Friday, December 25, 2020

Sermon for the Nativity of Our Lord - Christmas Day - Jn 1:1-14


                                                                                                Christmas Day

                                                                                                Jn 1:1-14



            This is a time of year when the night is filled with light.  In every neighborhood, houses are decorated with lights for Christmas.  There are white lights and colored lights. Some, like our house, go with the basic icicle lights that hang down from the edge of the house. But others go far, far beyond this.

            As you drive around you can see some remarkable displays that have obviously involved a great deal of time and effort. The are houses that have been turned into glowing works of art as they have been wrapped in lights that perfectly illuminate the outline of the house and its various features.  There are homes where trees outside have been illuminated, and fences have been wrapped in light.

            And then there are displays that are certainly remarkable, though not for their artistic taste.  There is one house have I have seen that has about twenty eight inflated and illuminated decorations.  Almost every inch of the yard is filled with them and the figures themselves run the gamut of every possible one associated with Christmas – though I have yet to figure out what the Minions and a dragon have to do with Christmas.  While this display is lacking in artistic skill, there is no doubt about the enthusiasm and effort that has gone into it.

            The Gospel lesson for Christmas Day is also dominated by the theme of light and darkness as St. John begins his Gospel and speaks about the incarnation of the Son of God.  He tells us that when the Word became flesh, life entered into the world that is the light for all people.  The Christ child in the manger whose birth we celebrate today, is the light that frees us from the darkness and makes us to be the children of God.

            If you look at the picture of St. John on the wall here in the nave at Good Shepherd, you will see that it says, “St. John the Theologian.”  Our text this morning is a classic example of why St. John has been identified in this way.  It is generally agreed that the Gospel of John was the last to be written.  John writes to tell us what happened, but he does so in a way that shows his deep reflection on what it means as he was guided by the Holy Spirit.

            John begins our text with an incredibly profound statement about the Second Person of the Trinity, the Son of God. He says, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made.”  John describes the Son of God as “the Word” which was a term that used in the Greco-Roman world to describe the ordering principle of all things. 

            Using words that echoe Genesis 1:1, John tells us that the Word – the Son – is God. He was in the beginning.  He was with God the Father. He is God, and in fact all of creation was made through him. As the Creator of all things, he is he source of life. And we are not only talking about physical life.  More importantly he is the source of spiritual life.  John says, “In him was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.”

            John tells us that because the Son – the Word – is the source of life, he is the light of men. But where there is light, there is also darkness. And this darkness is the darkness of Satan, sin and death.  The apostle tells a piece of good news that we need to hear: “The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.”

            John has described the Word – the Son – as the giver of life and the light of the world.  He then begins to talk about the reason we are gathered here this morning when he says, “The true light, which enlightens everyone, was coming into the world.”  The Word, the true light came into the world. But the way that the Son of God did this brings us to the miracle – the mystery of Christmas.  John tells us, “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.”

            This is what we celebrate today.  The Word – the Son of God – became flesh. Through the work of the Holy Spirit, Jesus Christ was conceived in the womb of the virgin Mary and then born on Christmas.  He came into this world as the One who is true God and true man at the same time. Without ceasing to be the almighty Son of God – the Creator of the universe – he became flesh. He became a tiny baby lying in a manger.

            He did this because of the darkness – because of Satan and sin. In chapter three of this Gospel we learn, “And this is the judgment: the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil. For everyone who does wicked things hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his works should be exposed.”

            This is who we are when we are conceived and born into this world.  This is what the whole world has been since the Fall, when Adam and Eve disobeyed God and sinned. This is who we were, subjects of Satan, trapped in the darkness of sin.

            The Word became flesh and dwelt among us in order to change this.  Jesus Christ was conceived by the Holy Spirit and born of the virgin Mary in order to carry out God’s saving work for us.  In our text John says, “He was in the world, and the world was made through him, yet the world did not know him. He came to his own, and his own people did not receive him. But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God.”

            The incarnate Son of God entered our world – he became flesh – in order to give us this right. It is not a right that we could earn.  It is a right that he had to win for us. The Word became flesh in order to be nailed to a cross.  Jesus says later in this Gospel, “I am the living bread that came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever. And the bread that I will give for the life of the world is my flesh.”

            The Son of God became flesh – he became man – in order to be the sacrifice for our sin.  He came to be the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.  He was nailed to the cross and died. His flesh – his dead body – was buried in a tomb.  But Jesus had come to defeat completely the darkness of Satan, sin, and death.  Our Lord says in this Gospel, “For this reason the Father loves me, because I lay down my life that I may take it up again. No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down, and I have authority to take it up again. This charge I have received from my Father.”

            Jesus took up his life again on Easter as he rose from the dead. He rose as the One who is still flesh – still true God and true man - for in his resurrection he transformed flesh so that it can never die again. This is the flesh he will give to us when he returns on the Last Day.  Jesus said, “For this is the will of my Father, that everyone who looks on the Son and believes in him should have eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day.”

            Jesus Christ has done this for us.  He died on the cross and rose from the dead to free us from sin.  He did this to give us the right to be the children of God.  But this is not something that we could grasp on our own.  John says in our text, “But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.” 

            It is God who has called you to faith in the incarnate Son.  Jesus said, “No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him.”  Our Lord explained why this is the case when he spoke with Nicodemus and said, “That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.” Sinful fallen nature produces sinful fallen nature.  It is only the Holy Spirit who can cause to us to be born again.  It is only by the work of the Spirit that we are born of God.  And so in Holy Baptism you were born again – born of water and the Spirit.

            Now, you are the children of God.  Through the work of the Spirit you have faith in the Word become flesh – the baby in the manger who grew up to die on the cross and rise from the dead.  Jesus said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” 

We do not walk in darkness because through Jesus we are forgiven and know the Father.  Because of Jesus we already have eternal life now, and we know that we will share in the resurrection of the flesh on the Last Day.  Jesus said, “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die.”

            The Word became flesh and dwelt among us.  The true light has come into the world and enlightened us.  And so now we seek to walk in this light.  Jesus said, “But whoever does what is true comes to the light, so that it may be clearly seen that his works have been carried out in God.”  We seek to live in ways the please God and love our neighbor.  We do this because of what the Word become flesh has done for us. We do this because God has given us rebirth through his Sprit. We do this because of the love God has given us through the Christ child lying in the manger.

            John summed this up when wrote in his first epistle: “In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him. In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.” Praise God for the love he has shown to us in the Word become flesh. 














Thursday, December 24, 2020

Sermon for the Feast of the Nativity of Our Lord - Christmas Eve - Lk 2:1-20


                                                                                   Christmas Eve

                                                                                    Lk 2:1-20



            The Motel Marion on Main Street sits abandoned and derelict.  The doors to the rooms are wide open, and there is nothing inside.  As I understand things, it is slated to be demolished.  Most people in Marion probably consider that to be a good thing.  A run down and ugly property, it was an eye sore.

            Of course, the Motel Marion wasn’t a motel where people stayed overnight as they were traveling. Even though it was a motel setting, it was place where people actually lived.  When it was announced at the beginning of September that the motel would be closed at the end of the month and all residents would have to leave, there were almost sixty family groups living there.

            During my time as pastor at Good Shepherd I had interaction with people living at the Motel Marion on a number of occasions.  The reality was that the people staying there were living a life that was a step up from homelessness.  By some means they had enough money to pay the monthly rent.  They had a roof over their ahead and a place to stay – and that was far better than the alternative.  But this run down old motel was not a place where most people would choose to live.  Circumstances of life – sometimes related to their own choices and behaviors – had made it the best they could do.

            The people who lived at the Motel Marion were not the people who mattered to society.  They weren’t going to receive any special attention.  They lived near the bottom of the socio-economic ladder, and all through history, those kinds of people have passed by largely unnoticed.

            I mention this because most of tonight’s Gospel lesson for the Feast of the Nativity of Our Lord deals with shepherds, and they held a very similar place in the ancient world. We learn in the first seven verses of our text that Mary and Joseph had to travel to Bethlehem because of a registration ordered by Caesar Augustus.  In most parts of the Roman empire a registration related to taxation took place where a person lived.  But the Romans were sometimes willing to adopt long established local practices, and that is what we find here. The Jews thought in terms of tribe and place of family origin, so Joseph and Mary went to Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David.

            As we know from Luke chapter one, Mary was a pregnant virgin.  Just as the angel Gabriel had announced to her, the Holy Spirit conceived a baby in her womb.  She was near the end of her pregnancy when they made the ninety mile journey from Nazareth to Bethlehem.  Bethlehem was filled with people who had come for the registration.  Nothing about the circumstances was ideal. Then, in incredibly understated terms, Luke tells us: “And while they were there, the time came for her to give birth. And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in swaddling cloths and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn.”

            After narrating this, Luke tells us,And in the same region there were shepherds out in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night.”  Were it not for what he goes on to tell us, the ancient reader’s reaction would have been: “So what?”  This is what shepherds did. This was not camping for recreation. These were men who took care of sheep and lived with sheep. They were living out in the field at night because that is where the sheep were.  Like those who were at the Motel Marion, the shepherds were not people who mattered in the ancient world.  They had no importance. They passed through life, unnoticed.

            Yet in spite of this we then learn: “And an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were filled with fear.”  God sent an angel to these nobodies, as suddenly the glory of the Lord – the perceptible presence of God – shone around them. 

            The Greek text makes it quite clear that they were terrified.  However, the angel had not come to frighten them. Instead he said, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. 

And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.”

            The angel told them not to be afraid.  Instead of fear, he had come to bring good news that would bring great joy for all people. And the new was this: That day a Savior had been born for them in the city of David – a Savior who was Christ the Lord.

            The angel announced that God had sent a Savior.  This Savior was the Christ – the Messiah descended from David. This was the child mentioned in our Old Testament lesson about whom Isaiah said:Of the increase of his government and of peace there will be no end, on the throne of David and over his kingdom, to establish it and to uphold it with justice and with righteousness from this time forth and forevermore.”

            But there was more – much more. The angel also said that this One born in Bethlehem was the Lord, and that was word used to refer to Yahweh in the Old Testament. This was the same mysterious language that Isaiah uses when he says in our Old Testament lesson: “For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.”

            And as if that wasn’t enough, suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly army praising God and saying, 

Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!”  This angelic multitude gave glory to God in the highest heavens.  But they also announced that on earth there was peace for those toward whom God showed his favor.

            God sends his Son into the world. His Spirit causes a child to be conceived in the virgin Mary who is true God and true man at the same time.  Taken by Joseph as his own, the baby born in Bethlehem is descended from King David and is the Messiah.  As the Son of God, the baby is the Lord – he is Yahweh himself. God sends this baby to be the Savior who brings peace. And the first people he tells – the only people he tells that night – are shepherds.

            God does this because Jesus the Savior was born to save the lowly.  And I don’t just mean those who appear lowly to the world.  Jesus was born to save the lowly because that word describes all of us due to our sin. The evaluations of the world mean nothing.  All that matters is how God sees us.  Left to ourselves what he sees are sinners who never stop sinning.  In pride, we look down on others.  In anger, we speak to others.  In lust, we look upon others.

            The word that was spoken to the shepherds continues to address us: A Savior has been born for you in the city of David. The angel provided the shepherd with a very odd sign of how they would recognize this Savior.  They would find him lying in a manger – a feeding trough for animals. This is not where you expect to find a Savior who is the Messiah – who is the Lord.

            But the sign of the manger reveals that this Savior Jesus had come to save us in a very humble and unexpected way. The apostle Paul told the Philippians about Jesus, that “being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.”  Jesus was born so that he could grow up and die on the cross as the sacrifice for our sin.

            But a Savior who died and stayed dead, could never be the One to save us from death.  And so on third day, God raised Jesus from the dead.  Just as angels were there to announce his birth, so they were present to announce the new life of the resurrection. They said to the women who came to the tomb on the morning of Easter, “Why do you seek the living among the dead? He is not here, but has risen. Remember how he told you, while he was still in Galilee, that the Son of Man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men and be crucified and on the third day rise.”

            The angels announced the word of God to the shepherds. We learn in out text, “When the angels went away from them into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, ‘Let us go over to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has made known to us.’” The good news set them into action.   

They went with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby lying in a manger.  They went to the place where God had promised that the Savior was present for them.

            Our reaction to the good news of the Savior is no different.  We go to the place where God has promised that the Savior is present for us, for God has identified it just as clearly.  This no longer means going to a city and looking for a baby in a manger.  Instead, it means going to God’s Means of Grace where Christ is present for us. In his Word, in Holy Baptism and in Holy Absolution we encounter Jesus Christ who gives us forgiveness. 

            And tonight, we come to this altar, because the incarnate Son of God whose birth we celebrate continues to be present here for us.  Judged by appearances, the humility of a new born baby lying in a feeding trough surely did not appear to be the Savior, Christ the Lord.  So also bread and wine at the altar does not appear to be anything impressive. But just as the shepherds believed God’s word delivered by the angel, so also we continue to trust the words of the risen Lord. For he has promised that here he is present in his true body and blood, given and shed for you for the forgiveness of your sins. And as the One who is true God and true man, he works this miracle in our midst.

            We learn that when the shepherds had seen Jesus, they made known the saying that had been told them concerning this child. 

And then they returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, as it had been told them.  Like the shepherds, the good news of Christmas that we hear tonight prompts two responses. First, it is good news that needs to be shared. The Son of God entered into our world to be the Savior as he was conceived by the Holy Spirit and born of the virgin Mary.  He came to die and rise on the third day to give forgiveness and eternal life to all who believe in him. As the angels said, this is good news of great joy that is for all people. And so all people need to hear about, beginning with he people you know.

            And we too leave tonight glorifying and praising God for all that we have heard and seen. The Son of God entered into our world to save us. God the Father sent him to be the Savior.  We glorify God in the highest, and praise him for the peace he has given to us through his Son.  




Sunday, December 20, 2020

Sermon for the Fourth Sunday in Advent - Rorate Coeli - Deut 18:15-19


                                                                                                Advent 4

                                                                                                Deut 18:15-19



            The focal point of my HO gauge model railroad is the steel mill complex, and the railroad yard that serves it. It takes up a large area – it is about sixteen feet long and three feet wide.  Compactly arranged, just like the real thing, it includes all of the large buildings that one would need to produce steel and roll it out into a finished product.

            Undeniably, the focal point of the steel mill is the blast furnace.  This is a large and impressive model – it is two feet high.  It towers over everything else. The steel mill engine switches special railroad cars that carry the molten iron from the blast furnace to the open hearth furnaces of the steel mill.  They also take away another kind of car that carries the slag – the molten waste metal – that is dumped out at the slag dump elsewhere.

            Now as a plastic model in a setting that is a 1/87 scale version the real world, the blast furnace is fascinating industrial structure that provides all kinds of interesting model railroad operation.  It needs to be constantly fed with hopper cars carrying iron ore, coke, and limestone.  The molten iron and slag must be regularly switched.  And of course all of this provides the reason for trains to arrive at the railroad yard and depart.  It provides constant switching interchange between the railroad yard and the steel mill itself.

            However, in the real world, a blast furnace is a massive, frightening, and deadly thing. It is a fiery cauldron that is constantly melting the iron ore, coke, and limestone into liquid iron that flows out the bottom at a temperature of three thousand degrees Fahrenheit. It is place of superheated and pressured gases. It is a setting where accidents happen, and workers are killed. It is one of the last places in the world I would ever want to be.

            Like the setting of a blast furnace, Israel had experienced something that was frightening and deadly. And they didn’t want any part of it either. This is the background for the verses of our text as Moses says, “The LORD your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among you, from your brothers--it is to him you shall listen-- just as you desired of the LORD your God at Horeb on the day of the assembly, when you said, ‘Let me not hear again the voice of the LORD my God or see this great fire any more, lest I die.’”

            Yahweh brought Israel out of Egypt in the exodus.  And then just as God had promised Moses when he called him in the setting of the burning bush, he had brought Israel to Mt. Sinai.  There God came down to Israel as he brought them into a covenant with him.

            The holy God – the almighty Creator – descended upon Mt Sinai.  And it was terrifying.  On the morning when he arrived there were thunders and lightnings and a thick cloud on the mountain and a very loud trumpet blast, so that all the people in the camp trembled. Moses brought the people out of camp to meet God, as they took their stand at the foot of the mountain.

            And that’s when the real show started. We learn that  

Mount Sinai was wrapped in smoke because Yahweh had descended on it in fire. The smoke of it went up like the smoke of a kiln, and the whole mountain trembled greatly. There was the sound of the trumpet that grew louder and louder. Moses spoke, and God answered him in thunder. Yahweh came down on Mount Sinai, at the top of the mountain.  And as he was present in this way, Yahweh told the people through Moses that they were not to approach the mountain any closer or else they would die.

            Exodus chapter twenty tells us that when the people saw the thunder and the flashes of lightning and the sound of the trumpet and the mountain smoking, they were afraid and trembled, and they stood far off and said to Moses, “You speak to us, and we will listen; but do not let God speak to us, lest we die.” They had been in the presence of God and they couldn’t’ handle any more of it. They didn’t want to hear Yahweh directly. They wanted Moses to serve as the intermediary with God.  Moses told them, “Do not fear, for God has come to test you, that the fear of him may be before you, that you may not sin.”

            This description of God reminds us about the deadly reality of our sin.  As we do each year, in Advent at the beginning of the new church year we have shifted to using Divine Service Setting One.  And so at the beginning of this service you just confessed to God: “We have sinned against You in thought, word, and deed, by what we have done and by what we have left undone.”  Notice that the sin that piles up in your life is not merely the violation of some abstract rules.  It is not something that merely shifts you from the “nice list” to the “naughty” list.  Instead, it is sin committed against God – against this God  - the holy Creator of the cosmos.  And of itself, sin against this God can bring only one possible outcome – death and eternal punishment, because this God is a holy, consuming fire.

            In our text Moses recounts what had happened. Then he adds, “LORD said to me, ‘They are right in what they have spoken. 

I will raise up for them a prophet like you from among their brothers. And I will put my words in his mouth, and he shall speak to them all that I command him. And whoever will not listen to my words that he shall speak in my name, I myself will require it of him.’”

            God said that this plea by the people was a good thing.  Moses would play this role.  And then he promised something more.  He promised that he would raise up a prophet like Moses from among the people. God would put his words in his mouth and he would speak all that God commanded.

            “A prophet like Moses” – now there was a tall order.  The book of Deuteronomy ends with these words: And there has not arisen a prophet since in Israel like Moses, whom the LORD knew face to face, none like him for all the signs and the wonders that the LORD sent him to do in the land of Egypt, to Pharaoh and to all his servants and to all his land, 

and for all the mighty power and all the great deeds of terror that Moses did in the sight of all Israel.”

            Certainly, there were great prophets.  Elijah and Elisha immediately come to mind. But even Elijah did not interact with Yahweh the way Moses did, such that the face of Moses was shining after he spoke with Yahweh, and he had to put a veil over his face because of the glory, when he then went and spoke to the people.

            But God had promised another prophet like Moses, who would speak his word. He promised that this prophet would come from the midst of the people – from their brothers.  During Advent we are preparing to celebrate the fact that God did indeed send this One.

            Now we are more used to thinking about Jesus as the Messiah, the One who descended from King David. And of course this is the obvious truth demonstrated on Christmas when Jesus was born in the Bethlehem – the city of David.  Jesus is the Messiah who fulfills all of the wonderful promises God makes in the Old Testament about the one who descended from David.

            But another way that Scripture describes Jesus is the promised prophet like Moses.  Like Moses, and Elijah, and Elisha, our Lord preformed mighty miracles.  In last week’s Gospel lesson we heard Jesus say, “Go and tell John what you hear and see: the blind receive their sight and the lame walk, lepers are cleansed and the deaf hear, and the dead are raised up, and the poor have good news preached to them.”

            Like the mighty prophets before him, Jesus did these things.  But here is the thing that was also true about the prophets: they suffered; they died.  Moses was constantly being rejected and attacked by the people. Jeremiah was thrown into an empty well, because royal officials didn’t want to hear the truth that he spoke. Jezebel killed the prophets of Yahweh.

            Jesus came forth as the promised prophet like Moses. Yet Jesus was also more than just a prophet.  While Moses may have talked with Yahweh face to face, Jesus was Yahweh – he was the Second Person of the Trinity who had eternally been with the Father and the Spirit.  During Advent we prepare to celebrate Jesus’ birth – the birth of the One conceived by the Holy Spirit and born of the virgin Mary. 

            Jesus entered into our world in order to suffer and to die.  He came to be numbered with the transgressors.  He came to die a death for us by which he has won forgiveness.  Luke tells us that after his resurrection, Jesus opened the disciples’ minds to understand the Scriptures, and said to them: “Thus it is written, that the Christ should suffer and on the third day rise from the dead, and that repentance and forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem.”

            You have been baptized into the death of Jesus the risen Lord, and therefore your sins have been washed away.  By faith and baptism you have received forgiveness and eternal life. You know that death has been defeated because Jesus Christ has risen from the dead, and you too will share in this resurrection when Christ returns on the Last Day.

            In our text Yahweh promises to raise up a prophet like Moses.  He also says, “And I will put my words in his mouth, and he shall speak to them all that I command him. And whoever will not listen to my words that he shall speak in my name, I myself will require it of him.”

            This is what Jesus did.  He spoke what the Father gave him to say.  Our Lord says in John’s Gospel, “The one who rejects me and does not receive my words has a judge; the word that I have spoken will judge him on the last day. For I have not spoken on my own authority, but the Father who sent me has himself given me a commandment--what to say and what to speak.”  And because he did this, to reject Jesus and the Gospel is to reject the Father. It is to reject the forgiveness that God has given through his Son who was the prophet like Moses. It is to meet the God Israel saw at Mt. Sinai as one who has sinned against him. And that can end in only one way.

            Yet to listen to what Jesus says is to hear the good news that Jesus obeyed the Father by suffering and dying for us. It is to hear the good news of the forgiveness that we have because Jesus gave his life for us and rose from the dead.  It is to listen to Jesus’ words as he tells us what this means for our lives: "This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you”












Thursday, December 17, 2020

"O" Antiphons - O Wisdom

 The Great “O” Antiphons were sung before and after the Psalm at Vespers during the last seven days of Advent.  They were used to create the hymn “O Come, O Come, Emmanuel,” which is the Hymn of the Day for the Fourth Sunday in Advent: Rorate Coeli. The “O” Antiphon for December 17 is:


O Wisdom, proceeding from the mouth of the most high, pervading and permeating all creation, mightily ordering all things:


Come and teach us the way of  prudence.


Commemoration of Daniel and the Three Young Men


Today we remember and give thanks for Daniel and the Three Young Men.  Daniel the prophet  and the Three Young Men—Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego—were among the leaders of the people of Judah who were taken into captivity in Babylon. Even in that foreign land they remained faithful to the one true God in their piety, prayer, and life. On account of such steadfast faithfulness in the face of pagan idolatry, the Three Young Men were thrown into a fiery furnace, from which they were saved by the Lord and emerged unharmed (Daniel 3). Similarly, Daniel was thrown into a pit of lions, from which he also was saved (Daniel 6). Blessed in all their endeavors by the Lord—and in spite of the hostility of some—Daniel and the Three Young Men were promoted to positions of leadership among the Babylonians (Dan 2:48–49; 3:30; 6:28). To Daniel in particular the Lord revealed the interpretation of dreams and signs that were given to King Nebuchadnezzar and King Belshazzar (Daniel 2, 4, 5). To Daniel himself the Lord gave visions of the end times.

Collect of the Day:

Lord God, heavenly Father, You rescued Daniel from the lions’ den and the three young men from the fiery furnace through the miraculous intervention of an angel.  Save us now through the presence of Jesus, the Lion of Judah, who has conquered all our enemies through His blood and taken away all our sins as the Lamb of God, who now reigns from His heavenly throne with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.