December 27: St. John, Apostle and Evangelist


John was the son of Zebedee and Salome, and the brother of James the Greater. In the Gospels the two brothers are often called after their father “the sons of Zebedee” and received from Christ the honourable title of Boanerges, i.e. “sons of thunder” (Mark 3:17).
Originally they were fishermen and fished with their father in the Lake
of Genesareth. According to the usual and entirely probable explanation
they became, however, for a time disciples of John the Baptist, and
were called by Christ from the circle of John’s followers, together
with Peter and Andrew, to become His disciples (John 1:35-42).
The first disciples returned with their new Master from the Jordan to
Galilee and apparently both John and the others remained for some time
with Jesus
(cf. John ii, 12, 22; iv, 2, 8, 27 sqq.). Yet after the second return
from Judea, John and his companions went back again to their trade of
fishing until he and they were called by Christ to definitive
discipleship (Matthew 4:18-22Mark 1:16-20). In the lists of the Apostles John has the second place (Acts 1:13), the third (Mark 3:17), and the fourth (Matthew 10:3Luke 6:14), yet always after James with the exception of a few passages (Luke 8:519:28 in the Greek text; Acts 1:13).

From James being thus placed first, the conclusion is drawn that
John was the younger of the two brothers. In any case John had a
prominent position in the Apostolic body. Peter, James, and he were the
only witnesses of the raising of Jairus’s daughter (Mark 5:37), of the Transfiguration (Matthew 17:1), and of the Agony in Gethsemani (Matthew 26:37). Only he and Peter were sent into the city to make the preparation for the Last Supper (Luke 22:8). At the Supper itself his place was next to Christ on Whose breast he leaned (John 13:23, 25).
According to the general interpretation John was also that “other
disciple” who with Peter followed Christ after the arrest into the
palace of the high-priest (John 18:15).
John alone remained near his beloved Master at the foot of the Cross on
Calvary with the Mother of Jesus and the pious women, and took the
desolate Mother into his care as the last legacy of Christ (John 19:25-27). After the Resurrection
John with Peter was the first of the disciples to hasten to the grave
and he was the first to believe that Christ had truly risen (John 20:2-10).
When later Christ appeared at the Lake of Genesareth John was also the
first of the seven disciples present who recognized his Master standing
on the shore (John 21:7).
The Fourth Evangelist has shown us most clearly how close the
relationship was in which he always stood to his Lord and Master by the
title with which he is accustomed to indicate himself without giving
his name: “the disciple whom Jesus loved”. After Christ’s Ascension
and the Descent of the Holy Spirit, John took, together with Peter, a
prominent part in the founding and guidance of the Church. We see him
in the company of Peter at the healing of the lame man in the Temple (Acts 3:1 sqq.). With Peter he is also thrown into prison (Acts 4:3). Again, we find him with the prince of the Apostles visiting the newly converted in Samaria (Acts 8:14).

We have no positive information concerning the duration of this
activity in Palestine. Apparently John in common with the other
Apostles remained some twelve years in this first field of labour,
until the persecution of Herod Agrippa I led to the scattering of the Apostles through the various provinces of the Roman Empire (cf. Acts 12:1-17).
Notwithstanding the opinion to the contrary of many writers, it does
not appear improbable that John then went for the first time to Asia
Minor and exercised his Apostolic office in various provinces there. In
any case a Christian community was already in existence at Ephesus before Paul’s first labours there (cf. “the brethren”, Acts 18:27,
in addition to Priscilla and Aquila), and it is easy to connect a
sojourn of John in these provinces with the fact that the Holy Ghost
did not permit the Apostle Paul on his second missionary journey to
proclaim the Gospel in Asia, Mysia, and Bithynia (Acts 16:6 sq.).
There is just as little against such an acceptation in the later
account in Acts of St. Paul’s third missionary journey. But in any case
such a sojourn by John in Asia in this first period was neither long
nor uninterrupted. He returned with the other disciples to Jerusalem
for the Apostolic Council (about A.D. 51). St. Paul in opposing his
enemies in Galatia names John explicitly along with Peter and James the
Less as a “pillar of the Church”, and refers to the recognition which
his Apostolic preaching of a Gospel free from the law received from
these three, the most prominent men of the old Mother-Church at
Jerusalem (Galatians 2:9). When Paul came again to Jerusalem after the second and after the third journey (Acts 18:2221:17 sq.)
he seems no longer to have met John there. Some wish to draw the
conclusion from this that John left Palestine between the years 52


The Christian writers
of the second and third centuries testify to us as a tradition
universally recognized and doubted by no one that the Apostle and
Evangelist John lived in Asia Minor in the last decades of the first
century and from Ephesus had guided the Churches of that province. In
his “Dialogue with Tryphon” (Chapter 81) St. Justin Martyr
refers to “John, one of the Apostles of Christ” as a witness who had
lived “with us”, that is, at Ephesus. St. Irenæus speaks in very many
places of the Apostle John and his residence in Asia and expressly
declares that he wrote his Gospel at Ephesus (Adv. haer., III, i, 1),
and that he had lived there until the reign of Trajan (loc. cit., II, xxii, 5). With Eusebius (Hist. eccl., III, xiii, 1) and others we are obliged to place the Apostle’s banishment to Patmos in the reign of the Emperor Domitian (81-96). Previous to this, according to Tertullian’s
testimony (De praescript., xxxvi), John had been thrown into a cauldron
of boiling oil before the Porta Latina at Rome without suffering
injury. After Domitian’s death the Apostle returned to Ephesus during the reign of Trajan,
and at Ephesus he died about A.D. 100 at a great age. Tradition reports
many beautiful traits of the last years of his life: that he refused to
remain under the same roof with Cerinthus
(Irenaeus “Ad. haer.”, III, iii, 4); his touching anxiety about a youth
who had become a robber (Clemens Alex., “Quis dives salvetur”, xiii);
his constantly repeated words of exhortation at the end of his life,
“Little children, love one another” (Jerome, “Comm. in ep. ad. Gal.”,
vi, 10). On the other hand the stories told in the apocryphal Acts of
John, which appeared as early as the second century, are unhistorical

Christian art
usually represents St. John with an eagle, symbolizing the heights to
which he rises in the first chapter of his Gospel. The chalice as
symbolic of St. John, which, according to some authorities, was not
adopted until the thirteenth century, is sometimes interpreted with
reference to the Last Supper,
again as connected with the legend according to which St. John was
handed a cup of poisoned wine, from which, at his blessing, the poison
rose in the shape of a serpent. Perhaps the most natural explanation is
to be found in the words of Christ to John and James “My chalice indeed
you shall drink” (Matthew 20:23).


A Limited Gospel: The Error of Calvinism

On the night of Christ’s birth the angel said, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of a great joy that will be for all the people.” Contrast this Biblical truth with what James White has to say about the Gospel. According to this “Reformed Baptist” theological cruise host and pundit,  if Christ would have died for all, that would have tied God’s hands and left him no way to show forth all his attributes. Actually, if Christ died for all it puts a big old kink in the Calvinist system. And therein lies the problem. In White’s system, the angels should have said, “Fear not, well, unless you are worried about not being among the elect, in that case, be afraid, be very afraid, for behold I bring you, well, actually, maybe not you, but good news for some, and great joy for some, that will be for some people.” This is not the Gospel of Jesus, but it is the “Gospel” of Calvinists like White. That is to say, no Gospel at all. Here is what White has to say. The poor guy can’t distinguish universal atonement from universal salvation.

Secondly, He will save a particular people. He will not save every single person on the planet. Yes, He could have, had that been the choice of the Triune God. But universal salvation would have left God with no choices, no demonstration of the breadth of His attributes. His grace would have been a given, hence, not free, not sovereign. Instead, He saves His people from their sins. He is Savior. A given, you may think? Not in today’s theological landscape. Few truly believe it anymore, to be honest. Source.

A Blessed St. Stephen’s Day

Today in the historic church year, the stoning of St. Stephen is commemorated. Christmas, you see, is serious business, a very deadly business. God sent into this world His Son, who, like Stephen, was killed at the hands of sinful men. Our Lord Christ was the true and faithful Witness from the Father, but the world received Him not. But this did not stop our Lord. He knew why He had come. He knew what He had to do. He did not turn back. He did not run. He set His face like flint, and scorning the cross’ shame, He endured it for our life and salvation. Life died. The dead live. What a blessed mystery and joy.

And so, on the day after Christ’s birth, there is commemorated the first martyr in the church, St. Stephen, who died as a faithful confessor and witness of His Lord. The word “martyr,” a Greek word, means, “witness.” The confession of Christ as the only way, the only truth, and the only life is not a message any more popular today. A cute baby in a manger seems harmless enough to many, but when that baby’s mission is proclaimed and insisted upon, in various ways our culture starts gathering its stones to stop this proclamation.

On a day when shopping mall parking lots are stuffed full of people trying to return gifts, there is a certain dreadful and wonderful irony that the church this day remembers Stephen, killed by those who did not want the Lord’s gift of a Christ. And so, they took up stones to murder one of the Christ child’s faithful disciples, St. Stephen, who went to his death confessing the gift of the Savior Jesus.

Ponder and meditate on the reality of death as the ultimate cost of discipleship. Recall our Lord’s words, “Whosoever will save his life shall lose it; but whosoever shall
lose his life for my sake and the gospel’s, the same shall save it” [Mark 8:35]. Consider your own calling in life. When, and where, are the opportunities in your life to confess your Savior? What do you sacrifice in order to bear witness to your Lord? When have you remained silent? When have you compromised your confession in order to avoid the “stones” of those who would persecute the Faith? Confess those sins and repent of them. Thank God for faithful Stephen and His confession of the One whose blood cleanses us from all sins, and sets us free to confess Him with joy and confidence. May the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ give you great strength and joy in confessing His Son, as you follow the example of Blessed St. Stephen. God grant it, for Jesus sake.

You may find it a real blessing to meditate prayerfully on the libretta of Bach’s Cantata 57, prepared specifically for St. Stephen’s day. Note the sturdy realism of this text.

Praise God, the Lord

Praise God the Lord, Ye Sons of Men
by Nikolaus Herman
Translated by August Crull, 1845-1923
Text from The Lutheran Hymnal,1941

        1. Praise God the Lord, ye sons of men,

        Before His highest throne;

        Today He opens heaven again

        And gives us His own Son.

        2. He leaves His heavenly Father’s throne,

        Is born an infant small,

        And in a manger, poor and lone,

        Lies in a humble stall.

        3. He veils in flesh His power divine

        A servant’s form to take;

        In want and lowliness must pine

        Who heaven and earth did make.

        4. He nestles at His mother’s breast,

        Receives her tender care,

        Whom angels hail with joy most blest,

        King David’s royal heir.

        5. ‘Tis He who in these latter days

        From Judah’s tribe should come,

        By whom the Father would upraise

        The Church, His Christendom.

        6. A wondrous change which He doth make!

        He takes our flesh and blood,

        And He conceals for sinners’ sake

        His majesty of God.

        7. He serves that I a lord may be;

        A great exchange indeed!

        Could Jesus’ love do more for me

        To help me in my need?

        8. He opens us again the door

        Of Paradise today;

        The angel guards the gate no more,

        To God our thanks we pay.


        Hymn #105 from The Lutheran Hymnal

        Text: Luke 2: 1-14

        Author: Nikolaus Herman, 1560

        Translated by: August Crull, 1923, alt.

        Titled: Lobt Gott, ihr Christen all zugleich

        Composer: Nikolaus Herman, 1554

        Tune: Lobt Gott, ihr Christen

Happy Christmas!

The Word Became Flesh and Dwelt Among Us

Come, our Lord, the Christ be praising,,
Christ the Lord with gladness praising;
Loudly sing His love amazing, Worthy folk of Christendom.

Sin and death may well be groaning,
Satan now may well be moaning;
We, our full salvation owning,
Cast our every care away.

See how God, for us providing,
Gave His Son and life abiding;
He our weary steps is guiding
From earth’s woe to heavenly joy.

Christ, from heaven to us descending
And in love our race befriending,
In our need His help extending,
Saved us from the wily Foe.

Jacob’s Star in all its splendor
Beams with comfort sweet and tender,
Forcing Satan to surrender,
Breaking all the powers of hell.

From the bondage that oppressed us,
From sin’s fetters that possessed us,
From the grief that sore distressed us,
We, the captives, now are free.

Oh, the joy beyond expressing
When by faith we grasp this blessing
And to Thee we come confessing,
That our freedom thou hast wrought!

Gracious Child, we pray Thee, hear us,
From Thy lowly manger cheer us,
Gently lead us and be near us
Till we join the angelic choir.

Rev. Paul Gerhardt’s Translation of
Quem Pastores Laudavere
Authorship Unknown, 14th century
Translation To English composite, alt.
for The Lutheran Hymnal, 1941

Sermon on “All My Heart This Night Rejoices”

Pastor Chad Kendall just e-mailed me to say that at his congregation his senior pastor and he has have been devoting their Advent and Christmas sermons to Christmas hymns. He offers this sermon.

Reverend McCain,

I received your email about the wonderful hymn.  It just so happens that the
Rev. Phill Andreasen and I have selected Advent hymns as the basis of our
sermons for this Advent Season here at Immanuel, Spirit Lake, Iowa.  We did
the same for Christmas Day.  The sermon I had selected for its beautiful
words is TLH 77, “All My Heart This Night Rejoices.”  I had just finished
writing it when I received your email.  I humbly send my sermon your way.

Have a blessed Christmas.

Rev. Chad Kendall, Associate Pastor


TLH 77 All My Heart This Night Rejoices-Luke 2:1-20

“All my heart this night rejoices, as I hear far and near, sweetest angel
voices. “Christ is born” their choirs are singing till the air everywhere
now with joy is ringing”(Stanza 1). Is not this a true description of the
Christian church? The church rejoices, your hearts, and my heart included.
Today we come together, and we celebrate the wonderful mystery of God coming
in the flesh and breaking into our world.

If I struggle with anything today, it is knowing what to say on such a
glorious feast day. Christmas Day and Easter Day are the two days in the
church year where I struggle the most with my sermon writing. Some might
say, “well, pastor, these should be the easiest sermons to preach. Truly, I
could probably step into the pulpit and talk all day about the birth of the
baby Jesus.

Our first thought may be that Christmas and Easter preach for themselves
with their popular imagery. The messages of these two feasts are so clear,
it hardly seems that a sermon could add much to the artistic sermon that we
already have in pictures. The birth of the baby Jesus is so miraculous that
it almost leaves me speechless. What more can be said. God came down and
entered the womb of a virgin and was born a baby, thereby entering our
world. We behold the mystery of the incarnation. We behold a glorious
miracles today that took place many centuries ago and it is marvelous in our

The chief hymn for today helps us to understand some of the reasons why God
did this glorious thing we call the virgin birth. It is a great Lutheran
hymn, though it is not popular like some of the other standard Christmas
hymns. The more I read the words to it, the more I like it. Stanza 2, “Forth
today the Conqueror goeth, Who the foe, Sin and woe, Death and hell
o’erthroweth. God is man, man to deliver; His dear Son Now is one with our
blood forever.”

Stanza 2 really tells it all. It is not enough for the world to know that
God came into the flesh and was born a baby. Much of the world can look on
and see this little baby in swaddling cloths and be moved to shed a tear. So
often this is where the world takes leave of the Christ. They leave Him in
the manger. They leave Him in the stable, without having room for Him in the
inn of their hearts and lives.

Society only looks upon Jesus when it is appropriate and convenient. The
reality is that our society only wants the niceties associated with this
holy day. You may have seen on the news or read articles on the web which
pointed out that many “mega churches” are closed today.

These churches decided not to have church because attendance would be too
poor, citing that people want to spend time with their families. Hence, no
church. Worldly customs have won the day in our country. Jesus is looked
upon in the manger, people feel their hearts flutter with a “warm fuzzy
feeling,” but then they go about their business.

Not having church because attendance would be too poor due to people’s felt
needs of being with family and opening presents is to be counted as the same
as saying that there is no room at the inn for this little one. “My inn is
full today, thank you very much,” many conclude. Have Him sleep outside of
my life today, perhaps in the stable. I will come for Him again when the
time is right.

Upon pondering the mystery of the birth of the little baby Jesus, we would
think that people would have lined up to behold God’s face, but they didn’t.
Just a couple of shepherds came in awe, eagerly desiring to see what the
angel had prophesied. We shouldn’t expect anything different from society
today. Until a person understands why God came in the flesh, he will only
cast a passing glance at this babe in the manger.

Our hymn preaches a sermon of its own, telling us why God did what He did.
The beautiful and serene picture that the world loves to behold on this day
tells a different story than what can be seen in the manger at first glance.
So it is, that though this day speaks for itself, a sermon must be preached,
a story told, because it is what comes after this beautiful scene that the
world wishes to ignore.

Stanza 2 hints to us that “God is man, man to deliver. His dear Son Now is
one With our blood forever.” He must be made man to deliver, and He has
blood running through veins, just like us. He became like one of us. There
is more here than meets the eye, and the world doesn’t see it.

God’s love for mankind is seen in this birth. Stanza 4 says, “Should He who
Himself imparted aught withhold from the fold. Leave us brokenhearted?
Should the Son of God not love us, Who to cheer Suff’rers here, Left His
throne above?” And Stanza 5, “If our blessed Lord and Maker Hated men, would
He then be of flesh partaker? If He in our woe delighted, would He bear all
the care of our race benighted?”

We find that the hymnist is confessing that God’s love is made known in this
miraculous birth. The hymnist also tells us that Jesus, the 2nd person of
the Trinity left His throne above in order to cheer the suff’rers here.
There is something more to this miraculous birth than meets the eye. There
is more to God becoming a flesh and blood man than is readily apparent.

We find it explained by the hymnist in stanza 6. “He becomes the Lamb that
taketh Sin away and for aye full atonement maketh. For our life His own He
tenders and our race, by His grace, meet for glory renders.” Interestingly
enough, the writer of this hymn was a fantastic theologian, for in stanza 6
he shows us that it is not enough to just look upon this sweet and beautiful
baby in the manger. This is where the world leaves Him. We cannot. He would
not remain this way.

In stanza 6 a sermon is being preached. He is bringing us beyond the
captivating gaze which leaves us speechless and brings us to a different
picture than what we find on this blessed Nativity of Christ. Paul Gerhardt,
the writer of this hymn, is bringing us to the cross. Good Friday cannot be
separated and ignored from this blessed scene. “God is man, man to deliver,
His dear Son Now is one with our blood forever (stanza 2).

We have to understand that this sweet baby, God in the flesh, will become a
man. Many will be divided because of Him. He leaves this world giving the
world a very different picture than what we see today. The church sees His
blood being spilled onto the cross and onto the soil. The Christian church
sees sadness, suffering, one who is forsaken and left alone. It might seem
odd and a bit disruptive to give my audience such a picture on such a happy
and joyous day.

Yet, this day of celebrating His birth would not be a happy and joyous one
if it were not for this gruesome scene on the cross. Perhaps the world
doesn’t want the joys of the cross. Perhaps they are content to just glance
at the serene and peaceful scene of the baby in the manger, His mother Mary,
and Joseph looking on with a glow.

Christians must look beyond and see the real meaning of Christmas. Jesus
took on flesh, our flesh, in order to spill that blood which He has in
common with us. He came in the flesh because He would pay what is due: He
would pay what we owe. Our flesh is corrupt, we were born at enmity with
God. Jesus comes with a holy and righteous flesh. He comes with a flesh that
is holy and righteous and without sin. Jesus was born so that He would die
in our place. He would suffer hell so that we wouldn’t have to.

So, you see, because of our sinful flesh, we need a sermon on Christmas Day.
We need Him to enter our world again and again. As awe-filled as the
Christmas Day picture is, it is not enough to just gaze upon the manger
scene and stay home, cancel church, and skip the sermon. We need to be
preached to from the wood of the manger to the wood of the cross because
there is a reason Jesus took on flesh. There is a reason that blood flowed
through His veins.

He did it for the life of the world. He came to die so that everyone might
have life in Him. Though all mankind is still plagued with sin, believers
know that they will never experience spiritual death, because Jesus
experienced it in our stead. So it is that the Christian sings this
beautiful Christmas hymn and closes it out with stanza 15, “Dearest Lord,
Thee will I cherish. Though my breath fail in death, Yet shall I not perish,
but with Thee abide forever there on high, in that joy which can vanish

Christmas is about Jesus coming to be that Lamb that taketh away the sins of
the world, and this is the church’s joy on this Christmas morn. Amen.

Rev. Chad Kendall, Associate Pastor

Immanuel Lutheran Church

Spirit Lake, Iowa

The Feast of the Nativity, 2005

Forth Today the Conqueror Goeth!

May the grace, mercy and peace of God the Father, made ours in the God-man Jesus Christ, by the power of the Holy Spirit, fill your heart, soul and mind with great joy. A blessed and happy Christmas and New Year to you and to yours.
    I read recently again all the verses in Paul Gerhardt’s powerfully beautiful Christmas hymn, “All My Heart This Night Rejoices” and thought it would be an appropriate Christmas gift to share with you.   
    Take courage and be of good cheer knowing that nothing in this world can separate you from the love of God which is yours through Christ Jesus our Lord who became man, to live and suffer and die in our place, for the sins of the whole world, as the deepest and most profound manifestation of the love, mercy and grace of God, so that we might become heirs of eternal life.

All My Heart This Night Rejoices

by Rev. Paul Gerhardt

Here is the tune

Here is the sheet music [easier to follow]

Note: This is the translation provided in The Lutheran Hymnal, a slightly altered form of Catherine Winkworth’s English translation. Winkworth liked to add Victorian-style lace and ruffles when she translated, for instance, Gerhard did not speak of “sweet voices” but simply “angels singing.” etc. If anyone reading this post knows of a better, complete, English translation of this hymn, please let me know. Gerhardt’s original is fifteen verses long and it is not uncommon that some of these verses are dropped in various Protestant hymnals, which will often choose to forego the more theological of the verses.

1. All my heart this night rejoices
        As I hear Far and near
        Sweetest angel voices.
        “Christ is born,” their choirs are singing
        Till the air Everywhere
        Now with joy is ringing.

        2. Forth today the Conqueror goeth,
        Who the foe, Sin and woe,
        Death and hell, o’erthroweth.
        God is man, man to deliver;
        His dear Son Now is one
        With our blood forever.

        3. Shall we still dread God’s displeasure,
        Who, to save, Freely gave
        His most cherished Treasure?
        To redeem us, He hath given
        His own Son From the throne
        Of His might in heaven.

        4. Should He who Himself imparted
        Aught withhold From the fold,
        Leave us broken-hearted?
        Should the Son of God not love us,
        Who, to cheer Sufferers here,
        Left His throne above us?

        5. If our blessed Lord and Maker
        Hated men, Would He then
        Be of flesh partaker?
        If He in our woe delighted,
        Would He bear All the care
        Of our race benighted?

        6. He becomes the Lamb that taketh
        Sin away And for aye
        Full atonement maketh.
        For our life His own He tenders
        And our race, By His grace,
        Meet for glory renders.

        7. Hark! a voice from yonder manger,
        Soft and sweet, Doth entreat:
        “Flee from woe and danger.
        Brethren, from all ills that grieve you
        You are feed; All you need
        I will surely give you.”

        8. Come, then, banish all your sadness,
        One and all, Great and small;
        Come with songs of gladness.
        Love Him who with love is glowing;
        Hail the Star, Near and far
        Light and joy bestowing.

        9. Ye whose anguish knew no measure,
        Weep no more; See the door
        To celestial pleasure.
        Cling to Him, for He will guide you
        Where no cross, Pain, or loss
        Can again betide you.

        10. Hither come, ye heavy-hearted,
        Who for sin, Deep within,
        Long and sore have smarted;
        For the poisoned wound you’re feeling
        Help is near, One is here
        Mighty for their healing.

        11. Hither come, ye poor and wretched;
        Know His will Is to fill
        Every hand outstretched.
        Here are riches without measure;
        Here forget All regret,
        Fill your hearts with treasure.

        12. Let me in my arms receive Thee;
        On Thy breast Let me rest,
        Savior, ne’er to leave Thee.
        Since Thou hast Thyself presented
        Now to me, I shall be
        Evermore contented.

        13. Guilt no longer can distress me;
        Son of God, Thou my load
        Bearest to release me.
        Stain in me Thou findest never;
        I am clean, All my sin
        Is removed forever.

        14. I am pure, in Thee believing,
        From Thy store Evermore
        Righteous robes receiving.
        In my heart I will enfold Thee,
        Treasure rare, Let me there,
        Loving, ever hold Thee.

        15. Dearest Lord, Thee will I cherish.
        Though my breath Fail in death,
        Yet I shall not perish,
        But with Thee abide forever
        There on high, In that joy
        Which can vanish never.

Gerhardt’s German:

1. Froehlich soll mein Herze springen
        Dieser Zeit, Da vor Freud’
        Alle Engel singen.
        Hoert, hoert, wie mit vollen Choeren
        Alle Luft Laute ruft:
        Christus ist

        2. Heute geht aus seiner Kammer
        Gottes Held, Der die Welt
        Reisst aus allem Jammer.
        Gott wird Mensch dir, Mensch, zugute.
        Gottes Kind, Das verbind’t
        Sich mit unserm Blute.

        3. Sollt’ uns Gott nin koennen hassen,
        Der uns gibt, Was er liebt
        Ueber alle Massen?
        Gott gibt, unserm Leid zu wehren,
        Seinen Sohn Aus dem Thron
        Seiner Macht und Ehren.

        4. Sollte von uns sein gekehret,
        Der sein Reich Und zugleich
        Sich uns selbst verehret?
        Sollt’ uns Gottes Sohn nicht lieben,
        Der jetzt koemmt, Von uns nimmt,
        Was uns will betrueben?

        5. Haette vor der Menschen Orden
        Unser Heil Einen Greu’l,
        Waer’er nicht Mensch worden.
        Haett’ er Lust zu unserm Schaden,
        Ei, so wuerd’ Unsre Buerd’
        Er nicht auf sich laden.

        6. Er nimmt auf sich, was auf Erden
        Wir getan, Gibt sich an,
        Unser Lamm zu werden,
        Unser Lamm, das fuer uns stirbet
        Und bei Gott Fuer den Tod
        Gnad’ und Fried’ erwirbet.

        7. Nun, er liegt in seiner Krippen,
        Ruft zu sich Mich und dich,
        Spricht mit suessen Lippen:
        Lasset fahr’n, o liebe Brueder,
        Was euch quaelt, Was euch fehlt,
        Ich bring’ alles wieder.

        8. Ei, so kommt und lasst uns laufen!
        Stellt euch ein, Gross und klein,
        Eilt mit grossem Haufen!
        Liebt den, der vor Liebe brennet;
        Schaut den Stern, Der uns gern
        Licht und Labsal goennet.

        9. Die ihr schwebt in grossen Leiden,
        Sehet, hier Ist die Tuer
        Zu den wahren Freuden.
        Fasst ihn wohl, er wird euch fuehren
        An den Ort, Da hinfort
        Euch kein Kreuz wird ruehren.

        10. Wer sich fuehlt beschwert im Herzen,
        Wer empfind’t Seine Suend’
        Und Gewissensschmerzen,
        Sei getrost, hier wird gefunden,
        Der in Eil’ Machet heil
        Die vergift’ten Wunden.

        11. Die ihr arm seid und elende,
        Kommt herbei, Fuellet frei
        Eures Glaubens Haende!
        Hier sind alle guten Gaben
        Und das Gold, Da ihr sollt
        Euer Herz mit laben.

        12. Suesses Heil, lass dich umfangen,
        Lass mich dir, Meine Zier,
        Unverrueckt anhangen!
        Du bist meines Lebens Leben;
        Nun kann ich Mich durch dich
        Wohl zufrieden geben.

        13. Meine Schuld kann mich nicht druecken,
        Denn du hast Meine Last
        All’ auf deinem Ruecken.
        Kein Fleck ist an mir zu finden,
        Ich bin gar Rein und klar
        Aller meiner Suenden.

        14. Ich bin rein um deinetwillen;
        Du gibst g’nug Ehr’ und Schmuck,
        Mich darein zu huellen.
        Ich will dich ins Herze schliessen;
        O mein Ruhm, Edle Blum’,
        Lass dich recht geniessen!

        15. Ich will dich mit Fleiss bewahren,
        Ich will dir Leben hier,
        Dir will ich abfahren;
        Mit dir will ich endlich schweben
        Voller Freud’ Ohne Zeit
        Dort im andern Leben.

        Hymn #77 from The Handbook to The Lutheran Hymnal
        Text: Luke 2:11
        Author: Paul Gerhardt, 1653
        Titled: Froehlich soll mein Herze springen
        Composer: Johann Crueger, 1653
        Tune: Froehlich soll mein Herze

ELCA Bishop Green Lights “Gay” Blessings

And so it goes…you can have it both ways in the ELCA these days. To anyone who seriously thought, or still thinks, that what happened in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America in Orlando was not another seismic lurch into oblivion for the ELCA, I say, “Wake up and smell the Brokeback Mountain Java.” An ELCA Bishop has made it clear she will approve same-sex blessings. What a wonderful way to celebrate our Lord’s Nativity. What else could one expect from a so-called “bishop” whose own occupation of the office of the holy ministry is itself both anti-apostolic and anti-biblical?

Sometimes God Doesn’t Expand Your Territory

Remember Bruce Wilkinson of “Prayer of Jabez” infamy? The man who made a literal fortune peddling snake-oil theology? The man who made many actually believe that if they would repeat an obscure passage in the Old Testament God would give them miracles? Well, apparently, the mantra doesn’t always work. Wilkinson moved to Africa with a grand dream and left in a huff, leaving many in the lurch. You can read the story from the Wall Street Journal. Another grandiose, theology of glory, train wreck. Oh, by the way, the publishing company that pumped out this tripe, Multnomah, just about went bankrupt when it put all its eggs in the “Jabez” basket. They increased capacity, they purchased warehouses, and then the Jabez fad faded and they were left with unsold inventory and debt. That was an interesting fact that we didn’t hear much about either. We must be careful when people come along making grand promises and casting their effusive visions. Sadly, often these grand visions go down in flames. It never ceases to amaze me how American Evangelicalism goes in for this nonsense. It is a blight on the Gospel and bring the entire body of Christ into shame and disgrace in the eyes of the world.