The Holy Trinity
Genesis 1:1-2:4a; Ps. 8:1-9 ; Acts 2:14a, 22-36; Matthew 28:16-20
The Holy Triune God Recreates Us in the Image and Likeness of Christ Jesus
The Holy Triune God “created the heavens and the earth,” and “behold, it was very good” (Gen. 1:1, 31). However, after Adam and Eve fell into sin and plunged God’s good creation into decay and death, the Son of God would be “delivered up according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God” to be “crucified and killed by the hands of lawless men” (Acts 2:23). As Jesus “received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit” (Acts 2:33), He also raises up all the baptized and pours out the Spirit upon them through the preaching of His Gospel. He sends out His Apostles to “make disciples of all nations” by “baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,” and “teaching them to observe all that [He has] commanded” (Matt. 28:19-20). Through such baptizing and teaching-Gospel and Sacraments-the Holy Triune God recreates us in the Image and Likeness of His incarnate Son, Jesus the Christ, and behold, it is “very good” (Gen. 1:31).
Proper 6 (12-18 June)
Exodus 19:2-8; Ps. 100:1-5; Romans 5:6-15; Matthew 9:35-10:8 (9-20)
The Lord Our God Saves Us in Love and Cares for Us by the Ministry of His Gospel
The holy Triune God “shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners,” ungodly and at enmity with Him, “Christ died for us” (Rom. 5:8). The incarnate Son has justified us by His blood and reconciled us to His God and Father (Rom. 5:9-10). Whereas sin and death originated with Adam, forgiveness and life abound for all his children “through the one man Jesus Christ” (Rom. 5:12-17). As the Lord brought Israel out of Egypt, so does He bring us to Himself by the Gospel and make of us “a kingdom of priests and a holy nation” (Ex. 19:6) by our Baptism into Christ. For “all that the Lord has spoken” (Ex. 19:8), Christ has done for us. As He has gone up to God by His cross and resurrection, so does He bring us to the Father in Himself (Ex. 19:3-4). Nor does He leave us “harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd” (Matt. 9:36), but He sends men with authority “to heal every disease and every affliction” by His forgiveness of sins (Matt. 10:1). In their proclamation, “the kingdom of heaven is at hand” (Matt. 10:7).
Proper 7 (19-25 June)
Jeremiah 20:7-13; Ps. 91:1-16; Romans 6:12-23; Matthew 10:5a, 21-33
Delivered from Sin and Death, You Now Live before God in the Righteousness of Christ
The outcome of sin is death, “but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Rom. 6:23). He has set you free from the slavery of sin and has brought you “from death to life” (Rom. 6:13). No longer are you under the condemnation of the Law, but you live “under grace” (Rom. 6:14). Such is your courage in the face of “those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul” (Matt. 10:28). For though “you will be hated by all” and maligned by the world for the name of Christ (Matt. 10:22, 25), you abide in the care of your Father in heaven, who numbers “even the hairs of your head” and values you more “than many sparrows” (Matt. 10:30-31). By the Word of Christ, you have become like Him, your Teacher and Master in whom you endure to the end, and “will be saved” (Matt. 10:22, 25). For He is with you “as a dread warrior,” who has overcome your enemies (Jer. 20:11). By the righteousness of faith, He delivers your heart, mind, body and life “from the hand of evildoers,” and He brings you into the land of the living (Jer. 20:12-13).
Proper 8 (June 26-July 2)
Jeremiah 28:5-9; Ps. 119:153-160; Romans 7:1-13; Matthew 10:34-42
The Lord Jesus Brings Division on Earth for the Sake of Peace with God in Heaven
False prophets preach what their hearers want to hear, promising peace even when the Lord has spoken “war, famine, and pestilence” (Jer. 28:8). But if “the Lord has truly sent the prophet,” he speaks what the Lord has spoken, and “the word of that prophet comes to pass” (Jer. 28:9). The preaching of God’s Law is hard, because it confronts sin, brings it to light and makes it worse, “sinful beyond measure,” thereby “producing death” in the sinner (Rom. 7:13). But through our Baptism into Christ, “we are released from the law, having died to that which held us captive” (Rom. 7:6). Now we belong “to Him who has been raised from the dead, in order that we may bear fruit for God” (Rom. 7:4). Belonging to Him puts us at odds with the world and divides us from all earthly ties, not only from our human family, but each person from his own life. For Christ does not come “to bring peace, but a sword” (Matt. 10:34). Yet, whoever takes up his cross to follow Christ, and “loses his life” for Christ’s sake, finds new life in Him (Matt. 10:38-39).
Proper 9 (July 3-9)
Zechariah 9:9-12; Ps. 145:1-14; Romans 7:14-25a; Matthew 11:25-30
Jesus Christ, Our Savior, Is Our True Peace and Sabbath Rest
Though we have died with Christ in Holy Baptism, and we are raised to new life in Him, we find “another law waging war” in our body and life, that is, between our old Adam and the New Man (Rom. 7:23). By the Spirit of Christ, we “desire to do what is right,” but we are not able to do so, because “nothing good” dwells in our sinful flesh (Rom. 7:18). “Thanks be to God,” therefore, “through Jesus Christ our Lord,” who delivers us from “this body of death” (Rom. 7:24-25). We rejoice in Him, our gentle King, who comes “righteous and having salvation” (Zech. 9:9). He speaks peace to our embattled hearts, and by His Blood of the New Testament He sets us “free from the waterless pit,” and He returns us to the stronghold of our Baptism (Zech. 9:10-12). Though we “labor and are heavy laden,” He calls us to Himself and gives rest to our souls through His free and full forgiveness (Matt. 11:28), not because we are “wise and understanding,” but by the “gracious will” of God the Father, whom “the Son chooses to reveal” in love (Matt. 11:25-27).
Proper 10 (10-16 July)
Isaiah 55:10-13; Ps. 65:1-13; Romans 8:12-17; Matthew 13:1-9, 18-23
The Preaching of the Word of Christ Bears the Good Fruits of Faith and Love
As “the rain and the snow come down from heaven” and “water the earth, making it bring forth and sprout” (Is. 55:10), so the Word of God accomplishes the purpose for which He speaks it, granting joy and peace through the forgiveness of sins and producing the fruits of faith and love in those who are called by His Name. Christ Jesus, the incarnate Word, has established the Name of the Lord as “an everlasting sign that shall not be cut off” (Is. 55:13). He opens our ears to hear, our minds to understand, and our hearts to believe His Word, lest the evil one come and snatch it away. He thus transforms our rocky hearts into good soil, which clings to the Gospel and “indeed bears fruit” (Matt. 13:23). He is Himself the firstfruits of all who “have received the Spirit of adoption as sons” (Rom. 8:15). Thus being “led by the Spirit of God,” we are not afraid, but we cry out in faith to our Father in heaven (Rom. 8:14-15). For as we suffer with Christ, the beloved Son, so shall we “also be glorified with Him” (Rom. 8:17).
Proper 11 (17-23 July)
Isaiah 44:6-8; Ps. 119:57-64; Romans 8:18-27; Matthew 13:24-30, 36-43
The Word of the Gospel Bestows the Righteousness of Christ and Brings Forth Faith
The good Seed, which is “the Son of Man,” Jesus Himself (Matt. 13:37), brings forth a harvest of faith and bears good fruits in “the children of the kingdom” (Matt. 13:38). Whatever is sown apart from His Word is of the devil, who plants the weeds of unbelief and sin, even among the people of God. Thankfully, the Lord is patient and He does not uproot the weeds, lest the plants also be destroyed. He lets “both grow together until the harvest” (Matt. 13:30) while He continues to preach repentance and forgiveness of sins. Thus He preserves His Church in righteousness, because He alone is “the King of Israel and his Redeemer” (Is. 44:6). Since all things are in His gracious care and keeping, “fear not, nor be afraid” (Is. 44:8). For “the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God” (Rom. 8:19), and in this hope we also wait with patience. Though we do not yet see it, “the Spirit helps us in our weakness” (Rom. 8:26) and, in truth, “the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us” (Rom. 8:18).
Proper 12 (24-30 July)
Deuteronomy 7:6-9; Ps. 125:1-5; Romans 8:28-39; Matthew 13:44-52
The Son of God Has Redeemed Us for Himself with His Holy and Precious Blood
The Lord our God has chosen us to be “His treasured possession,” not because of any strength in us, but solely “because the Lord loves” us (Deut. 7:6-8). He is faithful, and He “keeps covenant and steadfast love with those who love Him and keep His commandments” (Deut. 7:9). He has searched for us and found us in love, and He has bestowed on us “great value” by the great price that He has paid on the cross (Matt. 13:45-46). In His joy, He has redeemed us by His cross and gathered us into His Kingdom by the Gospel. Now we are “hidden in a field,” covered by the cross and subject to the persecution of the world (Matt. 13:44), not for destruction, but “to be conformed to the image of His Son” (Rom. 8:29). Since we “are called according to His purpose” (Rom. 8:28), and because Christ Jesus died, rose again, and lives to intercede for us “at the right hand of God” (Rom. 8:34), there is nothing in all creation that can separate us from “the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Rom. 8:39).
Proper 13 (31 July - 06 August)
Isaiah 55:1-5; Ps. 136:1-9, 23-26; Romans 9:1-5, 6-13; Matthew 14:13-21
Christ Jesus, the Living Bread from Heaven, Feeds the Children of God.
By the Gospel of “the Christ who is God over all, blessed forever” (Rom. 9:5), we are “the children of God” (Rom. 9:8), “not because of works but because of His call” (Rom. 9:11). Therefore, “listen diligently,” and “hear, that your soul may live.” By His sacrificial death in His flesh and blood He has made “an everlasting covenant” for us. Since He now calls us to Himself, we come to Him “and eat what is good, and delight … in rich food” (Is. 55:2-3). He has come with divine compassion to save us from sin and death and to feed us with Himself. As our Lord Jesus once took bread, “said a blessing,” broke the loaves, “and gave them to the disciples, and the disciples gave them to the crowds” (Matt. 14:18-19), He also now takes bread, blesses it by His Word to be His very Body, and distributes it to His Church by the hand of His called and ordained servants. Just as “they took up twelve baskets full of the broken pieces,” there is more than enough for His whole Church to eat and to be satisfied (Matt. 14:20).
Proper 14 (07-13 August)
Job 38:4-18; Ps. 18:1-6, 7-16; Romans 10:5-17; Matthew 14:22-33
Christ the Crucified Comes to Save Us by the Word of Faith.
The Lord who “laid the foundation of the earth” (Job 38:4) is the Author and Giver of life who governs all things by His Word. His wisdom and power are beyond our understanding, except as He reveals Himself in the incarnate Word, Christ Jesus. He has “entered into the springs of the sea” and “walked in the recesses of the deep” (Job 38:16), and He draws near to us in mercy. We have been “a long way from the land, beaten by the waves,” and tossed about by hostile winds (Matt. 14:24). In our mortality and sinful unbelief, we do not always recognize the Lord Jesus. But as we cry out in fear, He speaks tenderly to us: “Do not be afraid,” and He reaches out His hand to save us (Matt. 14:27, 31). “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved” (Rom. 10:13), and now we call upon Him in faith, because we have heard “through the Word of Christ” (Rom. 10:17). “The Word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart” (Rom. 10:8).
Proper 15 (14-20 August)
Isaiah 56:1, 6-8; Ps. 67:1-7; Romans 11:1-2a, 13-15, 28-32; Matthew 15:21-28
The Church Lives Under the Cross of Christ and Prays in the Hope of His Mercy
By her persistent prayer that Jesus would have mercy and help her (Matt. 15:22, 24), and even in the face of His initial silence and apparent rejection (Matt. 15:23-26), the Canaanite woman boldly confessed her faith in Him (Matt 15:28). Her beautiful example encourages us to cling to the words and promises of the Gospel, even in the face of the Law that accuses and condemns us. “For the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable” (Rom. 10:29), and His Law “has consigned all to disobedience” for the very purpose “that He may have mercy on all” (Rom. 10:32). Hence, the woman’s faith and hope were not disappointed, but her prayers were answered in the mercy of Christ. Not only does He grant us the crumbs from His Table, but He also feeds us with “the children’s bread” in the house of His Father (Matt. 15:26-27). He has brought us to His “holy mountain,” and He makes us joyful in His house, where He hears our prayers and accepts our sacrifice of praise upon the altar of His cross (Is. 56:7).
Proper 16 (21-27 August)
Isaiah 51:1-6; Ps. 138:1-8 ; Romans 11:33-12:8; Matthew 16:13-20
The Lord Jesus Christ is the Son of the Living God
Jesus asked His disciples: “But who do you say that I am?” The question is also put to us: “Who do you say that He is?” Flesh and blood do not reveal this to us, but by the Ministry of the Gospel the Father in heaven reveals His Son to us on earth, who has become flesh and suffered death for our salvation. Thus we believe and confess that He is “the Christ, the Son of the living God” (Matt 16:16). As He died for our transgressions and was raised for our justification, He looses us from all our sins and preserves our life within His Church, against which even “the gates of hell shall not prevail” (Matt. 16:18-19). His salvation is forever, and His righteousness “will never be dismayed” (Is. 51:6). He comforts us with the Gospel in His Church, so that “joy and gladness will be found in her, thanksgiving and the voice of song” (Is. 51:3). Therefore, “according to the measure of faith that God has assigned” (Rom. 12:3), we also offer ourselves “as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God” (Rom. 12:1) through Jesus Christ, our Lord.
Proper 17 (28 August – 03 Sept)
Jeremiah 15:15-21; Ps. 26:1-12; Romans 12:9-21; Matthew 16:21-28
The Glory of God is the Passion and Cross of Christ Jesus.
After St. Peter confessed that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the living God, our Lord “began to show His disciples that He must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and on the third day be raised” (Matt 16:21). Upon hearing this “theology of the Cross,” Simon Peter stumbled into a satanic “theology of glory.” But the glory of God is revealed in the Passion and Cross of His incarnate Son. The faithful prophets, such as Jeremiah, suffered persecution and rejection in anticipation of Jesus’ Cross. Yet the Lord did not abandon them; He remembered them, and He was with them to deliver them (Jer. 15:15-20). By His Cross Jesus has redeemed the world, and in His Resurrection He has vindicated all who trust in Him. Thus the Christian life is a discipleship of self-sacrificing love. Since Christ Jesus has reconciled us to God, we “live peaceably with all” (Rom. 12:18). By the certainty of His Cross and Resurrection, we “rejoice in hope,” and we are “patient in tribulation” and “constant in prayer” (Rom. 12:12).
Proper 18 (04-10 September)
Ezekiel 33:7-9; Ps. 32:1-7; Romans 13:1-10; Matthew 18:1-20
Living as Humble Little Children of the Father
True greatness is not self-sufficient strength, but humility like that of a little child. The greatness of child-like faith receives all good things as gracious gifts from our Father in heaven. Apart from such faith, “you will never enter the kingdom of heaven,” but whoever is humbled like a little child will be “the greatest in the kingdom of heaven” (Matt. 18:3-4). Though in our sin we deserve to be “drowned in the depth of the sea” (Matt. 18:6), we have instead been drowned (“buried”) with Christ in Baptism and then raised to the new, humble life of a child of God. The Lord sends His watchman to warn us with a word from His mouth, in order that we may not die in our iniquity, but be turned from our pride and selfishness to live (Ezek. 33:7-9). Thus we live in humility and faith before God as well as in love for our neighbor, which “is the fulfilling of the law” (Rom. 13:10). In the reverent fear of God, we do no harm to our neighbor, but we “pay to all what is owed to them” (Rom. 13:7) and we “owe no one anything, except to love each other” (Rom. 13:8).
Proper 19 (11-17 September)
Genesis 50:15-21; Ps. 103:1-12; Romans 14:1-12; Matthew 18:21-35
Forgiving as the Lord Forgives Us
In settling His accounts with us, our Lord acts not with anger, but with compassion. He does not imprison us as we deserve, but He forgives all our debts and releases us (Matt. 18:23-27). Therefore, our Lord bids each of us to have “mercy on your fellow servant,” and “forgive your brother from your heart” (Matt 18:33, 35). By the Lord’s forgiveness of our sins, we are free to forgive those who sin against us, because He has been handed over to the jailers in our stead, and He has paid our entire debt with His lifeblood. Whether we live or die, we “are the Lord’s” (Rom. 14:8). Since we all will “stand before the judgment seat of God,” we are not to despise our brother (Rom. 14:10), but gladly forgive him. By the grace of God, our brother also “will be upheld, for the Lord is able to make him stand” (Rom. 14:4). Though we daily sin against each other, the Lord intends “to bring it about that many people should be kept alive” (Gen. 50:20). Jesus speaks kindly by His Gospel and promises: “I will provide for you and your little ones” (Gen 50:21).
Proper 20 (18-24 September)
Isaiah 55:6-9; Ps. 27:1-9; Philippians 1:12-14, 19-30; Matthew 20:1-16
Disciples Live in Their Vocations by Grace through Faith in Christ
Those who are sent as “laborers for His vineyard” (Matt. 20:1) depict the wide diversity of vocations to which the disciples of Christ Jesus are called. Whatever our particular stations in life may be, we are called to live and serve by faith in His promises. Our labors do not merit anything before Him, for He is already generous to one and all without partiality. In mercy He has chosen to bear “the burden of the day and the scorching heat” on our behalf, to make us equal to Himself, and to give us what belongs to Him, that is, the Kingdom of heaven (Matt. 20:12-15). This way of the Lord is foolishness to the world and foreign to our thoughts, but He draws near, so that “He may be found” (Is. 55:6), that “He may have compassion” and “abundantly pardon” (Is. 55:7). So it is that we are found in Christ Jesus, and He is honored in our bodies, “whether by life or by death” (Phil. 1:20), by “fruitful labor” (Phil. 1:22), or by suffering. It is by faith in His forgiveness that our works are “worthy of the Gospel” (Phil. 1:27).
Proper 21 (25 September – 01 October)
Ezekiel 18:1-4, 25-32; Ps. 25:1-10; Philippians 2:1-4, 5-13, 14-18; Matthew 21:23-27, 28-32
The Cross of Christ Opens to Us the Way of Repentance to Life with God
The way of the Lord is righteous and just: “the soul who sins shall die” (Ezek. 18:4). However, because the Lord has “no pleasure in the death of anyone” (Ezek. 18:32), He calls sinners to repentance and faith in His gracious forgiveness of sins. The man who is thus turned away from his wickedness, who henceforth lives by the grace of God, “shall surely live; he shall not die” (Ezek. 18:28). This way of repentance has been opened for us by the Cross of Christ. In the righteousness of faith and love, “He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death” (Phil. 2:8), and He was vindicated in His Resurrection from the dead. Indeed, “God has highly exalted Him and bestowed on Him the name that is above every name” (Phil. 2:9). He has given us this name in our Baptism into Christ, in whom we now “shine as lights in the world” (Phil. 2:15). He uses the authority that He has received from His Father (Matt. 21:23-27) to preach a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins, by which even “the tax collectors and the prostitutes go into the kingdom of God” (Matt. 21:31-32).
Proper 22 (02-08 October)
Isaiah 5:1-7; Ps. 80:7-19; Philippians 3:4-14; Matthew 21:33-46
The True Vine Redeems the Vineyard of the Lord of Hosts
“The vineyard of the Lord of hosts is the house of Israel” (Is. 5:7), which He planted “on a very fertile hill” (Is. 5:1). He did everything for His vineyard, not only clearing it of stones and planting it with “choice vines,” but also building the “watchtower” of His prophets and hewing out the “wine vat” of His priesthood in its midst (Is. 5:2). But when “He looked for it to yield grapes,” there were only “wild grapes” of bloodshed and unrighteousness (Is. 5:2, 7). The Lord Jesus likewise described the unfaithfulness of those who were called to care for His vineyard (Matt. 21:33-35). But in this He also describes His Cross and Passion (Matt. 21:38-39), by which He has redeemed the vineyard for Himself. He is the true Vine, planted by death into the ground, and in His Resurrection He brings forth “the fruits in their seasons” (Matt. 21:41). Among those good grapes of the true Vine is the Apostle Paul. Once a zealous persecutor of the Church, he “suffered the loss of all things,” in order to “gain Christ and be found in Him,” to “know Him and the power of His resurrection” (Phil. 3:8-10).
Proper 23 (09-15 October)
Isaiah 25:6-9; Ps. 23:1-6; Philippians 4:4-13; Matthew 22:1-14
Clothed in the Righteousness of Christ, We Partake of His Wedding Feast
By His Cross and Resurrection, the Lord has swallowed up death forever, and by His Gospel He “will wipe away tears from all faces, and the reproach of His people He will take away from all the earth” (Is. 25:8). Therefore, “let us be glad and rejoice in His salvation” (Is. 25:9). On the Mountain of the Lord of hosts-in His Church on earth, as in the kingdom of heaven-He has made “for all peoples a feast of rich food, a feast of well-aged wine” (Is. 25:6). It is the royal “wedding feast” of the Son of God, “and everything is ready” (Matt. 22:1, 4). Thus, His servants are sent into the highways and bi-ways to invite and gather as many as they find, “both good and bad,” to fill the wedding hall with guests (Matt. 22:8-10). In Holy Baptism, He clothes them all in the “wedding garment” of His own perfect righteousness (Matt. 22:11). Therefore, “do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God,” and “rejoice in the Lord always” (Phil. 4:4-6).
Proper 24 (16-22 October)
Isaiah 45:1-7; Ps. 96:1-9, 10-13; 1 Thessalonians 1:1-10; Matthew 22:15-22
We Are Recreated in the Image of God by the Cross of Christ
Plotting against Jesus, the Pharisees attempted “to entangle Him in His talk” by asking about the payment of taxes to Caesar (Matt. 22:15). The Lord pointed to coins required for the tax, and He answered that we should “render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s” (Matt. 22:21). But if coins bearing the image of Caesar should be rendered to him, then man-who is made in the image of God-must be rendered to the Lord. That tax is paid for us by the Lord Jesus, the Image of God in the flesh, by His self-offering on the Cross. And from His Cross, as the Lord’s anointed, He reigns as the true Caesar over all nations “from the rising of the sun and from the west” (Is. 45:6). The Lord once called and anointed Cyrus “to subdue nations before him and to loose the belts of kings” (Is. 45:1). Now by the preaching of the Gospel, “in power and in the Holy Spirit” (1 Thess. 1:4), foreigners from all over the world are “turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God” (1 Thess. 1:9-10).
Proper 25 (23-29 October)
Lev. 19:1-2, 15-18; Ps. 1:1-6; 1 Thessalonians 2:1-13; Matthew 22:34-46
Reformation Sunday (Observed)
Revelation 14:6-7: Ps. 46:1-11; Romans 3:19-28; John 8:31-36 (or Matthew 11:12-19)
The Son of God Has Set Us Free from Sin and Death by His Grace
“Wisdom is justified by her deeds” (Matt. 11:19), and the true Wisdom of God, Christ Jesus the incarnate Son, justifies us by His deeds. He prepares His way by the preaching of repentance, but He has suffered the violence of the Law and voluntarily handed Himself over to violent men, in order that we may eat and drink with Him in His Kingdom and “remain in the house forever” (John 8:35). He is “a friend of tax collectors and sinners” (Matt. 11:18-19), and He has rescued us by His grace from the slavery of sin and death. By the proclamation of His eternal Gospel “to those who dwell on earth, to every nation and tribe and language and people” (Rev. 14:6), “the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law” (Rom. 3:21), “that He might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus” (Rom. 3:26). And by the hearing of that Gospel of Christ Jesus, “whom God put forward as a propitiation by His blood, to be received by faith” (Rom. 3:25), “you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free” (John 8:31-32).
All Saints’ (Sun)Day (Observed)
Revelation 7:2-8, 9-17; Ps. 149:1-9; 1 John 3:1-3; Matthew 5:1-12
Saints Are Blessed in the Eternal Presence of Christ
“A great multitude from all tribes and peoples and languages,” cry out “salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne” (Rev. 7:9-17). Faith-filled saints from every place and time with unified voices eternally magnify the Lamb of God. As His beloved children, we too, “shall see him as he is” (1 John 3:1-3). Joined with the throng of angels and a myriad of saints, we shall “serve him day and night in his temple” (Rev. 7:9-17). In our earthly tension vacillating between saint and sinner, faith and doubt, sacred and profane, we earnestly seek Jesus to calm our fears, comfort our spirits, and forgive our sins. The Holy Spirit, through faith in Christ propels us forward, fortifying us in Word and Sacrament, to our eternal home. In the midst of our constant struggle as believers, we need to be blessed. And so we are. The poor in spirit, the meek, the hungry, the thirsty, the merciful, the pure, and the persecuted are all blessed and we will most certainly inherit the kingdom of heaven (Matt. 5:1-12).
Proper 27 (06-12 November)
Amos 5:18-24; Ps. 70:1-5; 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18; Matthew 25:1-13
The Gospel Prepares Us for Our Heavenly Bridegroom’s Coming
The Day of the Lord is “darkness, and not light” (Amos 5:18, 20) for all who trust in their own righteousness and piety. The Lord will not accept their “burnt offerings and grain offerings,” nor will He look upon their “peace offerings” (Amos 5:22). Instead He desires a heart of faith that trusts in Him, which lets “justice roll down like waters, and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream” (Amos 5:24) in love for the neighbor. In order for the “lamps” of our lives to burn brightly with such love, we must be filled with the “oil” of forgiveness through faith in our Bridegroom, Jesus Christ (Matt 25:1-4). Therefore, as we await His coming, wisdom directs us “to the dealers” (Matt 25:9), that is, to the ministers of His Gospel. Thus we wait upon the Lord, and we “encourage one another with these words” (1 Thessalonians 4:18). Waking or sleeping, we are prepared to meet Him when He comes “with a cry of command, with the voice of an archangel, and with the sound of the trumpet of God,” and “we will always be with the Lord” (1 Thess 4:16, 17).
Proper 28 (13-19 November)
Zephaniah 1:7-16; Ps. 90:1-12; 1 Thessalonians 5:1-11; Matthew 25:14-30
God’s Gift of Forgiveness Engenders Our Forgiveness of Others
The Day of the Lord is “near and hastening fast,” and it will be “a day of distress and anguish, a day of ruin and devastation” (Zeph. 1:14, 15). The Lord will search out and punish “the men who are complacent” concerning His Word, “who fill their master’s house with violence and fraud” (Zeph. 1:9, 12). Then all their works and efforts will be for nothing: “Though they build houses, they shall not inhabit them; though they plant vineyards, they shall not drink wine from them” (Zeph. 1:13). But those who fear, love and trust in the Lord are “good and faithful” stewards of His property (Matt. 25:21). They live by faith in His free gift of forgiveness, and they multiply His goods in the loving forgiveness of their neighbor, and “the Master of those servants” settles His accounts with them by the gracious reckoning of His Gospel (Matt. 25:19). Likewise, “God has not destined us for wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Thess. 5:9). Therefore, let us also “put on the breastplate of faith and love” in our dealings with one another (1 Thess. 5:8).
The Last Sunday of the Church Year
Proper 29 (20-26 November)
Ezekiel 34:11-16, 20-24; Ps. 95:1-7; 1 Corinthians 15:20-28; Matthew 25:31-46
By the Cross of Christ We Enter the Kingdom of Our God and Father
When the crucified and risen Lord Jesus comes to judge the living and the dead, “He will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats” (Matt. 25:32). “To those on His right,” who have been crucified and raised with Him through repentance and faith in His Gospel, He will grant the blessed Kingdom of His Father (Matt. 25:34). Having been justified by His grace, they live unto righteousness in Him (Matt. 25:35-40). But “those on His left,” who trust in themselves and despise their neighbor, will depart “into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels” (Matt. 25:41). Until that day, the Lord searches for His sheep “as a shepherd seeks out his flock” (Ezek. 34:11-12). Through His preaching of repentance He disciplines the proud sheep and goats, “the fat and the strong,” but through the preaching of forgiveness He rescues the lost, binds up the injured, strengthens the weak, and feeds “the lean sheep” (Ezek. 34:16, 20). In this way, He destroys the power of death in the children of Adam by His Cross, so that “in Christ shall all be made alive” by His Resurrection (1 Cor. 15:20-26).
Day of National Thanksgiving
Deuteronomy 8:1-10; Ps. 67:1-7; Philippians 4:6-20 or 1 Timothy 2:1-4; Luke 17:11-19
We Praise God for Sustaining Life in and through His Word
The nation resounds with thanksgiving for the earth’s bountiful harvest, crops of wheat and grains, all beneath the canopy of God’s almighty care. But “man does not live by bread alone, but man lives by every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord” (Deut. 8:1-10). The Church is the vessel through which the Word of God penetrates the world with its Law and Gospel. It is this divine Word which proclaims Jesus as the sole source of life, health, and wholeness. It is Jesus who heals lepers with His Word, “Go show yourselves to the priests” (Luke 17:11-19). Of the ten cleansed, only one expresses thanksgiving back to Jesus. But true gratitude proceeds from a heart sustained by faith. Jesus bids this one Samaritan to “rise and go your way; your faith has made you well.” So also, we are sent from the Divine Service, bolstered in our faith by Baptismal and Eucharist blessing to be thankful in our circumstances of plenty and hunger, abundance and need (Phil. 4:6-20).