Category Archives: Christmas

Christmas Day – Titus 3:4-7

We heard last Sunday in the Introit, Rejoice in the Lord always, again I say, rejoice! God wills that all are joyful, especially today. Consider the last stanza to the hymn, “If God Himself Be for Me”: “My heart with joy is springing; I am no longer sad. My soul is filled with singing; Your sunshine makes me glad. The sun that cheers my spirit Is Jesus Christ, my King; The heaven I shall inherit Makes me rejoice and sing.”

When and how long will the joy of Christmas remain with us? Christmas joy remains with us when we consider Saint Paul’s words to Saint Titus in today’s Epistle. Paul begins by saying when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, He saved us…according to His own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit. Paul says the Spirit is given not in response to any work of man, but for the sake of the Gospel. The Gospel brings Jesus, and Jesus brings the Holy Spirit – His Spirit. Everything that we do in Christ proclaims Christ. Our joy lasts longer than today. Our life in Christ makes all we do holy, from cleaning our house to changing diapers to saying hello to our neighbors.

Death and final judgment cannot terrify you in Christ. Jesus Christ, Who orders the Day of Judgment, stands there with all His glory, greatness, majesty, and might. He stands there for your sake. He alone controls that day. He alone will verify that your trust in Him was not in vain by declaring that He gave Himself for your sins. No one will accuse you. The Judge has destroyed the power of the accuser. Satan cannot stop Christ’s birth as much as he cannot stop Christ’s death and resurrection.

Today you have strong security for eternal life. Christ certainly will not waver, even though you will waver. That is why you stay close to Jesus in days of joy and in days of sorrow. Doing the right thing on a bad day won’t get you extra jewels in your heavenly crown. Today’s joy that God has come in the flesh to save you runs through the entire church year.

Advent prepares us for the coming of the King. Christmas delivers the Savior in the flesh. Epiphany manifests the fact that Jesus Christ is both human and divine. Lent prepares us for the death and resurrection of Jesus by showing us both our sin and our need for a Savior. Easter is our everlasting Alleluia as Christ is triumphant over death and hell. Ascension is His promise that He is ever with us and soon will return in the flesh. While we wait for that return, we watch in hope as Jesus continues His ministry among us in Word, water, wine, and bread.

Jesus saves us through the working of the Holy Spirit in our baptism. It may sound odd to consider baptism on the Nativity of our Lord. Yet His nativity among us is more than a baby and a stall. His nativity among us, how Jesus natives Himself to His people, happens when water, Word, and mandate come together in Holy Baptism. You are washed in regeneration and renewing waters through the Holy Spirit Whom God has poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ, our Savior. When you are washed you are made holy. You are made holy by being incorporated into His justification so that being justified by His grace we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life.

Paul starts the next verse after today’s Epistle by saying the saying is trustworthy. As Luther’s Small Catechism taught us, “This is most certainly true.” The goodness and loving kindness of God has come to save us. Truth stamps out the lie. Jesus’ birth according to the flesh is the fulfillment of the sure and certain Word that now becomes flesh. Your salvation has drawn near. You are Christ’s heir. You receive what He brings: forgiveness, eternal life, and salvation of your soul. This is our Christmas joy that lasts beyond today.

“Joy, O joy, beyond all gladness, Christ has done away with sadness! Hence, all sorrow and repining, for the Sun of Grace is shining!” Merry Christmas today, tomorrow, this summer, and all of your life!

Christmas Midnight – Luke 2:1-20

It is the custom of my congregation to celebrate “Midnight Mass” at 6:00 P.M. Christmas Eve.

Everybody loves to get gifts. Some even love to give gifts more than get gifts. No matter whether you give or get gifts, even those who aren’t so hip on celebrating Jesus’ birth in the flesh love gift-giving and gift-getting. Christians see the giving and getting of gifts as a reflection of our heavenly Father’s love. He gave the world His Son, breaking into time and space as man. Yet even Christians join those who don’t believe in Christ in seeing joy not in Jesus but in gifts.

Tonight there’s a gift in a cattle stall in Bethlehem. Whether or not you believe that gift is for you, or even if you think that moment in time didn’t take place, the gift is still for you. A poor Child, given to poor parents, is born homeless in a foreign country. That’s not the way Hollywood scripted it. The King of Kings ought to have a royal entrance, a crib made of finest gold, and blankets of the most expensive silken stuff. Not so this King.

Why the fuss? What is there wonderful about a birth so rude and bare? The birth of this Child is prophesied a thousand years before, even longer, and comes to its fulfillment by the calling of a census of the Roman Empire. Caesar Augustus perhaps had no idea that by calling a census and asking everyone to return to their hometown that He set into motion something our heavenly Father had promised for multiple generations.

The birth of this Child may not have all the trappings of a royal birth, but it does have a royal announcement. An angel of the Lord appears to announce the Savior’s birth not to noblemen, but to shepherds. Fear not is the first words from the angel’s mouth. There is nothing to fear. Messiah has come to His people at last. No wonder the heavenly hosts gather with the angel to sing glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!

The Lord God is pleased with you because of the Savior’s birth. Jesus Christ is born to restore what was lost in Eden. Jesus Christ is born to shed His blood that covers your sin. He is the One sent by the Father, hence the name Messiah. He is sent to bring salvation and redemption to all. This poor Child? Yes, this poor Child. This poor Child is the Lord. God becomes man in this Child. God becomes our Brother, our Savior. The stall becomes heaven, the crib becomes the throne of the divine majesty! “In poverty He came to earth Showing mercy by His birth; He makes us rich in heavenly ways As we, like angels, sing His praise.”

The Gift of Jesus born a man takes away all fear from your heart. All who believe in His name are given the right to become children of God, as Saint John puts it in tomorrow morning’s Holy Gospel. Jesus Himself tells Nicodemus: God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. No longer is God an angry Judge. In Jesus God is well pleased with you, for Jesus takes away sin and its consequences, hell and condemnation.

As the crib in the stall holds heavenly salvation and blessed glory, so through this gift of the Savior our daily crosses find certain hope in Christ, just as Saint Paul says in Romans chapter eight: For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us…. We know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.

He calls you for the purpose of receiving His gift of life. What joy we have in receiving this gift and clinging to this gift as the priceless treasure sent from a loving God to His precious creation. What no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the heart of man imagined, what God has prepared for those who love him. He prepares a place for you with Him because of this Baby Boy born to Mary and Joseph.

Jesus is your gift tonight. He comes to give you the gift of forgiveness and life. “Therefore, all Christendom, rejoice And sing His praise with endless voice. Alleluia!”

Eve of the Circumcision and Name of Jesus – Galatians 3:23-29

Tonight is a night of death and resurrection. 2015 is dead and buried as of midnight. 2016 rises at that very moment. Every death, whether a day, a year, or a person, brings your death and your judgment to the forefront. Moses writes in Psalm 90, the years of our life are seventy, or even by reason of strength eighty; yet their span is but toil and trouble; they are soon gone, and we fly away. The author of the epistle to the Hebrews writes, it is appointed for man to die once, and after that comes judgment.

Are you afraid of what comes next, or do you not fear death and judgment? Your answer depends upon whether you remain under the Law or under the promise. Do you seek righteousness, life, and salvation before God by doing the Law as God demands? Or do you trust in the promise of wanting to be justified and saved by faith in Jesus Christ? You are only able to enter into a new year with joy when you believe Jesus Christ has kept the Law for you, in your place, as your Savior.

You are righteous before God by faith in Christ. Outside of Christ you are and remain unrighteous. Either you are saved by works of the Law or by faith in Christ. There is no other option. Granted the Law perhaps can achieve external righteousness before your neighbor. Other people are able to look at your zealous attempt to keep the Law of God and compliment you on your upright life. Yet this is living in prison because the Old Adam despises doing the right thing. In time, all attempts at keeping the Law end in failure. The ultimate failure is death. Saint Paul understands these attempts at clean living when he writes in Galatians chapter three: before faith came, we were held captive under the law, imprisoned until the coming faith would be revealed.

All external attempts at righteousness fail because the Law of God expects external and internal righteousness: perfect righteousness within and without. God expects perfect love toward Him and toward your neighbor, yet the Law gives no power for its achievement. Earlier in Galatians chapter three Paul writes, for if a law had been given that could give life, then righteousness would indeed be by the law. So the Law reveals your iniquity to all instead of being able to declare you righteous. The law was our guardian until Christ came, in order that we might be justified by faith.

Follow the chain of passages through Galatians to Romans. Notice the Gospel “buts”. But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons. Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us—for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who is hanged on a tree.” Now that faith has come, we are no longer under a guardian. But Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes. And to the one who does not work but believes in him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is counted as righteousness. Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.

You are a child of God by faith in Christ. No one is a child of God by natural birth. You are a child of God not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God. No one is a child of God in the way of the law, for in Christ Jesus you are all sons of God, through faith. You are united with Christ by faith. Christ’s righteousness covers you because His blood, His water, and His Spirit cover you. So God does not regard you as you are, but in His Son, as His dear child. This gift of sonship is yours by virtue of your baptism, for as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. When the voice from heaven says at Jesus’ baptism, this is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased; the voice says the same thing about you.

You are an heir of the divine promise by faith in Christ. The Law decides you as unrighteous and worthy of eternal condemnation. Paul recalls Hagar and Sarah in Galatians chapter four as allegories of the Law and the promise. What does the Scripture say? “Cast out the slave woman and her son, for the son of the slave woman shall not inherit with the son of the free woman.”

You can’t earn your inheritance. It is a gift that comes in believing Jesus as your only Savior and Redeemer. If you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s offspring, heirs according to promise. You are heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him.

There will be suffering this coming year. Every Christian is given crosses to bear. Yet in all the crosses borne, you have a good conscience because Christ first bore the cross for you. Every burden is made light in His burden. Jesus has paid all your debt. Salvation is accomplished. The gift of forgiveness and life is put in your mouth, your ears, and your life. The old has passed. The new has come. The Law is fulfilled in Jesus Christ, Who first shed blood for you this day that you are called His son, His heir, His righteous one.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

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Christmas Midnight at 6:00 P.M. – Luke 2:1-20

Two of the stanzas in the hymn “Lo, How A Rose E’er Blooming” end with the phrase “When half spent was the night.” Later we will sing “Silent Night”. Another favorite Christmas carol is “O Holy Night”. A forgotten German Christmas carol begins “Behold, behold, what wonder’s here! The gloomy night turns bright and clear”. Do you get the theme? The birth of Jesus and night time goes hand-in-hand. People flock to church, sometimes at a very late hour, in order to welcome Jesus anew into the world.

Why did our Savior want to be born at night? The smart money is on a birth in broad daylight in an easily recognized place. Instead Jesus is born at night in a small town far from where His earthly parents live. His birth is noted by shepherds who leave their flocks to see this thing that has happened. Angels announce His birth and a star leads those who seek Him to the place of His birth. All these things happen at night, not in broad daylight.

The world is in darkness without Jesus. The world lies in the darkness of ignorance about His birth, just as many were ignorant of His birth in those days. The Jewish people knew that one sent from God would come to them in the fullness of time. What some did not realize is that the fullness of time was not determined by their convenience. They have no control over when Messiah appeared.

As it was then, so it remains now. The world lies in darkness of ignorance. For some the ignorance is real. There are those who know nothing about Jesus and His miraculous birth, not to mention His perfect life, innocent death, and glorious resurrection from the dead. For many others the ignorance is self-manufactured. Many want to know nothing about Jesus. They are happy to celebrate Christmas as a family holiday of giving presents and being with family, but you could do that practically any day of the year. The birth of the Savior of the Jew and Gentile is an inconvenient truth. His birth gets in the way of revelry, or perhaps triggers bad memories of Christmases past that don’t need to be replayed.

The world also walks in the darkness that Isaiah foretells in the Old Testament reading. The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who dwelt in a land of deep darkness, on them has light shone. They see a great light, but the light shines too bright on their sin. It’s better to dwell in deep darkness than admit a light needs to shine on their sin in order for Jesus to take that sin away. Outside of Christ there is only eternal darkness, not only now, but also forever. The darkness of death brought about by sin remains. Eternal darkness is your only hope when there is no Savior.

Eternal darkness is shattered by the Light of the Savior. The yoke of his burden, and the staff for his shoulder, the rod of his oppressor, you have broken as on the day of Midian. Your burden is light, for Jesus Christ, the Light of the world, bears that burden for you. He becomes flesh and dwells among us to bear the burden of sin and death for us. He bears it all the way to the cross and out of the tomb. He is forsaken by His Father in order that the Father does not forsake you.

The Holy Spirit working through the Word of the Father proclaims this truth to you, especially tonight as we rejoice in Messiah’s birth. In Christ alone, the Anointed One from the Father, do you obtain the light of saving knowledge. To know Jesus is to know the Father. To know the Father is to know His love for you. His love for you is to send His Son to suffer and die for your sake, and to rise from the dead triumphant over death so that you live with Him forever. That is the light of saving knowledge, for that is why Christ becomes man for you.

Saint John writes in his first epistle, if we walk in the light, as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin. Sounds more like a Good Friday message than a Christmas message, don’t it. That’s the point. You can’t separate Christmas from Good Friday, just as you can’t separate Easter from Good Friday. Even tonight and tomorrow prepares you for the reason Jesus is born a man. He comes to sit upon His throne: the throne of the cross. He comes to suffer humiliation, even being forsaken by His own Father in heaven. Through His passion and death you have forgiveness of sins. You have a good conscience. You have reconciliation with your heavenly Father. He sees you guiltless in the guilty Lamb of God.

No wonder angels sing. No wonder a star shines in the darkness. No wonder Mary ponders everything that happens and treasures them in her heart. The Savior of the Nations, long foretold by prophets and patriarchs, has come to His people as a man born of woman, born under the Law, in order to fulfill the Law for us and redeem us from death, hell, and sin. The gloomy night turns bright and clear when you behold Who lays in the manger. Jesus lays there for you.

Come, then, banish all your sadness!
One and all,
Great and small,
Come with songs of gladness.
We shall live with Him forever
There on high
In that joy
Which will vanish never. (LSB 360:6)

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Christmas Day – John 1:1-14

Last night it was rude and bare. Bethlehem. No room at the inn. Lay Jesus in the manger. Yet the angel preached about Him: For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. So why should you believe in the lowly-born Infant Jesus as your Savior? If you put Luke’s account of the birth of Jesus next to the prologue of John’s Gospel there’s no doubt that John opens up the transcendence of Jesus’ birth. Luke gives us the immanence of His birth. Jesus is up close and personal in Luke chapter two. Jesus is out of this world, literally, in John chapter one. The two accounts are enough to make you wonder whether or not this Jesus really is the Savior. One writer has Him spiraling into our world from outside the cosmos. Another has Him right there, in your face, with the animals and the shepherds.

John’s account of the birth of Jesus shows us that He is a great and wonderful Savior. In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made. Jesus has come not merely in time. Jesus is from eternity. Here is the second Person of the Holy Trinity, the Son of God; God Himself; the Creator of all creation, now in flesh appearing.

Hard to believe, isn’t it. Whoever heard of God becoming man in order to pay for the sin of the world? You believe it. You’re willing to die for it. You’re willing to forsake everything for it. God becomes man. It’s that simple. It can’t be explained or measured. It is believed.

Jesus is also the only Savior. Spiritual life and light for mankind is only in Him. Mankind is in death and darkness without Jesus. John the Baptist had the task to indicate to all men this one Light. What is sad about John the Baptist’s witness of Jesus is that not all who heard his preaching believed it, especially among the Jews. He was in the world, and the world was made through him, yet the world did not know him. He came to his own, and his own people did not receive him. As a result the Jews excluded themselves from being children of God. They forfeited eternal life.

Jesus comes for both Jew and Gentile. But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God. Jesus is for you because God wills it. You weren’t born into His redemption. You are not a blood relative. You can’t will yourself into eternal life. Neither can your family or your neighbor or even your pastor. Only God gives you the right to be called a child of God. Only God does the heavy lifting of creating and sustaining faith in Jesus Christ. Only God bestows the birth from above and makes you an heir of eternal life.

Jesus is also a kind and loving Savior. The Word became flesh and dwelt among us. He pitched His tabernacle among us. God becomes man. Although the glory that He revealed that holy night of His birth was a divine glory, this glory was not a consuming fire or a glory of an angry judge.

The glory of God was full of grace and truth. Jesus Christ is full of grace, full of the heavenly Father’s undeserved love toward sinners. Grace is not a thing. Grace is a state of being. It is how God is because of Jesus Christ. It is how the Father is when He sees His Son’s blood and righteousness that covers you. He is well-pleased when He sees you in Jesus.

Jesus is also full of truth. The truth is that you deserve eternal death and condemnation because of sin. Nevertheless, Jesus becomes sin for you that you receive His righteousness, innocence, and blessedness. Hearing Christ’s gift of forgiveness and life for you brings you what the Israelites longed for many years. You have life in the Name of Jesus, the God Who saves. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. Believe it for Baby Jesus’ sake.

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Christmas Midnight (at 6:00 P.M.) – Luke 2:1-20

The one true God is a giving God. He gives. We receive. He gives everything good. We receive it sometimes as good, sometimes as bad. Nevertheless, what He gives is good. Tonight the giving God gives the best that He can give: His only-begotten Son in the flesh from the womb of the Virgin Mary. The first to receive the message of this Gift are shepherds watching over their flocks at night. Let us go over to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has made known to us…. And when they saw it, they made known the saying that had been told them concerning this child. And all who heard it wondered at what the shepherds told them.

We have lost the wonder of the shepherd’s testimony. God is doing a new thing here, but it’s not necessarily new. He repeatedly promised through patriarchs and prophets that He would send His Son to redeem the sinful world. His chosen people lived in that promise. Everything they thought, did, and said prepared them to receive this promise. Passover recalled not only how they left Egypt, but also how they would leave death. The blood of an innocent lamb would spare them from death. What does John the Baptist call Jesus? The Lamb of God Who takes away the sin of the world.

Tonight the Lamb of God Who takes away the sin of the world becomes man. Not just any man. Perfect man. His conception is miraculous. His life is perfect. Not once did Jesus Christ sin. He loved God and His fellow man to the letter of the Law. All this He did for you, not as an example for you to go and do likewise. You can’t love God and your neighbor as Jesus did. Your love for both fall way short of the mark. That is why Jesus bestows this Gift upon shepherds, upon noblemen, and especially upon the worst of society.

Jesus comes for both the greatest and the least. The Gospel writers show that the least recognize the Savior of the nations for Whom He is. The blind man screams out, Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me! A blind man, no less. He need not be able to see Jesus to believe Jesus. The blind man speaks for us. Outside of Jesus we are blind about salvation and eternal life. Because of Jesus we see Him and walk with Him, even when we are physically blind or physically lame. Blessed are those who have not seen, and yet have believed.

The giving God does not leave this Savior to twist in the wind, letting His redeemed children discover Him as they will. The giving God gives the gift of the mouth house, the holy Church on earth. In this mouth house you hear proclaimed the treasure for troubled and anguished consciences which Christ has earned for and committed to his Church. The treasure is the forgiveness of sins and everlasting peace. This is why the angels sing the hymn: Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!

Is He pleased with me? Good question. In Christ, the answer is “Yes” and “Amen”. Because of Jesus’ innocent suffering and death, the giving God is pleased with you. He gives His Son to die for you. He gives you the gift of Baptism, Absolution, Gospel preaching, and the Lord’s Supper. He is most certainly pleased with you because Jesus Christ has satisfied everything for your redemption.

With forgiveness of sins comes everlasting peace. We think of the manger scene in romantic terms. All is calm, all is bright. Sleep in heavenly peace. See amidst the winter snow. Whether or not that was the scene in Bethlehem that night, there is peace for you in the manger. The Prince of Peace promised through Isaiah is born to bring you peace. His peace reconciles you to the Father. His peace calms your anxiety over what happens when you die. You shall not die, but live, and declare the works of the Lord.

You’ll exchange presents tonight, and again tomorrow. You may already have received your gifts. You may have to wait a while if gifts are still in transit. You don’t have to wait for the finest Gift given by the giving God. He gives you the very best right here, right now. Salvation is not in heaven. You don’t have to climb the ladder of holiness. It is on earth, where the Savior was born. Heaven is not some distant place. It is here, on earth. You don’t need to conquer heaven by sneaking in, or by charming the Lord. Unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, Who is Christ the Lord. Right here. On earth. For you.

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A Christian’s End Purpose

True it is that Christians live their lives here upon earth, eat and drink in this world, just as Christ, their King, also ate and drank and shared in life here. But Christians do this as pilgrims and strangers, as guests in a lodging place, as Christ also did. In an inn the master of the house sees to it that there is food, drink, bread, meat, wine, beer; the guest is not in charge of that. He does not instruct the landlord how to run the house. He does not tell the manager how to go about buying food stuffs; rather, he asks the innkeeper whether there is bread and meat for him that he might eat, since he is weary from travel. So also, Christ has not come to earth in order to seize power from Caesar Augustus and teach him how to rule. But he uses the worldly realm and the manger, until he has fulfilled the mission for which he had been sent. This is what St. Paul teaches in 1 Corinthians 7:29-31:

This is what I mean, brothers: the appointed time has grown very short. From now on, let those who have wives live as though they had none, and those who mourn as though they were not mourning, and those who rejoice as though they were not rejoicing, and those who buy as though they had no goods, and those who deal with the world as though they had no dealings with it. For the present form of this world is passing away.

In other words, a Christian’s end purpose is not his life on earth, to marry and be given in marriage, eat, drink, be clothed, rejoice, buy and sell – though like a guest for an hour or two these things satisfy life’s need – but he pursues another goal which endures once this all ceases.

This distinction must be carefully noted: finis politiae est pax mundi; finis ecclesiae est pax aeterna, that is, the end purpose of the government is temporal peace, while the ultimate end of the church is not peace and comfort on earth, nice homes, wealth, power, and honor, but everlasting peace…. Let this be the goal and purpose for which the Christian realm strives and aims: to proclaim the treasure for troubled and anguished consciences which Christ has earned for and committed to his church, namely, the forgiveness of sins and everlasting peace.

– Martin Luther, First House Postil for Holy Christmas Day

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A Christmas Hymn That Had Better Make The Cut for the Next LCMS Hymnal

(sung to the tune of “O Morning Star, How Fair and Bright)

O Prince of David’s lineage born!
O Bridegroom of my soul forlorn!
My Life and my Salvation:
How can I e’er give thanks to Thee,
Who in my mis’ry soughtest me –
How make due reparation?
Now is / All bliss:
Grief, man seeth, / Wholly fleeth;
Joy is thriving
For the Prince of Peace arriving.

Though full of gladness now I sing,
No fitting gift I know to bring
The Child of God’s selection!
Receive, dear Son of God’s own heart,
My heart, and claim it, every part,
And kindle mine affection!
Let me / Kiss Thee,
Son and Savior! / Hold me ever,
Fill and move me,
That I ever hold and love Thee.

Stay, worthiest Treasure, Crown of pride!
O Thou my Bliss, with me abide,
Thou Hope of hearts afflicted!
Thou Dew of heav’n, Thy fruit endow;
O sweetest Manna, visit now
The humble and dejected!
Keep Thy / Light nigh,
Lest earth darken; / Let us hearken,
And forever
See it shine and lose it never.

– P. von Zesen (+1689), translated by Matthew Carver

from “Walther’s Hymnal“, Hymn 38

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