Monday, January 04, 2016

The Twelfth Day of Christmass




The Incarnation opened heaven, for it was the revelation of the Word; but it also reconsecrated earth, for the Word was made flesh and dwelt among us. And is it impossible to read history without feeling how profoundly the religion of the Incarnation has been a religion of humanity. The human body itself, which heathendom had so degraded that noble minds could only view it as the enemy and prison of the soul, acquired a new meaning, exhibited new graces, shone with a new light of the Word Made Flesh; and thence, in widening circles, the family, society, and state itself felt in their turn the impulse of the Christian spirit with its "touches of things common, 'till they rose to touch the spheres.

By Charles Gore (1853-1932) From For All the Saints, Volume I (Delhi, NY: American Lutheran Publicity Bureau, 1994) p. 177.

For an excellent series of devotional books, check out For All the Saints 

We hope that you have been edified by the devotions on the 12 Days of Christmass.  More Devotions will follow during the season of Lent.

We invite you to visit Christ Lutheran Church.  Our Eucharists take place on Saturday Evenings, 6:30pm, Sunday mornings at 8am and 11am.  For more information, visit our website at www.clcem.net.

The Eleventh Day of Christmass

From a Christmass Sermon by Martin Luther, Here I Stand, by Roland Bainton



Think women, there was no one to bathe the Baby. No warm water, nor even cold.  No fire, no light. The mother was herself midwife and the maid.  The cold manger as the bed and the bathtub.  Who showed the poor girl what to do? She never had a baby before. I am amazed that the little one did not freeze.  Do not make of Mary a stone.  For the higher people are in the favor of God, the more tender are they.

Let us, then, meditate upon the Nativity just as we see it happening in our own babies. Behold Christ lying in the lap of his young mother.  What can be sweeter than the Babe, what more lovely than her virginity! Look at the Child, knowing nothing.  Yet all that is belongs to him, that your conscience should not fear but take comfort in him. Doubt nothing.  To me there is no greater consolation given to mankind than this, that Christ became man, a child, a babe, playing in the lap and at the breasts of his most gracious mother. Who is there whom this sight would not comfort? Now is overcome the power of sin, death, hell, conscience, and guilt, if you come to this gurgling Babe and believe that he is come, not to judge you, but to save.

Saturday, January 02, 2016

The Tenth Day of Christmass

And he went down with them and came to Nazareth and was submissive to them. And his mother treasured up all these things in her heart. And Jesus increased in wisdom and in stature and in favor with God and man.
Luke 2:51-52


On the Tenth Day of Christmass, we recall 12 Year Old Jesus in the Temple. 

In one week’s time, twelve years have now passed. No longer a baby, Jesus now goes to Jerusalem for the annual observance of the Passover. 

The account takes place on their return trip.  Mary and Joseph traveled a day without seeing Jesus, thinking that He was in the crowd with the relatives.  

I can imagine the panic that Mary and Joseph experienced.  Just think of how you feel when one of the kids wanders away in the grocery store, and how panicked you become searching aisle to aisle and not finding him because you keep missing each other in the aisles.  If he’s missing for entire day, a missing person’s report gets filed. Three days later and you begin to think the worst!

Mary and Joseph must have gone through a lot during those three days with Him missing. Lots of miles.  No Jesus.

Finally, and no doubt in desperation- they enter the Temple.  And there they found Jesus, stunning and astounding the most educated teachers that Israel knew.  They must have thought, “here is a child-genius.”  In those three days, Jesus was doing His Father’s business in His Father’s house.

The account ends with Jesus going home with them, living submissively to his parents, and he grew in wisdom, stature and favor with God and man during this time. Mary ponders these things in her heart, right along with the words that Simeon had prophetically uttered 12 years before.

This is the first and last we hear of Jesus’ childhood.  It is also the last time that we hear about Joseph in the Scriptures.  

So, what does this have to say to us on this Tenth Day of Christmass? Is it some kind of moral lesson about obeying our parents and not freaking them out by going MIA for three days? Not at all.

It shows us a few very important things.

First, the teachers of the law thought he was a very learned boy.  Ironically, Jesus didn’t “learn” anything.  He is knowledge itself.  He is wisdom itself.  They were sitting at the feet of God and never knew it!

Second, and most importantly,  there was another time when Jesus disappeared for three days.  Another time when He could not be found.  Gone from sight.  Gone forever in the minds of his followers.  Unable to be found. For three days. Doing His Father's Business for you, for me. The business of saving and redeeming us by dying for our sin. 

And then, on the Third Day He reappeared. In the Temple. The One that had been destroyed and rebuilt in three days-- the Temple of His Body. 

 This Risen Jesus now imparts His Wisdom and His knowledge to us by His Word. His word does not only amaze us; it saves us. The Holy Spirit still speaks through it creating faith and hope in our lives, faith that boldly confess Christ, faith that will turn to sight on the Last Day.

And so we pray, 

Almighty God, You have poured into our hearts the true Light of Your incarnate Word. Grant that this Light may shine forth in our lives; through the same Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.

The Ninth Day of Christmass

On the Ninth Day of Christmass we continue to read about the Holy Family in the Temple with Simeon.


From Luke 2:
And his father and his mother marveled at what was said about him. And Simeon blessed them and said to Mary his mother, “Behold, this child is appointed for the fall and rising of many in Israel, and for a sign that is opposed (and a sword will pierce through your own soul also), so that thoughts from many hearts may be revealed.

Don't you love it when friends see your child or your grandchild for the first time, and immediately fall in love?  That's a special moment!

Simeon sees Jesus for the first time and falls in love with Him: Not just because He is a cute baby, but because he knows Who this baby is:  He is God's baby, Jesus, the Messiah.

He doesn't say, "what a beautiful baby."  Rather, Simeon speaks prophetically about this child.  That's something we cannot do, because a Prophet needs to be called by God and deliver God's message. Simeon had that call.  God had revealed to him that he would not die until he saw the Lord's Christ.

Now, he speaks about this baby.  But it isn't the "ooooing and ahhhhhing" that one would expect. In fact, what he says is quite startling: "Behold, this child is appointed for the fall and rising of many in Israel, and for a sign that is opposed..."

We already have witnessed this.  Stephen was martyred.  John was banished.  The babies were slaughtered, all because of the Name of Jesus.  It continues today.  Last February ISIS beheaded 21 Coptic Christians on the shore of Tripoli. And they continue to do this.  That is a small sliver of the daily persecution and death that many Christians face throughout the world each day, even in 2016. And the subtle persecution is here in our Country as well.  "Freedom of Religion", guaranteed by our Constitution is slowly and subversively being changed into "Freedom of Worship" -- "do what ever you want, but keep that Jesus inside of your four walls."  Military chaplains are now forbidden to proselytize. Movements are afloat to remove tax exemption status from religious groups-- Jews and Christians-- something that has always been afforded by our Country.  Morals are in decay, and hatred for Jesus is at an all time high.  The falling continues to occur at an accelerated rate.  All for the sake of the Name of Jesus.

But what about the rising?  That's happening, too, praise God!  More and more people are believing in Jesus.  More and more people are being baptized into His Precious Name.  Try to stomp out the faith, try to outlaw the Church, and all it does is cause Christianity to grow more and more.  A strong hymn verse reminds us:

The Church shall never perish! 
Her dear Lord to defend, to guide, sustain and cherish,
Is with her to the end
Though there be those that hate her, false sons within her pale
Against both foe and traitor She ever will prevail
The Church's One Foundation, TLH 473, v.3

Then, Simeon cryptically refers to Jesus' crucifixion when he says to Mary,  "A sword will pierce through your own soul also."  Thirty Three years later, Mary would understand, as she stood at the foot of her crucified Son on the cross. But through the piercing of her soul, the world is saved.  Jesus died for you.

Finally, Simeon tells us that "the hearts of many will be revealed."  Either you are for Jesus or you are against Him.  That plays out now in our confession of Christ over and against the hatred of Christ in the world. But all hearts will ultimately be revealed when this little Baby comes as King and Judge of all on the Last Day.  There will be no hiding afforded to His enemies.  They will only rise to fall.  But for those who have fallen to sin, but have looked to their Messiah for salvation, they will rise, and live and reign forever in heaven with this Holy Child.

So we pray,

Lord, we thank you for the message of the Ancient Simeon, who bore Messiah in his arms, and prophesied that He would save us from our sins.  In Jesus' Name.  Amen. 

Friday, January 01, 2016

The Eighth Day of Christmass: The Circumcision of Our Lord

On the Eighth Day of Christmass we celebrate the Feast of the Circumcision and Naming of 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

What's in a name?

Centuries ago, names had meanings. This can particularly be seen in surnames.  "Cook" meant a person did just that!  "Del Assandro" meant the person came from Assandro. "Johnson" meant dad's name was John. My last name means "meat man" or "Butcher"!  Most of those names no longer carry their meaning anymore, having been passed on from generation to generation.

But Jesus' name means exactly what He came to do.  YESHUA - a shortened form of "YAHWEH SHUA" means "Yahweh (the proper name for God, that God gave to Moses and means, "I am that I am") Saves." And that is exactly what Jesus came to do. Gabriel declared to Mary at the annunciation, "You shall call His name YESHUA".  (YESHUA in English is "Jesus").

Salvation of all mankind, not political domination or military strength, was the reason that Messiah came. He delivered us from a lot more than other nations trying to take over Israel.
He delivers us from sin, death, the power of the devil, and ourselves.

Messiah lives the life we could not live, sinless, undoing what Adam did.  He gives this perfect life to us and calls it "Righteousness."  Messiah bares His strong arm and goes to battle against all of the forces of darkness and conquers them on the Cross.  And because of it you are forgiven by His blood. Messiah then puts the nail in death's coffin by being raised from the dead.  Paul reminds us that we are baptized into this resurrection (Romans 6) and that our new life in Christ starts now and is given to us forever.

We now take comfort in Messiah living and reigning at God's Right Hand in heaven for His bride, the Church, and will come again to take us to be with Him forever on the Last Day.  YESHUA means HOPE for us!

He doesn't come as He could have-- like a mighty king in a chariot in the sky, with blazing glory. This hymn verse sums it up well:



Life is a Holy Gift
Which God alone can give.
He sets before us death and life.
Choose life that you might live!
For God has sent His Son
Who could have come a king,
but chose a mother’s womb instead
Eternal Life to bring.

So He comes humbly.   Not as a God who is aloof, but as a God who takes on our flesh.  A God marked with the same blood covenant of His people on the eighth day as He is circumcised in the Temple.  A God who comes and puts Himself under the law to redeem us who are under the law. God sets His mark on Jesus, even as He has set His mark on us in Baptism.

YESHUA means YAHWEH SAVES.  Praise God that His Name means what He does!

And so we pray, 

Lord God, you made your blessed Son, our Savior, subject to the Law to shed his blood on our behalf. Grant us the true circumcision of the spirit that our hearts may be made pure from all sin; through Jesus Christ, our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen. 

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

The Seventh Day of Christmass

On the Seventh Day of Christmass we recall Simeon.



Continuing in Luke 2:
Now there was a man in Jerusalem, whose name was Simeon, and this man was righteous and devout, waiting for the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was upon him. And it had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not see death before he had seen the Lord's Christ. And he came in the Spirit into the temple, and when the parents brought in the child Jesus, to do for him according to the custom of the Law, he took him up in his arms and blessed God and said, 
 “Lord, now you are letting your servant depart in peace,
 according to your word;
 for my eyes have seen your salvation
 that you have prepared in the presence of all peoples,
 a light for revelation to the Gentiles,
and for glory to your people Israel.” 

 A blessed New Year's Eve to you!

Today, the Christmass story unfolds even more with Simeon.  This righteous man upon whom the Holy Spirit dwelt was given the promise that he would not die until he saw Messiah Jesus.  The hope of Messiah was still very much alive in him, and he believed that God would keep His Word-- both the Promise of Messiah and the promise to him.

Amazingly, Simeon was in the Temple the same day that Mary and Joseph showed up for Mary's ritual cleansing.

In the Christian life there are very few coincidences.  We are all a part of the Lord's plan.  As our lives unfold and we look back on them trusting in the Lord, we see that everything happened to us for our good-- even the bad stuff!  The Lord works out His will in our lives for we are very dear to Him. His ultimate will for us is that we be forgiven and saved through Christ. Of that, there is no question!

So, Simeon sees Mary and Joseph and the Baby Jesus there in the Temple. He picks Jesus up in his arms. He holds the Lord.  What a blessed man!  And immediately he breaks forth into a song, what today is known as the canticle, Nunc Dimittis.

Paraphrased, Simeon says: Lord, I can die now.  My eyes have seen Your salvation-- this Word-Made-Flesh-Fulfillment of the Promise given to Adam and Eve, longed for by Your people, preached by Your prophets.  He is in my arms.  He brings His light to the Nations and His glory to Israel.

Sometimes, we don't understand these words that we sing just about every Sunday after Communion.
We are saying the same thing that Simeon said.  "Lord, you have come to me in your true body and blood.  I can die now.  I don't need anything else in life." Pretty heavy words.  But words that are so very true.  Nothing else in your life is more important than Jesus as your Lord.  Nothing else is more important that receiving Him who cleanses you from your sin and gives you eternal life.

Use this hymn paraphrase of the Nunc Dimitis- written for use after communion- as your prayer this day:

Lord, Your promise now fulfilled
And salvation blood is spilled.
In the sight of every man
Word-Made-Flesh completes Your plan.

In my hands the Promised Word:
Blood and Body of the Lord,
Law and Prophets long foretold,
Now here present to behold.

To the heathen nations, light.
To Your Chosen: Glory bright.
Lord dismiss Your servant now,
With Your peace my heart endow.

Amen.


The Sixth Day of Christmass

On the Sixth Day of Christmass we recall the Purification of Mary in the Temple. The Church celebrates this day on February 2 in a service known as "Candlemass".



From Luke 2:22ff, ESV:
And when the time came for their purification according to the Law of Moses, they brought him up to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord (as it is written in the Law of the Lord, “Every male who first opens the womb shall be called holy to the Lord”) and to offer a sacrifice according to what is said in the Law of the Lord, “a pair of turtledoves, or two young pigeons.
 After a child was born, God commanded that the woman be purified so that she could once again worship in the Temple.  (This, of course, is a Levitical law which was abolished by Jesus).  From Leviticus 12:
If a woman conceives and bears a male child, then she shall be unclean seven days. As at the time of her menstruation, she shall be unclean. And on the eighth day the flesh of his foreskin shall be circumcised. Then she shall continue for thirty- three days in the blood of her purifying. She shall not touch anything holy, nor come into the sanctuary, until the days of her purifying are completed. But if she bears a female child, then she shall be unclean two weeks, as in her menstruation. And she shall continue in the blood of her purifying for sixty- six days. And when the days of her purifying are completed, whether for a son or for a daughter, she shall bring to the priest at the entrance of the tent of meeting a lamb a year old for a burnt offering, and a pigeon or a turtledove for a sin offering, and he shall offer it before the Lord and make atonement for her. Then she shall be clean from the flow of her blood. This is the law for her who bears a child, either male or female. And if she cannot afford a lamb, then she shall take two turtledoves or two pigeons, one for a burnt offering and the other for a sin offering. And the priest shall make atonement for her, and she shall be clean. Leviticus 12:1-8
Following this law, Mary and Joseph went to the Temple in Jerusalem after the days of her uncleanness had ended.  There, she offered two turtle doves for sacrifice.  (This is from where the second verse of the song, "The Twelve Days of Christmas" gets it's "two turtle doves.")

The two turtle doves tell us something about Mary and Joseph.  They were poor.  They could not afford the more expensive offering of a yearling lamb.

The picture here is one of sacrifice to make clean.  It is a type of what this child, who opened her womb, would do.

Jesus would not sacrifice lamb, turtle doves, goats, bulls or oxen.  He would not offer grain.  Rather, He offers Himself to make us clean.  He becomes the slain lamb on the altar of the cross.  He is the full-burnt offering for our sin as He endures the hell of the abandonment of the Father for our sake. He is the sacrifice that ends all sacrifices, even as the writer to the Hebrews reminds us,  " and by that will we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all." (Hebrews 10:10)

We don't have to offer our sacrifices to be made clean anymore. The blood of Jesus cleanses us from all sin.  That means He sets us free.  By those who do not know Christ, good works are seen to be sacrifices.  But they are but filthy rags.  Jesus has made you clean.  He has made you whole. He has restored you to God better than any sacrifice on any human altar.  His sacrifice is done "in the entrance way" of the Temple of heaven so that we may enter sinless and undefiled. Where there is forgiveness of these, there is no longer any offering for sin. (Hebrews 10:18)

And so we pray,

Welcome to earth, O noble Guest
Through whom the sinful world is blest!
You came to share my misery
That You might share Your joy with me. 

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

The Fifth Day of Christmass

On the Fifth Day of Christmass the Lutheran Church commemorates David, Shepherd and King.



You have said, "I have made a covenant with my chosen one, I have sworn to David my servant: I will establish your offspring forever, and build your throne for all generations..." Psalm 132 v. 3-4

David was the second King in Israel who ruled in the eleventh and tenth Centuries, B.C. He was a musician and wrote nearly half of the Psalms in the Bible.

While living over a thousand years before Jesus was born, David had much to do with the Christmass Story.

David was born in Bethlehem.  It is also there where he was crowned King of Israel.  Thus, this little burg outside of Jerusalem, least among the clans of Judah would be known as the "City of David."

Joseph and Mary were both descendants of David.  When Caesar Augustus ordered the census (a time when people would register for tax reasons), everyone had to go to their home towns.  So, leaving Nazareth, Joseph and very pregnant Mary set out on their journey south.  Life was not nearly as mobile then, It would be hard to imagine having to do this today, as so many of us are transplanted from far away cities and states.

Still, the distance between Nazareth and Bethlehem was 80 miles-- quite formidable--  some scholars believe it took the Holy Family a week or more to make the journey. .  20 miles a day was not an uncommon walk at that time for someone in shape.  Imagine Mary riding on a donkey all that distance over all of those days!

The Lord told His people that Messiah would be a branch that would sprout out of the stump of Jesse.  Jesse was David's Father.  It is through His line that Jesus comes to us.

Being born in the City of David is a fulfillment of Prophecy.  Not only the Prophecy of Micah, through whom God makes it clear that Messiah would be born in Bethlehem.  But the fulfillment of Messiah being the son of David.

The name Bethlehem is a compound word comprised of the words Beth (house) and Lechem (bread).  How appropriate that the "Bread of Life" was born in "the House of Bread".  Born for us is the True bread that has come down from heaven that in partaking in Him we might be forgiven and saved.

One last thing.  The Lord used David to accomplish his will, even though he was a very flawed man.  He was an adulterer and a murderer- "biggies" and yet the Lord forgave Him as He turned to God in repentance.  Beloved, there is no sin too great for the Lord to forgive, there is no sin for which He did not die.  God uses you as you are, sin and all.  For by Him becoming for us our Bread from Heaven in the House of Bread, He has redeemed and saved us.  Once again, Christmass drives home this beautiful, comforting truth.

And so we pray,

O Lord, we thank you for your servant David.  We praise you for Beth Lechem. For in his City was born for us the very Bread of Life, Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen.


Monday, December 28, 2015

The Fourth Day of Christmass

Today we observe the Feast of the Holy Innocents. 



King Herod, in his jealous rage, ordered all male children 2 years old and under be slaughtered to "eliminate the competition".  The Wise Men cued Herod in that a "King of the Jews" had been born.  Since Herod was the king of the Jews, and since his sons had legal right to the throne after his death, he just couldn't allow it: He dispatches death to the infant boys in Bethlehem. 

Ironically, we continue to kill the infants. We recoil in terror at the thought of the Holocaust, we scream for justice when innocent children get killed by a deranged gunman --as we should!--yet turn a blind eye to the millions of children that are killed in the womb each year. 

We hide behind our silly, non-thought-out euphemisms, deflecting the reality of what actually occurs to a debatable "issue". We define the beginning of life philosophically instead of scientifically.  Ask yourself, how are we any different than Herod? Lord, have mercy!

If Herod had his way, Jesus would have faced the brandished steel of his sword. 

That was not God's plan. Conceived in a womb and born of a woman, Jesus is taken to Egypt to escape Herod's lunacy. There, He begins to retrace the steps of the Children of Israel. 

Coming out of Egypt, He crosses through the sea of baptism. He endures 40 days in the wilderness. Then he brings us to the Promised Land through His life, death and resurrection. As Moses led the Children of Israel to freedom from Pharaoh, Jesus delivers us from sin, death and the power of the devil. 

It was not Herod's Sword that slayed Jesus; it was our sin. Yet in this murder of the Child of Bethlehem we have peace, hope and joy. His Cross is our life.  

Here is a hymnic setting of Matthew 2:1-18 for you to ponder:

Flowerets Bright

In stable bright in Bethlehem was born the King of All
Scepter and Crown of David's line Whom David Lord did call.
His Kingdom is not of this world-- but few would understand--
This is the Heavenly Prince of Peace Sung by angelic band.

The star arose upon his bed, in splendor shone on high.
Came sages to Jerusalem to worship and draw nigh.
“Where is the one born King of Jews?” the sages did demand.
King Herod then became enraged for Judah was his land.

“In Bethlehem” the teachers said, “The Prophet Micah told
‘A Ruler will be born to you from ancient times, of old.’”
Then Herod called them privately, “When did the star appear?”
“Go unto Bethlehem and search That I may, too, draw near.”

With haste the Sages went their way gifting the Infant pure.
And worshiped there the King of Kings with gold and spice and Myrrh.
Then, warned of God as in a dream, “Return another way
For Herod seeks to take His life, His rivalry to slay.”

Too, Joseph in angelic dream was warned to flee the land
For Herod sought to seize the child and slay him with his hand.
“Take Mary and the Holy Child from out of Herod's way
From Egypt God will call His Son e'en as the prophets say.”

And when the king had been deceived his fury burned with might
He dispatched death to all the sons from when the star gave light.
The First in Israel to fall, O Holy Flowerets bright,
Stand as a sign against the world that gropes in death's dark night.

Throughout the land a voice is heard that ceases not to mourn;
As Rachel weeps for all her sons who died when they were born.
Jesus, the Christ for whom they died brings forth not peace, but sword
That soon would pierce His mother’s soul When He died as her Lord.

Lord, as the infants gave their all Your Holy life to spare,
May we, anointed as your priests, in truth Your Light declare.
Cause us to stand, a holy band unmoved e'en pierced by sword.
Grant us at last the Crown of Life the Christ Child’s great reward.


 


Text: John G. Fleischmann,  copyright 1998

Tune: Bethlehem, Gottfried W. Fink, 1842

Sunday, December 27, 2015

The Third Day of Christmass

The Third Day of Christmass is known as the "Feast of Saint John".



Two things stand out about the Apostle and Evangelist John.  

First, as we saw in yesterday's account of St. Stephen, John is called to suffer for the faith.  He was the only disciple to die naturally. All the others were martyred.  Yet, while John's physical life is not taken from him because of the faith, nonetheless he is exiled to Patmos, a desolated prison island, where he is cut off from his family, friends and the Church. 

Sometimes faith in Christ will isolate us. It is hard to take a stand in today's society when the world no longer holds to absolutes --When truth seems to exist no more.

Take a stand for Jesus Christ in the public square and you'll quickly learn what it means to be shunned or isolated.  Preach the truth and you will often be labeled intolerant, and that leads to being seen as irrelevant.  The voice of the Gospel is often squelched today, actively and passively.  While not banished to an island, being shunned by peers, blocked by social media policies, or boldly criticized can isolate psychologically just as much as physical exile. 

John is an example for us to continue to "fight the good fight" despite the attempts to silence the truth.

And what is that truth?  John tells us.  This is the second thing that stands out about John.

It is summed up in the Epistle lesson appointed for today:

1 John 1:1—2:2, ESV
1That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we looked upon and have touched with our hands, concerning the word of life— 2the life was made manifest, and we have seen it, and testify to it and proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and was made manifest to us— 3that which we have seen and heard we proclaim also to you, so that you too may have fellowship with us; and indeed our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ. 4And we are writing these things so that our joy may be complete.5This is the message we have heard from him and proclaim to you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all. 6If we say we have fellowship with him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. 7But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin. 8If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. 9If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 10If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.1My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous. 2He is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world. 

These words of John point us to the truth of the Word Made Flesh, our Lord Jesus Christ.

Notice something.  There is no judgment here. What he writes is pure gift.  John tells us the reason he shares what he does is so that all may have fellowship with Christ Jesus.  He points us to a better way than what we believe to be right. Jesus, the Son of God, has come that we might be forgiven. One may never separate the Manger from the Cross.

John was a wonderful pastor, even in exile. It is from the Island of Patmos that he pens the Revelation given to him by Jesus.

Contrary to popular belief, the Revelation is not written about the "End Times", rather it is a pastoral letter to the Seven Churches which are under his charge.

The Church of John's day was under tremendous persecution.  Written as an apocalypse-- with symbolic language drawn largely from the Old Testament, seeming gibberish writing of a crazed old man (so that the guards would have no problem transporting the letter back to the mainland), John conveys incredible hope to his sisters and brothers who were dying under persecution.  Take your stand, beloved.  Don't be swayed to give up the faith regardless of the suffering it may bring.

In the Revelation John does this by making clear that evil will be conquered, Satan will be cast into hell and that Jesus is triumphant over sin, death and the power of the devil. He will on the Last Day bring home those who are His own, where they will live and reign forever with no more suffering or death.

So we pray,

  Merciful Lord, cast the bright beams of Your light upon Your Church that we, being instructed in the doctrine of Your blessed apostle and evangelist John, may come to the light of everlasting life; for You live and reign with the Father and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.