Roger's Postings

Saturday, January 06, 2018


Matthew 2:1-12.                               Which star do we follow???                                        7/1/18



1 After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the time of King Herod, Magi from the east came to Jerusalem 2 and asked, “Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews? We saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him.” 3 When King Herod heard this he was disturbed, and all Jerusalem with him. 4 When he had called together all the people’s chief priests and teachers of the law, he asked them where the Messiah was to be born. 5 “In Bethlehem in Judea,” they replied, “for this is what the prophet has written: 6 “‘But you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, are by no means least among the rulers of Judah; for out of you will come a ruler who will shepherd my people Israel’ 7 Then Herod called the Magi secretly and found out from them the exact time the star had appeared. 8 He sent them to Bethlehem and said, “Go and search carefully for the child. As soon as you find him, report to me, so that I too may go and worship him.”

9 After they had heard the king, they went on their way, and the star they had seen when it rose went ahead of them until it stopped over the place where the child was. 10 When they saw the star, they were overjoyed. 11 On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh. 12 And having been warned in a dream not to go back to Herod, they returned to their country by another route.



Today we have a challenging, yet encouraging and pointed message for us here. At a time when we in this nation are particularly prone to following the ‘herd mentality’ and doing what the mega stars do, we have a reminder to be very careful in this regard. A small percentage of our population is determining the direction of our nation, and this is doing irreparable damage.



This is even impacting on the church and those who claim to be Christians. We can readily see that so many in this country are turning their backs on the church. Many still claim to ‘believe’ even though they don’t worship; but one needs to seriously question those statements. One needs to look at who they are following and being led by.



Now here in this reading we have these ‘wise men’ coming from the east to search out for a baby, who they believed would one day be a great king. Now we do not know what motivated them to do this, other than, receiving a strange sign from a star that had appeared. We of course, know that it was God himself, who had in some way made this known to them.

But we can readily see that they were not following the ‘mob mentality’. They were searching for something more important. Nevertheless, they go straight to Jerusalem and the palace, thinking that this would be where a future king would be born. Future kings generally come to inherit the position. But this was not the case.



At this news from the ‘wise men,’ the king and the whole of Jerusalem was disturbed. What is going on here? Is there going to some major upheaval and conquest for power? Is there going to be something happen the upsets the normal run of the happenings that make up for a settled society? This is not the way things normally happen.



But in the midst of this thinking, the question arises as to whether this new king might be the Messiah – the one Promised by God that would save and rule over his people. So, there was a search of the Scriptures to see where this Messiah would be born. And sure enough, they came up with the answer that Bethlehem would be the birth place of this king.



With that Herod sent the ‘wise men’ to go and search for this one who may become king at some point in the future. He however has ulterior motives. His ultimate star and guide, is his own position and power. He wants to eliminate anyone who is a threat to what he sees as important. As history went on to show, many innocent young lives were lost. His ‘star’ was to be protected at all costs. Too bad if many children had to die in order for him to have what he wanted.



So, with the leading of the star and God’s Word as found in the Scriptures, the ‘wise men’ set off for Bethlehem to look for this new great King. There they found what they were searching for, and they were overjoyed. They bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh.



These were very significant and valuable gifts. Not just financially. For Gold was very much associated with it divinity and longevity. Frankincense was a symbol of holiness and righteousness; and was used extensively in worship as a thank offering. Whilst myrrh was used for embalming of a body after death. All very fitting for this Jesus and what his life here on earth had in store for him.



So, we see here in the wise men that they did not merely follow the ‘mob’ mentality – the wide and broad road that leads to destruction. They sought after a king who would be the one who brings significant and lasting change for good. They looked beyond themselves and their society for that which would be of help and hope to them.



As well as that, they were prepared to listen to what God’s Word has to say and accept it as is says. Rather than ignore it as some outdated and irrelevant nonsense that can be ignored or changed. Instead they heeded what it said and found Jesus and where overjoyed in doing so.



They had their epiphany – seeking the one who was to go on and be the King of all kings, and Lord of all lords. They received the revelation from God that here was the one who was to be the Lord and Saviour of our world. This Jesus’ life, death and resurrection was to be that which turns life around for us all. Here is forgiveness, salvation and eternal life with God now made possible for us.



Here we all have that which enables us all have life, hope, purpose and a new and better way to live and act. Here now God is with us always, so that the mess of our everyday world, that follows the ‘mob’ mentality, is not the end of the story for us. There is a better future ahead for all who look to and live with this Lord Jesus.



Now in light of all of this, the question needs to be asked of each of us today: whose star do we seek to live under and follow? Are we happy to do our own thing, following the ‘mob’ mentality today? Are we happy to listen to and accept whatever today media says, as if it is all good and right? Do we simply follow and do what the popular people in our society today are doing?



Even within the church are we happy to go along and change things so the we simply fit in with the society that we are living? Changing what God has clearly said in his Word so the we can fit in with the homosexual and women’s rights movements? Do we listen to what God says about regular worship or are happy to simply worship when and where it suits us? Again, who and what is guiding us in this regard?



These are significant Questions that we need to think carefully about. There are many who claim to be ‘christains’ and there is seemingly no attempt to live in, with and under him. We can see by the drop-off in church attendance that many are following the popular thinking that this world. So what the society has to offer is far more important to us than God and what he has to say to us is. There are many today who are going along with the view that life is all about what I think, say and do. Even though we may put a veneer of religious and Christian thinking over it, it is still all about me, myself and I.



Yet here again the revelation is laid before us that it is Jesus Christ who is all important for us and for our future happiness. Ignore that to our peril. For it is there alone in the revelation of Jesus Christ and his death and resurrection that true salvation and hope is found. Forgiveness of sins, life and salvation is found nowhere else.



When we are baptised, we are connected to all of this. We then are a part of this Jesus Christ and all that he is and all that he stands for. There we know that we have all that is important for this life and the next.



But there also then, we place our hope and our faith. We trust that he is Lord and that he has given us all that we need. But it also means that we now will live, in, with and under him. He will be all important to us. What he says and how he would have us live is what will be our endeavour. He will be the star that guides us through life.



With this in mind let us also look to God’s Word and let it guide us in all that we think, say and do. There we can led to and find things that are of infinitely great value for us as we live out our lives every day. Take it as written rather than try to interpret and change it to suit the popular ideas of the day.



We know how foolish it would be if someone gave us a cheque for 10 million dollars, for us to put it in our drawer and never cash it, use it, or think very little about. Well here in Jesus Christ we have revealed us that which is of infinitely greater worth.



We too have been led to Jesus, so may we all be overjoyed and worship him. Let us too open our treasures and present him with gifts that befit one who has done great things for us. Let us too allow ourselves to be guided by him, to live and do as he would have us. For He is King of kings and Lord of lords, yesterday, today and forever.    AMEN.



Pastor Roger Atze

Glandore/Underdale Lutheran Parish

Saturday, December 30, 2017


Luke 13:6-9.                        “Another chance’ for another year!                          31/12/17



(6)  Then he told this parable: "A man had a fig tree, planted in his vineyard, and he went to look for fruit on it, but did not find any. {7} So he said to the man who took care of the vineyard, 'For three years now I've been coming to look for fruit on this fig tree and haven't found any. Cut it down! Why should it use up the soil?' {8} "'Sir,' the man replied, 'leave it alone for one more year, and I'll dig around it and fertilize it. {9} If it bears fruit next year, fine! If not, then cut it down.'"



Here we are again at the end of one year and the beginning of another. They continue to roll on, one after another. The older one gets the quicker they seem to go; and perhaps the more that we give little thought to their passing.



Yet here again we do give some thought to the past year – whether it was good or bad. Things to be thankful for, and challenges we think we could have done without. Things done that we shouldn’t have done, and things not done that should have been. New life come into our lives, and others that have passed on. So much has happened in the course of this past year.



Overall each one of us will have different perceptions of the year past. But I am sure that we all have much to be thankful for and we have our disappointments and sadnesses. That is life for us all.



The same then goes for the year ahead. We know not what it has in store for us. As much as we might be looking to this coming year with longing and hope, we know that it too will have its ups and downs; its joys and sorrows.



To top it all off, we have here a reading that cuts right to the bone. Yes, it is only a parable – a story – and we might like to pass over it very quickly. Yet here we have a message from God that is vital for us to ponder over, and find encouragement in. As we contemplate the end of one year and the beginning of another, we have here an important message for us.



As God has looked over this past year in our lives, what does he see? A nice-looking tree, seemingly fresh and green; or an old withered, gnarly tree, but still alive and going. But where is the fruit? Nothing much to show for another year in this world. Lots of activity, but nothing much worthwhile achieved. What is the point of letting them continue on? Why should they use up valuable space here on this earth?



But no, what do we hear instead: 'leave it alone for one more year, and I'll dig around it and fertilize it.  If it bears fruit next year, fine! If not, then cut it down.' How amazing is that! Another chance for another year. No, more than that he will tend and feed them and do all that He can in order for that fruit to be there next year.



With that in mind we need to consider the question; What is this fruit that he is looking for?



Now straight away most would say that it is all about ‘good deeds’ – it is about love and care and all that kind of thing. So how can he say that he could not find any fruit on the tree. Obviously, he is not talking about me. But even many of those completely outside of the church can be just as ‘good’ as those on the inside. We like the idea that this fruit, is the things that we do.



Then at least we do have something to show in our lives. Yet the Scriptures are quite clear that our best is as a filthy pair of underpants. Anything less than perfection is not acceptable. So even on that score we are left with no fruit to speak of.



On top of that we are reminded in the Bible of that real struggle we have to produce the good deeds that are required. What does Paul say in Romans:  I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do. Our sinful, selfish human nature is constantly messing things up. So when we look to ourselves there is no real fruit to speak of.



So where does that leave us. In big trouble. Definitely needing the chop. However, this is not what God had in mind, so he seeks to dig around us and feed us with the fertilizer that we need. He seeks to do in and through us, what we cannot do ourselves.



First and foremost, that is that he came to die on the cross so that we might be forgiven. He draws us to himself through baptism so that he can join us to himself so that we can have new life and all that we need in order to bear fruit.

Then through Holy Communion he gives us his very body and blood so that we can be reassured again and again the he forgives us for our failures. But there he also gives himself so that we can be sure that he is right there with us as we go through life every day. Through his Word he continues to feed us with all that we need in order to stay connected to him so that he can work in and through us to produce his fruit.

I guess, then the question has to be, do we want this feeding and nurturing that God has for us? Or do we want to close ourselves off from and push away this wondrous help that he has made available to us. Do we want to produce this fruit that is good, or do we want to continue to live as we please, irrespective of the outcome?



Surely though, this parable is very clear that if that is our choice, then we best be prepared for the end result. The axe is ready, and the fire is sure. If there is no fruit the message is clear.



But to the question then, what is this fruit that he is looking for? Surely then in light of all of this, it is repentance and faith. It is a recognition that we are not the people that we should be and that from within ourselves we can do nothing to right the situation. No matter how hard we try, we cannot and will not be good enough. We need help from outside of ourselves.



That then means we will look to the one sure hope that we have. And that, is all connected up to this Jesus Christ and his death on the cross. We will look to God as our one sure hope for us as we go forward. He alone is the way and the truth and the life. He alone has the forgiveness and the wherewithal for us to be the people that he would want us to be.



So that is where faith comes. We will trust that he alone can make us be what he wants us to be. He alone can truly forgive. He alone can help us to stand. And he alone can work the fruit that is needed. That is what he has promised; and so we will look to him and trust the he will do it.



He wants to and will lead us then to regularly gather in his presence. He will give us what we need through Word and Sacrament to remain strong. He will be with us as we go about our daily lives. He will continually remind us of all that is good and helpful for us. In connection with him we will flourish and bear fruit.



So, the only thing that can go wrong will be if we choose to reject and turn our backs on this food and nurture that he has for us. He is here, and he has all that we need, so it would be stupid of us to not avail ourselves of it all. So also we need to ensure that the devil, the world and our sinful selves, do not distract us and keep us so busy that God is not able to do what he has promised to do.



So, as we conclude this year and set out into the year ahead may we be ever mindful of this parable and the truths that it imparts to us. In and of ourselves we are barren and fruitless. But as we turn away from our selves and look to Jesus Christ we will find all the nurture and food that we need in order to be able to go forward boldly and confidently. As we look to him and seek to remain in him, we are already bearing the fruit that he is looking for. Then he will help us to do those other good deeds; such and love and care for others. He will work that all in and through us. To him then will be all glory and honour, now and forever. Amen.



Pastor Roger Atze

Glandore/Underdale Lutheran Parish



Friday, December 29, 2017


Galatians 4:4-7.                                 God’s adopted children!!!!                          31/12/17



But when the set time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those under the law, that we might receive adoption to sonship. Because you are his sons, God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, the Spirit who calls out, “Abba, Father.” So you are no longer a slave, but God’s child; and since you are his child, God has made you also an heir.



Today here in this reading we are reminded again of another great gift that has been given to us, as a result of Christmas. Something that is truly remarkable, and life-changing has been extended to us. Here is a gift that really does make a difference to each and every day of the rest of our lives.



Now I hope, and I am sure, that you all got some special gifts on Christmas day. Some would have been very nice and brought you some happiness. Others that you will use in the days and perhaps even years ahead. Some that were nice and quickly eaten or used and soon forgotten. Above all you would have appreciated the thoughts and the relationship that was there in the giver of those gifts.



There is something special about the giving and receiving of gifts that goes beyond the day and even the gift. The on-going relationship that goes with the gift is special and the giving and receiving enhances and maintains that relationship.



Here this morning God is reminding us a special gift that he has for us that does the same thing; but in an even more valuable and significant way. As a result of Jesus’ coming into our world all those years ago, he made it possible for us to be adopted into God’s family. That is God’s gift to us as a result of Christmas.



Now what an amazing gift that is for us. God choosing to do what was necessary for us to be a part of his family forever. Surely this is the very best that could happen to us. This is life changing and life giving for our lives. If we take that seriously life will never be the same – for the better.



To begin with, we know that because of our sin and selfishness, we have brought all kinds of troubles and hardships on ourselves and one another. But even more significant is that this rebellion against God has destroyed our relationship with him. We are thereby not able to come into his presence or be able to hold our heads up in our relationship with him.



Our relationship with him has put us in a place of slavery before him. We have to perform and do what he says to in any way please him. Not one of us can do what he has called for us to do in his Law. Our sinful, selfish nature will continually turn away from what he says and wants and put the focus on ourselves and what we want and do. But in end we are still nothing before him – there is no chance of us being able to earn an inheritance from him. So, we are in trouble.



Thank God however that he did not leave it at that. Instead, when the set time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those under the law, that we might receive adoption to sonship. Now there is a sentence that is packed full of importance and significance.



It begins by stating that even though we had and have continually messed up, get had set about doing what was necessary for things to be made right once more. Already from the beginning he had a set plan and time to do what was necessary for things to be made right again. And all those Christmas’ ago that set time had fully come.



In the birth of Jesus God sent his Son into our world. So, the plan was that God himself would come to do what was necessary for us to be restored back into a right relationship with himself. To uphold his holiness however he had to take care of sin and its consequences. Punishment had to be served out for our rebellion. There had to be a perfect sacrifice take place for this to happen.



So, this Jesus, God’s Son, was born of a woman. He then, while he lived here on earth was fully human, just as we are. In Philippians chapter two we read that he made himself in every way just as we are, except for sin. The sacrifice for sin ha to be a perfect human being.



Then fully as a human being he was able to place himself under the Law. He subjected himself to live under and in accord with the Law, just as we are required to. However, at every turn, Satan sought to derail this plan and cause him to in some way sin. In the wilderness and in the Garden of Gethsemane we have just two of these many attempts. However, he did not succumb.



In this way he was then able to offer himself as that sacrifice which takes care of God’s holiness and justice. He then was able to redeem those under the law. He gave his life on the cross, taking the punishment that we deserve on himself. He thereby paid the price necessary for us to be bought back from death and hell.

All this he did so, that we might receive adoption to sonship. Did you hear that? He did all of this so that we might be able to be adopted back into God’s family. Jesus came at Christmas for the very purpose of enabling us to be restored back into a right relationship with God himself. How amazing is that?



At our baptisms then this adoption takes place. As we are brought to the baptismal font we are washed clean of our sin and joined to Jesus Christ and all that he did for us through his life, death and resurrection. There we were baptised into the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit: joined into God’s family and all that it is a and all that it stands for.



So, you are no longer a slave, but God’s child; and since you are his child, God has made you also an heir. Our relationship with God then is not one of being in slave-ship. Doing things because we have to do them and so that we can remain in his ‘good books’. We are not simply employees who are there to carry out his bidding.



No, we are God’s children. Part of his family, which means that we are in a close personal relationship with him and he to us. We are able to talk to him as “Abba, Father.” As we would talk to our loving parents. But even more than that we are ‘in the family’. We are a part of all that that family is and stands for. Not just in status, but in its very being. We are God’s children. That is truly amazing and great.



But that also means that: since you are his child, God has made you also an heir. We have a part in all that God is and all that he stands for. Being a part of his family ensures that we have a certain inheritance in heaven where we will enjoy the very best of everything, for all eternity. So if we don’t turn our backs on this God we have in store for us that which is better than we could ever imagine possible.



What a Christmas gift! But do we really want that? Do we really want that relationship and inheritance? Or do we simply want that ‘goodies’ but not the God and the family that is all a part of it?  Do we think that we are all grown up and don’t need to listen to and be a part of the family – that we can still live by and for ourselves?



No, surely this is the very best that could ever happen to us. Surely, we know our weaknesses and failings, and so want all the help that being a part of the family can impart. Surely we don’t only want the ‘goodies’ but especially the God who is the giver. And surely seeing as to how good, great and loving that he is we will want to listen to and follow what is good for the family. We will want to do what he wants.



That then means we will take to heart what we are told here also. Because you are his sons, God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, the Spirit who calls out, “Abba, Father.”



Because we are God’s children and because we know our weakness we will long for the Holy Spirit to help and guide as to living in the family. We will avail ourselves of all the opportunities available to receive this help. So regular worship will be an important part of life, as will other opportunities to read, hear and study his Word.



We will want to be in the presence of our parents and the rest of our family as much as we possibly can. There we will listen to; following the example of; and be encouraged and encouraging of one another, in the course of the family’s life. What is important to the family is what will be important to us. We will listen to and follow the directions of what is given to us for our good.



Yes, all this and more is a part of this great Christmas gift that has been extended to us. So, let us not put this gift on the shelf and give little thought and attention to it. Instead let us continually remind ourselves and one another of how great and important this gift is. Then make the most of that gift each and every day of the rest of our lives.



We have been adopted into God’s family; and so we are now a part of that which is truly the best that could ever happen to us. Jesus Christ and his coming all those years ago now means so much for us here and now as we live our lives every day. In connection with him we can now live with boldness and confidence. To him then be all glory and honour, now and forever AMEN.





Pastor Roger Atze

Glandore/Underdale Lutheran Parish

Saturday, December 23, 2017


Isaiah 52:7-10.                   Christmas joy???                                                                              25/12/17



7How beautiful on the mountains are the feet of those who bring good news,
who proclaim peace, who bring good tidings, who proclaim salvation,
who say to Zion,  “Your God reigns!”
Listen! Your watchmen lift up their voices; together they shout for joy.
When the Lord returns to Zion, they will see it with their own eyes.
Burst into songs of joy together, you ruins of Jerusalem,
for the Lord has comforted his people, he has redeemed Jerusalem.
10 The Lord will lay bare his holy arm in the sight of all the nations,
and all the ends of the earth will see the salvation of our God.



What a beautiful and glorious day we have here today. This is truly a day of immense happiness and joy. Christmas is a very special time for us, and a time that is meant to lift our spirits and give us peace and good will; joy and hope. This day lifts us beyond the mundane existence of our everyday world, and focusses us on far more important things in life.



It not just because the sun is shining and the birds are singing. In not because of the gifts that we received from ‘under the tree,’ and the prospects of a lovely Christmas lunch and a family get together.  These things that our world around us see as essential to Christmas, are mere side-shows and distractions.



Here today we are reminded that the real message is so much greater than these things. As good and valuable as these things are, they are nothing by comparison to what Christmas really is all about. We have that which is truly worth celebrating and sharing with the world around us. In fact, it is a message that the world needs to hear. It is good news: real, good news!



In the face of a world that is desperately trying to down-play the significance of the real message of Christmas, we have here that which truly is able to lift our spirits. Christmas is really about the birth of Jesus all those years ago in Israel. But is that really such a big deal? What has that got to do with life today, in the midst of all our other pressures of life? How do we know that it is not just a made up or twisted message? Even if it is true, what difference does it really make to our life today? After all, life is all about how we are to live our life here day in day out? All these questions and many others like it, throw all kinds of doubts as to whether this is really all that an important event. On top of that we have got too much else to think about.



Yet, it really is all that it is cracked up to be and far more. In this reading we have hints of the greatness of it all. This reading began with these words: How beautiful on the mountains are the feet of those who bring good news,
who proclaim peace, who bring good tidings, who proclaim salvation,
who say to Zion, “Your God reigns!”



What a beautiful picture we have here of messengers coming down out of the hill to bring news to a people that are in dire circumstances. They bring news of a rescue that is about to take place and to then establish them again as a people and a nation. The Good news that is given and is, that is received as such, is of peace, good tiding, salvation and God’s reign over them once more.



This is the best thing that could ever have happened to them. So, they themselves are over joyed by it all. They are jumping up and down; and the relief and joy on their faces was something to see. They knew have great this news was; so, they ran off and told others, who told others, who all celebrated with an intense relief and joy. This was life changing, even though it was yet to happen. But it was about to, and it did happen. This was huge!



Now for us here this Christmas this is even bigger and better still. Here in the birth of Jesus we have God coming to reign in this troubled, dying world of ours. We have God come to turn life upside down for us and to give us the very best of everything. To rescue us from Hell. In fact, to give us perfection and heaven that will go on and on forever.



This is absolutely, remarkable when we consider the situation that we as humans are in. Because we have, and all too often still do, refuse to listen to and take seriously God’s commands that he has given to, we have not only brought untold troubles, hardship and death on ourselves and one another. But we have also destroyed our relationship with God and deserve to be sent eternally to hell. This is how dire our situation really is, even if we prefer not to think about. Left to ourselves we are in big trouble, with no way out.



Except for the fact that Jesus did come all those Christmas’ ago. He came to take that curse away from us. He came to die in our place; taking the punishment that we deserve on himself. All so that we might be restored back into that original relationship with God and the perfection that we need; and for that to go on for all eternity.



Now if that is not the most needed and magnificent thing that could ever happen to us, then I don’t know what. We are loved by God: we are forgiven; we are assured of eternal life in heaven. This news surely overshadows all that is going on in this everyday life of ours today. This gives us a joy that super-cedes anything else that this Christmas presents.



With this Good News it changes our attitudes and lives here and now. Even though we cannot see the fruits of this salvation and hope, we know it is there for us, and so our life changes. There is meaning and purpose; there is a good reason to get on with life and do the very best we can at everything that we do. We do have a sure hope that in the end everything will work out for good. Eternity in heaven will far outweigh our short time of troubles here in this world.



Here remember again that this message is true and can be relied on. There is ample historical, and not just biblical, proof that this is all for real. Jesus lived at a particular point in history, that is a fact; he did die on the cross, and he did rise from the dead. Of these things we can be absolutely sure. All those Old Testament prophecies that were made hundreds and thousand of years before, all find their fulfilment in Jesus and his death and resurrection. Recent archaeological evidence all points to the fact that the bible is not some fanciful made up story. All this and more points to the fact that we can rely on this Good News being true and reliable.



So, Christmas does make all the difference in the world to our life here and now. No wonder it has been celebrated for all these years since his birth over two thousand years ago. The words of this reading have been evidenced through all that time.



How beautiful on the mountains are the feet of those who bring good news,
who proclaim peace, who bring good tidings, who proclaim salvation,
who say to Zion,  “Your God reigns!”
Listen! Your watchmen lift up their voices; together they shout for joy.
When the Lord returns to Zion, they will see it with their own eyes.
Burst into songs of joy together, you ruins of Jerusalem,
for the Lord has comforted his people, he has redeemed Jerusalem.
10 The Lord will lay bare his holy arm in the sight of all the nations,
and all the ends of the earth will see the salvation of our God.



As a result of this continued recognition of the great and joyous occasion, surely, we too are moved to once again take to heart the real meaning of Christmas and be overjoyed by it all. Here today we too have been focussed on that message which is truly Good News for us and for our world today. Surely, we too will be so overwhelmed by this news that we too will want to share with others this news that turns our world upside down. We too have heard the proclamation of peace and so be motivated to share that peace with others that we come into contact with.



We have been brought good tidings and the proclamation of salvation, so the depth and greatness of this will be evidenced to those around us. This all being true we now again know that God reigns here and now, in the midst of our sinful, broken world. This has to be the message that truly transcends everything else this Christmas; and that once gives us peace, hope and joy in the midst of our everyday life. This peace, hope and joy will overflow into our days, weeks, and years ahead.



Now once again we are reassured that we will see and be able to be a part of this great and joyous kingdom that Jesus Christ came to make possible all those years ago. So, we too can: Burst into songs of joy together, even though we are in the broken ruins of a society that has lost its way and facing difficult days ahead.



This Christmas we have heard again that: the Lord has comforted his people, he has redeemed us.  The Lord has laid bare his holy arm in the sight of all the nations, and all the ends of the earth will see the salvation of our God.



So, this Christmas has again become truly Christmas for us here. Yes, much of our world around us has lost this true focus and is grasping for some sort of meaning in these other secondary aspects of Christmas. But we now in our own way can be God’s messengers bringing this Good news to our world. May our feet be those who bring good news, who proclaim peace, who bring good tidings, who proclaim salvation, who say to our community, “Your God reigns!”


May the joy of Jesus Christ be with you, and go with you, as you go forward as his people in the days and years ahead. To him be all glory and honour, now and always. AMEN.



Pastor Roger Atze

Glandore/Underdale Lutheran Parish


Saturday, December 16, 2017


Isaiah 61:1-4, 8-11.                            Good News in tough times!!!                         17/12/17



The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me, because the Lord has anointed me
to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the broken-hearted,  to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners,
to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favour and the day of vengeance of our God, to comfort all who mourn,  and provide for those who grieve in Zion—to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of joy instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair. They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the Lord for the display of his splendour. They will rebuild the ancient ruins and restore the places long devastated; they will renew the ruined cities that have been devastated for generations.
“For I, the Lord, love justice; I hate robbery and wrongdoing. In my faithfulness I will reward my people and make an everlasting covenant with them. Their descendants will be known among the nations and their offspring among the peoples. All who see them will acknowledge that they are a people the Lord has blessed.”

10 I delight greatly in the Lord; my soul rejoices in my God. For he has clothed me with garments of salvation and arrayed me in a robe of his righteousness, as a bridegroom adorns his head like a priest, and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels. 11 For as the soil makes the sprout come up and a garden causes seeds to grow, so the Sovereign Lord will make righteousness and praise spring up before all nations.



Today in our present society we are told that we are the lucky country; that we have got it all; we just have to change some of our old-fashioned values and thinking and we will truly enjoy life. Yet all of us know that this is far from reality. Outwardly the gloss and glamour looks good; but underlying it, life for us all is a different story. The hurts, frustrations and tragedies of life are deep seated. Not to mention the lack of meaning, purpose and hope in life that is experienced by so many.



Even for us within the church and with our hope in the Lord Jesus Christ, as we look at the increasing decline in worship attendance and congregational life.  As we see a growing acceptance of teaching and practice that clearly goes against God’s teaching in the Bible. And as we are now facing an increasing hatred and pressure from many in our society that are seeking to do all that they can to destroy the church and any recognition of God almighty. We are under severe pressure and it is so easy for us to become disheartened.



We look to our world around, and we look within ourselves, and see very little to encourage us. In fact, it is all so discouraging. Or else we put on our ‘rose coloured glasses’ and try to pretend that all is okay. But even then, at some point reality still hits home. Things are not as good as we know they should be. In fact, they are far worse. And humanly speaking there is no way around it. Our sinful, selfish human nature will always mess things up; no matter how good the ideas and plans are.



However, it is right here into this situation we again have an important message from God Almighty himself, through the prophet Isaiah. The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me, because the Lord has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the broken-hearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favour and the day of vengeance of our God, to comfort all who mourn, and provide for those who grieve in Zion—to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of joy instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair.



What an amazing Word to a people who are in deep trouble. Here we have not a few words of wishful thinking. This is God’s Word to his people. So, we have here words that can be relied on, no matter what the situation and the thinking of people. We have God telling us that he will turn everything upside down. No matter how bad things are, he will make things right.



We know that this is reliable because first and foremost it was spoken to the Jewish people while they were in captivity in Babylon. By all intents and purposes, they had lost everything but there lives: their homes, nation, their temple which was the presence of God amongst his people, and more. They had rejected and taken God for granted and he allowed them to be destroyed as a nation. Now they were slaves to and in a foreign nation, with no hope of recovery. There future was in complete tatters.



Yet, we know from history that only a short time later, God had made it possible for them to return to Jerusalem, to rebuild their temple and become a nation once more. True to his Word, and against all probability, it happened, and beyond anyone’s expectations. The captives were released and the broken-hearted were again lifted in spirit. They could lift up their spirits and get on with life, and set about rebuilding their nation. It all happened just as God had promised.



But even more importantly this prophecy finds its truest fulfilment in Jesus Christ and his life, death and resurrection. Here was the Sovereign Lord himself come into our world to not only proclaim good news to the poor, but to make it possible in the most remarkable and impossible manner. He was anointed by God himself, before the very beginning of time, for this very purpose.



He was set apart to restore us back to what was originally the purpose of as all. In the Garden of Eden, we were to live in a close personally relationship with him, enjoying the very best of everything. But we rebelled against him and chose to ignore him and what he has to say to us and instead do as we please. So, bringing all measure of troubles, hardship and death on ourselves. Especially we were therefore caste into darkness and separation from God himself.



However, God in his mercy set apart his own Son, Jesus, to make it possible for us to again be restored to the original glory that was meant to be ours. As he began his ministry he set about proclaiming good news to the poor. He healed the sick and broken hearted. He proclaimed freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners. He proclaimed the year of the Lord’s favour and the day of vengeance of our God, to comfort all who mourn, and provide for those who grieve in Zion. And he did what was necessary to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of joy instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair.



All of this proclamation of his was not ‘hot air’ and empty words. It found its fullest application in this Jesus, and his life, death and resurrection. Here he really did what was necessary for us to be saved from the mess we have made for ourselves. Through his death on the cross he cancelled out the wrath of God against us as sinners. He destroyed the strangle hold that sin holds over us, and shattered the darkness that the reality of hell holds over us.



Then of course, he rose from the dead three days later so that we can be absolutely sure that all of this is for real. Now we can know that all who trust in him and are connected to him will now also rise to be with him in heaven. He has thereby bestowed on us a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of joy instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair.



So now it is possible for us to live with God in perfect harmony for all eternity. Now we too here today can be equally sure that these words and assurances are valid and true for us. Just as real as these words were for the Israelites and the people of Jesus day, so are they true for us.



Poor though we may be; whether that be monetarily, physically, emotionally or spiritually, we can rely on this Good News that is here again proclaimed to us today. In Jesus Christ our broken-hearts can find mending. We are loved and accepted no matter what the world around us says. There is meaning and purpose to our lives. There is one who cares about us and has a way forward that will ensure full peace, happiness and a perfect future. In connection with him this is in front of us.



Also In this Jesus Christ we can know that there is freedom for those who are caught up in the rat-race of life. Free from the burden of being trapped in the disasters of the economic, social and spiritual deceptions of the world. Even the abuses that we have experienced will be released from us, so that we no longer have to carry the shame and despair that have resulted. As we look to this Jesus this freedom and more is all there for us.



So, then the darkness that so often enshrouds us, we know that in Jesus there is release. No matter how dark life may be for us; whether it results from our failings and short-comings, or the troubles and disasters that are there in our lives; the light of Jesus shatters that darkness and shines a clear path all the way into heaven, where there will be no more crying, pain or death; just the very best of everything.



Irrespective of what we may think, feel or are told, now we can know that the Lord’s favour has been extended to us. His vengeance will take care of all the evil that surrounds us and traps us. So, whatever we face, or are concerned about Jesus has now ensured that nothing can separate us from his love and the future he has in store for us. In him there is comfort for all who mourn, in whatever way that might be.



In Jesus Christ then we can go forward with boldness and confidence. We can be sure that he bestows on us a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of joy instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair. The future is sure and positive now matter what we may see, feel or experience. Jesus Christ and his life, death and resurrection has ensured it.



So here today as we look forward to Christmas and another New Year we have great encouragement from our great and gracious God. In the face of a life and a world that is really far from good and positive, we have a great future to look forward to. We now have then something that we can be sure and hopeful about as we go forward in life.



So, let us continue to look to Jesus Christ and his death and resurrection. Let us trust that he does have it all in control. In the face of life, let us not be distracted our tempted to not take him all that seriously. Instead let us take every opportunity to stay close to him so that he can help us lift our eyes beyond the problems of life all around us. He has and will provide a positive future for us; if not in this life, especially in the next.



To our great God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit then be all glory and honour, now and for ever. AMEN.



Pastor Roger Atze

Glandore/Underdale Lutheran Parish