Year C – First Sunday of Advent – Psalm 122

A Song of Ascents.  Of David.  I was glad when they said to me, “Let us go to the house of the LORD!”  Our feet have been standing within your gates, O Jerusalem!  Jerusalem–built as a city that is bound firmly together, to which the tribes go up, the tribes of the LORD, as was decreed for Israel, to give thanks to the name of the LORD.  There thrones for judgment were set, the thrones of the house of David.  Pray for the peace of Jerusalem!  “May they be secure who love you!  Peace be within your walls and security within your towers!”  For my brothers and companions’ sake I will say, “Peace be within you!”  For the sake of the house of the LORD our God, I will seek your good.

Summary – The Songs of Ascent (Pss. 120-134) were festal songs used by Israel as they “ascended” to Jerusalem for holidays, sacrifices, etc.  As the third in this set, Ps 122 follows sort of a “local progression.”  In Ps 120, the speaker/singer speaks of sojourning “in Meshech” (a warring tribe) and dwelling among “Kedar” (a pagan Ishmaelite tribe), “among those who hate peace.”  The singer begins singing the Songs of Ascent among warlike peoples, and heads towards Jerusalem (Heb. “Foundation of Peace).  In Ps 121, the singer “lifts up his eyes to the hills.”  Jerusalem is among the hills (Ps 125:2), and so the singer is looking towards his destination.  In our Psalm, 122, the singer has arrived in Jerusalem.  He was “glad” at the prospect of going up (vs 1), and is now standing within the walls (vs 2).  Prayer for the peace of that central city is a large part of the Psalm as well, with the purpose being maintaining the glorious state of the “house of the LORD” (vs 9) which resided in Jerusalem.

Insight – If you have read the Lord of the Rings, you know that Minas Tirith expected the return of their true King, the heir of Isildur.  Their kings were all descendants of their first king in Middle Earth, Elendil, though their power was less by the time of their last king, Earnur.  Finally, Aragorn, the heir arrived and began his kingdom.  As Advent season begins, our sights are set on the coming of Jesus Christ, the King of Kings.  In this Psalm, we read about the capitol of His Kingdom, Jerusalem, where “thrones for judgment were set, the thrones of the house of David” (vs 5).  Though there was a great span of time between the last King of Israel and Christ, Christ is the Heir of David who arrived and began His kingdom by disarming the previous rulers.  This week, be thankful for Christ’s throne, from which He shall reign forever and ever.

Child Catechism – Which king was Jesus descended from?  King David.

Discussion – What does the peace of Jerusalem mean in the New Covenant?  How can you seek the peace of Jerusalem?

Prayer – Our Lord and King, we give thanks to your name for bringing us within your gates and adopting us as your children.  We pray for peace among your people as we consider the coming of the Prince of Peace, for the sake of our brothers and sisters in Christ and also for the sake of the whole house of the Lord.  Help us to strive for the peace of our heavenly city, that the nations would see its light and come to it.  Through Christ, Amen

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Year C – First Sunday of Advent – 1 Thessalonians 3:9-13

1 Thessalonians 3:9-13 –  For what thanksgiving can we return to God for you, for all the joy that we feel for your sake before our God, 10 as we pray most earnestly night and day that we may see you face to face and supply what is lacking in your faith? 11 Now may our God and Father himself, and our Lord Jesus, direct our way to you, 12 and may the Lord make you increase and abound in love for one another and for all, as we do for you, 13 so that he may establish your hearts blameless in holiness before our God and Father, at the coming of our Lord Jesus with all his saints.

Summary- We read in Acts 17:1-10 that Paul and his companions had previously come to Thessalonica to preach the gospel.  After only a few short weeks, many Greeks came to put their faith in the Lord.  This caused such a stir, that jealous Jews formed a mob forcing Paul and his friends to flee the city.  For weeks or even months, Paul heard nothing from the new body of believers in the city, and feared that they may have walked away from the faith.  Paul sent Timothy to find out how the Thessalonicans were doing.  Our text today records Paul’s joyful reaction to the news that the new Christians had indeed remained firm in their faith.

Insight- Happy New Year! This Sunday marks the beginning of the new church year.  From now until Christmas day, we remember Christ’s first appearing in a small town in Bethlehem, while waiting in hope for Him to come back a second time.  What do you look forward to this advent season?  Will it be filled with singing, eating, and shopping?  Are you already feeling the excitement in setting up the Christmas tree?  What are you most looking forward to this advent season?  Now compare that thought with what the Thessalonicans looked forward to.  They faced threats, suffering and name-calling from people who didn’t love Jesus and didn’t like what Paul had preached in their city.  Despite all that, Paul told them to love those who made fun of them, who threatened them, who hurt them.  Can you imagine how hard it would have been to love people like that?  Well that is exactly what we are commanded to do.  Do you know anyone who will say, ” Bah, Humbug!” when you greet them with a “Merry Christmas?”  Do you have a neighbor who is alone and doesn’t know what this advent season is all about?  Well you need to tell them.  In fact, as Paul tells you that you need to love them.  How much did God love us by sending his son to Earth 2000 years ago?  How far did God’s love reach in his first advent?  It went far enough to reach even you.  Now God calls you to extend that love to your neighbor.  So invite them over for dinner.  Invite them to church.  Show them what it means to be loved.  Find a way to tell them what you already know, that they are not alone.  We have hope that he is coming back for us, now tell others what you already know.  He is coming back a second time.

Child Catechism— Q: Why must we love our neighbor this advent season? A: Because Christ is coming back a second time.

Discussion— What are some ways that you can love your unbelieving neighbors this advent season?

Prayer— Father God, we thank you for the love you showed us in sending your Son into the world to save us.  Father, we ask that you increase our love for those around us.  There are so many people who don’t know you.  Help us to show your love in how we celebrate this season.  Give us the courage to joyfully love others who don’t love you.  We ask all these things in the name of your glorious son, Jesus Christ, Amen.

Mike Fenimore

Year C – First Sunday of Advent – Luke 21:25-36

Luke 21:25–36 NRSV – “There will be signs in the sun, the moon, and the stars, and on the earth distress among nations confused by the roaring of the sea and the waves. People will faint from fear and foreboding of what is coming upon the world, for the powers of the heavens will be shaken. Then they will see ‘the Son of Man coming in a cloud’ with power and great glory. Now when these things begin to take place, stand up and raise your heads, because your redemption is drawing near.” Then he told them a parable: “Look at the fig tree and all the trees; as soon as they sprout leaves you can see for yourselves and know that summer is already near. So also, when you see these things taking place, you know that the kingdom of God is near. Truly I tell you, this generation will not pass away until all things have taken place. Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away. “Be on guard so that your hearts are not weighed down with dissipation and drunkenness and the worries of this life, and that day catch you unexpectedly, like a trap. For it will come upon all who live on the face of the whole earth. Be alert at all times, praying that you may have the strength to escape all these things that will take place, and to stand before the Son of Man.”

Summary – This passage is part of the Olivet Discourse,  a talk Jesus gave to a few of his disciples after leaving the temple in Jerusalem. He explains about the fall of Jerusalem, the destruction of the temple and his coming in judgment. The time-frame of when these things will happen is stated, “Truly I tell you, this generation will not pass away until all things have taken place.” So there is a clear indication this was to be fulfilled in the first century in a complex of events which culminated in the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 A.D. However, even if this was the primary fulfillment, the emphasis here is on the calamity and judgment that will befall those not “on guard” or who do not “stay alert.”  When judgment comes there’s no time (Lk. 17:31) to go take care of your family. So “Be on guard” and don’t let “that day catch you unexpectedly, like a trap” . . . Be alert at all times.” The result is that we must be able “to stand before the Son of Man.”

Insight – Have you been surprised by anyone recently? A few years ago I arranged for longtime friends to surprise my wife at our door. So she answered the door and was completely surprised at seeing her good friends. This was a “good surprise.” But how about a bad surprise, like when someone tries to play a prank and scares you, maybe by hiding in a closet and jumping out to frighten you.  Sometimes calamities befall us and we get terribly bad news about a friend or relative. Jesus warned the disciples that a judgment was coming and it surely came for Jerusalem. While we may not be facing such a judgment in history, such as the fall of a nation or a sudden destruction (although that could be in our future), the principle of always being ready and being alert spiritually always applies. We need to confess our sins and walk in love. We need to put away bitterness and love others. We always need to have our house in order spiritually and relationally so that we could joyfully meet our Lord Jesus at any time. Jesus may not be coming soon but you may soon go to him.

Catechism – Why should we be alert at all times? We should always be ready to meet Jesus.

Discussion – If you knew your world would end today at 6 pm, what would you want to do before then?

Prayer  – O Lord we confess that you are our almighty and righteous Judge and we plead for your mercy in our lives as we are also merciful to others. Grant that we may always be prepared to meet you, clothed in the grace and righteousness of Jesus Christ our Savior. We thank you for this in Christ’s name. Amen.

Year B – Reign of Christ (Proper 29) – Revelation 1:4-8

4 John to the seven churches that are in Asia: Grace to you and peace from him who is and who was and who is to come, and from the seven spirits who are before his throne,5and from Jesus Christ, the faithful witness, the firstborn of the dead, and the ruler of the kings of the earth. To him who loves us and freed us from our sins by his blood,6and made us to be a kingdom, priests serving his God and Father, to him be glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen. 7 Look! He is coming with the clouds; every eye will see him, even those who pierced him; and on his account all the tribes of the earth will wail. So it is to be. Amen. 8 ‘I am the Alpha and the Omega’, says the Lord God, who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty.

Summary— John addresses this letter—an account of his vision—to the seven Asian churches.  These were seven real churches, as chapters 2 and 3 make clear, but in a letter so full of numeric significance, there can be no question that the seven churches also stood for the fullness of the catholic Church.  John greets them with grace and peace from the Trinity: him who is and who was and who is to come (the Father), and from the seven spirits who are before his throne (the Spirit),and from Jesus Christ. John lists these Persons in a liturgical rather than theological order: he has just been ushered into the heavenly Sanctuary (after which the earthly sanctuary was pattered), and so his eyes move outward from the ark of the Holiest Place (by which he recognizes the Father) toward the lamp stand (by which He recognizes the Spirit, who pours Himself into the Church in seven-fold fullness; Zech. 4), and then further outward still, toward the sacrificial altar in the courtyard (by which he recognizes Jesus, Priest and Sacrifice). Recognizing Jesus—the faithful witness, the firstborn from the dead, and the ruler of the kings of the earth—John can’t contain his praise (5-6)!  Finally, John breaks into his vision’s main point, in v.7: Jesus is coming soon—in “judgment clouds,” as it were (see Nah. 1:2-8)—for the very ones “who pierced Him,” so that all the tribes of the earth (or “Land,” so, tribes of Israel) will wail.  This was fulfilled through the Roman sacking of Jerusalem, in AD 70.

Insight— The Spirit is “before the throne” (4b) on the Lord’s Day (v.10), meaning that all this is happening in the official worship service. This in turn means that Jesus Christ is revealed (1:1) in the liturgy

Child Catechism—
Q:
  What is the point of the Revelation?
A: That Jesus was soon coming to judge Israel.

Discussion— What are the “grace” and “peace” which John extends to his readers from the Trinity?

Prayer— O God, Your Son, Jesus Christ, came in the clouds, and His judgment was seen by those who pierced Him, and on His account all the tribes of Israel wailed.  He is the faithful witness, the firstborn from the dead, and the ruler of the kings of the earth!  He loves us and freed us from our sins by His blood, and made us to be a kingdom, priests serving You, His God and Father; so, to Him be glory and dominion for ever and ever.  AMEN.

Contributed by Scott Cline

Year B – For All the Saints

For All the Saints – In his Institutes of the Christian Religion, John Calvin says, “Whatever be the kind of tribulation with which we are afflicted, we should always consider the end of it to be, that we may be trained to despise the present, and thereby stimulated to aspire to the future life.” (Inst. 3.9.1)  In the midst of persecution and strife of Calvin’s time, he was sustained by the  expectation of glory, and indeed has now achieved that which we will sing about in this hymn.  “For All the Saints,” leads us in declaration of our hope.  For though we may face trouble in this life, we may trust in God’s holding of all things in His hands.  They hymn may be broken into 3 parts, which we will now briefly consider.

The first three verses lay out the context of the “saints who have gone before.”  It is a clear echo of Hebrews 11, and we sing of these saints who confessed their faith boldly before the world (verse 1).  These saints were emboldened by God who was their “Rock, their Fortress, and their Might” as well as their “Captain” and their “one true light” in the darkness of their tribulation (verse 2).  Here we see their example powerfully: it was only by virtue of their unwavering faith and hope in the Lord that they were able to remain faithful.  And so we petition in verse 3 that we, God’s “soldiers,” may “fight as the saints who nobly fought of old.”  We truly desire to follow their example.

Verses 4-6 focus again more on us here as God’s soldiers fighting now, but with the victories of the saints who went before close-by in our thoughts.  For though we struggle feebly now, now “in glory” they “shine” (verse 4).  When our trouble is great, we are enjoined to remember “their distant triumph song” and gain strength for the fight (verse 5).  Verse 6 reminds us, too, that the “rest” of death will come to “faithful warriors.”  Calvin’s words are again helpful here, as he says, “If we reflect that by death we are recalled from exile to inhabit our native country…shall this give us no comfort?” (Institutes 3.9.5)

Finally, in verses 7-8 we sing of that “more glorious day.”  That day of Resurrection when the saints rise together “in bright array” (verse 7) and stream through “gates of pearl” (verse 8) to sing in praise “to Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.”  Back to brother Calvin, who no doubt sees this more clearly now than we do, says that as we learn to bear our present struggles, we will “turn [our] eye to that day, on which the Lord will receive his faithful servants, wipe away all tears from their eyes, clothe them in a robe of glory and joy, feed them with the ineffable sweetness of his pleasures, exalt them to share with him in his greatness; in fine, admit them to a participation in his happiness.”  And finally, “To conclude in one word, the cross of Christ then only triumphs in the breasts of believers over the devil and the flesh, sin and sinners, when their eyes are directed to the power of his resurrection.” (Institutes 3.9.6)

As we ascend to the heavenly places this Lord’s Day, we remember that we are joined by that great company of Saints on high, and so may we gain comfort and hope in life and death, for we are not our own, but belong body and soul to our faithful Savior Jesus Christ.

Jon Herr

Year B – Proper 29 – John 18:33-37

John 18:33-37 – Then Pilate entered the headquarters again, summoned Jesus, and asked him, “Are you the King of the Jews?” 18:34 Jesus answered, “Do you ask this on your own, or did others tell you about me?” 18:35 Pilate replied, “I am not a Jew, am I? Your own nation and the chief priests have handed you over to me. What have you done?” 18:36 Jesus answered, “My kingdom is not from this world. If my kingdom were from this world, my followers would be fighting to keep me from being handed over to the Jews. But as it is, my kingdom is not from here.” 18:37 Pilate asked him, “So you are a king?” Jesus answered, “You say that I am a king. For this I was born, and for this I came into the world, to testify to the truth. Everyone who belongs to the truth listens to my voice.”

Summary – In this passage Jesus is questioned by Pilot as part of his trial. The questions focus on whether Jesus is a king. Jesus teaches his kingdom is not from this world. Jesus speaks to Pilot and explains that He is not trying to be a worldly Ruler. He explains that His followers don’t take up swords to fight to bring in His kingdom. Jesus says that everyone who belongs to the truth listens to Him.

Insight – Where are you from? Where were you born? Jesus is talking about his place of origin – heaven. Many Christians have taken this passage to mean that the kingdom of God does not relate to matters of this world at all. But this passage only teaches that the kingdom of God does not originate from the world. However it does have an effect on the world. The kingdom of God is from heaven, it is to rule over the earth. We are to pray his kingdom come on earth as it is in heaven. Yet the kingdom that comes from heaven does not use military force or power. The kingdom works through the atoning sacrifice of Christ which is proclaimed in the gospel and  the sacraments. As the kingdom transforms the world like yeast then it will affect every aspect of life.

Catechism – Where is Christ’s kingdom from? Christ’s kingdom is from heaven.

Discussion – How does God’s kingdom rule from heaven influence earth? Can you think of a historical example of how the gospel has affected the world?

Prayer – Heavenly Father, we thank you for the sacrificial work of our Lord Jesus, who after his trial was crucified for our sins. We praise you that through the cross we have a redemptive kingdom which is not from the this world. Therefore we pray your kingdom come on earth as it is in heaven. In Christ’s Name, Amen.

Year B – Proper 28 – My Soul Now Bless Thy Maker (Psalm 103)

The wonderful hymn-like version of Psalm 103 in Cantus Christi hymnal is “My Soul, Now Bless Thy Maker” by Johann Gramann, 1487-1541. This hymn was written early in the Reformation, about 1525 and the melodious and joyful tune comes from Augsburg in 1540. The text was translated by Catherine Winkworth, 1863. It is a great encouragement to remember that our Covenant Lord “leaves no sufferer friendless, But rights the wronged at last.”

1. My soul, now bless thy Maker!
Let all within me bless His name
Who maketh thee partaker
Of mercies more than thou dar’st claim.
Forget Him not whose meekness
Still bears with all thy sin,
Who healeth all thy weakness,
Renews thy life within;
Whose grace and care are endless
And saved thee through the past;
Who leaves no sufferer friendless,
But rights the wronged at last.

2. He shows to man His treasure
Of judgment, truth, and righteousness,
His love beyond all measure,
His yearning pity o’er distress,
Nor treats us as we merit,
But lays His anger by,
The humble, contrite spirit
Finds His compassion nigh;
And high as heaven above us,
As break from close of day,
So far, since He doth love us,
He puts our sins away.

3. For as a tender father
Hath pity on his children here,
He in His arms will gather
All who are His in childlike fear.
He knows how frail our powers
Who but from dust are made;
We flourish like the fowers,
And even so we fade;
The wind but o’er them passes,
And all their bloom is o’er,-
We wither like the grasses,
Our place knows us no more.

4. God’s grace alone endureth,
And children’s children yet shall prove
How He with strength assureth
The hearts of all that seek His love.
In heaven is fixed His dwelling,
His rule is over all;
Angels, in might excelling,
Bright hosts, before Him fall.
Praise Him, who ever reigneth,
All ye who hear His Word,
Nor our poor hymns disdaineth-
My soul, oh, bless the Lord!

 

Year B – Proper 28 – Mark 13:1-8

Mark 13:1–8 NRSV – “As he came out of the temple, one of his disciples said to him, “Look, Teacher, what large stones and what large buildings!” Then Jesus asked him, “Do you see these great buildings? Not one stone will be left here upon another; all will be thrown down.” When he was sitting on the Mount of Olives opposite the temple, Peter, James, John, and Andrew asked him privately, “Tell us, when will this be, and what will be the sign that all these things are about to be accomplished?” Then Jesus began to say to them, “Beware that no one leads you astray. Many will come in my name and say, ‘I am he!’ and they will lead many astray. When you hear of wars and rumors of wars, do not be alarmed; this must take place, but the end is still to come. For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom; there will be earthquakes in various places; there will be famines. This is but the beginning of the birthpangs.”

Summary – This is the beginning of a passage known as the Olivet Discourse. The focus of this text is the destruction of the  Temple, “what large stones and what large buildings.” Jesus explains that, “Not one stone will be left here upon another; all will be thrown down.” Jesus explains the signs of when this will come to pass. There will be false leaders coming in Christ’s name, wars and rumors of wars, nation against nation, earthquakes, and famines. This the beginning of the birthpangs.

Insight – Many have thought this passage is about the “end” of the world, rather than the “end” of the old order of the Jewish Temple-system. While it is true that Christ will come at the end of history to judge the living and the dead (John 5:28-29), I am persuaded this passage is  about the end of the old covenant age which concluded with the destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem in 70 AD. This discussion begins with the Temple. Jesus says the stones of the first century Temple will be torn down. That happened in 70 AD. Also this is referring to only one area, Jerusalem in Judea. In vs 14 He says, “then those in Judea must flee to the mountains.” But most importantly He practically dates the fulfillment to the first century when He says in Mark 13:30 “Truly I tell you, this generation will not pass away until all these things have taken place.” “This generation” simply refers to those who were living at the time Christ spoke these words. Since the Temple was destroyed during that very generation, we should see this text as a great proof that Jesus keeps His word.

Catechism – What did Jesus predict would happen within a generation? The temple in Jerusalem would be destroyed.

Discussion – Why would God allow the Temple in Jerusalem to be destroyed by the Roman General Titus?

Prayer – Our Heavenly Father, we thank you for your Word and its truth. We thank you that you sent Jesus to be our savior and that His body is the true temple of God. What you have promised you will fulfill and we trust you. In Jesus Name, Amen.

Year B – Proper 28 – 1 Sam 1:4-20 and 2:1-10

On the day when Elkanah sacrificed, he would give portions to Peninnah his wife and to all her sons and daughters.  But to Hannah he gave a double portion, because he loved her, though the Lord had closed her womb.  And her rival used to provoke her grievously to irritate her, because the Lord had closed her womb.  So it went on year by year.  As often as she went up to the house of the Lord, she used to provoke her.  Therefore Hannah wept and would not eat.  And Elkanah, her husband, said to her, “Hannah, why do you weep?  And why do you not eat?  And why is your heart sad?  Am I not more to you than ten sons?”  After they had eaten and drunk in Shiloh, Hannah rose.  Now Eli the priest was sitting on the seat beside the doorpost of the temple of the Lord.  She was deeply distressed and prayed to the Lord and wept bitterly.  And she vowed a vow and said, “O Lord of hosts, if you will indeed look on the affliction of your servant and remember me and not forget your servant, but will give to your servant a son, then I will give him to the Lord all the days of his life, and no razor shall touch his head.”  As she continued praying before the Lord, Eli observed her mouth.  Hannah was speaking in her heart; only her lips moved, and her voice was not heard.  Therefore Eli took her to be a drunken woman.  And Eli said to her, “How long will you go on being drunk?  Put away your wine from you.”  But Hannah answered, “No, my lord, I am a woman troubled in spirit.  I have drunk neither wine nor strong drink, but I have been pouring out my soul before the Lord.  Do not regard your servant as a worthless woman, for all along I have been speaking out of my great anxiety and vexation.”  Then Eli answered, “Go in peace, and the God of Israel grant your petition that you have made to him.”  And she said, “Let your servant find favor in your eyes.”  Then the woman went her way and ate, and her face was no longer sad.  They rose early in the morning and worshiped before the Lord; then they went back to their house at Ramah.  And Elkanah knew Hannah his wife, and the Lord remembered her.  And in due time Hannah conceived and bore a son, and she called his name Samuel, for she said, “I have asked for him from the Lord.” . . . And Hannah prayed and said, “My heart exults in the Lord; my strength is exalted in the Lord.  My mouth derides my enemies, because I rejoice in your salvation.  There is none holy like the Lord; there is none besides you;  there is no rock like our God.  Talk no more so very proudly, let not arrogance come from your mouth; for the Lord is a God of knowledge, and by him actions are weighed.  The bows of the mighty are broken, but the feeble bind on strength.  Those who were full have hired themselves out for bread, but those who were hungry have ceased to hunger.  The barren has borne seven, but she who has many children is forlorn.  The Lord kills and brings to life; he brings down to Sheol and raises up.  The Lord makes poor and makes rich; he brings low and he exalts.  He raises up the poor from the dust; he lifts the needy from the ash heap to make them sit with princes and inherit a seat of honor.  For the pillars of the earth are the Lord’s, and on them he has set the world.  He will guard the feet of his faithful ones, but the wicked shall be cut off in darkness, for not by might shall a man prevail.  The adversaries of the Lord shall be broken to pieces; against them he will thunder in heaven.  The Lord will judge the ends of the earth; he will give strength to his king and exalt the power of his anointed.”

 

Summary – There are two main sections of this passage: the narrative and the psalm.  The first bit tells us the story of Hannah, who was barren, as she prays to the Lord to bless her with a child, promising that if she is, the child will be dedicated to the Lord’s service as a priest.  During her prayer, the priest Eli think she is drunk but, on finding out what her true state was, blesses her and she goes on her way.  Following her prayers being answered through her bearing a son, Samuel, we have her poetic song of praise to God.

 

Insight – Have you ever begged and begged your parents for something?  Maybe a special toy or game, or maybe a trip to a special place?  When they surprised you by giving you what you asked for, what was your response?  Surely you got excited, but then what?  Did you just go off and play with the game?  It can be difficult, when those who have authority and responsibility over our lives bless us with something, to remember who provided that thing.  In this Bible story, Hannah teaches us the proper way to go about things.  First, she prayed and asked God to give her what she desired, not believing that she deserved it, but putting it only up to God’s grace.  Second, she promised that she wouldn’t keep her desired child for herself, but rather God could have him.  Third, she didn’t forget!  The third step is the most important.  The first two are great, but if God blesses us with something and we forget to praise HIm for giving it to us out of His grace, and we forget to use that thing for HIs glory, He doesn’t ultimately get the credit.  Whenever we are blessed by God, we can follow Hannah’s lead and pray a prayer of thanksgiving, recognizing that our great God is over all things, and blesses those He wishes.

 

Child Catechism – What should you do when God blesses you with something?  Praise Him for it.

 

Discussion – Can you think of times when you forgot to thank God for something He did?  Read over Hannah’s song of praise again, what are some things we learn about God from it?  How could we model our thanksgiving to God off of Hannah’s psalm?

 

Prayer – Our Almighty God, we are made joyful by your triumph over your enemies.  No one is like you.  You bless the humble, and cause the proud to be put down.  You are over all things, and nothing happens that you don’t cause.  Since we are confident that “not by might shall a man prevail,” we ask that your might alone sustain us in this life and give us what we need to live godly lives.  In Christ’s name, Amen.

Year B – Proper 27 – Hebrews 9:24-28

24For Christ did not enter a sanctuary made by human hands, a mere copy of the true one, but he entered into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God on our behalf.25Nor was it to offer himself again and again, as the high priest enters the Holy Place year after year with blood that is not his own;26for then he would have had to suffer again and again since the foundation of the world. But as it is, he has appeared once for all at the end of the age to remove sin by the sacrifice of himself.27And just as it is appointed for mortals to die once, and after that the judgement,28so Christ, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time, not to deal with sin, but to save those who are eagerly waiting for him.

Summary— The Old Covenant was like a “will”: it promised God’s People an eternal inheritance, but it could not deliver on that promise by itself: it looked to the New Covenant, which could redeem God’s people from the sins they committed while under the Old Covenant (9:15).  The New Covenant is the completion of that “will,” but the inheritance promised in a will is not given until the one who wrote the will dies (9:16, 17).  The blood of calves and goats was temporary, typological scaffolding around the “will,” while it was being built (9:18-22); but, but for the completed will—the New Covenant—to deliver the promised inheritance, the One who wrote the will needed to die, and His blood needed to be offered, not in a sanctuary made with human hands (a mere copy of the True Sanctuary), but in Heaven itself (23, 24).

Insight— Since Christ, the One who wrote the will, has died, we may receive our inheritance.  But not yet—not fully.  Oh, sure, we’ll go to heaven when we die, but that’s not our inheritance: that’s just a temporary layover.  We won’t settle for a heavenly layover—the will promised us far more than that: the will promised us the earth (Matt. 5:5, Rom. 4:13).  So our will required not only the death of the One who wrote it, but also His resurrection and ascension, so that He could appear a second time to save what is waiting to be saved (v.28), which includes the earth (Rom. 8:19-22).  That’s when we’ll receive the fullness of our inheritance.

Child Catechism—
Q:
What had to happen for us to receive the inheritance God promised us?
A: God had to die.

Discussion— If the earthly sanctuary was only a copy of the heavenly, is it possible that other earthly things are likewise only copies and shadows of heavenly realities?

Prayer— Almighty and Everlasting God, Christ did not enter a sanctuary made by human hands, a mere copy of the True One, but He entered into Heaven itself, now to appear in Your presence on our behalf.  Nor was it to offer Himself again and again, as the high priest used to enter the holy place year after year with blood that was not his own.  But Christ appeared once for all at the end of the ages to remove sin by the sacrifice of Himself.  And just as it is appointed for mortals to die once, and after that the judgment, so Christ, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time not to deal with sin, but to save us.  Grant that we might eagerly wait for Him who always lives with You and the Holy Spirit, one God forever.  AMEN.

Contributed by Scott Cline