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Lebanon, Missouri
I am Pastor of Trinity Lutheran Church (LC-MS) in Lebanon, MO for 12 years. I'm married to Cheryl and have been blessed with 5 children.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Part II - Icon of the Nativity

We continue meditation on the Nativity Icon for the 12 days of Christmas:

Mary lies close to Jesus on a red cushion. In faith filled humility she accepted the task of being the Virgin Mother. When she accepts the honor she also accepts the hardships. Mary lies asleep, covered, cold, and weary, and yet more pain will come upon her. A sword will pierce her own soul. Bitterly she will weep for her Son when He is bruised, battered, and bleeding upon the cross for the life of the world. (Luke 2:35).

Joseph sits on the bottom right of the icon. His back is turned toward Mary. Joseph is faced with a dilemma. When Mary first tells him about the miraculous pregnancy, he does not believe her. But Joseph is a kind and righteous man. He does not want to disgrace her, so he plans to end the engagement quietly.

It isn’t until the angel comes to Joseph that he understands what is going on. Mary’s baby came about by the power of the Holy Spirit. Her child will be named Jesus. And His name describes His work – He is Salvation in person.

Let us Pray:
Heavenly Father, as Mary received the high honor of being the Mother of God, so we praise You for You have chosen to dwell in us through faith in Christ. You do this without any merit or worthiness on our part. With this honor, give us the strength you gave to Mary that we might bear under the hardships we face for Your name and to Your glory.
P: Lord, in Your mercy;
C: Hear our prayer.

Dear Lord, Joseph struggled when he doubted Mary. Yet, he believed when the heavenly angel spoke Your Word. So too, may we, like Joseph, believe, heed, and follow Your Word. Amen. (Posts are adapted from Rejesus web site).

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Part I - Icon of the Nativity

During the 12 Days of Christmas take time to look over this icon. I will examine it in four parts. Each part will begin with reflections of the Nativity. The icon and idea for these posts comes from Rejesus, a web site of the United Kingdom. I have added my own notes and prayers.

Notice the center of the icon. There is baby Jesus. The focal point is on Him, for He is the heart of the whole Christmas story. Those who have ears, let them hear: Christ is also at the heart of the church - her ministry, her hymns, her liturgy, the life of her people.

The manger is made to look like a sepulcher. Jesus’ task is not set when He is an adult. It isn’t as if Jesus waited till a mature age to settle upon and undertake the difficult path of dying for our sins. The goal is set already in the manger. Indeed, the plan was set in eternity past.

Christ’s central work is emphasized by the cross that shoots up from the manger – between the rocks. On the cross is the star of Bethlehem. Wise men follow the star to the manger, but they dare not stop in this tiny town.

Those who are truly wise are those who have been given the gift of faith by the Holy Spirit. They must follow Jesus to Jerusalem on Good Friday to the fulfillment of His incarnation. They do this when in faith the wise receive Holy Baptism, Holy Communion, and Holy Absolution. In these Sacraments God's people are brought into the sphere of Jesus' death and resurrection. They become partakers in His work.

Heavenly Father, we praise you that the Ancient of Days has become an infant. He who sits on the heavenly throne, now lies in a manger. He Who cannot be touched now lies subject to the hands of men. He Who will break the bonds of sinners, is now bound by an infant’s bands.

All glory are Yours because You have decreed that contempt shall become honor, infamy shall be clothed with glory, and the total humiliation of Jesus will be the measure of His goodness. (adapted, Bishop & Doctor John Chrysostum in, Sunday Sermons of the Great Fathers, vol 1, p.112f.)

P: Lord, in Your mercy;
C: Hear our prayer.

Dear Jesus, You assumed our flesh, that we may partake of Your Word. You have taken our flesh, to give us Your Spirit. You have bestowed and we have received. You have become our treasure and life. All glory and honor be to Your blessed name with the Father and the Holy Spirit. Amen (adapted, Bishop & Doctor John Chrysostum in, Sunday Sermons of the Great Fathers, vol 1, p.112f.)