Emmaus Lutheran Church - LCMS

Pastor David W. Kern
Worship Service: Sundays at 10 A.M.
Sunday School and Bible Class: Sundays at 9 A.M.

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Therefore, God has highly exalted Him and bestowed on Him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure. Philippians 2:9-13


Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ Jesus,


Though New Year's Day is a national holiday in the United States, it is not, strictly speaking, a part of the Christian church calendar. It is, however, important to recognize that the life of the Church is clearly grounded in the liturgical calendar. According to this calendar, which began November 29, the First Sunday in Advent, we remember the first day of January, as the day of the circumcision of our Savior, Jesus (the Lord saves), the name of which crowns the entire year.


St. Paul wanted the Church at Philippi to know the significance of the name Jesus for her day-by-day life of faith. This congregation was close to the heart of Paul, and the feeling was mutual. What troubled Paul was that the congregation was having a hard time, so he again reminds them of the rock-solid comfort they could find, in the name of Jesus, to include everything He had done and will do for them. Paul does this by quoting the prophet, Isaiah, saying, "Turn to me and be saved, all the ends of the earth! For I am God, and there is no other. By myself I have sworn; from my mouth has gone out in righteousness a word that shall not return: ‘To me every knee shall bow, every tongue shall swear allegiance.'" (Isaiah 45:22-23).


Even as Paul speaks to the struggle of the Philippian believers, we may be asking how this pertains to each of us. We face our own challenges in the twenty-first century; we look forward to dumping all the problems we faced during the year 2020, moving into the year 2021 so that we can forget them.


To the Lord Jesus Himself, the cross always was and always shall be His most glorious moment. It was His "hour." He was "lifted up," that is exalted above every other name in heaven and earth and under the earth. The cross marked His victory over sin, death, hell, and Satan. The very moment when the work of redemption and eternal salvation was completed, He shouts, "It is finished!" The glory of our Savior can be summed up by two words, "the cross!" His resurrection testifies to the fact that the victory won at the cross was a real victory. The empty tomb shows us that each blessing won at the cross—ever last one of them—has already started to flow to you and me.


This in mind, St. Paul turns his attention to the Philippians and to us. What about us? What about the hardships we have faced this past year? In the verses surrounding our text, Paul issues statements, that make sense to us only when we view them in the light of the cross. "Let your manner of life be worthy of the gospel of Christ… for it has been granted to you that for the sake of Christ you should not only believe in him but also suffer for his sake, engaged in the same conflict that you saw I had and now hear that I still have" (Philippians 1:27, 29-30). Shortly after this text, Paul says, "Even if I am to be poured out as a drink offering upon the sacrificial offering of your faith, I am glad and rejoice with you all. Likewise, you also should be glad and rejoice with me" (Philippians 2:17-18).


People who bear the name of Jesus, as people who have received through the cross all the blessing we could possibly need and desire for time and eternity, as people who have been baptized into His death and resurrection, we have become new people. As we take up our cross and follow Him, the cross becomes our glory too.


As we approach the New Year, seeking to put the year 2020 to rest, let us do so with the rejoicing in death—the death of Jesus, the Savior. Just as we participate in Jesus death, we shall also participate in His resurrection. In tears and in laughter the joy never ends! In Jesus, our joy is as lasting as His glory.


In His grace,


Pastor


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