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The St. Patrick’s three extant writings are his Confessions, “St. Patrick’s Breastplate” (basisof the hymn, “I Bind Unto Myself This Day”, a baptismal hymn) and his Letter to Coroticus. Coroticus was a war lord.  He had massacred several of the new converts, and captured others, under Patrick’s pastoral care.  In our days of martyrdom, the missionary Bishop also faced the martyrdom of the newly born again, that is, baptized Christians, and he wrote to Coriticus.  From the saint’s own hand, this is what happened:

I myself have composed and written these words with my own hand, so that they can be given and handed over, then sent swiftly to the soldiers of Coroticus. I am not addressing my own people, nor my fellow citizens of the holy Romans, but those who are now become citizens of demons by reason of their evil works. They have chosen, by their hostile deeds, to live in death; comrades of the Scotti and Picts and of all who behave like apostates, bloody men who have steeped themselves in the blood of innocent Christians. The very same people I have begotten for God; their number beyond count, I myself confirmed them in Christ.

The very next day after my new converts, dressed all in white, were anointed with chrism, even as it was still gleaming upon their foreheads, they were cruelly cut down and killed by the swords of these same devilish men. At once I sent a good priest with a letter. I could trust him, for I had taught him from his boyhood. He went, accompanied by other priests, to see if we might claw something back from all the looting, most important, the baptized captives whom they had seized. Yet all they did was to laugh in our faces at the mere mention of their prisoners.

The entire letter can be found here.  I think you can sense Patrick’s sorrow.  Yet he was also sorrowful about the apostasy of the “Scotti and Picts” who collaberated in these raids leading to capture and murder.  The Scotti and Picts were probably tribes who had been converted to the Christian Faith but then left it (“apostasy”, apo stasis, lit. leaving the stand, the place where they stood).  Patrick was angry about their apostasy as a pastor should.  They were now spiritually dead and had killed the newly alive in Christ.

Because of this, let every God-fearing man mark well that to me they are outcasts: cast out also by Christ my God, whose ambassador I am. Patricides, they are, yes and fratricides, no better than ravening wolves devouring God’s own people like a loaf of bread. Exactly as it says: “the wicked have scattered your law, 0 Lord,” which in these latter days he had planted in Ireland with so much hope and goodness; here it had been taught and nurtured in God’s sight. Eph. 6.-20 Acts 20.-29 Ps. 14:4 Ps. 119.126

Patrick confronted them all and I would guess at risk to his own life.  He was brave in Christ.  We need more brave men as pastors and bishops to confront apostasy, both here and abroad.  We need more brave political leaders who will protest the massacre and imprisonment of Christians in other nations.  

It is also clear from Bishop Patrick’s letter, he knew the Bible.  The Word taught, inspired, commanded and guided him.  This too is part of the Bishop’s witness for us in our Biblically illiterate Church:

And if my own do not want to know me, well and good, “a prophet is not honored in his own country.” Indeed, perhaps we are not “from the same sheepfold,” or possibly we do not have “one and the same Father for our God.” As he says, “He who is not with me, is against me” and he who “does not gather with me, scatters.” We are at cross purposes: “One destroys; another builds.” “I do not seek things that are mine.” Not by my grace, but it is God “who has given such care in my heart,” so that I should be among “the hunters or fishers” whom God foretold “in those final days.” Jn. 4:44 Jn. 10:16 Eph. 4:6 Matt. 12:30 Ecclus. 34:23 I Cor. 13:5 11 Cor. 8:16

Hear Patrick’s pain and ask as you read:  Where is the sorrow of the Church and her pastors in these gray and latter days?  Is there no orthodox faith in the Lord and His literal Word over the massacre of Christians, spiritually and physically?

Because of all this, my voice is raised in sorrow and mourning. Oh, my most beautiful, my lovely brethren and my sons “whom I begot in Christ,” I have lost count of your number, what can I do to help you now? I am not worthy to come to the help of God or men. “We have been overwhelmed by the wickedness of unjust men,” it is as if “we had been made outsiders.” They find it unacceptable that we are Irish. But it says “Is it not true that you all have but one God? Why then have you, each one of you, abandoned your own neighbor?” I Cor. 4:15 Ps. 65:3 Ps. 69:8 Eph. 4:5, 6 MaL 2:10

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Acts 20: 28-35

Psalm 71: 1-14

Titus 1: 1-9

St. Luke 10: 1-9

St. Titus, like Timothy with whom he is often  associated, was a friend and co-worker of St, Paul. Titus was a Gentile, perhaps a native of Antioch, who accompanied Paul and Barnabas to Jerusalem when they brought assistance to the Christians in Judea during a famine (Acts 11:29-30; Galatians 2:1). It is not known if he accompanied Paul on his first or second missionary journeys, but Titus was with him on the third one, when he helped reconcile the Corinthians to Paul (2 Corinthians 7:6-7) and assisted with the collection for the Church in Jerusalem (2 Corinthians 8:3-6). It was probably on the return to Jerusalem that Paul left Titus in Crete (Titus 1:4-5). Afterward he is found working in Dalmatia (2 Timothy 4:10). According to tradition, Titus returned to Crete, where he served as bishop until he died about AD 96. 

(From The Treasury of Daily Prayer, CPH)

The Epistle Reading:  Titus 1: 1-9

Greeting

Paul, a servant of God and an apostle of Jesus Christ, for the sake of the faith of God’s elect and their knowledge of the truth, which accords with godliness, in hope of eternal life, which God, who never lies, promised before the ages began and at the proper time manifested in his word through the preaching with which I have been entrusted by the command of God our Savior;

To Titus, my true child in a common faith:

Grace and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Savior.

Qualifications for Elders

This is why I left you in Crete, so that you might put what remained into order, and appoint elders in every town as I directed you— if anyone is above reproach, the husband of one wife, and his children are believers and not open to the charge of debauchery or insubordination. For an overseer, as God’s steward, must be above reproach. He must not be arrogant or quick-tempered or a drunkard or violent or greedy for gain, but hospitable, a lover of good, self-controlled, upright, holy, and disciplined. He must hold firm to the trustworthy word as taught, so that he may be able to give instruction in sound doctrine and also to rebuke those who contradict it.

Note:  I was on a 24 hour overnight retreat, the 26th and 27th, and the worship leader, ans was not able post this article in time- Pr. Schroeder

Reflection:

This past Friday was the Feast Day of St. Timothy, yesterday, January 25th, the Conversion of St. Paul, today St. Titus and tomorrow the Commemoration of St. John Chrysostom, Preacher.  When I began at my third congregation, the first one in the south, I went to see a homebound man, in a wheelchair, at his home and when I came in, in a Southern accent said, “The preacher man is here!”  These four days of feasts and a commemoration are all about preacher men.  

The Apostle Paul tells his brother Pastor Titus that through the preaching of Word that the fulness of the truth was “manifested”.  The Greek word is very much akin to the name of this liturgical season:  epiphany. God makes manifest His will of salvation by grace alone through the preaching of the Word which means the Lord calls faithful preachers.  This is a good day to give thanks to the Lord for faithful preachers especially the men you have known, bringing the Word to pulpit Sunday after Sunday, at the hospital, in a home bound member’s home, in a school, in classes, at the grave.  As  you give thanks to the Lord let your thanks be known to your pastor as well.

In The Large Catechism by Martin Luther, in his explanation of the 4th Commandment, Honor Your Father and Your Mother, Luther taught about fathers that the commandment is  expansive:

“…we have three kinds of fathers presented in this commandment: fathers by blood, fathers of a household, and fathers of the nation. Besides these, there are also spiritual fathers—not like those in the papacy who applied this title to themselves but performed no fatherly office. For the name spiritual father belongs only to those who govern and guide us by the Word of God. St. Paul boasts that he is a father in I Cor. 4:15, where he says, “I became your father in Christ Jesus through the Gospel.”

The two words in the good work of being a father, or a mother, are the authority of “no” and “yes”.  You can’t do this, you should not do that, be careful and the like.  Yes, come, let us worship the Lord, Yes,the Lord has forgiven you, Yes, I love you and will care for you.  “Fathers of a nation”, that is government, usually only use the word “No”, the political use of the Law for restraining evil (cf.  Romans 13:4) .  “Fathers of a household” meant for Luther the household with staff, that is, maids and servants.  Since many of us do not have such (!), and watch Downton Abbey wishing we did (!), this portion of the catechism seems irrelevant, but some have suggested that the modern equivalent is our places of work and  our superiors at work.  The boss must also apply with wisdom “no” and “yes”.  It is clear mothers and fathers do as well, and so do pastors.

In Paul’s short epistle to Titus, describing the work of the elder/overseer, that is pastor, Paul uses the word rebuke three times, as in the first time in the Epistle reading above:

 He (the pastor)  must hold firm to the trustworthy word as taught, so that he may be able to give instruction in sound doctrine (yes) and also to rebuke those who contradict it (no).

But in our forever affirming, self-esteeming, always should feel good culture and society, the role of pastor actually rebuking, saying “no”  to false doctrine spoken by the baptized, is even actively despised.  This means that the reality of sound doctrine, that Christ saves sinners, is also blunted.  Some pastors like to think of themselves as “coaches”, constantly cheering on the team…but that’s a cheerleader and an actual sports’ coach has plenty of rebukes!  Pastors are not to relish in rebuking, and they do not, because it is not pleasant to receive  discipline or to discipline, but for the sake of the “sound doctrine”, it needs to be done at the right time.   The pastor is also “disciplined” in his comportment according the humility of knowing that the Lord loves me a sinner as well, but when that sinfulness is not acknowledged and confessed (cf.1 John 1:7-9), and false doctrines are sought to justify sinfulness, something has to be said.  Pray for your pastor or priest and minister as he teaches you God’s Word of No and Yes, Law and Promise for you to love and know Jesus Christ!

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Introduction:  On this date in 2004, at a joint chapter retreat of the Society of the Holy Trinity in Hickory, North Carolina,  a dear mentor and friend, Pastor Louis A. Smith died.   He was born in New Jersey and married to Helen.  They have four daughters.  Lou could preach in German, sight translate Greek and Hebrew and knew other languages. He was a campus minister, parish pastor, writer and spent three years teaching the Confessions in Namibia.  He loved British football.  He was also the funniest person I ever knew.  He knew the Lutheran Confessions as he knew the stats for his beloved N. Y. Yankees…even better! He was faithful pastor and theologian of the Church. He is a major reason why I stayed in the Lutheran Church. The following quotes are either from Pr. Smith’s sermons and articles or from my memory of many conversations with him.  Talking with Lou epitomized Luther’s saying that the conversation and the consolation of the brethren is almost a sacrament.

  • Note:  the NT Greek, episcopos, means “oversight” and which is translated “bishop” or “overseer”.  We were talking about bishops in the ELCA and Pastor Smith said:  “Episcopos” means oversight, not overlook.”
  • “Most bad theology begins with bad taste.”
  • Towards the end of her life, Pastor Smith’s mother lived with Lou and his wife Helen.  Mom was quite a handful for Pastor and Mrs. Smith because of her rather cantankerous personality.  Lou and I were talking about that and Lou said, “You know, it is really hard to keep the 4th Commandment”.
  • Me: “I’ve always had troubles with the “unity” or “Cana” candle ceremony in a wedding service and I can’t put my finger on why.”Lou:  “Note:  you don’t need two candles to light one candle, so yeah, something is going on here.  The physical element of the sacrament of marriage is the two become one flesh.  Since most couples have already done that and so the ‘unity candle’ has been introduced  and has  become  an ersatz ‘sacrament’”.
  • “I’ve told Church Councils at meetings about my salary, that when it comes to preaching, baptizing and presiding, I do this for nothing.  Church council meetings:  This is what I get paid for.”
  • Me:  “I usually am flummoxed when asked, When did the Lord call you into the Ministry?” Lou:  “When you were ordained, Mark.”
  • Me:  It is said that Lutheran Church is a “confessing movement” in the church catholic.  Lou:  “I was not baptized into a movement but the one, holy, catholic and apostolic Church.”
  • “The interpretive task is not so much to understand the Word of the Bible as it is to stand under the Word of the Bible. It is, after all, not the Bible that is the puzzle that we need to solve. It is we who are the puzzle and the Bible that will solve us.” (from an address in my possession)
  • “…the Bible is clear…the Biblical writers say what they mean and mean what they say. This, of course, does not mean that we immediately grasp what they say and mean. But the fault for that does not lie with the Biblical text. It lies with us; and that for any number of reasons. We might not yet have learned the grammar. We might not yet have learned the vocabulary or the particular idiom of an author. Luther’s struggle with the “righteousness” of God might be an example. He had imported a foreign notion of righteousness into the Biblical text and so misunderstood the text; to his own great pain. And it took a goodly amount of reading before the Bible could straighten him out. But in the end, the Bible’s clarity won the day”(from an address in my possession)
  • “…both hunger and thirst make us aware of our mortality. Guess what? THEY ARE SUPPOSED TO! That is their theological meaning. Hunger and thirst are sacraments of our mortality. They are the felt reminders of the fact that we do not have life within us.” (from a  Lenten sermon)
  • “Proper (Godly)  repentance is not a sorrow or a terror or a vow to change, so that we can escape the divine death sentence. Proper (Godly)  repentance is to accept the rightness of the death sentence and to submit to it; to submit to being put to death under the law. And without the real Gospel that is never done.”
  • “…I finally discovered the difference between a eulogy and a sermon.  Forgive me if I tell you what you already know. The difference is this:  In a eulogy, one person who purports to know another, stands up and says some nice things that are not necessarily true about a dead human being.  In a sermon, a person authorized by the Gospel of Jesus Christ says some true things that are not necessarily nice about a living God.”(from  a Lenten sermon)
  • “God does not justify ungodliness but the ungodly.”

When we seek relief
From a long-felt grief;
When temptations come alluring,
Make us patient and enduring;
Show us that bright shore
Where we weep no more.

(“Jesus, Lead Thou On, Lutheran Service Book #718, stanza 3)

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Prayer of the Day

Almighty God, Your servant Clement of Rome called the Church in Corinth to repentance and faith to unite them in Christian love. Grant that Your Church may be anchored in Your truth by the presence of the Holy Spirit and kept blameless in Your service until the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.

Clement (ca. A.D. 35–100) is remembered for having established the pattern of apostolic authority that governed the Christian Church during the first and second centuries. He also insisted on keeping Christ at the center of the Church’s worship and outreach. In a letter to the Christians at Corinth, he emphasized the centrality of Jesus’ death and resurrection: “Let us fix our eyes on the blood of Christ, realizing how precious it is to His Father, since it was poured out for our salvation and brought the grace of repentance to the whole world” (1 Clement 6:31). Prior to suffering a martyr’s death by drowning, he displayed a steadfast, Christ-like love for God’s redeemed people, serving as an inspiration to future generations to continue to build the Church on the foundation of the prophets and apostles, with Christ as the one and only cornerstone. (from The Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod website, see Blogroll on sidebar)

Reflection:  In the bio above and in the quote below the word “fix” is employed.  In the Prayer of the Day for the 5th Sunday after Easter, the Church prays, “Grant that we may love what You have commanded and desire what You promise, that among the many changes of this world our hearts may be fixed where trues are found, through Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord…”.  I like to play off that word “fix”.  Our hearts, that is,  our wills are fixed, that is, guided, repented, repaired in the fruit of the joys of His crucifixion and resurrection:  His forgiveness for us, in us, with us, His life in our lives.  We can not repair our hearts, our wills on our own.  No one did heart surgery on himself, one needs a physician.  We are fixed by fixing our hearts and eyes on Jesus Christ and that “fix” is prayer, the prayer of faith in the Lord, in Whom we are made one in Christian love.

From Pastor and Bishop Clement’s Letter to the Corinthians:

This is the way, beloved, in which we found our salvation, Jesus Christ, the high priest of our offerings, the protector and helper of our weakness (cf. Heb. 2: 17, 3:1, 4: 15)

Through him we fix our eyes on the heights of heaven, Through him we see mirrored the flawless and sublime countenance of God (cf. 2 Cor. 3:18), Through him the eyes of our heart have been opened, Through him our foolish and darkened understanding springs up to the light,Through him the Master has willed that we should taste immortal knowledge;

For “since he is the express image of his greatness, he is as much superior to angels as his title is superior” to theirs (cf. Heb. 1:3-4)

Let us then, men and brethren, engage in our service with complete earnestness under his faultless order. Let us consider those who serve under our military commanders, with what good discipline, subordination, and obedience they carry out orders.  Not all are prefects or tribunes or centurions or captains of fifty and so on, but “each in his own rank”(I Cor. 15:23)carries out orders under the emperor and the commanding officers.The great cannot exist without the small; neither can the small exist without the great: there is a certain mutuality in the whole, and this is beneficial to it. 

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This past week Sunni militants have taken over the 2nd largest city in Iraq.  The following quote is from a recent letter from Roman Catholic priest, Fr. Najeeb who lives in Mosul.  The full article is in First Things and can be found with this link.  As he asks:  pray for them.  

Bad news. I write you in a situation of violence in Mosul that is very critical and even apocalyptic. Most of the inhabitants of the city have already abandoned their houses and fled into the villages and are sleeping in the open without anything to eat or drink. Many thousands of armed men from the Islamic Groups of Da’ash have attacked the city of Mosul for the last two days. They have assassinated adults and children. The bodies have been left in the streets and in the houses by the hundreds, without pity. The regular forces and the army have also fled the city, along with the governor. In the mosques, they cry “Allah Akbar, long live the Islamic State.” Qaraqosh is overflowing with refugees of all kinds, without food or lodging. The check points and the Kurdish forces are blocking innumerable refugees from entering Kurdistan. What we are living and what we have seen over the last two days is horrible and catastrophic. The priory of Mar Behnam and other churches fell into the hands of the rebels this morning. . . . and now they have come here and entered Qaraqosh five minutes ago, and we are now surrounded and threatened with death. . . . pray for us. I’m sorry that I can’t continue . . . They are not far from our convent. . . . Don’t reply. . . .

“We are not protected by anyone, just the prayers . . . we need your prayers . . . I believe in the power of prayers . . . they can change the mind of persons . . . I ask in the name of all Christians in Iraq . . . to pray for us.”

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New Testament Reading for Today:  Hebrews 13: 1-21

Remember your leaders, those who spoke to you the word of God. Consider the outcome of their way of life, and imitate their faith.

17 Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they are keeping watch over your souls, as those who will have to give an account. Let them do this with joy and not with groaning, for that would be of no advantage to you.

Introduction:  The New Testament reading is the pastor’s encouragement to the Church in times of persecutions from without and within.  The meditation below is by Pastor Scott Murray (Pastor, Memorial Lutheran Church, Houston, TX) from his book  A Year with the Church Fathers: Meditation for Each Day of the Church Year (I am not paid by Pr. Murray to so advertise but gladly do so!)  The meditation is on the verses cited above.

Meditation

We presume that something is better than nothing. This truism is not always true. It is better to be without a leader than to have one who teaches us into hell. If we are to imitate the faith of those who lead us, we need someone leading us who has sound teaching, someone who is faithful to Christ the Word and His Holy Scripture. Without that faithful instruction, we are being led into misbelief, which is the worst vice. It is the worst evil, because it has such horrible results. We are all sinful, even and especially our Church leaders. If we wait until the Church leader arrives who has no fleshly weaknesses or spiritual peccadilloes, we will be waiting forever. Such a person ministered visibly only once among men.

So what should we look for from leaders? The faith. We need them to teach us Christ, His death, His life, His sacrifice for our sins—all that He has done “for us men and for our salvation.” We should imitate the faith that leaders teach. The substance of what is taught, of what is to be believed, should be the outcome of their lives. Like us, our leaders are imperfect clay pots. The excellence of what is preached should commend them to us. Let’s expect neither more nor less.

“When should we obey an evil leader? What kind of evil do we mean here? If he isevil in regard to faith, flee and avoid him. Not just if he is a man, but even if he is an angel from heaven. But if his life is evil, do not pry. This case I am not arguing from my own opinion, but from Holy Scripture. Hear Christ say, ‘The scribes and the Pharisees sit on Moses’ seat’ (Matthew 23:2). Having previously spoken many fearful things concerning them, Christ says, ‘Practice and observe whatever they tell you—but not what they do. For they preach, but do not practice’ (Matthew 23:3). They have the dignity of office but have an unclean life. Pay attention not to their life but to their words. As regards their character, no one would be harmed by it. Why? Both because their characters are manifest to all, and also because, although they might be ten thousand times as evil, they will never teach what is evil. But in regard to the faith, the evil is not apparent to all, and the leader with a wicked faith will not decline to teach it” (John Chrysostom, Homilies on Hebrews, 34.1).

20 Now may the God of peace who brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, the great shepherd of the sheep, by the blood of the eternal covenant, 21 equip you with everything good that you may do his will, working in us that which is pleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen.

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They brought the donkey and the colt and put on them their cloaks, and he sat on them. Most of the crowd spread their cloaks on the road-St. Matthew 21: 7-8

 The other time of the Church year the Palm Sunday Gospel of our Lord’s triumphal entry into Jerusalem is read is the 1st Sunday in Advent.  Advent and Lent, beside rhyming, have this in common both are about the Incarnation, the , Word becoming flesh. The Lord shed the clothes of His equality with God, the form of God and took on human form, born of the Virgin Mary.  Advent points us to  the Word became flesh, the Son of Mary, wearing the mantle of mortality.  Now in Lent and Holy Week, as the weight of His flesh sat  upon that donkey, riding triumphantly to the defeat of sin and death, mankind’s sin and death, by bearing sin and death for us all.  The donkey bore Him who bore the sin of the world and the crowds laid their cloaks on the road. No donkey, no man can carry the sin of the world, except the Lamb of God, true man and true God, 100%, 100%.

Natalie and I both noticed that the Palm Sunday hymns all mention children and she asked where are children mentioned in the narrative of the triumphal entry into Jerusalem?  We heard it in the Matthew 21.  The children in the temple, right after the triumphal entry,  were crying out in the Temple, the Temple, the Lord’s House, Hosanna to the Son of David!  The chief priests and scribes were indignant that the children were singing to Jesus.  Earlier Jesus was indignant that the disciples were preventing the children from coming to Him.  He said, for to such belongs the Kingdom of heaven.  It is said, Christmas is for kids…so is Holy Week. All who receive His kingdom, His reign as a child, trusting our heavenly Father who sent His only begotten Son.

I think it is reasonable to suggest Mary and Joseph told Jesus the reason they fled to Egypt, because King Herod killed all the male children under the age of 2 in Bethlehem.  The only begotten Son who said that if anyone causes one of these little ones who believe in Jesus to sin it would be better it if a millstone were put on his neck and he be thrown into the sea. We must remember that as we look at abortion, sexual and physical abuse of children, children left on their own with parents in the home.   Only in Matthew’s Gospel is it recorded Jesus’ prayer to the Father:

“I thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that you have hidden these things from the wise and understanding and revealed them to little children;26 yes, Father, for such was your gracious will.

The wise and the learned, the scribes, elders, rulers don’t get it.  Grace is His gift and then to trust in true faith the One who entered Jerusalem to save us all.  The children made sweet hosannas sing.  If you don’t get grace you do not get grace, though His grace is abundant through the Gospel.  The children get it, as do all who know they can not save themselves.  The prayer just cited is part of our Lord’s invitation, come to Me all who are burdened and heavy laden and I will give you rest, for my yoke is easy and my burden is light.  The children, along with the lame and the blind Jesus healed in Temple get it.  They were coming to Him just as He approached, the crowds laid down their cloaks, their spotted, soiled, sweat stained and sun-burned cloaks, even beautiful coats,  at His feet.  This laying down of the cloaks can mean to us the following:

First, laying down the cloak of deceit and sin,

“…we similarly are to deny ourselves, to denounce our fame, throw away our glory, remove from ourselves praise of self-righteousness. We are to give all glory to Christ alone. We are to acknowledge that only this King is able to do the highest good. His name alone is worthy of all glory (Psa. 115:1). That’s how the blessed elect in heaven toss their crowns before the throne of Christ and say: O Lord, not us, rather You alone are worthy to receive praise and glory and might (Rev. 4:11).” (Pastor and Professor Johann Gerhard)

 Secondly,  the laying down of the garment of sin reminds us that in Holy Baptism we are clothed in Christ, as it is written in Galatians 3: 27, for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ.  Christ Jesus is the Church’s “Sunday best”.  He is your Sunday best.

It is written in Jude 23:

“In the last time there will be scoffers, following their own ungodly passions.” 19 It is these who cause divisions, worldly people,devoid of the Spirit. 20 But you, beloved, building yourselves up in your most holy faith and praying in the Holy Spirit,21 keep yourselves in the love of God, waiting for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ that leads to eternal life. 22 And have mercy on those who doubt; 23 save others by snatching them out of the fire; to others show mercy with fear, hating even the garment stained by the flesh.

The Lord’s Sunday Best, His mercy, is for your neighbor as well.

 Thirdly,  The cloaks of sin can be laid down, when we see in mirror of God’s Law, the 10 commandments how filthy they become.  We lay that down in Confession and contrition.  He alone absolves, makes clean, as we prayed Psalm 51 some 40 days ago, this still is part of the Church’s prayer every day:

Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean;
    wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.

Baptized into His Name, the Name above all names,  washed us in His forgiveness or absolution. When we are tempted, we call upon the Name of the Lord. When we fall, we call upon the Name of the Lord.

Fourthly, The laying down of our cloaks reminds us of death, physical death, and the hope of the resurrection unto eternal life with Jesus.  Our souls will not go on naked in eternity but in Christ, who rose bodily from the dead we to shall so rise.  As it is written:

 For while we are still in this tent, we groan, being burdened—not that we would be unclothed, but that we would be further clothed, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life. He who has prepared us for this very thing is God, who has given us the Spirit as a guarantee. 2 Corinthians 5: 4-5

 Finally, this is the same Lord who chides us all about worrying about what we are to wear, And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, 29 yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. (St. Matthew 6)

Fair is the sunshine,
Fair is the moonlight,
Bright the sparkling stars on high;
Jesus shines brighter,
Jesus shines purer,
Than all the angels in the sky.

 Jesus’ light would not shine this week. The One who was transfigured before Peter, James and John would be disfigured, as the Prophet Isaiah foretold beyond all recognition and human semblance.  Stricken, smitten and afflicted by God, a  Man of sorrows and acquainted with grief (Isaiah 53) would Himself willingly cast aside the beauty of His cloth, seamless and whole and die naked on the cross. The crowds and the children sang Hosanna, literally, Lord help, Lord save. The children knew only Jesus could so ride by Himself into Jerusalem.

 It’s as if the apostle wants to say: There are many of those who preach themselves, who present dreams and ordinances of men, who direct everything to the end of themselves being held in high esteem. But that should not be. Christ alone must be set upon the colt. He alone with His Spirit and Word should rule in the hearts of mankind. His glory alone should be sought and proclaimed…(Pastor Gerhard)

 The Lord Jesus entered into the world in His first coming, His Nativity,  so He could enter into Jerusalem and so He will come again a third time in the Resurrection on the last day.  Thy Kingdom come is for that Day and for this hour now. He entered into Jerusalem so He enters His Church daily, and has made our bodies His temple receiving the fruits of His Cross, the fruits of the Holy Spirit.  Our Lord came down from heaven and died on the cross and has entered my heart. Hosanna to the Son of David, blessed is He who comes in the Name of the Lord.

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