O Come, O Come Emanuel
December 2018

Dear friends in Christ,

This month we celebrate with the whole Christian Church the birth of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.  Jesus is the Word made flesh. Beginning Sunday, Dec. 2 we will begin a 4 week Sunday morning Sermon Series Who is Jesus?  based on Matthew 1:1-17.  Jesus is the Son of David (Dec. 2), the Son of Abraham (Dec. 9), the Son of Solomon (Dec.16), the Son of Mary (Dec. 23) and the Son of Sinners (Christmas).  The angel announced Jesus' birth in this way, "Fear not, for I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. Unto you is born this day, in the city of David, a Savior, who is Christ, the Lord."  Jesus is our Emanuel, God with us. He has come from heaven to earth to save us.

How will you prepare your heart to receive the Christ child this Christmas season?   For centuries Christians prepared for Christmas by praying seven prayers included in the daily worship beginning  Dec. 17 and ending on Dec. 23 The hymn O Come, O Come Emmanuel is a paraphrase of the seven ancient O Antiphon prayers.  This words of this hymn are included in this TLO Disciple for your prayerful meditation.

Come and worship

Pastor James Kroonblawd

Antiphon for December 17

O come, O come, Emmanuel,
And ransom captive Israel,
That mourns in lonely exile here
Until the Son of God appear.  

These brief homiletical reflections on three of the antiphons were prepared by Professor Jeffrey Oschwald, who used as source material a service written by the late Professor Robert Bertram.  Bertram's original appeared first in RESOURCES for Youth Ministry 1 (January-April 1969). Copyright © 1969 The Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod. Read more.

Antiphon for December 18

O come, Thou Wisdom from on high,
Who ord'rest all things mightily;
To us the path of knowledge show,
And teach us in her ways to go.

By William Weedon

All of this means that Mary is the virgin mother foretold in Isaiah 7:14. She is the Mother of Immanuel, the Mother of God-with-us. This, of course, is not saying that she herself is divine, or eternal, or anything at all like that. We confess instead that this truly human creature, who freely admitted herself in need of a Savior (LUKE 1:47), was chosen by God's grace to become the mother of the Eternal Word. She really is the Mother of God. God the Eternal Word took on flesh in her womb, nursed at her breasts and was swaddled in the warmth of her embrace.

Mary is not, then, "contrary" to our confession. As Lutherans, we remember her and thank God for her life. We find our own faith strengthened when we ponder the way God's grace worked in her. We certainly want to imitate her joyous "yes" to the will of God and her holding tight to the words and promises she heard.

Fittingly, Mary's last recorded words in the Bible are, "Do whatever He tells you" (JOHN 2:5). In this, Mary sets a fine example for us to follow - one that invites us all to trust in her Son's love and join the psalmist in crying out: "Not to us, O Lord! Not to us but to Your name be glory" (PS. 115:1).

Antiphon for December 19

O come, O come, Thou Lord of might,
Who to Thy tribes on Sinai's height
In ancient times didst give the Law
In cloud and majesty and awe.

Albrecht Dürer's "Virgin and Child with Half a Pear"
by Deac. Carolyn Brinkley

Not by human flesh and blood,
By the Spirit of our God,
Was the Word of God made flesh-
Woman's offspring, pure and fresh.
(LSB 332 v. 2)

Dürer's oil painting of Mary and the Christ Child is exquisite! Since the beginning centuries of the Christian Church artists have attempted to capture the doctrine of the Incarnation confessed in the Nicene Creed: "And in one Lord Jesus Christ, the only begotten Son of God...who for us men and for our salvation came down from Heaven and was incarnate by the Holy Spirit of the Virgin Mary and was made Man."
Read more

Antiphon for December 20

O come, Thou Branch of Jesse's tree,
Free them from Satan's tyranny
That trust Thy mighty pow'r to save,
And give them vict'ry o'er the grave.

The Cradled Christ
By Theodore Stolp

Christ will be cradled. Agitation may ban the Christmas crche from some public place. Yet the cradled Christ is still before men.

"Away in a manger," sing children's voices. An art print of a famous crche adorns a national magazine. Homes vie in creating the most attractive manger scene. Even live actors are used for such scenes in parks and churches.

The very Christmas tree, bright with evergreen and blaze of lights, points to just one thing: the announcement in Luke's Gospel: "Unto you is born . . . Christ the Lord. . . . Ye shall find the Babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger."  Read the full article.

Antiphon for December 21

O come, Thou Key of David, come,
And open wide our heav'nly home;
Make safe the way that leads on high,
And close the path to misery. Refrain

The Twelve Days of Christmas-Unwrapping the Gifts
by Terence Maher

If you, like good king Wenceslaus, looked out on the Feast of Stephen-that's Dec. 26, for the record-you might think Christmas is over. On the Christmas Day evening news, local TV stations are already posting Christmas tree pick-up sites and times. Some trees hang around for a week to give a festive atmosphere to New Year's Eve and Day, then come down. On Jan. 2, Valentine's Day candy is in the stores.

That fits with the world's Christmas season, but the Church has something a little different going on. Read on!

Antiphon for December 22

O come, Thou Dayspring from on high,
And cheer us by Thy drawing nigh;
Disperse the gloomy clouds of night,
And death's dark shadows put to flight.

Luther's love for St Mary, Queen of Heaven

It's probably not what you think. In his devotional writings on the Magnificat, Luther carefully outlines how we should and should not honor this "Most Blessed Virgin Mother." Luther neither wants to give her false attributes or idolatrous devotion, nor does he want to depreciate "her unique place in the whole of mankind, among which she has no equal" as the Mother of God.  Read more.

Antiphon for December 23

O come, Desire of nations, bind
In one the hearts of all mankind;
Bid Thou our sad divisions cease,
And be Thyself our King of Peace.
Text: Public domain

The Apologetics of Messiah Prophecy Fulfillment

Host Rev. Rod Zwonitzer and guest Rev. Dr. Kevin Golden (Village Lutheran Church, Ladue, MO) take a look at some interesting topics today, including: 
  • Was Jesus the Messiah, the Christ? 
  • How is Old Testament prophecy like looking at a mountain range? 
  • What is meant by  Proleptic Eschatology  
  • Has Torah law fulfillment occurred for all people?  
  • How has and is God present with us from the beginning to the end?

Answering The New Atheists

An atheist is a person who does not believe in the existence of a god or gods (in contrast to an agnostic, who believes that the existence of a god cannot be known with any certainty). The term "New Atheist" generally refers to popular 21st century atheist authors who are considered "new" because, instead of holding quiet, personal opinions, they boldly promote their criticism of all religious beliefs.

Here is an article that will help you understand what many atheists believe and how to respond to the New Atheists.

The Holy Innocents
by Deac. Betsy Karkan

More and more, the rush to get to Christmas by skipping over the penitential season of Advent also means a rush to push Christmas out of the way on December 26th rather than observing it in its fullness until Epiphany. Increased secularization of Christmas and commercialism are often blamed for this, but perhaps it stems more from our desire to keep Jesus as the sweet little baby in the manger instead of the sword-bearing Son of Man (Matthew 10:34).

Whatever the reason may be, Matthew's gospel and the church calendar put us face-to-face with the bloody reality of Satan's murderous agenda to destroy the Christ just three days after the peaceful manger scene unfolds on Christmas Day. Read more.


Do you have a suggested topic for an upcoming TLO Disciple?  Click here to send Pastor Kroonblawd an email.

TLO Disciple, with a topical study in each issue, is distributed primarily via email on the first of every month.  Print copies are available by contacting the TLO Church office at 651-454-7235 or the Church Office via email.
Calendars, volunteer information, serving groups and the like will accompany the TLO Together, on the last Wednesday of the month. Click here to subscribe to TLO Together .  This publication is also mailed upon request.

Soli Deo gloria

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