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This King is and shall be called sin’s devourer and death’s strangler, who extirpates sin and knocks death’s teeth out; he disembowels the devil and rescues those who believe on him from sin and death, conducting them to be among the angels where eternal life and blessedness are.

He lets the other kings have their finery, castles, dwellings, money and goods, their delicacies of food and drink, clothing and dwellings more costly than the average person has; but they do not have the art which this poor Beggar-King possesses. For neither emperor, king, or pope, with all their might, is able to help with the smallest sin, nor with all their money and goods heal the least of illness—I won’t even speak about their capacity to rescue from eternal death, everlasting punishment, and hell. But Christ the King, who is righteous and a Savior, even though poor and lowly and comes riding a donkey, prevails not only over one sin, but over all my sins, and not only over mine but all the world’s sins. He comes not only to heal my illness but to take away death, and not only my death but also the world’s death. (From Martin Luther’s Second Sermon, for the First Sunday in Advent, 1533; Text: St. Matthew 21: 1-9)

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Gratitude is one of the characteristics of Christian prayer — gratitude for past favors innumerable; gratitude that we are living among men, thus being given an opportunity to show our love toward our Father by serving our brethren, our fellow-men, in their physical and spiritual needs; gratitude for our government, that we are not living in a state of anarchy; gratitude for such gifts as the Lord will in response to our prayer choose to grant us, no matter what their nature; gratitude which, though it sees no way of help, still is so confident of God’s aid that it thanks God for it even before it arrives. Cf. Ps. 43, 5. (From Pr. Theo. Laetsch’s Sermon Study on 1 Timothy 2: 1-4, Concordia Theological Quarterly, May 1935)

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The Scripture Readings:

Ezk. 3:16-21
Rom. 10:8-18
John 1:35-42

Collect of the Day:

Almighty God, by Your grace the apostle Andrew obeyed the call of Your Son to be a disciple. Grant us also to follow the same Lord Jesus Christ in heart and life, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.

St. Andrew, Apostle:

Andrew (the name means “manly”), brother of Peter, was born in Bethsaida, a village in Galilee. He was the first apostle to follow Christ ( John 1:35-40), and his name regularly appears near the head of the lists of the apostles. Perhaps his greatest work was to bring his brother Simon Peter to the Lord. After Pentecost he is said to have preached in Palestine, Scythia, Epirus, and Thrace. A late and rather unreliable tradition says that he was martyred on November 30, ca. 70 at Patras in Achaia, Greece. The tradition that he was crucified on an X-shaped cross was popular in the fifteenth century; the earliest examples are from the tenth century. He was martyred, legend has it, for defying the proconsul Aegeas who ordered Andrew to stop preaching and to sacrifice to the gods.
St. Andrew’s body is said to have been taken, together with that of St. Luke, to the Church of the Holy Apostles in Constantinople in 357, and later removed to the cathedral of Amalfi, Italy. The church at Constantinople claimed St. Andrew as its first bishop. The churches in Greece and Russia in particular hold him in high honor. Also, quite early certain of his relics were taken to St. Andrew’s Church, Fife, and he became a patron saint of Scotland; the cross of St. Andrew in the Union Jack represents Scotland.
The feast of St. Andrew was observed as early as the fourth century by the Eastern church and in the sixth century in Rome and elsewhere; it is a national holiday in Scotland. St. Andrew’s Day determines the beginning of the church year, since the First Sunday in Advent is the Sunday nearest to St. Andrew’s Day. In many liturgical books, therefore, the list of saints begins with Andrew. (Treasury of Daily Prayer)

Tradition informs us that St. Andrew died on an X-shaped cross. His life laid down as Christ’s and Christ bore Andrew to himself. The X cross reminds me of the saying “X marks the spot”. And in Greek X Chi is the first letter in Christ.  This is the place. Here is treasure beyond all measure, fount of purest pleasure, Jesus Christ our Lord.  Andrew saw with clarity that Jesus Christ is the One and he brought his brother Peter to the Lord.  15 years ago to this day my colleague and mentor Pastor Lou Smith died. Lou saw with great clarity of his God-given intellect and soul Jesus Christ.  By his preaching of the Gospel, he showed many that this is the One: X marks the spot.  I was at the retreat in Hickory when Lou died.  His pastor, Rev. Jim Pence told me afterwards that as Lou was waiting for the operation he asked his pastor:  “Are the promises, true?”  “Yes, Lou, they are.”   The promises are the promises of the Lord fulfilled in Jesus Christ.   Dietrich Bonhoeffer wrote that the Word of God, Jesus Christ,  is stronger in my brother than in me:  a sinner is dying to hear.  The Word needs to be heard to be believed. His Word is extra nos, outside of us.  Lou heard it once more:  yes, His Word is true.  Lou died in the Faith, as did his brother Andrew.  They pointed to Jesus Christ:  His Cross marks the spot in space and time of our salvation.  “God does not justify ungodliness but the ungodly.”-Pr. Louis Smith The Lord’s X, His Cross marks Your advent.

The Epistle Reading for Pr. Smith’s Burial of the Dead, 2 Timothy 4:

1 I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by his appearing and his kingdom: 2preach the word; be ready in season and out of season;reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching.3 For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, 4and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths. 5As for you, always be sober-minded, endure suffering, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.

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“…every being of the nature, quality, of man, be he Jew or Gentile, black or white, cultured or barbarian; as long as he has that one quality of being a human being, there is for him a Mediator between God and himself. This Mediator is Jesus Christ, that Babe of Bethlehem called Jesus and Christ by messengers from on high, Luke I, 31; 2, 11; that man dying the death of a criminal on Calvary; cf. John 19, 19. His very name, half Hebrew, half Greek, indicates that He is to be the anointed Savior both of Jew and Gentile. This Mediator, the Christ, anointed by God Himself, Ps. 45, 8; Acts 10, 38, to be Jesus, the Savior, Matt. 1, 21, this God-appointed Savior, is a man.” From an Article in the Concordia Theological Monthly, “Sermon Study on 1 Timothy 2: 1-6 ” by Theo. Laetsch, published May, 1935

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The first article of the Apostles’ Creed is, “I believe in God the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth”.  This sums up the immense Biblical doctrine of the Creator and His creation.  His creation is everything we see, hear, smell, taste and touch.  It is in God’s good creation we work, live, play, study, have families, and bless or curse both God and our neighbor. This article both warms the heart and should terrify us.  It terrifies because daily we sin, “…with eyes, ears, hands, body and soul, money and possessions, and with everything we have, especially those who even fight against the Word of God.” We forget the warm blessings of the Lord giving us all this, and most times without our asking for them.  Everything is gift. Both Abraham Lincoln and Martin Luther knew both the problem and promise in  our reception of these gifts and the thanks due to the Lord in  giving us all these gifts, the just and the unjust.

The problem:  we take these things for granted. We strut about as if we made all this,

For if we believed the article of creation with the heart, we would also act accordingly, and not stalk about proudly, act defiantly, and boast as though we had life, riches, power, and honor, etc., of ourselves, so that others must fear and serve us, as is the practice of the wretched, perverse world…

In the midst of the Civil War, it seemed there was  not much to give thanks for, as the body count rose and rose.  We must not forget that more Americans died during the Civil War, that is both North and South as both sides were Americans, than in any of our other wars: the death toll was about 750,000, and given the smaller population, the Civil War has the highest percentage of Americans who died in any of our wars. Lincoln marveled at the Lord’s blessings meriting our nation’s due thanks, without our merit (Luther) and in spite of our “national perverseness”, so Lincoln. And President Lincoln did not point his finger at the South and wrote, “OUR national perverseness”.  Or just plain perverseness that we think we made the heavens and the earth.

The promise is plain as every atom is the Creator’s gift for us all. Did anyone here asked to be born? The Lord made you.  

And so God commands, exhorts encourages us to thank Him. Boy, does the Lord ever have an ego!  No, He has neither  ego nor pride for He is without sin.  He can take our praise and adoration without blushing or preening. And now in a fallen creation, He so commands us to give thanks because He knows we have an ego!  We are commanded, exhorted and encouraged in the Bible to give thanks.

And you shall eat and be full, and you shall bless the Lord your God for the good land he has given you. (Deut. 8)

First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people…(1Timothy1)

…do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. (Philippians 4)

Oh give thanks to the LORD, for he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever!(Psalm 107)

President Washington also proclaimed a national day of Thanksgiving in 1789, as, “…it is the duty of all Nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey his will, to be grateful for his benefits, and humbly to implore his protection and favor…”. For all these gifts Luther taught that we, “…Christians have this advantage, that they acknowledge themselves in duty bound to serve God for all these things, and to be obedient to Him which the world knows not how to do.” Thanksgiving is our duty as we are duty bound to serve God in all these things. Please note that Luther and Lincoln and Washington all used the word “duty” when it comes to thanksgiving.  

We are duty bound as every Sunday, every feast and festival day is a day of Thanksgiving.  We give thanks for what we have been given and have, but also who has us:  The Lord, and our husbands and wives, fathers and mothers, brothers and sisters, dear friends. We give thanks for our neighbors’ blessings as well.

The Christians’ praise and thanksgiving starkly contrasts the world.  For we give thanks not only for the Lord’s creation but also His redemption for the world, in the blood of His Son, for God so loved the world, a thankless world to redeem us to be thanksgiving people.  One of the names for Holy Communion is eucharist, from the Greek: thanksgiving, thanksgiving for His Body and Blood. We need the praise and thanksgiving of the Church, in prayer and hymn, in our lives, more than ever is this world bent in on patting itself on the back. The world does not how to give thanks. As the Lord teaches us to praise aright, once lost in the night, may the Lord teach others of His light.

Luther, Washington and Lincoln, knew how to so give thanks and it’s duty for they all drew from and were taught from the same original source:  the Scriptures which shows us our sin and proclaims our Creator and Redeemer. All sinners need to be taught to give thanks. I heard it as a child and heard my self saying to my children: Grandma gives us a gift, What do you say to Grandma?  Just passing the salt, what do you say, Thank-you. It is the receiving of great gifts, in the midst of very hard times, the thankfulness becomes acute for our souls.  Luther, Washington and Lincoln all knew sinfulness and the duty and need for thankfulness which humbles as the Lord has given us so much to be thankful for. The Lord calls us in His steadfast love, even to His death, and risen from the dead: to love our neighbor, and in faith is our God-given duty to give our neighbors something to be thankful for.  But, Not to us, O LORD, not to us, but to your name give glory, for the sake of your steadfast love and your faithfulness! (Psalm 115).

14 “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. 15 Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. 16 In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven. (St. Matthew 5)

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By the President of the United States of America, a Proclamation.

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Whereas it is the duty of all Nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey his will, to be grateful for his benefits, and humbly to implore his protection and favor– and whereas both Houses of Congress have by their joint Committee requested me to recommend to the People of the United States a day of public thanksgiving and prayer to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many signal favors of Almighty God especially by affording them an opportunity peaceably to establish a form of government for their safety and happiness.

Now therefore I do recommend and assign Thursday the 26th day of November next to be devoted by the People of these States to the service of that great and glorious Being, who is the beneficent Author of all the good that was, that is, or that will be– That we may then all unite in rendering unto him our sincere and humble thanks–for his kind care and protection of the People of this Country previous to their becoming a Nation–for the signal and manifold mercies, and the favorable interpositions of his Providence which we experienced in the course and conclusion of the late war–for the great degree of tranquility, union, and plenty, which we have since enjoyed–for the peaceable and rational manner, in which we have been enabled to establish constitutions of government for our safety and happiness, and particularly the national One now lately instituted–for the civil and religious liberty with which we are blessed; and the means we have of acquiring and diffusing useful knowledge; and in general for all the great and various favors which he hath been pleased to confer upon us.

And also that we may then unite in most humbly offering our prayers and supplications to the great Lord and Ruler of Nations and beseech him to pardon our national and other transgressions– to enable us all, whether in public or private stations, to perform our several and relative duties properly and punctually–to render our national government a blessing to all the people, by constantly being a Government of wise, just, and constitutional laws, discreetly and faithfully executed and obeyed–to protect and guide all Sovereigns and Nations (especially such as have shewn kindness unto us) and to bless them with good government, peace, and concord–To promote the knowledge and practice of true religion and virtue, and the encrease of science among them and us–and generally to grant unto all Mankind such a degree of temporal prosperity as he alone knows to be best.

Given under my hand at the City of New York the third day of October in the year of our Lord 1789.

Go: Washington

Washington, D.C.
October 3, 1863

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By the President of the United States of America.

A Proclamation.

The year that is drawing towards its close, has been filled with the blessings of fruitful fields and healthful skies. To these bounties, which are so constantly enjoyed that we are prone to forget the source from which they come, others have been added, which are of so extraordinary a nature, that they cannot fail to penetrate and soften even the heart which is habitually insensible to the ever watchful providence of Almighty God.

In the midst of a civil war of unequalled magnitude and severity, which has sometimes seemed to foreign States to invite and to provoke their aggression, peace has been preserved with all nations, order has been maintained, the laws have been respected and obeyed, and harmony has prevailed everywhere except in the theatre of military conflict; while that theatre has been greatly contracted by the advancing armies and navies of the Union. Needful diversions of wealth and of strength from the fields of peaceful industry to the national defence, have not arrested the plough, the shuttle or the ship; the axe has enlarged the borders of our settlements, and the mines, as well of iron and coal as of the precious metals, have yielded even more abundantly than heretofore. Population has steadily increased, notwithstanding the waste that has been made in the camp, the siege and the battle-field; and the country, rejoicing in the consciousness of augmented strength and vigor, is permitted to expect continuance of years with large increase of freedom.

No human counsel hath devised nor hath any mortal hand worked out these great things. They are the gracious gifts of the Most High God, who, while dealing with us in anger for our sins, hath nevertheless remembered mercy. It has seemed to me fit and proper that they should be solemnly, reverently and gratefully acknowledged as with one heart and one voice by the whole American People. I do therefore invite my fellow citizens in every part of the United States, and also those who are at sea and those who are sojourning in foreign lands, to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next, as a day of Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens. And I recommend to them that while offering up the ascriptions justly due to Him for such singular deliverances and blessings, they do also, with humble penitence for our national perverseness and disobedience, commend to His tender care all those who have become widows, orphans, mourners or sufferers in the lamentable civil strife in which we are unavoidably engaged, and fervently implore the interposition of the Almighty Hand to heal the wounds of the nation and to restore it as soon as may be consistent with the Divine purposes to the full enjoyment of peace, harmony, tranquillity and Union.

In testimony whereof, I have hereunto set my hand and caused the Seal of the United States to be affixed.

Done at the City of Washington, this Third day of October, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty-three, and of the Independence of the United States the Eighty-eighth.

By the President: Abraham Lincoln

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Prayer of the Day

Almighty God, Your servant Clement of Rome called the Church in Corinth to repentance and faith to unite them in Christian love. Grant that Your Church may be anchored in Your truth by the presence of the Holy Spirit and kept blameless in Your service until the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.

Clement (ca. A.D. 35–100) is remembered for having established the pattern of apostolic authority that governed the Christian Church during the first and second centuries. He also insisted on keeping Christ at the center of the Church’s worship and outreach. In a letter to the Christians at Corinth, he emphasized the centrality of Jesus’ death and resurrection: “Let us fix our eyes on the blood of Christ, realizing how precious it is to His Father, since it was poured out for our salvation and brought the grace of repentance to the whole world” (1 Clement 6:31). Prior to suffering a martyr’s death by drowning, he displayed a steadfast, Christ-like love for God’s redeemed people, serving as an inspiration to future generations to continue to build the Church on the foundation of the prophets and apostles, with Christ as the one and only cornerstone. (from The Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod website, see Blogroll on sidebar)

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Reflection:  In the bio and in the quote above the word “fix” is employed.  In the Prayer of the Day for the 5th Sunday after Easter, the Church prays,

“Grant that we may love what You have commanded and desire what You promise, that among the many changes of this world our hearts may be fixed where true joys are found, through Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord…”

Our hearts, that is,  our wills are fixed, that is, guided and repaired in true repentance for the fruit of the joys of His crucifixion and resurrection by our hearts fixed on Him,  His forgiveness for us, in us, with us. His life is in our lives. This is heard and seen in His Sacraments. His gift of life is His blood.  We can not repair our hearts, our wills on our own.  No one did heart surgery on himself, one needs a physician. We are fixed by fixing our hearts and eyes on Jesus Christ and that “fix” is prayer, the prayer of faith in the Lord, in Whom we are made one in Christian love and Pastor Clement made this clear. “Let us fix our eyes on the blood Christ…” In our land, and in all lands, the Lord needs His fixed people to live as Christians.

Reading from St. Clement’s First Epistle: “But no to dwell upon examples, let us come to the most recent spiritual heroes. Let us take the noble examples furnished in our own generation. Through envy and jealousy, the greatest and most illustrious pillars [of the Church] have been persecuted and put to death. Let us set before our eyes the illustrious apostles. Peter, through unrighteous envy, endured not one or two, but numerous labors and, when he had at length suffered martyrdom, departed to the place of glory due to him. Owing to envy, Paul also obtained the reward of patient endurance, after being seven times thrown into captivity, compelled to flee, and stoned. After preaching both in the east and west, he gained the illustrious reputation due his faith, having taught righteousness to the whole world, and [coming] to the extreme limit of the west, he suffered martyrdom under the prefects. Thus was he removed from the world, and went into the holy place, having proved himself a striking example of patience…

It is right and holy, therefore, men and brethren, to obey God rather than to follow those who, through pride and sedition, have become the leaders of a detestable emulation. For we shall incur no slight injury, but rather great danger, if we rashly yield ourselves to the inclinations of men who aim at exciting strife and tumults, so as to draw us away from what is good. Let us be kind one to another after the pattern of the tender mercy and kindness of our Creator. For it is written, “The kind-hearted shall inhabit the land, and the guiltless shall be left upon it, but transgressors shall be destroyed from off the face of it.” (Quoted in The Treasury of Daily Prayer, Concordia Publishing House)

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