Pastor David Nehrenz
FROM THE PASTOR’S DESK
Dear Saints Walking in the Light of Christ,
“Songs of thankfulness and praise, Jesus, Lord, to Thee we raise,
Manifested by the star, To the sages from afar,
Branch of royal David’s stem, In Thy birth at Bethlehem:
Anthems be to Thee addressed, God in man made manifest.”
LSB 394 v. 1
We are in the Epiphany season from Friday, January 6, the Epiphany of Our Lord, until Sunday, February 19, the Transfiguration of Our Lord. There are four key events in the life of Christ during the Epiphany season:
First is the actual Epiphany of the star that brings the Magi to Jesus. They exult in the glorious Light of the Christ, and bow down and worship him.
Second is the Baptism of our Lord, where the voice of the Father speaks forth from the clouds in the sky and announces, “This is my Beloved Son, in whom I am well-pleased!”
Third is the first Miracle of our Lord, when Jesus shows his glory to his disciples by changing water into wine at the wedding in Cana.
Fourth is the Transfiguration of our Lord, where on the high mountain Jesus shines forth in brilliant light from the cloud of God’s presence. There Moses and Elijah (the Old Testament) and Peter, James and John (the New Testament) hear the Father say, “This is my Beloved Son, Listen to Him!”
These four events are some of the most important manifestations of Jesus’ glory shining through his human nature!
Epiphany is indeed a celebration for Gentiles like us. The Magi or Wise Men were Gentiles from the east. They followed a star they had seen in the sky and came to worship the One who is the Light for all the nations. Their gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh were gifts for Jesus who is a king, priest and prophet.
Also this month, on Sunday, January 22, we consider the God-given gift and sanctity of human life. God created human life from conception in our mother’s womb and sustains us till the day of our death. Christians must stand up in defense of God’s gift of life and speak out against abortion, infanticide, mercy-killing and euthanasia, genocide and suicide. Instead, we offer mercy and love for those in hurt and in need.
“Grant us grace to see Thee, Lord, Present in Thy holy Word—
Grace to imitate Thee now, And be pure, as pure art Thou;
That we might become like Thee, At Thy great epiphany
And may praise Thee, ever blest, God in man made manifest…”
LSB 394 v. 5
In the Light of Christ,
Vicar Jonathan Anderson
Counting Our Losses
“But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ.” (Php. 3:7)
On January 25th the Church celebrates the Festival of the Conversion of St. Paul. (Acts 9) Born Saul of Tarsus, Paul was well-educated at the feet of Rabbi Gamaliel in the Jewish tradition. Born of the tribe of Benjamin, Hebrew of Hebrews, Paul’s bona fides as a Jew were impeccable. He zealously ravaged the Church, persecuting Christians for their faith in Christ. But all of that changed when Jesus confronted him on the road to Damascus. Paul’s eyes were blinded, reflecting his spiritual condition. The Lord called Ananias to lay his hands on Paul in Damascus so he would regain his sight and be filled with the Holy Spirit. Paul was baptized and began to preach boldly, testifying Jesus is the Christ. What a remarkable transformation, from persecutor of Christ to preacher of Christ! Such is the spiritual transformation of every Christian. Though we could list off all of our credentials and good works which appear in the eyes of men to gain something, like Paul we count it all as loss, nothing, because to know Christ is of greater worth than all. The perceived righteousness of works is actually a disadvantage, a hindrance to receiving the righteousness of God given by faith. So, like St. Paul, let’s count our losses, because in losing all for the sake of Christ, we gain all in Christ by faith and count infinite and eternal blessings in Him.