Christ is King!
December-- 2016

 
PASTOR'S MESSAGE
Dear Friends in Christ,
 
This month we look at Christ as King.  Jesus, the eternal God, who reigns in heaven from eternity and to eternity.  As God, why would he leave the eternal joys in the presence of the Father and the Holy Spirit, to come to earth and become a man.  As John says, "the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, full of grace and truth.  Why did God's Son leave heaven and humble himself to become a man?  He came in order to set us free from sin's slavery and to overcome death once and for all.  Jesus willingly suffered the humiliation, even enduring death on a cross, so that by His wounds, He might heal our wounds.  Christ takes up the Law by placing himself under the Law.  He exchanges our sin for His righteousness, Our blindness for his sight.  Why did God become a man?  This is the mystery of our faith.  That God would love the world so much, that He would send His only Son to become a man, born of a virgin, to be sin for us that we might become the righteousness of God.  Rejoice!  For to you is born a Savior, who is Christ, King of Kings and Lord of Lords.
 
Pastor James Kroonblawd 

A FAVORITE HYMN

- Of the Father's Love Begotten (LSB 384:1)
 
Of the Father's love begotten
Ere the worlds began to be,
He is Alpha and Omega,
He the source, the ending He,
Of the things that are, that have been,
And that future years shall see
Evermore and evermore.
 
A King Pronounced
 
by Rev. AJ Neugebauer
 
Unique in its style, Rev. AJ Neugebauer's Christmas meditation is, he says, modeled after "forms found in Scripture," such as the Psalter or Mary's Song in the Gospel of Luke. This piece, written in a style "that the prophets and apostles before us saw edifying in communication of the Gospel," reminds us of the comfort and joy of our Lord's incarnation.
 
As planets and stars keep their patterns from afar
In Jerusalem
Pharisees and scribes work by candlelight, hunched over
scrolls in synagogues, looking for
Answers to ancient promises.
 
In fields, under such skies,
Shepherds rub sleepy eyes
Huddled by fires in the night
And listen for rustles in the wilderness nearby.
 
In Bethlehem,
Travelers sleep in overcrowded, rented rooms.
 
In palaces, kings contemplate moves to keep power.
And the empire of Rome stands sentinel over it all;
Stands upright, ever at attention, tall:
 
A column, casting its long shadow
South and east over the land of Israel
Caesar, self-garbed as king, looks into the night.
He contemplates the world knowing nothing.
And when he thinks of greatness thinks
Of himself.
Caesar, like creation swirling above, takes no notice.
 
But under that dark tarp of night
Walk the weary steps of two sojourners,
Pushed to where they walk
By decree
And prophecy.
Two travelers, their footfalls heavy
Made only less
Weary by aid of a
Donkey.
 
Their question repeated; the response
the same:
"Census has made the lodging full:
There is no place for you to stay."
And so man and wife go on.
 
They move on until one says,
"I have no place to rest your head,
No place, except,
Except, unless,
There may be one place for you to rest
Where donkeys lie,
And oxen feed."
 
The couple
Complies.
 
And the wife.
Mother of God,
The God of life,
From her womb comes forth
A baby.
Conceived like none before or since;
Conceived in a way,
No way the norm,
But born.
A baby, with flesh so frail, as babies are.
A baby,
Born in the curse
That is the pain of birth:
A curse, which, born into,
This baby comes
To crush with heel downed
Upon the head that here is found.
 
How could one born in such mean estate
Garner attention through ages past?
And so much so that at that moment
Creation,
Seemingly so distant,
So beyond,
And the skies
Bow to Infant who in manager lies.
 
Wise men move.
Caesar shrugs.
Herod trembles.
 
And we gather.
We gather here tonight,
Knowing
That what was born in mean estate,
Born of suffering, born in pain,
A pain which flows from troubles past;
A pain compounded
But will not last;
A pain confounded
Will come to pass.
 
For here, in humble manger, lies
A child:
Born to die.
 
Creation groans, like the pain of birth.
But angels sing songs of joy and mirth;
From angels high to shepherds low
They come to praises here bestow.
They come.
 
They come
And so do we
Amidst the lights and toys and trees;
We stand amidst angels
And recount
With shepherds weary,
A king pronounced.
 
For Christ is born.
 
Christ, whom stars and sky sing praise.
Christ, who dies;
Dies to be raised.
So even though
Though we die too,
Because of Christ,
We rise anew.
 
And so with shepherds and
angels we sing:
"Hosanna!
This day is born
Our King."
 
A STRESS-FREE CHRISTMAS
 
by Rev. Dr. Andrew Steinmann
 
Perhaps the greatest irony of December is that as we celebrate the coming of the Savior to free us from sin and death, Christmas has become one of the most stressful times of the year. Many merchants feel pressure to make sales, knowing that their profit for the year is often dependent on purchases of presents. Others are entertaining friends and family and feel anxiety as they prepare meals and celebrations. Even children might experience the strain and nervousness of being in a Christmas pageant.
 
However, when the apostle Paul contemplated the appearance of the Savior, he thought in quite different terms. He advised the pastor Titus to teach his flock to focus on different things as they lived in the light of the grace of God that appeared in the manger.
 
Read Titus 2:1-10. In what ways was Titus to be an example for his congregation?
______________________________ ______________________________
 
Although we no longer have the terrible institution of slavery, how do Paul's instructions for slaves have application to Christians today?
______________________________ ______________________________
 
Read Titus 2:11-14. Between Paul's mention of Jesus' first coming and His awaited second coming, he speaks of God's people being trained to live holy lives. This is the traditional Epistle reading for Christmas Eve. Why do you suppose Paul chose this context to emphasize that God's salvation is for all people?
______________________________ ______________________________
 
What is the connection between God's grace shown in the two appearances of Christ in the world (His birth and His coming again) and the Christian's life of holiness?
______________________________ ______________________________
 
Read Titus 2:15. What do these words say about the responsibility of pastors?
______________________________ ______________________________
 
Read Titus 3:4-7. This passage ties together Jesus' appearance in human flesh and our receiving God's grace in Christ as He richly grants us His Holy Spirit. Why do you suppose that Paul, in this context, makes a point of our being saved solely by Christ's mercy and not by our works?
______________________________ ______________________________
 
Instead of making Christmas a time of stress, Paul looks at Christ's incarnation as an opportunity to reflect on the overwhelming grace of God that appeared that first Christmas Day. That grace not only saves us without any work on our part, but also grants us the assurance of eternal life so that we might be encouraged to live profitable lives of holiness as we await Jesus' reappearing. May our Christmas celebration be one where we are relieved of the world's stress because we are assured of the greatest Christmas present of all-eternal life with Christ our Savior.


 
LUCIA, MARTYR
 
One of the victims of the great persecution of Christians under the Roman emperor Diocletian, Lucia met her death at Syracuse on the island of Sicily in AD 304. Known for her charity, "Santa Lucia" (as she is called in Italy) gave away her dowry and remained a virgin until her execution by the sword. The name Lucia means "light," and, because of that, festivals of light commemorating her became popular  throughout Europe, especially in the Scandinavian countries. There her feast day corresponds with the time of year when there is the least amount of daylight. In artistic expression, Lucia is often portrayed in a white baptismal gown, wearing a wreath of candles on her head.
 
Prayer of the Day for December 13
O Almighty God, by whose grace and power Your holy martyr Lucia triumphed over suffering and remained ever faithful unto death, grant us, who now remember her with thanksgiving, to be so true in our witness to You in this world that we may receive with her new eyes without tears and the crown of light and life; through Jesus Christ, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. (1126)
 
DID YOU KNOW?
 
The Te Deum Laudamus (We Praise You, O God) is a Latin hymn to the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit.  This hymn is included in the Matins.  A tradition that goes back to the ninth century assigns authorship of this hymn to St. Ambrose and St. Augustine.  The Te Deum is a great hymn for your personal meditation during the Season of Advent.  For while we look forward to the celebration of Christ's birth at Christmas, even more, we anticipate the joy of His final appearing when we will worship Him in the splendor of His holiness in heaven.
 
Te Deum Laudamus
We praise You, O God; we acknowledge You to be the Lord.
All the earth now worships You, the Father everlasting.
To You all angels cry aloud, the heavens and all the pow'rs therein.
To You cherubim and seraphim continually do cry:
Holy, holy, holy, Lord God of Sabaoth;
heaven and earth are full of the majesty of Your glory.
The glorious company of the apostles praise You.
The goodly fellowship of the prophets praise You.
The noble army of martyrs praise You.
The holy Church throughout all the world does acknowledge You.
The Father of an infinite majesty; Your adorable, true, and only Son;
also the Holy Ghost, the Comforter.
You are the king of glory, O Christ;
You are the everlasting Son of the Father.
When You took upon Yourself to deliver man,
You humbled Yourself to be born of a virgin.
When You had overcome the sharpness of death,
You opened the kingdom of heaven to all believers.
You sit at the right hand of God
in the glory of the Father.
We believe that You will come
to be our judge.
We therefore pray You to help Your servants,
whom You have redeemed with Your precious blood.
Make them to be numbered with Your saints
in glory everlasting.

O Lord, save Your people and bless Your heritage.
Govern them and lift them up forever.
Day by day we magnify You.
And we worship Your name forever and ever.

Grant, O Lord, to keep us this day without sin.
O Lord, have mercy upon us, have mercy upon us.
O Lord, let Your mercy be upon us, as our trust is in You.
O Lord, in You have I trusted; let me never be confounded.
FACES OF THE REFORMATION



Explore the past through the people who lived it! In the months leading to the 500th Anniversary to the Reformation, you will meet 25 men and women passionate about the Reformation re-discovery of the Gospel-either for or against it.  Each person is an unforgettable face of the Reformation era.

EDITOR'S NOTE

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.
 
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Soli Deo gloria



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