Greetings in Christ,

The weekend after the Epiphany of our Lord is the commemoration of our Lord’s baptism. That being the case, it’s a perfect week to begin our 3-week sermon series on the stewardship of Christian piety. We’re calling the series “Spending Time with God.”

For the next three weeks, we’ll be spending some time talking about how God comes to us in both Word and Sacrament, and how we live out our Christian piety both privately every day and together with the body of saints as we gather each week.

This week Pastor Troup will be preaching specifically about Christian life of personal prayer and Bible study.

Why is it a perfect week to begin this series? Because in Christ’s baptism He takes our sins upon Himself and takes those sins to their final punishment on the cross. In their place, He gives us His perfection and Spirit to live a new life for others rather than ourselves. Our Baptism gives us a new life where we’re free to do what God calls us to rather than being bound up to our sinful selves.

In our baptism, we are washed clean. We’re covered in Christ. We put on Christ and thus are new creations praising our Lord and being nourished by His good and perfect gifts of Word and Sacrament. (Romans 6:1, Gal 3:27, Titus 3:5, 1 Peter 3:18-22)

Our Christian piety is our living out that faith of prayer and praise in response to the reception of God’s gifts. We don’t pray to earn God’s favor. We don’t go to church to make God happy. We don’t receive the Lord’s Supper for brownie points with Christ. He comes to you and gives you life and forgiveness. If we despise these gifts (i.e. if we neglect God’s Word and Sacrament and don’t prioritize them in our lives) we’re rejecting His forgiveness and the life He promises to us. 

God’s Word is the lifeline we far too often leave to the side for what seems more important in the moment. I look forward to seeing you this weekend as we grow together in this new year. Immanuel’s mission – according to Scripture – is to make more and stronger disciples of Jesus Christ by the power of the Holy Spirit. We desire that all people would hear the Word of Jesus, but we also desire to see those who have heard it grow as disciples of Christ. We hope this series helps with that formation and growth in Christ.

As you prepare for the Divine Service this weekend, you can take a look at the Service Folder to find the readings, prayers, and other parts of the service that will help to guide your reflection and prayer.

Here’s the Lectionary Summary for the upcoming weekend that ties the themes of the weekend together:

The Triune God Opens Heaven to You in Holy Baptism

The Baptism of our Lord is an “Epiphany” of the one true God in the flesh and blood of Jesus Christ. In divine mercy, He takes His place with sinners and takes their sin upon Himself. When all the people were baptized, Jesus submitted Himself to a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins (Luke 3:21). He had no sins of His own, but He took the sins of the world upon Himself and so was baptized into His own death. Therefore, when you pass through the waters,He is with you (Is. 43:2). He created you for His glory, and He has redeemed you with His blood, that you may be His own and live with Him in His Kingdom (Is. 43:1, 7). As you are baptized with a baptism like His, so also are you united with Him in His death and resurrection that you might walk in newness of life (Rom. 6:4). For all who are baptized into Christ Jesus receive His anointing of the Holy Spirit and are named by His Father as beloved and well-pleasing sons and daughters.

If you weren’t able to join us for service last week, you can catch up now.

p.s. Keep an eye on your email and social media regarding services this weekend. We’ll probably have services without a problem, but just in case, keep an eye on our communication outlets.

I look forward to seeing you this weekend!

Blessings on your day!

In Christ,
Pastor Demski