lord, it is good that we are here. If you wish, I will make three tents here, one for you and one for Moses and one for Elijah.”
“He was still speaking when, behold, a bright cloud overshadowed them, and a voice from the cloud said, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased; listen to him.” When the disciples heard this, they fell on their faces and were terrified. But Jesus came and touched them, saying, “Rise, and have no fear.” And when they lifted up their eyes, they saw no one but Jesus only. And as they were coming down the mountain, Jesus commanded them, “Tell no one the vision, until the Son of Man is raised from the dead.” (Matthew 17:1-9)
The Epiphany season highlights the reality of Jesus as the Light of the world. It began with the Magi following the star from the Father in heaven, guiding them to Bethlehem. It culminates with the disciples hearing the voice from the Father in heaven, speaking to them on the high mountain. The darkness with which you struggle is driven out by the bright Light of our Lord Jesus Christ. Live in his Light every day!
Then the Lenten season begins. We come back down from the mountain on February 26 for Ash Wednesday. Joel the prophet writes, “Yet even now,” declares the Lord, “return to me with all your heart, with fasting, with weeping, and with mourning; and rend your hearts and not your garments.” Return to the Lord, your God, for he is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love; and he relents over disaster. Who knows whether he will not turn and relent, and leave a blessing behind him, a grain offering and a drink offering for the Lord your God?”
“Blow the trumpet in Zion; consecrate a fast; call a solemn assembly; gather the people. Consecrate the congregation; assemble the elders; gather the children, even nursing infants. Let the bridegroom leave his room, and the bride her chamber. Between the vestibule and the altar let the priests, the ministers of the Lord, weep and say, “Spare your people, O Lord, and make not your heritage a reproach, a byword among the
nations. Why should they say among the peoples, ‘Where is their God?'” Then the Lord became jealous for his land and had pity on his people.” (Joel 2:12-18)
The Lenten season highlights the reality that Jesus has defeated the temptations of the devil on our behalf. It will begin with Jesus in the wilderness battling Satan and resisting his three dangerous temptations. We consider this on March 1, the First Sunday in Lent. The temptations with which you struggle are overcome by the might of Jesus Christ, and the power of his divine Word. Live in his Word every day!
In our Lord Jesus Christ – the Light of the world and the Victor over the devil.
Pastor David Nehrenz
Vicar Rob Schrader
As I’m beginning to write this article, we are already halfway through January 2020. By the time you’re reading this, it’ll be February – already a full month into 2020! If you’re anything like me, you’re sitting there amazed at how quickly time seems to fly by. And the older I get, the faster it seems to go!
This concept of life being too short isn’t anything new, in fact it can even be found in the Bible. Moses writes in Ps. 90:10, “The years of our life are seventy, or even by reason of strength eighty; yet their span is but toil and trouble; they are soon gone, and we fly away.” So how should this understanding that life is short inform the way we live? Well Moses gives us some advice regarding that also: “Who considers the power of Your anger, and Your wrath according to the fear of You? So teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom” (Ps. 90:11-12). Moses reminds us that while life is short, eternity isn’t. He reminds us that we have a just God who is rightly angry about our sin and who will eternally punish us for it. Moses instructs us to be aware of this just punishment and to turn to God for help. We are to ask God to give us a “heart of wisdom” in this brief life – a heart that recognizes that we are powerless to change our fate, but also a heart that recognizes that God not only has the power to, but that he did change our fate. Moses goes on to ask God to “have pity on Your servants” and to “satisfy us in the morning with Your steadfast love” (Ps. 90:13-14). Moses knew as we know that though we deserve eternal punishment, God loves us so much that he sent his Son to bear that punishment in our place and give us eternal joy and pleasure in heaven!
Next time you think that life is going too fast, remember Moses’ advice. Since we don’t have long on this earth, take what time you do have to focus on what ultimately matters: the fact that we desperately need a Savior and the fact that we do have a Savior! This fact, the greatest of all, allows us to rejoice! Though this life may be short, because of what he has done for us, our next life is forever!
Vicar Rob Schrader