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Second Sunday in Advent

                  Second Sunday in Advent

                  Second Sunday in Advent

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Second Sunday in Advent

December 10, 2017

Title:  Jesus Christ is Our Hope & Our Harmony

Grace and mercy to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.  Amen.

It is written in Romans 15: 4For whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, that through endurance and through the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope. 5May the God of endurance and encouragement grant you to live in such harmony with one another, in accord with Christ Jesus, 6that together you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. 7 Therefore welcome one another as Christ has welcomed you, for the glory of God. 8For I tell you that Christ became a servant to the circumcised to show God’s truthfulness, in order to confirm the promises given to the patriarchs, 9and in order that the Gentiles might glorify God for his mercy. Thus far the text.

Let us pray: O Lord, You word is written for our instruction that we might have hope in You and harmony among each other.  Grant us this hope and harmony; in the name of Jesus.  Amen.

For whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction

Adam never read the Bible about his fall into sin.  The account of Adam & Eve was written by Moses centuries later.  What is written about Adam and Eve is written for our instruction.

Noah never read the Bible about a worldwide flood and the ark he build.  The account was written later for our instruction.

Jesus never read the New Testament.  He gave the words to be written to His evangelists and apostles who wrote but the New Testament was written after Jesus’ death and resurrection for our instruction.

How are you instructed?   You are instructed by the Lord through (the) endurance and through the encouragement of the Scriptures.

You are instructed every time you hear the Holy Scriptures.  You are instructed every Sunday through the public readings and preaching and Bible study.  You are instructed every time you hear the Words of Institution which explains what you are about to eat and drink and why the Lord wants you to eat and drink and what it is that you publicly declare each time you eat and drink.  You are instructed every Weekday reading of Bible.  Your instructor is the Holy Spirit who has bound His work to the Lord’s Holy Bible.

You endure week after week because the Lord is the Lord of endurance.

You are encouraged week after week because the Lord is the Lord of encouragement.

This advent season, hear the Voice of your Savior in what is Written for your instruction.

Today, the Lord is promising you two gifts.  The first gift is hope.

The common dictionary defines hope as a feeling of expectation and desire for a certain thing to happen.  Hope is defined as a feeling of certainty; a feeling of trust.  

How is this hope received?  

Hope is received through endurance and through the encouragement of the Scriptures.

Do you doubt the Lord’s no in His good Law?  Do you doubt the Lord’s yes in His good Gospel? Do you doubt that the Lord does not hold your sins against for Christ’s sake?  Well, tis the season of Advent to repent of this doubt that so easily entangles and hear the Scripture again.  Cast your doubt upon Jesus and believe that Jesus is the Christ.  Cast your doubt upon Jesus and put your faith in His death and resurrection to save you.  Hear again the encouragement Jesus gives you in His Scripture.  Hear again the encouragement He has for you in those same Scriptures.  Remain hearing Jesus and He will grant you hope in Jesus through endurance and encouragement of the Scriptures.  For this is the work of God; that you believe in Jesus (John 6:29).

The second gift for you today is harmony with one another.

How is harmony with one another received?  

Harmony with one another is received through endurance and through the encouragement of the Scriptures.

Do you doubt divisions in Christianity can be healed?  Do you doubt family conflicts about faith in Jesus have no end?  Well, tis the season of Advent to repent of this doubt that so easily entangles and hear the Scripture again.  Hear again the encouragement Jesus gives you in His Scripture.  Hear again the encouragement He has for you in those same Scriptures.  Remain hearing Jesus and He will grant you harmony with one another through (that) endurance and encouragement of the Scriptures.  For this is the work of God; that you believe in Jesus (John 6:29).

Faith in Jesus is the source for both your hope in the Lord and harmony with your neighbors.

The apostle Paul blesses His hearers, saying 5May the God of endurance and encouragement grant you to live in such harmony with one another, in accord with Christ Jesus, 6that together you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.

This issue of harmony was important to the Lutheran Reformers.  They did not want to give up their hope in Christ for the purpose of harmony.  But they did want to live in harmony within the church of the past, present, and future.  They wrote a book called the Book of Harmony.  You know it better by its Latinized name: The Book of Concord.

They wrote:  [16] We take no pleasure in discord (disharmony), nor are we unaware of our danger, the extent of which is evident from the bitter hatred inflaming the opponents. But we cannot surrender truth that is so clear and necessary for the (hope of the) church.

We believe, therefore, that we must endure difficulties and dangers for the glory of Christ and the good of the church. We trust that God approves our dutiful action, and we hope that posterity (the future generations of Christians) will judge us more equitably...

(Finally), we pray that Christ will help his afflicted and scattered churches and restore them to a godly and lasting concord (harmony).  

Do you hear their desire for concord; for harmony?

Our Savior Lutheran Church is one of about 6,000 churches that desires harmony in Christ with other Christians.  Concordia Seminary in St. Louis.  Concordia Theological Seminary in Fort Wayne.  The Concordia Universities.  All of them teach what the Lord has written for our instruction.  The day they lose hope in what is written will be a sad day for harmony among church bodies near and far.

Our Savior Lutheran Church is you.  People instructed in what is written.  People who believe in Jesus.  You have hope in Christ.  You have harmony among one another because you are in Christ.

I encourage you to continue to endure and find encouragement in the Scriptures.  This is how your hope in Christ and your harmony among one another will remain.

Finally, it is written: welcome one another as Christ has welcomed you, for the glory of God.  I am proud of all of you.  You have a reputation in the community as a warm and welcoming congregation.  People stop in for service.  They go away amazed at how kind you are to them.  Not every Christian congregation has this reputation.  Why you?  I am convinced it is because you continue to endure and find encouragement in the Scriptures; in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.  Amen.

Christmas according to Isaiah - Part 1

Christmas according to Isaiah

Christmas according to Isaiah

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Advent Midweek 1

Christmas according to Isaiah

Part 1: The Ideal Davidic King

Isaiah 9:1-7

Grace and mercy to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.  Amen.

Welcome to the first Midweek Advent Service.  Christmas according to the Prophet Isaiah is the theme for this year’s midweek Advent Services.  Isaiah lived 700 years before Jesus was born.  Yet, Isaiah prophesied about Jesus’ coming.  Tonight the focus is on a the new King Jesus and His kingdom.

It is written in Isaiah 9: 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.  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. The zeal of the LORD of hosts will do this.  (Isa. 9:1-7 ESV)  Thus far the text.

Let us pray: Almighty Father, Your prophet Isaiah proclaimed the coming of Your only begotten Son, Jesus Christ, that whoever should believe in Him would not perish but have eternal life in Your government; Your kingdom.  Grant an increase of Your government this Advent season and uphold us through faith in Jesus Christ.  Amen.

Listening to Isaiah you wouldn’t know that the country of Israel was at peace with its neighboring countries Assyria and Egypt.

Listening to the prophet Isaiah you wouldn’t even guess that the country of Israel in 700 B.C. was richer and stronger on the world scene that it ever had been in its previous history.

What would you hear listening to Isaiah in 700 B.C.?

You would hear that the Lord God was preparing Assyria to invade Israel and enslave all the people.  You would hear death and destruction proclaimed from the mouth of Isaiah when the king, the priests, and other the other prophets were proclaiming ‘Peace! Peace!  The Lord God is on your side.  All is well.’  When all was not well.

What else would you hear listening to Isaiah in 700 B.C.?

You would hear about the first Christmas; a Christmas that was 700 years in the future.

You would hear about the coming gift of God’s own Son.  For to you a child is born, to you a son is given.  This Child will be the head of a new government of peace; a new kingdom without strife.  This Child will stand against the tyrants of affliction, darkness, and the shadow of death.  The greatest of these tyrants are not physical but spiritual.  The most oppressive tyrants are the Law, sin, and death.

And the government shall be upon his shoulder.  The Child is the head of a new government.  You are that new government.  The Child carries you upon His shoulder.

The world’s kings are carried by the king’s people.  For example, Caesar sits on a throne is lifted up on poles.  His servants carry Caesar on their shoulders from place to place.  Another example, the U.S. President sits in a bullet proof limo.  His servants drive him  from place to place.  

Therefore, there is a difference between the manner of ruling in the kingdom of the world and in that of the kingdom of the coming Christ Child. In the kingdom of the world the prince or king alone is free, all others are servants. But in the kingdom of the coming Christ Child, Christ alone is a servant, and you, by faith in this Christ, are free.

This is Christmas according to Isaiah.

What kind of gift is this coming Christ Child?

Isaiah says the Child’s name is called Wonderful.  

He is too Wonderful to grasp by our own reason and strength that we might receive Him.  He is received by faith alone.  We believe life, glory, righteousness, and peace. On the other hand we feel death, shame, sin, and trouble.

Isaiah says this Child’s name is called Counselor.

This Counsel is His written Word.  When we fall short in matters of faith, we have His Counsel in a written text that He promises is living and active; strong to save in times of trouble.  The Holy Spirit is promised to accompany this Counsel.  The Holy Spirit is promised to give what you are counseled to have.  The Holy Spirit is promised to accomplish for you what is written.

Isaiah says this Child’s name is called Mighty God.

The coming Child gives strength to triumph through the Word and Holy Spirit.  Through the Holy Word, the coming Child both preserves all His own and overthrows all His enemies; even though it might look different according to our experience.

Isaiah says this Child’s name is called Everlasting Father.  

The coming Child is not a tyrant.  He never will be a tyrant.  He loves His children always.  This beyond doubt the most delightful government.

Finally, Isaiah says this Child’s name is called Prince of Peace.

In the kingdom of Christ there is grace, comfort, forgiveness of sins, joy, peace. He does not deal with the sinner in sternness, but as a gentle father. Faith in the Coming Christ Child is justification, and peace follows justification. This peace is not only peace of mind but also good health of the body.

Of the increase of his government and of peace there will be no end, on the throne of David and over his kingdom.

King David’s reign over the Jews was physical, but the coming Christ Child has now begun the spiritual reign over the people which will last forever. What is Old Testament Isaiah saying?  He is saying there will be a resurrection of the dead.

Isaiah is saying the coming Christ Child will establish His government (you) and to uphold His government (you) with justice and with righteousness.

In the language of our small catechism, justice is the Law of God which condemns and righteousness is the Gospel of God which forgives breaking the Law.

In the government of the coming Christ Child the ungodly are condemned whereas the godly are justified, saved, and set free from sin and death. A government in which mercy flourishes.

700 years later, “the angel said to (a few shepherds tending their flocks at night saying), “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” (Luke 2:10-11); in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.  Amen.

The peace of God, which passes understanding, will guard and protect you in body and soul through Jesus Christ, our Savior.  Amen.

 

First Sunday in Advent

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First Sunday in Advent

December 3, 2017

Romans 13:11–14             

Grace and mercy to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.  Amen.

It is written, 11 Besides this you know the time, that the hour has come for you to wake from sleep. For salvation is nearer to us now than when we first believed. 12The night is far gone; the day is at hand. So then let us cast off the works of darkness and put on the armor of light. 13Let us walk properly as in the daytime, not in orgies and drunkenness, not in sexual immorality and sensuality, not in quarreling and jealousy. 14But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires.

Let us pray: Let us pray: Almighty God, grant to Your church Your Holy Spirit and the wisdom that comes down from above, that Your Word may not be bound but have free course and be preached to the joy and edifying of Christ’s holy people, that in steadfast faith, we may serve You and, in the confession of Your name, abide unto the end; in the name of Jesus.  Amen.

The time is Advent.  A time of a mini-Lent.  A time of preparation.  A time to wake up.  For...

2The night is far gone; the day is at hand

The day at hand is the Gospel day.  It is time to wake up from the night of sin.  It is time to like day to day in the Gospel.

To help us, the Lord devotes the office of the holy ministry (the work of a pastor) to two things (Romans 12:7-8), doctrine and exhortation.  The doctrine part is to teach us things that the Lord only reveals in His Holy Bible, faith in Jesus being the most important.  The exhortation part is to encourage us to put into action what we already know very well.  Today’s epistle lesson is exhorting you who are already awake to God by faith in Jesus to begin this new day.

Why? Jesus is near.  Jesus is nearer to us now than when we first believed.

So then let us cast off the works of darkness and put on the armor of light.

The armor of light is a beautiful expression.  The armor of light is also a little more specific than telling us to do good works while it is day.  Good works do not save us.  However, good works help us remain in the Gospel day.

The doctrine of justification by faith in Jesus is not to be mingled with the exhortation to do good works; the exhortation to put on the armor of light.

This is an exhortation, not a doctrine.

Put on the armor of light.

Why “armor” of light rather than “works” or light?

Doubtless to teach us that only at the cost of conflict, pain, labor, and danger will the truly watchful and godly life be maintained; for these three powerful enemies, the devil, the world, and the flesh, unceasingly oppose us day and night.  This is why Job (7:1) regards the life of man on earth as a life of trial and warfare.  (Luther sermon).

So, when I exhort you to put on the “armor of light”, I am encouraging you to remain in the Lord’s justification through faith in Jesus.  This is what I am doing this Advent.  Exhorting you, encouraging you, to do good works.

As important as it is to teach justification by faith to those who do not know the teaching, it is just as important to exhort those who know the doctrine not to fall away from their fragile daily living while enduring the assaults of their raging flesh, this subtle world, and the treacherous devil.  So,

13Let us walk properly (honestly) as in the daytime.

What are the common activities you do when you wake up in the morning?  You get cleaned up and go to work or school or something similar.  It is a tragedy and hopefully uncommon to drink a beer first thing in the morning.

What are the common activities that people do when they go out at night?  I remember my folks telling me that nothing good happens after midnight.

The Lord is saying the same thing when he speaks of the deeds of darkness.  Dark deeds such as orgies and drunkenness.  Dark deeds such as sexual immorality and sensuality.  Dark deeds such as quarreling and jealousy.  Dark deeds that are now reported daily of politicians, media elites, and hollywood stars.  

13Let us walk properly (honestly) as in the daytime, not in orgies and drunkenness, not in sexual immorality and sensuality, not in quarreling and jealousy.

These six terms - orgies, drunkenness, sexual immorality, sensuality, quarreling, and jealousy - cover all the other kinds of dark deeds that could be mentioned such as the lists in Galatians and Colossians.

Let me divide these into two classes.  It will help us receive today’s exhortation.  

I will name one the right hand group and the other the left hand group.  The right hand  group includes orgies, drunkenness, sexual immorality and sensuality.  The left hand group includes quarreling and jealousy.  For Biblically, the right side signifies prosperity with its related evils, whereas the left side signifies adversity along with its results.

Therefore, there are two kinds of darks deeds - prosperity and adversity.  One kind of dark deed stems from prosperity.  Another kind of dark deed stems from adversity.  Depending on your personality and situation you will be tempted by one kind of dark deed more than the other.

14But (as for you) put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires.

Put on the Lord Jesus Christ, by believing His Gospel.  Put on “faith in Jesus” and you are dressed to live in the Gospel Day.  The Lord Himself writes in Galatians 3:27 that “as many of you as have been baptized into Christ did put on Christ.”  Also, ...

Put on the Lord Jesus Christ, by putting on the armor of light.  Think more highly of your neighbor.  The Lord Himself writes in Ephesians 4 to “to put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness.”

The apostle Paul presents Christ the example in a few words in Colossians 3:12-15 where he says, “Put on … compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, 13 bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. 14 And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony.

Now the armor of light is the good works opposed to gluttony, drunkenness, licentiousness; to indolence, strife, and envying.  What armor opposes these dark deeds?  The armor of light includes such things as fasting, watchfulness, and prayer.  The armor of light includes such things as a hard day’s work, chastity, modesty, temperance, goodness, endurance of hunger and thirst, endurance of cold and heat. And so as not to use my own words, the Lord says that the armor of light is “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, meekness, and self control” Galatians 5:22-23.  And He makes an even more detailed account of the armor of light in 2 Corinthians 6:1-10 regarding pastors as an example for the flock.  He writes,

Working together with (the Lord), then, we (the Lord’s apostles) appeal to you not to receive the grace of God in vain. 2 For (the Lord) says,

                 “In a favorable time I listened to you,

     and in a (Gospel) day of salvation I have helped you.”

Behold, now is the favorable time; behold, now is the (Gospel) day of salvation. 3 We (the Lord’s apostles) put no obstacle in anyone’s way, so that no fault may be found with our ministry, 4 but as servants of God we (the Lord’s apostles and, later, the Lord’s pastors) commend ourselves in every way: by great endurance, in afflictions, hardships, calamities, 5 beatings, imprisonments, riots, labors, sleepless nights, hunger; 6 by purity, knowledge, patience, kindness, the Holy Spirit, genuine love; 7 by truthful speech, and the power of God; with the weapons of righteousness for the right hand and for the left; 8 through honor and dishonor, through slander and praise. We are treated as impostors, and yet are true; 9 as unknown, and yet well known; as dying, and behold, we live; as punished, and yet not killed; 10 as sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; as poor, yet making many rich; as having nothing, yet possessing everything.

What a beautiful account of the armor of light.  What a beautiful account of the good works our Lord encourages us, His children, to put on.  To practice these good works is truly putting on Jesus Christ.

The Christian who can see His master fasting, praying, working, watching, enduring hunger and fatigue and conducts his own behavior in a similar manner, makes no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires.  Blessed are you.

To the Christian who can see His master fasting, praying, working, watching, enduring hunger and fatigue while he himself feasts, sleeps, lazes around and lives in luxury - that one must be a scoundrel and has found his repentance on this First Sunday in Advent; in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.  Amen.

The peace of God, which passes understanding, will guard your body and soul in Christ our Savior.  Amen.

Morning Prayer - Matins

             Morning Prayer - Matins

             Morning Prayer - Matins

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The Order of Matins


A Hymn of invocation may be sung

P – O Lord, open Thou my lips.
C – And my mouth shall show forth Thy praise
P – Makes haste O God, to deliver me.
C – Make haste to help me, O God. 

Glory be to the Father and to the Son
And to the Holy Ghost
As it was in the beginning, is now,
And every shall be; world without end.
Amen. Hallelujah!
 

The Invitatory

P – O come, let us worship the Lord;
C – For he is our Maker

The Venite

O come let us sing unto the Lord
Let us make a joyful noise to the Rock of our salvation.
Let us come before His presence with thanksgiving;
And make a joyful noise unto Him with psalms.
For the Lord is a great God
And a great King above all gods.
In His hand are the deep places of the earth;
The strength of the hills is His also
The sea is His, and He made it;
And His hands formed the dry land.
Oh, come let us worship and bow down;
Let us kneel before the Lord our maker
For He is our God
And we are the people of His pasture
And the sheep of His hand.
Glory be to the Father and to the Son
And to the Holy Ghost
As it was in the beginning, is now,
And ever shall be; world without end. Amen. 

Then shall
The Hymn
be sung.

The Psalmody

The Lection

P – But Thou, O Lord, have mercy upon us.
C – Thanks be to Thee, O Lord. 

The Sermon

The Te Deum Laudamus

We praise Thee O God, we acknowledge Thee to be the Lord.
All the earth doth worship Thee, the Father Everlasting.
To Thee all the angels cry aloud, the heavens and all the powers therein;
To Thee cherubim and seraphim continually do cry;
Holy, holy, holy, Lord God of Sabaoth;
Heaven and earth are full of the majesty of Thy glory.
The glorious company of the Apostles praise Thee
The goodly fellowship of the prophets praise Thee;
The noble army of martyrs praise Thee;
The holy Church though all the world doth acknowledge Thee;
The Father of an infinite majesty; Thine adorable true and only Son,
Also the Holy Ghost, the Comforter.
Thou art the King of Glory, O Christ.
Thou are the everlasting Son of the Father.
When Thou tookest upon Thee to deleiver man;
Thou didst humble Thyself to be born of a virgin.
When Thou hadst overcome the sharpness of death,
Thou didst open the kingdom of heaven to all believers.
Thou sittest at the right hand of God
In the glory of the Father.
We believe that thou shalt come
To be our judge.
We therefore pray Thee to help Thy servants,
Whom Thou hast redeemed with Thy precious blood.
Make them to be numbered with Thy saints
In glory everlasting.
O Lord, save Thy people and bless Thine heritage.
Govern them and lift them up forever.
Day by day we magnify Thee,
And we worship Thy name ever, world without end.
Vouchsafe, O Lord, to keep us this day without sin,
O Lord have mercy upon us, have mercy upon us,
O Lord, let Thy mercy be upon us, as our trust is in Thee.
O Lord, in Thee have I trusted; let me never be confounded.
 

The Prayers

The Kyrie

Lord have mercy upon us, 
Christ have mercy upon us, 
Lord have mercy upon us.

The Lord's Prayer

Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be Thy name;
Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven;
Give us this day our daily bread and
Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us;
And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil;
For Thine is the kingdom and the power and the glory;
Forever and ever. Amen.
 

The Salutation

P – The Lord be with you.
C – And with thy spirit

P – O Lord, our heavenly Father, almighty and everlasting God,
Who hast safely brought us to the beginning of this day,
Defend us in the same with Thy mighty power
And grant that all our doings, being ordered by Thy governance
May be righteous in Thy sight;
Through Jesus Christ, Thy Son, our Lord,
Who liveth and reigneth with Thee and the Holy Ghost
Ever one God, world without end.
C – Amen
 

The Benedicamus

P – Bless we the Lord
C – Thanks be to God
 

The Benediction

P – The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ
The love of God and the communion of the Holy Ghost
Be with you all.
C – Amen

Sermon - Parable of the Ten Virgins

     Sermon - Parable of the Ten Virgins

     Sermon - Parable of the Ten Virgins

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Sermon - Parable of the Ten Virgins

Last Sunday of the Church Year

November 26, 2017

Grace and mercy to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.  Amen.

It is written: 11 Afterward the other virgins came also, saying, ‘Jesus, Jesus, open to us.’ 12 But Jesus answered, ‘Truly, I say to you, I do not know you.’ 13 Watch therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour.”

Let us pray: Almighty God, grant to Your church Your Holy Spirit and the wisdom that comes down from above, that Your Word may not be bound but have free course and be preached to the joy and edifying of Christ’s holy people, that in steadfast faith, we may serve You and, in the confession of Your name, abide unto the end; in the name of Jesus.  Amen.

Today is the last Sunday of the Church Year and the parable of the Ten Virgins is to teach and admonish us as to what will happen when Christ comes on the last day ushers in the consummation of the church in the new heaven and earth.

The parable of the Ten Virgins uses an ancient Jewish wedding to warn us Christians.  

An ancient Jewish wedding would go like this:  A young Jewish man, the groom, would be engaged to his fiance without ceremony but as legally binding as marriage is today.  To break off this Jewish engagement would be called divorce.  A few days later, the young groom would arrive at his fiance’s home (her dad’s home) to escort the young lady to his home for two purposes.  First, to consummate the marriage.  Second, to begin a week-long wedding celebration.  Many from the village would join the couple to the groom’s house.  It was a big parade.  It was an open invitation.  These people are the wedding guests.

The wedding guests would not know exactly when the groom would arrive.  They knew he would come within a few days of the engagement.  They knew the groom was coming soon but they did not know exactly when.  So, they had time to ready themselves.  The groom could arrive during the day.  But he could arrive during the night, so to be prepared they needed lamps with oil.

Jesus is telling this parable to warn us Christians to be prepared for His return on the Last Day.  On the Last Day Jesus, the groom, will come for His bride, the church.  Jesus will consummate the end-times and we will celebrate with Him for eternity.  In this parable, we Christians are the wedding guests who are waiting for Christ’s return.

A virgin is symbolic of a Christian, not a non-Christian.  

Ten virgins are symbolic for all Christians in heaven and earth.  

On the Last Day, some Christians will be found wise unto salvation.  Some Christians will be found foolish.  The foolish will cry out “Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in your name and cast out devils?  And in your name done many wonderful works?  Lord, Lord, have we not support pastors to preach your word and baptized our children?  Have we not supported wonderful works like missions in Papua New Guinea and Kenya?  Then Jesus will solemnly proclaim to them, ‘I never knew you.  Depart from me.’

The parable teaches us that there is a division among Christians.  Some are well prepared.  Some are not prepared at all.  Both groups make up the whole of Christianity.  

What do the fools lack?  They thought they were prepared.  The parable tells us what they lack by the lamps that they hold.

Think of it like this:

The lamp’s flame is faith in Christ.

The oil in the lamp is the grace of God - The dealer of God’s grace is Moses and the prophets.  Today, the public dealers of God’s grace are the pastors who proclaim the Lord’s Word and administer the Lord’s Sacraments.

The lamp itself is the particular congregation you attend.  This is the outward form of that particular congregation.

Flame, oil, and lamp.  The fools have the lamp; the outward life and conduct of a Christian.  But the fools have no oil.  No Word and Sacrament.

The fools are not like Moses’ brother Aaron.  Aaron committed idolatry. Hearing the Word, Aaron repented and believed in Jesus again.  Aaron was graciously admitted back in through the open door of God’s Word and the Old Testament sacrifices.

The fools are not like David.  David committed adultery and then homicide.  Hearing the Word, David repented and believed in Jesus again.  David was graciously admitted back in through the open door of God’s Word and Old Testament sacrifices.

The fools are not like Peter.  Peter denied the Lord three times.  Hearing the Word, Peter repented and believed in Jesus again.  Peter was graciously admitted in through the open door of God’s Word and His New Testament sacraments.

How will the fools be unprepared for Christ’s second coming?

They will have been active in the outward form of the Christian church (the potlucks, clean-up days, the annual Sunday School Christmas program and the like but they will be the ones who were not hearing the Word of God preached and taught.  They will be the ones who denied the power of Holy Baptism and did not attend the Holy Communion.

On the Last Day, the door through which Aaron, David, and Peter were graciously readmitted to the Christian church will be forever shut.  

On the Last Day, the door which Christ says “Knock and it will be open to you” will have been shut forever.

Today is the day to fill your lamps with oil.

Jesus fills your lamp with oil when He forgives your sin in the Confession and Absolution.  Then the lamp continues to burn.  The flame is faith in Jesus.  You will be prepared.

Jesus fills your lamp with oil when He announces the grace of God in public sermons, Bible studies, and private devotions, and the mutual care and comfort of Christians encouraging each other in the Scriptures which they memorize and remember.  Then the lamp continues to burn.  The flame is faith in Jesus.  You will be prepared.

The Lord fills your lamp with oil when He feeds you His very Body and Blood for you to eat and drink.  Then the lamp continues to burn.  The flame is faith in Jesus.  You will be prepared.

Jesus is warning us Christians to keep watching for His return.

Keep watch by hearing the preaching of the Word of God and trust that what you hear is for you.  This is wise and you will be prepared for the Last Day

Keep watch by being Baptized which is connected with the study of God’s Word and trust that what you hear is for you.  This is wise and you will be prepared for the Last Day.

Keep watch by eating and drinking Christ’s Body and Blood and trust that what you eat and drink is for you.  This is wise and you will be prepared for the Last Day.

Keep watch therefore and remain prepared for Jesus Christ’s Second Coming by receiving His Word and Sacrament by faith in Jesus.

You feel that Jesus is delayed.  You will probably fall asleep in Christ before He comes, just like Aaron, David, and Peter.

But your hope is that Jesus will keep His promises given to you.

It is written in the last chapter of the book of Revelation, Jesus “testifies of these things saying, ‘Surely, I am coming quickly.  Amen.  Even so, come quickly Lord Jesus’; in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.  Amen.

Finally, I leave you with the last words written in the Holy Scriptures, which is a blessing for all of you - “The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all.  Amen.”