Saint Paul's Lutheran Church of Irvine

Tomorrow Sunday April 20th, 2014 at Saint Paul’s Lutheran Church of Irvine: Easter Sunday “You Have Been Raised With Christ” (Colossians 3:1-4)

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We worship in the gym at Crean Lutheran High School in Irvine. The high school is located at 12500 Sand Canyon Ave, Irvine. Worship is at 9:30 am.

 

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

Praise the Lord! Jesus is risen! He is risen indeed! Praise the Lord! This is our celebration tomorrow morning dear Christians. What most people refer to as "Easter," a word that reminds us of the rising of the sun, but for us Christians it is a word that reminds of the rising of the Son of God, the Lord Jesus Christ! This is the pivotal event of the Christian faith and it is the single most important Sunday of the entire year.
Please invite friends and family to church tomorrow. The message is entitled, "You Have Been Raised With Christ" (Colossians 3:1-4). This year we are going to delve into the relevance of Christ's resurrection as impacting our lives. Because Christ is risen and because we are baptized into Christ, we experience a spiritual resurrection as we anticipate our own physical resurrection. But what of this spiritual resurrection? What does it look like? What does it feel like? How do we live in it?
In the meantime, we abide in this day, Holy Saturday, the last day -- the 40th day -- of Lent. An important part of Christian tradition is to offer services also on this day. As we are still growing and developing as a congregation we are not offering a service on this day as of yet. However, here is the collect (thematic prayer) for this day:
"O God, creator of heaven and earth, grant that as the crucified body of Your dear Son was laid in the tomb and rested on this holy Sabbath, so we may await with Him the coming of the third day, and rise with Him to newness of life, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen."
For Tomorrow:
7:15: Early Set-Up For Any Brave Soul Who Wants To Help
9:00: High school youth group comes to practice with choir
9:30: WORSHIP
11:00: Easter Breakfast sponsored by our high school youth group
11:15: Easter Egg Hunt (children up through 6th grade may participate)
May the Lord richly bless our worship tomorrow morning to His glory and to our great benefit as we live out our lives in the Risen One, the Lord Jesus Christ!
Here is an excerpt from tomorrow's sermon:

In the meantime we have to learn to recognize that this indestructible life with all hope and all blessing through ANY struggle or hardship is something that we see not with our physical eyes but through faith. Verses 2-3: 3Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. 4For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God.”

 

First be clear that to set your mind on things above is very specific: set your mind on Christ. Some people get all weird with this passage so that they start talking about “heavenly things” to the extent that before you know it, they become other-worldly and detached from living here are on earth. That’s wrong. God loves His creation and He wants you here for a reason and everything created by God is good (1st Tim. 4:4). But as you live here, serving your family, doing your work, encouraging others, sharing your faith, living in love, do these in such a way that you live in Christ…knowing that in Him who conquered death, everything you do has eternal weight and glory. Oh I know, so often we feel as though we are wasting our time; we are constantly tempted to cry out: “what’s the use,” but don’t give in Christian, because the greater reality is Christ who has conquered everything that could possibly mess up your real life. Your real life is secure!

 

So keep your heart, mind, and soul – all of you – on Christ who is risen! But as you do, just remember that your real life is hidden and this is where we typically struggle.

 

“Luther describes the contrast between the high dignity of Christians and the lowly form of their life on earth in these words: ‘We are even now the children of God, and through faith and Baptism have been put into possession of eternal salvation….But who among men recognizes the children of God? Who will call those men children of God that are thrown into prison and are so tortured and tormented in every conceivable way that they appear to be the children of the devil, condemned and accursed souls? For that reason St. Paul says that the glory of the children of God is now hidden, but shall be manifested in them later (Col. 3:3-4). So long as God’s children are here upon earth, they are not clothed with [the clothing of God], but wear the devil’s [clothing]….The right order is reversed: those who are God’s children are called children of the devil, and those who are the children of the devil are called God’s children.” (Pieper, Francis, Christain Dogmatics, Volume III, 68-69, quoting Luther, St. L. XII:729f.)

 

You know Luther he was quite vivid and powerful in his writing, but he was just saying that sometimes even though we have the resurrection life of Jesus Christ, it doesn’t always seem that way. There are times when it feels like we wear the clothes of the weak one, the suffering one, not the victorious one, but the defeated one. Sometimes as Luther said, “the right order is reversed.”

 

But whenever you feel this way, simply go back to this one habit of faith: “seek the things that are above…set your [mind] on things that are above.” Return to Christ who went through His humility, His passion, and His crucifixion to save you, but then remember the rest of the story…He rose! In imitation of Jesus, you are now a little Christ, you too go through your versions of weakness, of humiliation, of struggle, of suffering…but remember your life dear Christian, your real life: Jesus who has conquered even death has shared His resurrection life with you!

In Your Service and To His Glory,
Pastor Espinosa

Tonight Friday, April 18th, 2014 at Saint Paul’s Lutheran Church of Irvine: Good Friday! Worshipping at the Good Shepherd Chapel at Concordia University Irvine

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Tonight we worship in Good Shepherd Chapel at Concordia University Irvine located at 1530 Concordia, Ivine...the service begins at 7:00 pm

 

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

 

Good Friday is also known as God's Friday and it is NOT a funeral service for Jesus! Its darkness commemorates the extreme passion of our Savior who gave Himself on the cross to save us from sin and death (and it provokes the appropriate reverence and humility we ought to show for it), but underneath the quietness and darkness is a celebration of our salvation through the power of the cross of Christ.

 

The world doesn't see this. All it sees represented in the crucifix is death (and perhaps a symbol of "love," that in the end, came up short). The truth, however, is that this cross of Christ was the medium through which the Lord shed His blood to atone for the sins of the world; that cross facilitated God's life and light to enter into the realm of death and darkness. It was as if a divine virus (this one good and holy) spread through death and in the end death was destroyed...Jesus' death killed death. What we celebrate on Sunday will confess the fulfillment of this truth.

 

This is why today is GOOD Friday...God's goodness prevailed; God's goodness known in the conquering blood of Christ won for us the good gift of the forgiveness of sins, life, and salvation. This is why St. Paul emphasized the message of the cross of Christ. "For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified." (1st Corinthians 2:2)

 

Please join us for Good Friday service this evening at 7:00 pm in the Good Shepherd Chapel at Concordia University, Irvine. Invite a friend. This is the second to last day of Lent and the single most important day of Lent...it is God's Friday...it is your Good Friday!

 

In Jesus' Love,

Pastor Espinosa

Holy Thursday (Maundy Thursday or Commandment Thursday), April 17th, 2014: “To Communicants”

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Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

There is no question about the fact that Christians are commanded by the Lord to know His joy in Christ (Philippians 4). With the Holy Spirit one cannot help but know a new assurance and confidence in life, because the Lord is at your side and He has promised never to leave nor forsake you.
At the same time, there is more to the story of our lives. We continue to bear our sinful nature (the old man, the flesh) and this means that sin is still wrapped around our necks. And this means that we resist the good things of God...even the blessed vocations we have been studying over the Lenten season.
Tonight -- on this 38th day of Lent -- we move into a vocation that we hardly ever hear about: being a Communicant, one who regularly and frequently receives The Lord's Supper. Why do we? Because we are tired and we are weak in faith; we do so because we so often fail miserably in our other vocations. These things, however, are ironically used as reasons to stay away from the Supper...until we do better and until we feel more "qualified" or "deserving." Banish these thoughts! Holy Communion is for the weak in faith; the Sacrament of the Altar that Christ gave on the first Holy Thursday is for those who feel as failures in the other things they are called to do since sin pervades in those things too. Receiving Communion is perhaps the most powerful way of confessing that you still need Jesus as much as ever!
Come tonight, thirsty for God's grace; come eager for the forgiveness of sins!
Service is at 7:00 pm at the Good Shepherd Chapel at Concordia University Irvine.
It will be my great joy and honor to preach God's Word this evening to my own people as the pulpit exchange has officially concluded.
Here is an excerpt from tonight's sermon:

Sermon

“To Communicants”

Rev. Dr. Alfonso O. Espinosa

 

          Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. Amen. We have been journeying through a series on section 3 of Luther’s Small Catechism called “Table of Duties.” We had guest pastors during this 2014 Lenten pulpit exchange and I’ve come home from the congregations I visited -- over the last several Wednesday nights -- eager to ask my wife Traci, “So how did it go?” I’ve enjoyed my wife’s summaries to me. Her reports are pretty interesting. They have included giving me a sense of attendance, perceptions about the music, special comments made by the guest pastor, etc., but the most important aspect has been her evaluation of the sermons and one thing my wife looks for is a balance between Law and Gospel.

 

Often times there are assumptions made that if one is going to preach on the “Table of Duties,” then obviously there must be – as even sheer logic would seem to dictate – preponderance on law. After all the table of duties are about your vocations; how you live in this world whether you are a parent, a child, a worker, a student, an athlete, a musician, a citizen, etc. These are the roles and functions the Lord has given to each of us and we all have several vocations. In all of them, we must live out our faith. This implies action and action implies -- to the Christian anyway -- living in accord with God’s law. How does one live as a husband? How does one live as a wife? How does one live as a child? A student? A friend? The inherent task here invites a description of what you do…and what you do – esp. if you do it in faith – will seek to honor God’s law in relation to whatever it is you’re doing.

 

But I’d like to back up to challenge (somewhat) this assumption…which is not to say that it is all wrong, because indeed you must live out and act out your vocations, but…there is an unfortunate tendency in all of us to think in terms of the “God stuff” (that I’ll put in a box over here) and then the “me stuff” or the “my stuff” that I’ll put in another box over there. The “God stuff” box will include my Bible, my worship attendance, and all of the things about faith…and when I’m feeling esp. inspired, I will take more time to pray; or think “God thoughts”…but for the rest of the time, we are going to live in the other box. The “me stuff” or “my stuff” box and for this box we don’t really need the God stuff. The my stuff is everything else in this world and in my life…these are the things that are up to me; these are the things that require my energy, my attention, my time, my effort, my ingenuity. Just like when I carry out my vocations: these things depend on me and who can blame even the well meaning pastor when what ensues about such things is an emphasis on Law (well maybe you should blame the pastor since he’s called to preach the Word of God accurately)!

 

But the God stuff and my stuff box division is all wrong. Know this clearly Christian: there is nothing you have and nothing you do that is not from God. And while this seems fairly simple to grasp intellectually, we have a way of forgetting it in the middle of our vocations. God enables you to breathe, God enables you to have faith; God has created your physical body; God has created your living spirit. The Word of God says, “In [God] we live and move and have our being.” (Acts 17:28). That is our whole lives are permeated with grace (The Father giving good gifts motivated by love and mercy through His Son).

 

By grace you are saved through faith in Christ. By grace you have clothes on your back. By grace you have food. By grace you are enabled to put the food in your mouth, chew the food, and digest the food. But what is even more profound and amazing when it comes to vocation -- whatever you do in whatever role you have in life -- is that it is God Himself living and acting in and through you. When mom changes a diaper for her baby, God changes the diaper; when dad gets lunch for his kids, God gets lunch for His kids; when a teacher teaches, God is equipping the students; when a plumber fixes your water leak, God fixes your water leak.

 

Ezekiel once recorded God’s message to His people which brings out this grace-orientation of our whole lives (when you hear “I” it is God speaking and describing what He will do): “I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you shall be clean from all your uncleanness, and from all your idols I will cleanse you. And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you…And I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes and be careful to obey my rules.” (Ezekiel 36:25-27)

 

God does it all. Christ is both our justification – the One upon whom God’s declaration of “righteous!” upon you is based – and Christ is our sanctification – the source of our lives set apart to God to live in His service and to His glory. Christ is the life of those truly living; Christ is your life!

In Jesus' Love,
Pastor Espinosa

Tomorrow Sunday April 13th, 2014: Psalm Sunday, Passion Sunday: “My God, My God, Why?” (Matthew 27:46)

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Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

Tomorrow is Palm Sunday also known as Passion Sunday. Why the two designations? Palm Sunday marks our Lord's entrance into Jerusalem when He was heralded with shouts of "Hosanna," acknowledged as the Son of David come to save! Passion Sunday reminds us, however, that He would save in a way not anticipated or understood...He came into Jerusalem to suffer and to pay for our sins with His blood.
Palm Sunday/Passion Sunday also commences Holy Week. The services really form a single unit:
Psalm Sunday/Passion Sunday: He comes for victory over sin and death.
This we celebrate tomorrow at Crean Lutheran High School at 9:30 am.
Maundy Thursday: He institutes His Supper to keep us in that victory.
This we celebrate Thursday at Good Shepherd Chapel (CUI) at 7:00 pm.
Good Friday: He wins the victory through His death on the cross.
This we celebrate Friday at Good Shepherd Chapel (CUI) at 7:00 pm.
Simply said, without Holy Week -- without this backdrop of Christ's victory -- Easter Sunday loses its meaning: the victory I describe above during Holy Week is dark, shrouded, and hidden...the world sees no victory in suffering and dying. It is Easter, however, that demonstrates the victory being won and won during Holy Week in an unmistakable and glorious way. But first things first: we need to enter Christ's victory in the way God ordained and in the only way our sin could be dealt with.
We enter starting tomorrow the most important week of worship leading up to the most important single day (Easter Sunday) in the Church Year. My sermon is entitled, "My God, My God, Why?" (Matthew 27:46). Have you ever asked God "Why?" in the midst of your suffering, fear, or anxiety about something? You're not alone...Jesus did too and He did so for us.
Invite a friend. Share the message. Confess and receive -- once again -- the victory over sin and death!
Here is an excerpt from tomorrow's sermon:

Sermon

My God, My God, Why? (Matthew 27:46)

Pastor Espinosa

Sunday of the Passion, April 13th, 2014

 

          Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. Amen. As a good Christian there are some things that you should never say; some things that you should never ask. One of those questions is “Why?” “Why?” implies a lack of faith. “Why?” implies the need to understand. But the Lord says in Proverbs 3:5-6: “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him and He will make your paths straight.” The Word says, “trust,” not “ask why.”

 

One day Job asked, “What would be my portion from God above and my heritage from the Almighty on high?” (Job 31:2) He cried out, “Let the Almighty answer me!” (Job 31:15) He wanted an answer. In effect Job was asking why he was suffering so much in light of the righteous life he was committed to living and had in fact been living. When the answer finally came, it wasn’t exactly what Job was looking for. Job 38:1-2: “Then the Lord answered Job out of the whirlwind and said: ‘Who is this that darkens counsel by words without knowledge?’” Job reconsidered his position recorded at Job 42:1-2: “Then Job answered the Lord and said: ‘I know that you can do all things, and that no purpose of yours can be thwarted. Who is this that hides counsel without knowledge? Therefore I have uttered what I did not understand, things too wonderful for me, which I did not know.’”

 

This is why dear Christians that St. Paul by inspiration of the Holy Spirit declares this about those who live in true faith: “for we walk by faith, not by sight.” (2 Cor. 5:7) It’s true that the great Anselm of Canterbury confessed that he was engaged in faith seeking understanding, but even for Anselm understanding never preceded faith, but faith preceded understanding. So there you have your moral lesson for the day: “Don’t ask ‘why?’!” Cut it out! Knock it off! Stop doing it! Well, doesn’t it just feel great to get that out of your system?! Now you’ll probably never do it again! Right? If only it was that simple.

 

Thanks be to God that the Lord is always having mercy on us poor sinners. He never said that the Scriptures would answer all questions, but He answers many and it is only because we choose not to study the Word of Life that we are deprived of so much that would otherwise help us more than we know. The Holy Scriptures reveal much regarding the reasons we suffer. Two reasons are universal, true for both believers and unbelievers alike: (1) The fact that sin entered the world, so that now we endure the ramifications of this entry (e.g. bystanders who suffer the results of war or violent crime); (2) The fact that we suffer the consequences of our own active and actual sins (e.g. when we get a speeding ticket, or hurt our bodies due to our vanity).

 

The other reasons, however, are reasons for believers specifically, which is to say that there are many more reasons why believers are permitted to suffer. Aren’t you glad that you’re a Christian? Here are some:

[Please come tomorrow for the rest...]
In Your Service and To Christ's Glory,
Pastor Espinosa

Wednesday April 9th, 2014 at Saint Paul’s Lutheran Church of Irvine: “To Parents and Children”

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Service is tonight at 7:00 pm on the beautiful campus of Concordia University Irvine in the Good Shepherd Chapel! Invite a friend. Concordia University is located at 1530 Concordia, Irvine, CA

 

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

From today's Lutheran Book of Prayer: "Lord God, You have given me another day, a day to live in Your service and for the good of my fellow-men, I am indeed a poor tool in Your hand and deserving to be cast aside. Forgive me all my sins for Jesus' sake, and by Your Spirit grant me the fitness to work for You this day....Amen."
 
Tonight is our last Lenten Wednesday Night service in the Good Shepherd Chapel at Concordia University. The service of Vespers starts at 7 pm. Invite a friend! Tonight we continue through the Small Catechism on the Table of Duties and focus on "To Parents and Children."
Thank you for supporting me to support SCCMI (Southern California Campus Ministry Initiative) last Sunday in Pasadena so that Pastor Jasa could be an evangelist at a special event over the weekend in which he distributed 1500 personal invitations to the local church while sharing the saving Gospel! See the Lutheran Witness (April, 2014) on this vital endeavor (you'll see the name of our congregation on page 10)!
 
Servants of the Word and a Catechism for the People exists to unify and bolster our rich Lutheran heritage and tradition in the Lutheran Confessions which so magnificently proclaims the Word of Christ. This is why we do the pulpit exchange and the convocation. Law/Gospel preaching, Sacramental theology, emphasis on the Sacraments, the beautiful liturgy of our tradition, etc. are put forth in the 21st century in a winsome way. Thank you for your prayers and support of this. The convocation is Saturday, May 10th at Gloria Dei, Escondido.
This Sunday is Palm Sunday/Sunday of the Passion. We will process with palm fronds and crosses from the parking lot into the sanctuary. Try to be a little early. Service begins at 9:30 am in the parking lot at Crean Lutheran High School. I will proclaim: "My God, My God, Why?" based on Matthew 27:46.
In Your Service and To Christ's Glory,
Pastor Espinosa

Sunday April 6th, 2014 at Saint Paul’s Lutheran of Irvine: “First Appearances Can be Deceiving” (John 11:17-27, 38-53)

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Worship is at 9:30 am at Crean Lutheran High School, 12500 Sand Canyon Ave., Irvine, CA

Bible Study and Sunday School is at 11:00 am!

 

Rev. Alfonso O. Espinosa, Ph.D., senior pastor

Rev. Steven P. Mueller, Ph.D., assistant pastor

 

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

We confess the Lord Jesus as our Prophet, Priest, and King. He is our Prophet because it is His Word proclaimed in His office of the ministry in His Church localized in His congregations. He is Guest tomorrow to give you His Word and His body and blood in the Holy Sacrament!
The sermon, "First Appearances Can be Deceiving" will remind us that our Lord hides Himself. He hid Himself when He came as a baby in a manger; as He died on the cross, as He comes to you in, with, and under bread and wine; and He hides Himself in you. These things do not lend accuracy in "first appearances," as none of these are very impressive to the world. In truth, however, these things are the things of forgiveness, eternal life, and God in our midst.
After the Divine Service, the Bible Study will be conducted by Prof. Steve Parks as he continues tomorrow on "Confronting Culture." He will finish his segment on answering Neo-Darwinism.
What a Sunday this will be:
1) you will receive Holy Absolution.
2) you will be equipped in the Word of God in John 11.
3) you will receive the body and blood of Christ so that you will never die.
4) you will be equipped on how to answer culture's confrontations against faith.
Here is an excerpt from tomorrow's sermon:

“First Appearances Can be Deceiving”

John 11:17-27, 38-53

Rev. Steven P. Mueller

Many things we encounter are not what they first appear to be.

Even divine things may not always be what they appear to be

Isaiah 45:16 “Truly you are a God who hides himself.”

 

Luther made this a major part of his theology. God is Deus Absconditus – the hidden God. Luther also called this the “theology of the cross.

Do not to look for God merely in external might and glory. Look where God promises that He will be.

But we are always tempted to look for God in places he has not promised to be.

Today’s readings show us several examples of times when outward appearances were deceiving – when God hid His work from human eyes, only to reveal it at just the right time.

 

A living Lazarus was hidden in death until Christ revealed him

John 11 tells us about Lazarus’ sickness and death – and Jesus’ strange reaction.

John 11:5–6 Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus. 6 So, when he heard that Lazarus was ill, he stayed two days longer in the place where he was.

 

Martha meets Him, and says, “If you had been here my brother would not have died… but even now I know that God will do whatever you ask.” What a great statement of faith. But when they get to the tomb, she wavers.

Martha was caught up in external appearances. But Jesus was not. With a word, he called Lazarus out, and the dead man rose.

The appearance – the reality of death – was not the final story. God was doing something greater. God’s life was hidden there, and Lazarus lived.

May we rejoice in these gifts!
Invite a friend.
Worship starts at 9:30 am; Bible Study at 11:00 am.
In Your Service and To Christ's Glory,
Pastor Espinosa

Tonight Wednesday April 2nd, 2014 at Saint Paul’s Lutheran Church of Irvine: “To Widows” (1st Tim 5:5-6 & 1 Cor. 12:12-26)

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Dear Holy Ones in Christ,

And you are. Take note of how St. Paul started so many of his letters, "To the saints..." literally the "holy ones." This is your status now baptized and forgiven one!
Blessed 25th day of Lent. This is our 2nd to last Wednesday night service at 7 pm tonight once again at Concordia University Irvine.
Please note: we are meeting on the 3rd. floor conference room in Grimm Hall as we continue our series on holy vocation. Remember every vocation -- even if it is not yours -- is essential to the body. St. Paul writes that even the weaker parts of the body are "indispensable." (1 Cor. 12:22)
 
Remember that Grimm Hall is the newest building on campus (3 stories high) and is adjacent to the parking lot that is also close by to the library. Walk up to Grimm Hall to the open, outside middle of the building and see a large globe. Enter left into the building and walk through the hall up to the elevators on your right. Go up to the 3rd floor and turn right and then right again in the conference room.
Our service is at 7:00 pm on the beautiful campus of Concordia University Irvine.
 
An extra sermon for you: next Tuesday, April 8th will be presented by yours truly on KFUO. I am attaching the manuscript here for this 5 minute service which will be presented as part of a morning "Matins" on air.

KFUO “His Time” Sermon for April 8th, 2014

“Christ For Us When Sin Comes From The Outside & The Inside”

Text: St. Mark 14:53-72

Rev. Dr. Alfonso O. Espinosa, Saint Paul’s Lutheran Church of Irvine

            Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ on this 30th day of Lent [if this is broadcast on April 8th] and as we are now knocking on the door of Holy Week. Amen. It is time to reflect on our dear Savior’s passion: all that He was willing to do and endure in order to save us from sin, death, and the power of the Evil One. In our Gospel text from St. Mark, chapter 14, verses 53-72 we see our Lord facing for us sinful attacks from the “outside” (or from the world) and even more shamefully and alarming sinful attacks from the “inside” (or from within His own Church). His response to these, however, is the response of amazing grace poured out through His been undeterred from why He came taking on our flesh to begin with: He would go forth to die for us “while we were still sinners.” (Romans 5:8)

The outside sinful attack against our Savior is depicted in the mockery and farce of a trial before the Sanhedrin as recorded in verses 53-65. “[Our Lord Jesus] had been arrested in an illegal and a most highhanded way, and as he faces his judges for trial, no crime has been charged against him. And so, unindicted, illegally arrested, he stands at this illegal hour before this illegally convened court.” (R.C.H. Lenski, Interpretation of St. Mark’s Gospel, 657) It is important to note that this trial ignored the legal restrictions which forbade trials at night. The darkness represents the work of Satan who persecuted the Lord and who to this day persecutes the Church and the members of the Lord’s Holy Bride like you and me. Caiaphas the high priest heard testimony that did not agree (v 59), and when He asked Jesus, “Have you no answer to make? What is it that these men testify against you?” (v 60), our Lord’s silence (v 61) must have been deafening, but it was appropriate: there was no need to defend oneself against lies and false accusations.

But then Caiaphas -- who was now desperate and feverish to stop Christ -- asked a question that our Lord had to answer: “Are you the Christ, the Son of the Blessed?” (v 61) Oh Caiaphas knew exactly what he was asking (the Jews sought to avoid the holy name of God and so Caiaphas made an adjustment: instead of saying “Son of God,” he said “Son of the Blessed,” same difference). Again our Lord had to answer because this is why He came: to show us God, our merciful and saving God! So He answered: “I am, and you will see the Son of Man seated at the right hand of Power, and coming with the clouds of heaven.” (v 62) The Lord was fully aware of the words of Daniel 7:13-14 and identified Himself with another divine title: “Son of Man”…the One with authority to judge all men, because He is God with the power and authority of God! So much for the claim that the New Testament does not clearly identify Jesus as God! And this is exactly what Caiaphas heard and understood and so he “tore his garments and said, ‘What further witnesses do we need? You have heard his blasphemy. What is your decision?’ And they all condemned him as deserving death.” (vv 63-64)

But our Lord’s persecution did not end there. Like a cancer, sin spreads and it would invade even St. Peter. In love St. Peter came to the courtyard to be as near to the Lord as possible, but in fear he betrayed the Lord. Three times St. Peter denied Christ and you know the rest of the account: “And immediately the rooster crowed a second time. And Peter remembered how Jesus had said to him, ‘Before the rooster crows twice, you will deny me three times.’ And he broke down and wept.” (v 72)

This is what our Savior faced for us: the persecution and rejection of the world; and the betrayal and denial from His own. And how often have we joined in this Satanic throng? How often have we in our own sin accused Christ like Caiaphas who essentially was unwilling to submit to the King of Kings…so we accuse our Savior in our hearts and join the world’s sin because we want to find a way to maintain our autonomy. And how we can relate to Peter who denied the Lord. How often have we in our sin denied the Lord; too afraid to be His witnesses, fearing men more than we reverence the Lord and we shut our mouths from sharing the Gospel or side step being too strongly identified as “one of those Christians.”

But Luther said: “The church of God has great need of these examples. For what would become of us? What hope would be left for us if Peter had not denied Christ and all the apostles had not taken offense at Him, and if Moses, Aaron, and David had not fallen? Therefore God wanted to console sinners with these examples and to say: ‘If you have fallen, return; for the door of mercy is open to you. You, who are conscious of no sin, do not be presumptuous; but both of you should trust in My grace and mercy.” (AE 7:11 as quoted in TLSB 1694) For St. Peter the denier our Lord went to the cross – and for that matter He went for Caiaphas as well and for the whole world – and on that cross covered the sins of the accusers and the deniers with His blood; the life in His blood (Lev. 17:11) covered the death of our sin (Rom. 6:23).

And for all who call on the Name of the Lord through the Holy Spirit calling, gathering, and enlightening through the Word and Sacrament of Christ shall be saved! So the Lord in grace also restored St. Peter even as the Lord leads you to live in your baptismal grace and to daily return to Christ! St. Peter who denied the Lord three times was three times restored as recorded in John 21:15-19. Therefore, be comforted dear Christian, because the Lord Jesus is likewise merciful to you so that in the forgiveness of sins you may also “proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.” (1st Peter 2:9)

And now the peace of God which surpasses all understanding, guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus until He comes again in glory. Amen.

May the Lord continue to bless you on hour Lenten journey preparing you for the high feast of the Resurrection!
In Jesus' Love,
Pastor Espinosa

 

Tomorrow Sunday March 30th, 2014 at Saint Paul’s Lutheran Church of Irvine: “The Keen Sight of Blindness” (John 9:1-41)

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Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

The Lord bless you on this evening of the 22nd day of Lententide!
Our Lord once said to the Pharisees: "If you were blind, you would have no guilt, but now that you say, 'We see,' your guilt remains." (v 41)
Every Christian should yearn on a daily basis to confess their blindness. We must, because we are sinners. This is how the Holy Spirit leads us, especially during this season of Lent. This is the confession forged by grace through faith in Jesus.
When it is made -- by the leading of the Spirit -- we are permitted by the Lord to see the only comfort that saves: that Christ came for sinners; He came for the blind; and He came for the lost.
It is easy for us to slip into treating this, however, as only applying to "once upon a time before my conversion," but that would be a mistake. As long as we have our sinful nature clinging to us, we must confess our blindness and we should yearn to see the Lord's grace as amazing each and every day as we continue to live in our baptismal grace.
May it ever be until we are in glory.
Invite a friend to tomorrow's divine service. Jesus is both host and guest and will be there to keep us in the forgiveness of sins.
Here is an excerpt from tomorrow's proclamation:

“The Keen Sight of Blindness” (John 9:1-41)

Pastor Espinosa

 

Text: 39Jesus said, ‘For judgment I came into this world, that those who do not see may see, and those who see may become blind.’ 40Some of the Pharisees near him heard these things, and said to him, ‘Are we also blind?’ 41Jesus said to them, ‘If you were blind, you would have no guilt, but now that you say, ‘We see,’ your guilt remains.”

 

Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. Amen. John Newton (1725-1807) wrote the hymn Amazing Grace and was raised in the faith. As a young boy he had memorized the Westminster Catechism, all of its Scripture texts, and all of Isaac Watts’ hymns for children. But he fell away from the faith. As one historical summary puts it, “During his military service Newton tried several times to adhere to his mother’s religious principles, praying, reading Scripture, and even fasting, but some skeptical literature finally convinced him to discard them.” (Precht, Lutheran Worship Hymnal Companion, 714)

 

Hard experiences followed: he deserted the navy, was caught, whipped, and demoted; he was treated badly by the sailors who disliked him and his superior attitude as a midshipman. By his own account, it was only the memory of his girlfriend that kept him from suicide. He eventually transferred from the navy to work for a slaver off Sierra Leone, but nothing really improved; the ill treatment continued and he owned nothing but the clothes on his back and the food the slaves would share with him. He was miserable, and so like a prodigal son sought help from his father.

 

The help came and he found himself on a voyage back to England and during that voyage, “Newton read Thomas a Kempis’ Imitation of Christ and began to reflect on his forgotten religious training. The ship became waterlogged in a storm, and, manning the pumps for hours on end, Newton prayed ‘like the cry of the ravens, which yet the Lord does not disdain to hear.’ (Duffield, English Hymns) Newton dates his spiritual birth from that experience on March 10, 1748.” (ibid, 714) Years later in 1764 he was ordained deacon and priest the following year. He carried on a fantastic evangelical ministry and never retired. “In his old age, he would be accompanied at the pulpit by a servant who helped him read his texts. He died December 21, 1807…his tombstone was inscribed with his own words:”

 

“John Newton

Clerk

Once an Infidel and Libertine

A Servant of Slaves in Africa

was

by the Rich Mercy of our Lord and Saviour

Jesus Christ

Preserved, Restored, Pardoned,

and Appointed to Preach the Faith

he had long labored to destroy.” (ibid, 715)

          I am greatly impressed by his epitaph because immediately after his name and title, John Newton essentially confesses his sin (now there’s a legacy!) and then gives all glory and honor to the Lord Jesus Christ and then after briefly describing his life in the faith (namely “appointed to preach”), again confesses his sin in writing “[the Faith] he had long labored to destroy.” Ask yourself, what do you want to be remembered by? John Newton answered by saying, “that I was a sinner and that “by the Rich Mercy of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ [was] Preserved, Restored, Pardoned.” Again, how’s that for a legacy!? It is easy to have a feverish need to do this, and to do that, to accomplish x, and to accomplish y, but is there a better thing you could possibly say about your life -- if it is lived well -- than what Newton wrote in the hymn that we just sang moments ago: “Was blind but now I see!”?

In Jesus' Love,
Pastor Espinosa

Tonight Wednesday March 26th, 2014 at Saint Paul’s Lutheran Church of Irvine

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7:00 pm worship at Concordia University, Good Shepherd Chapel

 

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

Blessings to you on this 19th day of Lententide. We are almost half-way through Lent. The 40 days are reminiscent of our Lord's 40 days in the wilderness to face temptation from the evil one FOR US which He overcame to save us. The 40 days are also reminiscent of the 40 years of the wilderness wanderings of God's people in the Old Testament. 40 is symbolic of our entire lives.
So how are you doing this Lententide? We already know the answer (at least to an extent). Like the rest of us, it is fluctuating: your new man striving to walk with God; and your old man getting in the way. The battle continues. But we cry out to the Lord and -- in Christ -- He hears us and He is merciful (through the vicarious satisfaction of Jesus...His blood shed for the sins of the world).
Come worship tonight! We gather at 7:00 pm on the campus of Concordia University.
We worship in the Good Shepherd Chapel.
 
We worship in the Good Shepherd Chapel.
 
We worship in the Good Shepherd Chapel.
 
This is the church-like structure with high white cross along side the chapel and fountain at the base of its walkway. The chapel itself is along the perimeter of the University overlooking Irvine.
 
Tonight we receive the Word through beautiful music, the Word in sacred liturgy, in prayer, and in the Word proclaimed. This time as we continue our study on sacred vocation: "To Husbands and Wives."
 
The Peace of the Lord be with you Christian!
 
Pastor Espinosa

Tomorrow Sunday March 23rd, 2014 at Saint Paul’s Lutheran Church of Irvine: “Justified!” (Romans 5)

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Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

You've all heard the saying about "the best kept secrets." It is as if the world, our flesh, and the evil one do not want you to have a clear and powerful understanding of one of the most important teachings in Holy Scripture called "justification."
 
It is this teaching, however, that is the source of our confidence as people of God. It is not something from within, but when you know the gift given to you in Christ called justification it impacts our confidence, our joy and our peace. It is the reason we may live through this Lenten season -- even while clearly seeing our sin -- seeing also God's answer to our shame and guilt: it is justification.
We will be blessed tomorrow and we will be given the opportunity to clearly grasp and clearly apply to ourselves (as the Lord will do exactly this through His Word) justification!
Invite a friend and come hungry and thirsty knowing the Word and the Sacrament of the Lord will strengthen your faith.
May the Lord bless you on this -- today, Saturday, March 22nd -- 16th day of Holy Lententide. May we walk faithfully knowing our adversary prowls around like a roaring lion seeking to devour (1st Peter 5:8), but resist him -- since you belong to Jesus and daily call on His name -- and the enemy will flee from you (1st Peter 5:9 and James 4:7).
In Jesus' Love,
Pastor Espinosa
p.s. Remember forget about the past and forge ahead towards the goal (Philippians 3:13-14) of the upward call. Do not linger on your past worship attendance...what matters is tomorrow morning, this Divine Service is offered to you: God's grace; God's forgiveness; God's love guaranteed through Word and Sacrament as you come confessing your great need.
 
Crean Lutheran High School, 12500 Sand Canyon Ave., Irvine, CA
 
Worship Time: 9:30 am
 
Only sinners qualify for attendance.