Conceived by the Holy Spirit

December 2022

Dear Friends in Christ,

This month’s TLO Disciple focus is the phrase “Conceived by the Holy Spirit” from the Apostles’ Creed. From Church history we know the Apostles’ Creed has been spoken and confessed since the mid-second century (at least 140 A.D.). We speak and confess the Apostles Creed so frequently in worship and study them diligently in Confirmation the words are inscribed in our hearts and minds.

These words from the Second Article of the Creed specifically speak of the incarnation of our Lord, at just the right time according to God’s plan from before the foundation of the word, the Word became flesh to dwell among us full of grace and truth. The moment Jesus was conceived by the Holy Spirit in the womb of His mother, the Virgin Mary, demonstrates God’s love for all humanity. It speaks also to the value God gives every human person, born and unborn; Even eternal value from the earliest stages of life.

I pray this month’s TLO Disciple will guide you into greater joy and celebration knowing that Jesus, true God conceived by the Holy Spirit and true Man, born of the Virgin Mary, is both Lord and Christ.

Pastor James Kroonblawd

I believe in God, the Father Almighty,

    maker of heaven and earth.


And in Jesus Christ, His only Son, our Lord,

    who was conceived by the Holy Spirit,

    born of the virgin Mary,

    suffered under Pontius Pilate,

    was crucified, died and was buried.

    He descended into hell.

    The third day He rose again from the dead.

    He ascended into heaven

    and sits at the right hand of God the Father Almighty.

    From thence He will come to judge the living and the dead.


I believe in the Holy Spirit,

    the holy Christian Church,

         the communion of saints,

    the forgiveness of sins,

    the resurrection of the body,

    and the life everlasting. Amen.

1527-1528; Artist: Pontormo, Jacopo da, 1494-1556

In response to Gabriel's message that she would carry the Christ-child, Mary replied...

"My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for he has looked with favor on the lowliness of his servant. Surely, from now on all generations will call me blessed; for the Mighty One has done great things for me, and holy is his name. His mercy is for those who fear him from generation to generation. He has shown strength with his arm; he has scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts. He has brought down the powerful from their thrones, and lifted up the lowly; he has filled the hungry with good things, and sent the rich away empty. He has helped his servant Israel, in remembrance of his mercy, according to the promise he made to our ancestors, to Abraham and to his descendants forever." Luke 1:46b-55

Conceived by the Holy Spirit!

Pastor Duane Bamsch teaching on the incarnation and talks about what it means that Christ was “conceived by the Holy Spirit.”

Joy Over Life

December 10, 2012 

by Rev. Matthew C. Harrison

Joy over life verily leaps off the pages of Holy Writ. It bubbles from the mouth of Jesus. It animates His every action. There is–in addition to specific, pervasive and persuasive texts (Gen. 1:26, 27; 9:6; Ex. 21:2225)–an ethic of the inherent value of every human life conceived, no matter its form or malformity. Simply put, for Jesus there is no “life unworthy of life.” In fact, Christ turns the human value system completely on its head (1 Cor. 1:25, 27) to the great delight and joy of the “least.”

And when Elizabeth heard the greeting of Mary, the baby leaped [literally “skipped”] in her womb. And Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit, and she exclaimed with a loud cry, “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb! And why is this granted to me that the mother of my Lord should come to me? For behold, when the sound of your greeting came to my ears, the baby in my womb leaped for joy (Luke 1:4144). Read full article

Jesus! A sermon on Luke 2

Rev. Dr. Matthew Harrison

June 1, 2022 

Here’s a marvelous excerpt from a sermon by Friedrich Wyneken, second president of the Synod. It’s extremely appropriate in these uncertain times of war and turmoil, and also wonderfully illustrates the theme for the LCMS’ 175th Anniversary: “Only Jesus.”

“And at the end of eight days, when He was circumcised, he was called Jesus, the name given by the angel before he was conceived in the womb” (Luke 2:21).

My beloved, we stand once again at the threshold of a new year. It is natural for us to wonder: “What will it bring?” But no man can answer the question. Only God knows the answer. …

Learn more from Rev. Dr. Harrison

Mary, Mary, quite contrary

by William Weedon

December 14, 2017

Whatever are Lutherans to make of Mary?

Looking around at the contrary approaches to Mary that other church traditions take, it’s easy to be confused. At times it seems that Christians in the Eastern Orthodox and Roman Catholic churches elevate Mary almost to the status of a goddess. They pray to her, sing hymns to glorify her and even commend their souls into her keeping at death. On the other hand, many Protestant Christians believe her to be “just like us” — nothing special. That surely is not right either. After all, who among us has been visited by an archangel and been declared highly favored of God? Who among us has conceived a child by the power of the Holy Spirit and given birth to the long-promised Savior, the eternal Son of God? Nothing about this screams “just like us.”

So is there a third way? Yes.

Before we can identify that third way, however, it is important to understand that the contrary teachings about Mary we see all around us today have their roots not in the Bible, but in some extra-biblical traditions that arose in the history of the Church.

Read more

Joseph's Dream

Artist: Gandolfi, Gaetano, 1734-1802

In Joseph’s Dream, we see a dozing Joseph who appears to have just stopped to take a rest in the middle of a task. His sandals are still on his feet and his walking stick resting beside him. The angel gently touches Joseph’s arm as he sleeps. When Joseph awakes, he will be ready to go and do as the angel instructed, saying, “Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.”

Try Before You Buy: The Dangers of MaterniT21

February 3, 2012

by Dr. Debra L. Grime

A new prenatal blood test called MaterniT21 can now evaluate the DNA of a baby before he or she is born and determine if the child has Down Syndrome with 99 percent accuracy. But now that the option is available, will more women opt for such tests? And more importantly, will this lead to more women having abortions? read more

In Vitro Fertilization— From Created to Creator

Dr. James Lamb

The Word became flesh and dwelt among us nine months before Jesus’ birth.

The angel’s words to Mary, “And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son” (Luke 1:31a), describe two events, not one. The former is miraculous, not the latter. There was nothing miraculous about Jesus’ birth. The miracle happened when the Holy Spirit, the “power of the Most High” (1:35), overshadowed Mary. So we need to eliminate conception in the normal way and bring on the “power of the Most High.” There was Mary’s egg with twenty-three chromosomes, and then, suddenly, through this Most High power, there is Jesus, a zygote, a one-celled human being with 46 chromosomes, the God-embryo.

Pieper writes, “For Scripture says, as already pointed out, not only of the grown man, not only of the adolescent boy, not only of the babe in its mother’s arms, but of the embryo in its mother’s womb that it is ‘ο kύριος, God the Lord.” (Pieper’s Dogmatics Vl. II, p. 84)

We know our need for a Savior from the moment of conception. “Surely I was sinful at birth, sinful from the time my mother conceived me” (Ps. 51:5 NIV). Again from Pieper, “Christ passed through all stages of our existence that He might fully remedy our unclean conception and birth.” (Pieper’s Dogmatics Vl. II, p. 84) As we indicated earlier, the path to the cross and empty tomb did not start in a manger, but in a fallopian tube.

The full story

From God's Word

 “For you created my inmost being; You knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made” (Ps. 139:13-14a NIV).

From Martin Luther

He will come down like rain upon the fleece, and as showers falling gently upon the earth. First, He will become incarnate without human help. Therefore Micah 5:7 said of the apostles: “The remnant of Jacob will be in the midst of many peoples like dew from the Lord and like drops on the grass, which do not wait for man nor tarry for the children of men.” As Christ was conceived by the Holy Spirit, so every believer is justified and reborn by no human work but entirely by the grace of God and the activity of the Holy Spirit.

Martin Luther, Luther’s Works, Vol. 10: First Lectures on the Psalms I: Psalms 1-75, ed. Jaroslav Jan Pelikan, Hilton C. Oswald, and Helmut T. Lehmann, electronic ed., vol. 10 (Saint Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1999), 410.

Christmas 2021

Pastor John Diener

How would you respond to someone who says, “Christmas is overrated!”? Today I encountered a young man in the parking lot of a busy store. The young man was retrieving shopping carts scattered all over the lot, and I was simply pushing my cart to meet him. He thanked me and I said, “Merry Christmas!” He, at first, chuckled and then his words turned rather sharp, “Christmas is overrated, you know. Nothing but a lot of extra work out in the cold, more rude people than at any time of the year, and what’s in it for me? Nothing much! Just a lot of grief, I tell you.” I had already taken a few steps back toward the car when the young man started his assault on my “Merry Christmas” greeting.

So…how would you respond to this young man if you were in my place? Your answer would be sharing the Good News of Christmas and the blessings that God intended when He came from heaven to earth to save all mankind – including you, me and this misguided young man. My heart sinks when I hear anything that depicts Christmas as commercial, a hassle or especially as being overrated. I’m sure you feel the same way. Please read this entire article to see how I responded to this young man, but more importantly, to see what God has given us with Christmas.

Ephiphany: The Bright Light of Life

by Matthew C. Harrison 

January 1, 2022 

Then Herod summoned the wise men secretly and ascertained from them what time the star had appeared. And he sent them to Bethlehem, saying, “Go and search diligently for the child, and when you have found him, bring me word, that I too may come and worship him.” After listening to the king, they went on their way. And behold, the star that they had seen when it rose went before them until it came to rest over the place where the child was. When they saw the star, they rejoiced exceedingly with great joy. And going into the house, they saw the child with Mary his mother, and they fell down and worshiped him. Then, opening their treasures, they offered him gifts, gold and frankincense and myrrh. And being warned in a dream not to return to Herod, they departed to their own country by another way. (Matt. 2:7–12)

Herod wanted the child Jesus dead. The Magi refused to assist him. The Holy Innocents gave their tender young lives for Jesus as it were, in the first Christian encounter with the pro-death movement. The Author of life took on life in the flesh in the womb of the Virgin. Full article

Love for the least of these

May 16, 2018 

LCMS “snowflake” families bring children out of frozen limbo through embryo adoption

It happened on March 4 and again on March 6: two separate and unrelated “black swan” events — silent catastrophes that their respective institutions say should never have happened and could not have been foreseen.

On March 4, at the Pacific Fertility Center in San Francisco (though personnel there didn’t begin notifying clients for seven days), a liquid nitrogen freezer failed. As many as 2,000 frozen eggs and embryos “may have” been “compromised.”

Even in a world in which embryos are seen only as potential human beings, these events are tragic. Would-have-been parents, including cancer survivors whose only chance at biological parenthood is now gone, are lining up to sue. Even celebrity lawyer Gloria Allred is getting in on the action.

For Christians who believe that life begins at conception and hold that these “compromised” (that is, deceased) embryos were once tiny, helpless, fully human children, the news is even more heartrending.

Yet even so, the outrage was muted. After a few days, the story drifted quietly out of both the news cycle and the public consciousness. It’s surprisingly easy, it would seem, to pretend that embryos are nothing more than clumps of cells — easy, that is, until you meet someone like Hannah Strege. 

Hannah Strege is a 19-year-old college freshman with a brilliant smile, big dreams of becoming a social worker — and an origin story that’s kept her in the public spotlight since she was no bigger than a grain of sand.

Life began for Hannah Strege, as it now does for tens of thousands of children every year, in a laboratory dish, where she was one of more than 20 embryos created during a routine cycle of in vitro fertilization (IVF).

Read more of this compelling story

Soli Deo gloria
Trinity Lone Oak Lutheran
2950 Highway 55
Eagan, MN 55121