In music theory, the term dissonance is used to describe when the notes in a chord clash, creating an almost unpleasant sound. Dissonance is used in music to express discord, strife, and quarreling. The resolution then expresses harmony, and a restoration of what was in conflict.

The promises of God in His Word, promises like, “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.” Jeremiah 29:11 often strike a dissonant chord when set counter to what is being experienced in life. After all, how can plans to prosper, plans for a future filled with hope stand in harmony with the reality of, for instance, an incurable cancer? How can the Lord promise good, yet what is lived is anything but?

The cause of the discord is not the promise of the Word. Rather, it is our own sin. When struck along with the pure notes of God’s Word, the tone of our sin clashes with the perfect music of God. When we see as good may just be what our own sinful nature wants, rather than the good and gracious will of the Lord for us.

The story of the Exodus of God’s people from slavery in Egypt to the battle of Jericho is one of dissonance. God’s people, the ones who experienced His mighty arm at the Red Sea, His generous provision of Manna in the tactless waste continues to grumble and complain. Nothing God did was good enough for them. Sadly, they longed to return to the slavery of the Egyptians, for the freedom of God, given in His love was too much.

And so, when they found themselves in a waterless waste, instead of faith that clings to the provision of God, they again put the Lord to the test. Even so, even as they mistrusted the Lord, He gave.

So it is for you. Even though you may live in what seems to be a waterless waste, even as you put God to the test, His baptism for you stands firm and true. By the Word and water, you have been given faith to trust in the forgiveness of Jesus, whose cross resolves the dissonance, and whose blood brings your life into harmony with the God of your salvation.


Glory to be Revealed

Fans of Minnesota sports teams live by the motto, “they will break your heart.” This is born of years of losing a big game on the last play, the missed field goal, the pass across the body. We frozen and forlorn fans of the teams of the Northland have learned to expect last minute, final play heroics from the other team.

In many ways, the church on earth lives under the same curse of reality. As Jesus reminds us again and again, those who are marked by His cross can expect the cross in our lives. We can expect to be mocked and even maligned by the world. If you live in other parts of the globe, we can even expect to be killed, and driven out of house and home. The cross is a burden we bear for the sake of Jesus, who in His Word, by His death and resurrection has offered us far greater glory in the His kingdom.

However, it can be hard to bear the cross, to suffer and not see any glimpse of the glory that is to be revealed.

As Jesus and the disciples continued their journey to Jerusalem, and the eventual crucifixion death of the Lord, they took a little detour. Jesus, along with Peter, James, and John climb a mountain to spend some time in prayer.

For Jesus, this was to be a time of refreshment in prayer. He was getting ready to face the final battle, and give His life in suffering and death for us, His beloved people.

For the disciples, this trip up the holy mountain gave a glimpse of the glory that is to be revealed by faith. For as Jesus was praying, he became transfigured before their eyes. The divine nature of God, vailed in the flesh of the Son of God, shown through, revealing glimpse of the truth of Jesus as God.

This momentary look into the glory of Jesus was enough to convince Peter that all that the Scriptures say about the Christ is true. Jesus the Savior has come, and no amount of suffering in this life can separate you from your Savior. This glimpse of glory we too see in the Word and Supper of Jesus. By His gifts are we strengthened to face each day by faith and hope in our loving Lord.


What exactly is praise? Most believers have an idea of what it means to praise God, It is singing, and shouting, and giving thanks to our Lord for all the good He gives and does for us.

It also seems to me that over the years the meaning and practice of praise has strayed from what we are given in the book of Psalms. Praise is an emotive thing, and emotional cry to God, seeking an emotional response from Him. While most certainly ties to our emotions, this view of praise cute out the richness of what God’s Word teaches us about it.

First, the foundational truth of the Christian church is that the Gospel Word of salvation in Jesus, the good news that for you Jesus gave Himself to die, that in Him you may have forgiveness of sins. Thus all the grace and blessing of God flow from Jesus and His Word, and go out to all people. Nothing can separate you from the gift of Christ Jesus. No one is excluded from receiving this gift by faith in Him.

This truth unites all people, the true God of light and life has come, and in Him is our hope of salvation. Out light in the midst of darkness. Our life in the midst of death. Praise then is the result of the saving work of Jesus for you.

Praise then begins with God’s work for you, not with your feelings toward God. Jesus called you His own child in Baptism, turning a rebellious sinner into a beloved child. And when your life went off the track, and you found yourself doing the wrong thing for the wrong reason, Jesus, by His Word called you to repent, and return to Him. All of these wondrous works of the Lord are worthy of praise.

Praise then is our response of faith and gratitude to the God of our salvation.

It is noteworthy that the first miraculous sign recorded by St. John, by which Jesus shows His glory is at a wedding. A wedding is a place and time of praise, for God has joined tow people, a man and a woman together, and has blessed them. This gives to us an earthly picture of Jesus and the church. The heavenly bridegroom soon will come, and we, His church will with praise and joy enter with Him into the eternal marriage feast.

Members One of Another

Romans 12:1-5

A common analogy found in the New Testament in answering the question, “What is the church?” is the human body. The human body is made up of many different parts, all designed to work together toward the same goal, the building up of the body, that it may function together in harmony. Each member, each part belongs to the same whole.

It is in this way that we are challenged to look at the church. Each individual member belongs one to the other. The challenge for us is that, in the culture in which we live, the individual is elevated above all others. You, as an individual are taught to see yourself as important, the most important in fact. This is clearly seen in our sports heroes. When a touchdown is made, the player who crossed the line draws attention to themselves, as though they are the greatest, while the linemen simple run back to the sideline. This desire for attention infects us all, and so it also infects how we view and treat one another in the Holy Christian church. We have a hard time knowing that, as the people saved by the gift of grace found in Jesus Christ, we are a part of a whole, each called to serve one another.

Therefore the proper response to this Gospel, that Jesus saves us from death and darkness is to offer ourselves as living sacrifices in service to God’s kingdom. Empowered by the forgiveness we have in Christ, each of us are given individual gifts, unique to who we are. As the baptized people of God, we use our gifts in service to one another, as we work toward the same goal, the spread of God’s kingdom by the proclamation of His Word, and the administration of the sacraments.

Your abilities are not given by God for you alone, but that you may bless your brothers and sisters in Christ. We belong to each other. What one person needs, another is called to share. Each of us, working together in the unity of the Spirit of God.

This also means that when one part is missing, when one person is missing, we all together feel this loss. (Like my own body feels the loss of one kidney) Each person is here because God has called you to join together with us, to receive His gifts, and work together in love.

Merry Christmas

While for many, the story of Christmas, with angels, shepherds, miraculous stars, Wise men, and of course the impossible, a Virgin mother seems too good to be true, each year many return to the scene. Perhaps they enjoy fairy tales, they tell themselves. Maybe they wish for it to be true. Maybe, they long for what it all really means.

This, the grand story of our Lord Jesus birth is more than a fairy tale, even as it contains all the action and romance of a great story. From this true story of Jesus comes the seed of all great stories. Tales of self-sacrifice for the one you love. The giving of the hero to danger and death in order to defeat the great enemy.

God, in the course of time, when Quirinius was governor of Syria, makes Himself known in human history, top redeem the story began when the devil convinced Adam and Eve to listen, not to the everlasting Word of God, but to the siren song of temptation. God, in the form of a baby boy makes Himself one with us. This is no mere fairytale, it is the truth!

The truth of the love of our creator, who would not leave us to the darkness of this world, or the darkness of our own souls, but sent Jesus to be our light. “Pleased as man, with men to dwell, “Jesus has come, and brings pleasures eternal.” “Born to raise the sons of earth,” by baptism into His blessed name, “Born to give them second birth.”

As time went on, about 33 years, another point on the calendar came. Pontius Pilate was governor of Judea, and the Savior had come to His own, but His own didn’t know Him. Turned over into the hands of sinners, Jesus suffered death on a cross, that all who, by faith look up and see, from the manger, to the grave A Savior would have hope. Hope that the sorrow of this life has purpose in the cross of Jesus. Hope, that God with us has saved us, and is giving to us eternal life in His Name.

The hope of humanity is in the coming of the Son of God, born of His virgin mother. So small, so fragile is our salvation that as an infant He snuggles to His mother’s breast, and as a man he hangs on the cross and dies. In Christ Jesus we see the love of God come down which brings victory over the devil, the world, and our own sinful flesh. “Joy to the world,” for “Christ the Savior is born.”

Looking for Another


When the reality of earthly death hits home, and it appears as though your earthly departure is close, this tends to sober you, and forces you to face many of the skeletons and unresolved tensions in life. For John, the prospect of his execution caused him to seek comfort in the Word of God. He who appeared as a voice crying out in the wilderness to make way for the coming Lord, who stood in the waters of the river Jordan and pointed to Jesus, saying, “Behold, the Lamb of God who take away the sin of the world needed comfort in the face of death.

We all do. Whether it is the simple fact that all of us will die, or the news of a deadly illness, our souls cry out for comfort in the midst of uncertainty. The devil is also hard at work, sowing seeds of doubt and distracting us from the Words of life.

Our Lord Jesus, in response to John’s question (Matthew 11) points us to the Word found in the pages of the Bible. In His ministry, Jesus fulfilled what the prophets said would be. Jesus, who is God in human flesh and blood goes about His work of taking away the sin of the world. Where sin is taken away, so the effects are also removed. The blind see in the light of the Gospel of hope and life. The lame and the ill are healed by the blood shed on the cross, so that earthly death is nothing less than the gate to life eternal. The deaf, those who do not trust the Word, receive the Holy Spirit, that they may both hear, and trust that Jesus is the Savior.

The poor – that is, all who stand before God with nothing but the broken promises of good intentions, wounded in our failure to love, hear the Word of peace preached in the absolution. For the sake of Jesus, sins are forgiven. Your Lord takes your brokenness, and in its place, He makes you whole. All these wonderful good news truth found in the preaching of God’s Word.

While the blessings of creation, such as the fruits of the harvest, a faithful family, and good governments are certainly favors from God, undeserved, yet given in love, the full blessing of our Lord is that He, in mercy covers our sin. This covering we received in Baptism, and by the grace of the Word made flesh, will last unto eternity.

Nothing New

Solomon, reflecting on a life lived in pursuit of wisdom, and squandered in the vain chasing of fleshly pleasure wrote in Ecclesiastes that there “Is nothing new under the sun.” There is no sin, or vice that is new. No hurt that one human can inflect upon another that hasn’t been done before. The aging king writes this in repentance for a life that was mostly wasted in running away from God and His Word.

This serves as a good remainder for us this Advent. No matter what sin we may have committed, what hurt we may have inflicted on another, or what sorrow we have endured at the hands of others, what hurts others have given us, it is not new, therefore God knows all about it. In knowing this then, we come with confidence to our knees in repentance. This confidence comes from Jesus, whose Word clearly promises full forgiveness and life for all who come to Him, for all who wait for His gifts and coming. Nothing you have done can keep you from the forgiving love of Christ Jesus our Savior.

As there is nothing new under the sun, then we can expect there to be signs of the change in seasons. This is certainly true when it comes to the seasons of winter, spring, summer and fall. Each is marked by clear signs that a change has come in the weather, and to nature.

The same is true of the change coming on the earth as we near the end of all things. To the world, the signs are of dread. Climate change alarmists spread fear and doubt in proclaiming that the end is near. If the earth dies, then we have no hope – all the while forgetting or ignoring that He who made the heavens and the earth with His word controls even the wind and waves. Even more absurd was what some politicians in Washington DC said about a tax bill. A tax reform bill would bring about the end, doom and gloom.

For we who are baptized into the mighty name of God, these signs of the end are not doom and gloom. Rather, they are signs of the coming consummation, as a hymn writer puts it, of life forever in the new heavens and the new earth. Therefore, Jesus urges us to pay attention to these sign, for they mark He is near. They encourage us to finish the race with faith and hope.