Roger's Postings

Saturday, January 21, 2017


Deuteronomy 8:7-18.                     Harvest Thanksgiving???                                               22/1/17

For the Lord your God is bringing you into a good land—a land with brooks, streams, and deep springs gushing out into the valleys and hills; a land with wheat and barley, vines and fig trees, pomegranates, olive oil and honey; a land where bread will not be scarce and you will lack nothing; a land where the rocks are iron and you can dig copper out of the hills.

10 When you have eaten and are satisfied, praise the Lord your God for the good land he has given you. 11 Be careful that you do not forget the Lord your God, failing to observe his commands, his laws and his decrees that I am giving you this day. 12 Otherwise, when you eat and are satisfied, when you build fine houses and settle down, 13 and when your herds and flocks grow large and your silver and gold increase and all you have is multiplied, 14 then your heart will become proud and you will forget the Lord your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery. 15 He led you through the vast and dreadful wilderness, that thirsty and waterless land, with its venomous snakes and scorpions. He brought you water out of hard rock. 16 He gave you manna to eat in the wilderness, something your ancestors had never known, to humble and test you so that in the end it might go well with you. 17 You may say to yourself, “My power and the strength of my hands have produced this wealth for me.” 18 But remember the Lord your God, for it is he who gives you the ability to produce wealth, and so confirms his covenant, which he swore to your ancestors, as it is today.



It is funny isn’t it? Well not really. God is so perceptive of our sinful human nature. He knows what we are like; so he gives us clear instructions so that we can be ever wary as we go through life. He knows the dangers that are there for us, so does all he can to helps us not to fall. But we still do!



Here as we celebrate Harvest Thanksgiving there is a very good and important example of both his concern for us and the dangers that we succumb to. God knows what we are like when we have surrounded ourselves with good things. So he lays it on the line for us; very clearly. Now sadly the very next verses, which are not included in this set reading, spell out what God will do to us if we do.



19 If you ever forget the Lord your God and follow other gods and worship and bow down to them, I testify against you today that you will surely be destroyed. 20 Like the nations the Lord destroyed before you, so you will be destroyed for not obeying the Lord your God.



So his message to us this morning is a very important one as we celebrate Harvest Thanksgiving. Remember who you are thanking and why. Do we really believe it; or do we really care. Also take note of what is happening all around us, and be prepared for what lies ahead. God is true to his word.



That does not mean that he is not a loving and forgiving God, and all of that. But in his love for us, as he did for his people all the way down through history, he will bring troubles, hardships, and even disaster if necessary, to wake his people up and get them back on track.



Now there is no doubt as to the fact that God has given us a good land: a land with brooks, streams, and deep springs gushing out into the valleys and hills; a land with wheat and barley, vines and fig trees, pomegranates, olive oil and honey; a land where bread will not be scarce and you will lack nothing; a land where the rocks are iron and you can dig copper out of the hills.



We have much to be thankful for. This is a great and prosperous nation, that has lifted its standard of living dramatically in just my lifetime. The produce of the land, mineral resources, and the manufacturing industry have enabled us to have much in this country of ours. We have been enabled to have so much. So we have every reason to be ever so thankful.



But are we? I think as a nation we used to be. But in recent times the attitude has changed dramatically. We were an industrious nation that has worked together for the good of others. We were a nation that was built on Christian values. And we prospered. But things have changed.



We now appear to have become far more selfish and self-centred. We have become a people who believe we are entitled to have all that we want, without doing anything to earn it. We work so that we can have ease and pleasure, rather than working for the good of the nation and others. And much more. The attitudes have changed dramatically, and the struggles and heartaches are increasing.



Here let us recall again what God said to his people through Moses all those years ago; and thereby to us today as well. 10 When you have eaten and are satisfied, praise the Lord your God for the good land he has given you. 11 Be careful that you do not forget the Lord your God, failing to observe his commands, his laws and his decrees that I am giving you this day. 12 Otherwise, when you eat and are satisfied, when you build fine houses and settle down, 13 and when your herds and flocks grow large and your silver and gold increase and all you have is multiplied, 14 then your heart will become proud and you will forget the Lord your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery. 15 He led you through the vast and dreadful wilderness, that thirsty and waterless land, with its venomous snakes and scorpions. He brought you water out of hard rock. 16 He gave you manna to eat in the wilderness, something your ancestors had never known, to humble and test you so that in the end it might go well with you. 17 You may say to yourself, “My power and the strength of my hands have produced this wealth for me.”



Is this not what we see today? Just as God had said; as a nation we have not only forgotten God, but in many cases we have also rejected him completely. In fact, more and more we are trying to eradicate him from our thinking. In our affluence we think that we have no need for God. We also want to get rid of him altogether so that we can disregard his Laws and so live as we please. And we think is going to make us happy and fulfilled.



We can see today how we are seeking to produce all kinds of things, without regard for what God’s Word says, so that we can replace him from our lives. Have you noticed these days how there is this desperate attempt through science to enable us to live forever? Not to mention changing our laws to cater for homosexuality, abortion and much more.



Yes, we definitely have forgotten the Lord our God, and failing to observe his commands, his laws and his decrees. In our affluence we have replaced him and what he says, with ourselves and our wants. Many have made themselves and their desires their idols which they look to and worship.



Here again we need to listen again to those verses that follow on from our text. 19 If you ever forget the Lord your God and follow other gods and worship and bow down to them, I testify against you today that you will surely be destroyed. 20 Like the nations the Lord destroyed before you, so you will be destroyed for not obeying the Lord your God.



What a sobering reminder our Lord thereby has given us today as we celebrate Harvest Thanksgiving. What do we do about it? Surely the call is for us here today, to return to the Lord with all of our heart, with all of our soul, with all of our mind and with all of strength; giving him thanks and praise for all that he is and has done for us.



Surely we here will want to be renewed in our desire to know and recognise that he is the giver of all the good things that we have all around us. We will ever want to come near to our God so that he can remind us that the good things that we have are all only made possible by him who is our Creator, Redeemer and Sanctifier.



We need ever reminding that it is our Lord who has given us the ability to produce all that we have. Not just to produce our crops and stock, and to dig our minerals out of the ground. But it is he who gives us the knowledge and where with all to do all the scientific and technological things that we do. He is the giver of all that we have and do.



That being the case we then also need to look to him for his guidance on how we should use or not use all of the things that we have. What we have and do, needs to be guided by him and his Word, rather than the popular opinion of the day or our feelings and ideas. He after all knows what is good and right; and we by our own devices, always have a tendency to do what in the end becomes harmful rather than good. 



Here again we always need to look to Jesus Christ and his life, death and resurrection as our assurance that God and his will for us is always good and right. He not only has ensured that we have forgiveness, life and salvation, but also that God’s will and Word is that which is good and right for us. His word is reliable and trustworthy. This enables us to hold fast to him and know that everything works out for the good of those who are in Christ Jesus.



So this day may we again give praise, honour and glory to our great God who has brought us into a good land—a land with brooks, streams, and deep springs gushing out into the valleys and hills, a land with wheat and barley, vines and fig trees, pomegranates, olive oil and honey; a land where bread will not be scarce and you will lack nothing; a land where the rocks are iron and you can dig copper out of the hills.



Let us also remember the Lord our God, for it is he who gives us the ability to produce wealth, and so confirms his covenant, which he swore to our ancestors. To him the be all glory and honour now and always. AMEN



Pastor Roger Atze

Glandore/Underdale Lutheran Parish

Saturday, January 14, 2017


John 1:29-42.                      Look to and follow Jesus???                                        15/1/17



29 The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him and said, “Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world! 30 This is the one I meant when I said, ‘A man who comes after me has surpassed me because he was before me.’ 31 I myself did not know him, but the reason I came baptizing with water was that he might be revealed to Israel.”

32 Then John gave this testimony: “I saw the Spirit come down from heaven as a dove and remain on him. 33 And I myself did not know him, but the one who sent me to baptize with water told me, ‘The man on whom you see the Spirit come down and remain is the one who will baptize with the Holy Spirit.’ 34 I have seen and I testify that this is God’s Chosen One.”

35 The next day John was there again with two of his disciples. 36 When he saw Jesus passing by, he said, “Look, the Lamb of God!”

37 When the two disciples heard him say this, they followed Jesus. 38 Turning around, Jesus saw them following and asked, “What do you want?”

They said, “Rabbi” (which means “Teacher”), “where are you staying?”

39 “Come,” he replied, “and you will see.”

So they went and saw where he was staying, and they spent that day with him. It was about four in the afternoon.

40 Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, was one of the two who heard what John had said and who had followed Jesus. 41 The first thing Andrew did was to find his brother Simon and tell him, “We have found the Messiah” (that is, the Christ). 42 And he brought him to Jesus.

Jesus looked at him and said, “You are Simon son of John. You will be called Cephas” (which, when translated, is Peter).



Here in Epiphany we are encouraged to think about how we see Jesus, and our reaction to him when we see him as he would have us. Here again it ties in with the message of last week, where we all too often want to look at Jesus in terms of how we want to see him; rather than as he has revealed himself to us.



When we do this we are committing a grievous sin and are placing our salvation in serious jeopardy. Today we have many so called ‘christians’ who merely look to Jesus as one who has great teaching for us to follow; or is a great example as to how we are to live our lives; or he is a loving god who simply accepts us all as we are, so that we can live as we would like; or he is a distant God to whom I need to please if I am to be acceptable; Or yes, he died for our sins, but we have to do our bit too; and more.



In all of this we are determining who this Jesus is and what we would like of him. As I said last week this is a sin against the First Commandment. It is making ourselves the decider of what we believe and follow. We are making idols of ourselves and of God himself, also. For we are not looking to him, who is God Almighty himself, as that which is all important. And we are not heeding him and what he says, as of first importance.



In this reading, right at the beginning of Jesus ministry we have John telling us who this Jesus really is and why he is so important. “Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world! Here is the heart of who this Jesus is, and why so many want to change who this Jesus is for themselves.



This Jesus is the Lamb of God. He is the one who was to be sacrificed for the sins of the world. This is the one whom God had promised that he would send to do that which was necessary for humanity to be restored back into God’s presence. The very reason why this terrible situation is there for us, is that right from the Fall in the Garden of Eden, humanity has refused to listen to and heed God and what he has said to us.



The results of this Fall is that we have not only brought death on ourselves, but all manner of troubles, hardships and disasters. They are our doing! We all too often want to blame God for all that is wrong. But we had perfection and the very best of everything placed before us to enjoy. Nothing bad or evil was there. But we chose and choose to want to be like God and have control over our lives. Our selfish pride does not want to be subject to God and his Word. And we have reaped the sad rewards.



However, God in his love for us sets about rectifying the situation. In Old Testament times he told the people that when they sinned they were to sacrifice a lamb so that that God could forgive them. The power for that sacrifice was the one whom God would send as the true Lamb of God who would be the real sacrifice for the sin of humanity: once for all. Their sacrifices were to help them to look to, trust and receive their true saviour.  



Later the promise also was associated with the promised Messiah, whom God would send to save and rule over his people. Here again was clear direction that God was going to come to take care of humanities sin. Here John the Baptist points to Jesus and says: ‘The man on whom you see the Spirit come down and remain is the one who will baptize with the Holy Spirit.’  I have seen and I testify that this is God’s Chosen One.”

So here in Jesus we have this one who is absolutely critical to the salvation of us all. He alone is the one who enables forgiveness of sins, life and salvation to be ours. He has done everything necessary for us to again be able to live in God’s presence. All as a free gift extended to all who are prepared to believe it and live in light of it. Without what he did for us on the cross we would be destined to an eternity in hell. So surely we will hold him up as being all important in our lives.



Yet what do we find? Our sinful human pride does not want to acknowledge that our sin is so bad. We are basically good people who just do a few bad things. If we ignore and change God’s laws and commands, then we will not be accountable. Anyway God is a loving God so I can get on with living my life as I please and he will still let me into heaven in the end. Yes, we still want control over our own lives and be able to do what we think is right and good.



However, the Bible, which is God’s revealed Word to us tell us quite clearly that these are not acceptable responses. At the very heart of this thinking it is still me, myself and I, seeking to have control over our own lives. Yet God tells us quite clearly that it is through Jesus Christ alone that we are saved. He still calls of us to acknowledge that he truly is Lord of all.



Here remember also that John tells us that this Jesus is the one who will baptize with the Holy Spirit. In our baptism God has connected us to himself and to all that Jesus has done for us through his death and resurrection. As well we are told here that there he gives us his Holy Spirit, to help us to see, know, believe and follow this one who is all important; Jesus Christ.



On our own we are incapable of doing all of this because of our sinful nature. So he gives us his Spirit to enable us to do all that we need in order to look, believe and follow our Lord. So even there we are promised all the help necessary. He has and wants to do everything for us so that it all can be ours. Unfortunately, many are too stubborn and arrogant to allow themselves to believe.



Here though we need to remember that the Holy Spirit is here with us to point us to Jesus and what he has done for us through his death and resurrection. Everything he informs us of is in accord with what we have in the Bible. With him there is nothing more or extra, as many today are saying. That is not the work of the Holy Spirit, but the devil, the world and our sinful selves. No The Holy Spirit seeks to help us to know and believe what God has given to us in his Word; the Bible.



Here also remember that he is here to help us to believe that God is all important in our lives. His whole aim is to help us have him first in our lives: to love the Lord our God with all of our heart, with all of soul, with all of our mind, and with all of our strength. Not just a little bit. Not just now and again when it suits us; and the like.



He is also with us to enable us to follow him. Again this surely has the idea that this Jesus is that important that we will want to be with him and do what he wants us to do. Rather than we doing what we want and Jesus is just there to fill the gaps. That means that we will want to be with him week after week in his house so that he can strengthen and encourage us for our daily walk with him. We will want to hear what he has to say to us, so that he can guide us in all that we do.



We will regularly come to him and confess our sins and receive his absolution. We will take him at his word and come to his Altar Rail and receive his Body and Blood so that we can be further reassured of the forgiveness, life and salvation that he has for us. It also means that we are reassured that he is with us as we go about our daily lives. So we will then be seeking to live, act and speak, knowing that he is with us always. What he sees as important so will we. What he is doing so also will we want do the same.



From this reading we can readily see that those who were following him were keen to tell others who the Jesus really is and why he is important. They also had the aim of bringing these other people into Jesus presence. For without Jesus they are doomed to hell. So this was vital for them and their love for family, friends and others.



So we a reminded that this Jesus has been revealed to us as that which is all important. He is not someone who is to be treated lightly. And he is not just one way among many others that we can find salvation and life. He is the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world! He is God’s promised Messiah who has come as the King of kings and Lord of lords.



So may he now be all important in all that we think, say and do. May his Holy Spirit help us look to, believe, follow and point others to him, for he alone is our true hope and salvation. To him be all glory and honour, now and always. AMEN



Pastor Roger Atze

Glandore/Underdale Lutheran Parish

Saturday, January 07, 2017


Isaiah 60:1-6.      The light of Christ has come into a dark world!                         8/1/17



1 “Arise, shine, for your light has come, and the glory of the Lord rises upon you.
See, darkness covers the earth and thick darkness is over the peoples,
but the Lord rises upon you and his glory appears over you.
Nations will come to your light, and kings to the brightness of your dawn.

“Lift up your eyes and look about you: All assemble and come to you;
your sons come from afar, and your daughters are carried on the hip.
Then you will look and be radiant, your heart will throb and swell with joy;
the wealth on the seas will be brought to you, to you the riches of the nations will come. Herds of camels will cover your land, young camels of Midian and Ephah.
And all from Sheba will come, bearing gold and incense and proclaiming the praise of the Lord.



This morning we are reminded that in the midst of dark times God has promised that there is a light shining for us. As a result of Jesus coming into our world there is hope and life for us, no matter what we face in life. So as Christians there is always light at the end of the tunnel.



Now it would seem that again I am being rather pessimistic and gloomy. For surely we are living at a time when we have got everything; and that by and large things appear to be relatively peaceful. We have made great advances as a society technologically. We are told that we have never had it so good. So why talk about darkness and troubles?



Yet it is right here in the midst of all of this positivity that we can see more and more the darkness growing. Despite all the talk and promises, somehow we are growing more and more uncertain and restless. Something is not right. Something is missing. The further we seem to go and the more that we have, the worse it all becomes. What is wrong here?



Well, God’s Word is quite clear in this regard; when we make something our idol, instead of it bringing blessing to us, it makes things far worse. Then it becomes even worse when we make me, myself and I the idol. When what I want, do and have, apart from God, is what we look for in order to be blessed and happy, we find God’s curse instead of blessing.



This extends into the Christian life and salvation as well. As we seek to do this life on our own and by our own methods, it does not work. So doing good works in order to be acceptable; changing God’s Word so that it is acceptable to our current society and thinking; thinking of worship as being all about experiences and what makes us feel good, rather than what we receive from God; and more, all lead to frustration and darkness.



So the problem is not the technological advances, or the things that we do in order to be acceptable to God. But the fact that we look to and see them as what is going to make us happy and acceptable, instead of looking to God himself, who is the creator and giver of these things. We think that these things that I want, are what will make us happy. Then we find that instead of life being easier for us we have to work even harder to achieve that happiness that we want.



Then when we find that we are not and cannot achieve this happiness and fulfilment that should be there for us, we are consumed by blackness and gloom. I would suggest that as we look around at all the suicides, drug, alcohol and sex abuse and more, we see this growing darkness enshrouding our nation.



We too, when we look to find life and happiness apart from God, find that it is hard work, or in the end it is futile and empty. In fact, more and more we are finding instead of fulfilment in these areas, are finding the opposite. When we fail to have God first in our lives, above and beyond what me, myself and I want, then we quickly find that we run into trouble. When God is relegated to only a small part of our lives we find a growing darkness coming over our lives.



So we all need to again hear this message that is before us. In the midst of this growing darkness there is a light that has come. A light that truly gives light and hope in the midst of this world that has got things so horribly wrong.



We are told here: Arise, shine, for your light has come, and the glory of the LORD rises upon you. See, darkness covers the earth and thick darkness is over the peoples, but the LORD rises upon you and his glory appears over you.



God has come and given us a way through this fog and darkness that enshrouds us. The Lord God himself has come to us. He hasn’t left us to blindly go through life, desperately hoping that we are doing the right thing and instead finding that we just can’t do it on our own. He has come to do everything for us, so that we can have all the we need for this life and the next.



So his glory appears over us. Everything that is good, right and useful is there in our midst freely available to us. We don’t have to invent it, change it, do it by ourselves or any such thing. The Lord God has come and seeks to give it all to us.



In these days we have been reminded very clearly that God has come into our world in the birth of Jesus in Bethlehem, at a particular point in history. This Jesus grew up and did things that only God himself could do. He performed many, many miracles; drove out evil spirits; Raised that dead back to life; forgave peoples sins; and taught Gods Word simply and powerfully, as God would have us hear it.



Then he went to Jerusalem and allowed himself to be killed on the cross. There he took the punishment from God that we should have received because of our selfishness and sin. In doings so forgiveness of sins, life and salvation is extended to us all. He then is raised from the dead so that all can know for sure that what he did on the cross was God’s will. Also there we can know that he was raised from the dead so that he can live and reign for all to trust in him.



Through all of this he reminded us all that his Word is reliable and true. What we have in the Bible is all that we need to know with regard to the things that are important for this life; for our salvation; and how to live in light of all that he is and has done for us. We don’t need something more, extra or different than that which we have in the Bible itself.



Along with that he gave us baptism so that through it he could connect us to himself and the forgiveness and salvation that he has won for us. He does the work there that enables us to be sure that we have received all that he has won for us through his death and resurrection.



As well as that he gave us Holly Communion so that we again can be absolutely sure the Jesus Christ is with us and there imparts forgiveness of sins, life and salvation to us. So week by week we are reminded by God himself through Jesus Christ that he is with us, and that in him and in connection with him we have all the we need for this life and the next.



It all comes with the presence of Jesus Christ himself. So it all comes to us in down to earth, tangible ways that are easy to access. It is all there in the baby in the manger; in his life as he moved among the people; in his suffering death and resurrection; in his Word and the Sacraments. Everything that we need is there to give light to our lives. Forgiveness, life and salvation and much more is all there for us.



As we listen to and receive the things that he has freely and simply given, we can know for sure that everything will work out for good. It is only as we try to change, add to, ignore or do these things apart from Jesus Christ, that it all comes unstuck. Sadly, all too often our selfish pride comes to the fore and we will not receive these things as a free gift. We want to think that what I do, think, say, must be of some importance. The result then comes about that we do not receive these gifts as blessings, because we try to achieve them in some way because of our merit.



Here remember clearly the first and greatest commandment: Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength. The Lord God is all important. He comes first in our thinking, or else we place an idol in his place; and so often that is we ourselves.



With God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit as all important, then Jesus Christ and all that he has done for us, is our only connection with him. He and his Word, the Bible, will then be that which enlightens life for us.



Then we begin to see the fulfilment of these words in our reading. Nations will come to your light, and kings to the brightness of your dawn. “Lift up your eyes and look about you: All assemble and come to you; your sons come from afar, and your daughters are carried on the hip. Then you will look and be radiant, your heart will throb and swell with joy;



In various places around the world we see this happening as people and nation willingly receive what God has to give, as of first importance. The light of Christ has brought many blessings to them, as it has to many others, throughout history. So again God is true to his Word.



May we too, live in his light and then receive the wonderful blessings that he has in mind for us also. To him be all glory and honour, now and always. AMEN.



Pastor Roger Atze

Glandore/Underdale Lutheran Parish

Saturday, December 31, 2016


Hebrews 2:10-18.                             Jesus fully human, fully God!                                       1/1/17



10 In bringing many sons and daughters to glory, it was fitting that God, for whom and through whom everything exists, should make the pioneer of their salvation perfect through what he suffered. 11 Both the one who makes people holy and those who are made holy are of the same family. So Jesus is not ashamed to call them brothers and sisters. 12 He says,

“I will declare your name to my brothers and sisters;
    in the assembly I will sing your praises.”

13 And again,

“I will put my trust in him.”

And again he says,

“Here am I, and the children God has given me.”

14 Since the children have flesh and blood, he too shared in their humanity so that by his death he might break the power of him who holds the power of death—that is, the devil— 15 and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death. 16 For surely it is not angels he helps, but Abraham’s descendants. 17 For this reason he had to be made like them, fully human in every way, in order that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in service to God, and that he might make atonement for the sins of the people. 18 Because he himself suffered when he was tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted.



Just how amazing is this Jesus whose birth we celebrate again in these days. This is no ordinary human being; he is God himself; and yet he is fully human. All this God himself has done for us so that many sons and daughters could be brought to glory. Despite our rebellion against him; and our desire to do as we please, without regard for God and what he has to say to us; never the less his love for us was such that he does what is necessary for us to be made children of God.



Just think about that for a while: God becomes a human so that we might become children of God for all eternity. That is incredible! What we have all our lives strived after since Adam and Eve – equality with God has been made freely possible. It is there for all who dare to believe it.



Then what is even more remarkable is the fact that so many turn their backs on this wonderful gift. They still want to live and act as if none of this is important. They still want to live apart from God and do as they please. They still want to be selfish, self-centred people who have no real interest in God at all.



Sure many of them will still acknowledge that he is there and that they believe in him. However, they have no sense of appreciation for what he has done for us all, or the desire to live in a relationship with him. They are so wrapped up in themselves and what they make of their own lives. God is someone who is simply there to fix things up when it all goes wrong. Meanwhile they live for here and now; as if this is all there is to life.



So they have made themselves their own little god, who controls his own life. They have then made all these other little idols in their lives to seek to attain all that God promises to freely gives us, if only we would take him seriously. But their arrogance and rebellion is such that they will not.



But the reality of life for us all is that there is always still this one ‘bogey man’ that hangs over our head. Death is constantly before us. The news is full of it. Young and old, rich and poor, famous and unknown; this tragedy is ever before us; and in the end it is a reality for us all, sooner or later.



Then what? We travel toward this great light; to what? To heaven, or hell? Or toward Jesus Christ the Judge who holds our fate in his hands? Yes; and to all who believe in him and who are connected to him through baptism are able to now face that day with confidence and certainty. As we look to this Jesus who came into our world and trust in all that he has said and done for us we know that he will see us through.



This is one of the main points in this reading. This Jesus came for the very purpose: to free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death. Because of our sin, death is the reality that it is. We all will die because of our rebellion against God. God has made this very clear to us all, all the way from Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden, to this very day. Death comes to all who sin. But because of Jesus Christ and his coming into our world he has taken the sting out of death for all who believe in him.



To do that he had to share our humanity. We read: Since the children have flesh and blood, he too shared in their humanity so that by his death he might break the power of him who holds the power of death—that is, the devil—and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death.



A sinless human being was needed in order for the sacrifice for the sin of the world to be effective. So God himself becomes one of us. As we are told here:

 For this reason he had to be made like them, fully human in every way, in order that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in service to God, and that he might make atonement for the sins of the people.



So the very reason we celebrate Christmas is a constant reminder to us that Jesus came into this world as a babe in Bethlehem to do this very thing. Despite us and our rejection of him, he comes to do what has to be done for our salvation. He comes so that we can be freed from the fear of death and that he may call them brothers and sisters.



Through his life, death and resurrection Jesus has accomplished that which is truly remarkable. He has done everything that was necessary in order to bring many sons and daughters to glory. It is all there freely available to each and every one of us. Now in connection to him we can face death with confidence and also then to be with our Lord for all eternity in heaven as his brothers and sisters. To him be all glory and honour, now and always.



So:  In bringing many sons and daughters to glory, it was fitting that God, for whom and through whom everything exists, should make the pioneer of their salvation perfect through what he suffered.  Both the one who makes people holy and those who are made holy are of the same family.



Here again we have another very important point being made to us in this reading. One that we need to very much reflect on and contemplate deeply. It is God almighty for whom and through whom everything exists. In our western culture we have drastically downplayed this important point. Too often even in our churches we give lip service to this, but in reality we put ourselves and our reasoning to the fore. Life exits for us and our pleasure; Not God.



We must remember that God created us for his purposes and benefit; not us. He is the all-important one around whom and through all things exists. Only in him and what he says will we find the life and being that should be there for us. He wanted us to live happily with him and his creation, but we chose to live by and for ourselves. The result is that we die because of it.



But again it is here that he himself comes to make things right for us. His own Son comes into our world to suffer so that we might be perfected once more. So now Jesus Christ is held up as that which is all important for us and for all. God has lifted him up and given him the name that is above all names.



So now as we look to him, trust him and seek to hold him up for the greatness of who he is and what he has done for us we are reassured of the life and hope that is now ours. We find that we are restored back to the way that was originally planned for us. We, now through belief and baptism are restored back into God’s family and are made once more brothers and sisters of Christs. Both the one who makes people holy and those who are made holy are of the same family.



Here the point is strongly made from Scripture itself that this is what God himself says to us. This is not some wishful thinking, or a made up story. This is what the Jesus Christ who was born, lived, died and rose again has done and said. Because he is a historical reality and is true to his word we can rely on what is said here.



However, because we live in a culture where this is ignored, ridiculed and down-played it is so easy to doubt this. We have the devil, the world and our sinful selves continually tempting us to doubt this. Continually we are being tempted to look to and trust me, myself and I. Along with that we still live in a sinful world and so constantly face the troubles and hardships that are always a part of it. As long as we live here on earth we will have this suffering and difficulties, and can easily be left wondering if all of this is really true.



Here however we are reminded again that: Because he himself suffered when he was tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted. So as we begin another new year let us resolve to look to him alone as our Lord and Saviour and constantly seek his help so that we do not lose sight of that which is so important for us.



Here also remember that he has promised to be with us always, to the very end of the age. He is right there with us and for us as we face life in whatever way it comes. His Word and very body and blood of Holy Communion are his constant reminder to us of this very fact.



So here as we begin another new year let us ever seek to look to and uphold Jesus Christ as both God and man who has come to win salvation for us and free us from the fear of death. Let us remember that God almighty himself is the one for whom and through whom everything exists. He and what he has done through Jesus and his death and resurrection alone is what has enabled us to be very own sons and daughters. To him the be all glory and honour, now and always. AMEN.



Pastor Roger Atze

Glandore/Underdale Lutheran Parish

Friday, December 23, 2016


Luke 2:8-20.                         True Christmas Joy???                                                     25/12/16



(8)  And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. {9} An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. {10} But the angel said to them, "Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. {11} Today in the town of David a Saviour has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord. {12} This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger." {13} Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, {14} "Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom his favour rests." {15} When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, "Let's go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about." {16} So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger. {17} When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, {18} and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them. {19} But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart. {20} The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told.



Christmas is a time when we look for happiness and joy. We speak of it as a time of festivity and the imparting of Christmas cheer to one another. It is to be a season of peace and goodwill: of giving and receiving: and of family. You know the catch words – they are fed to us regularly through the media, ‘junk mail’ and where ever. It is all very warm and enticing; and it feeds into that deep longing that we have in our hearts. We all yearn for a greater degree of these things in our lives.



So at this time of the year our spirits rise within us. Holidays, gifts, parties: one after the other. Yes, this is the life. This is what it is all about. More, bigger, better, all so that this spirit of Christmas may be stronger in our lives. Just maybe this year Christmas may bring us the cheer that we want and need in our lives.



But, unfortunately the boss has put the pressure on in the lead up to this day. Working longer hours so the boss can make a few more quick dollars: late night and weekend shopping bites right in and puts the pressure on. Then when it comes to our buying of gifts. What do we buy someone who has everything? The kids have nearly all the toys that are on the go. No longer is it a few simple gifts with love in the heart; it has to be bigger and better; but oh so much more expensive. So the credit card is at its limit, and the squeeze is on.



Then when it comes to the Christmas parties; it is another night out and another night away from the family. And the pressures continue; the spirit wanes. Then to add to it all, this year the kids have to go to the ex’s, or we have had a ‘blue’ with someone in the family and they are all in a huff over it.



Throughout the emphasis is on what we do, buy and have that is focussed on at this time. It is about having a good time. It is about us making the Christmas spirit through giving, receiving, sharing and all the rest.  Christmas is all about almost everything but what Christmas is all about. 



The spirit of Christmas has been swallowed up by the commercialization of it all and its failure to be what is promised. Christmas has lost its glitter and sparkle. It is another thing that we have to do. It is just another party; another gift; another trying to lift the spirits in a life overfull of these things already. There are glimpses of that which is promised, but it is drowned out by all the competing forces.



Despite the pretences and new gifts that will soon lose their shine, there is still left that longing for something more: something better: something far more significant. The peace, joy and goodwill of this season has promised much but has again failed to deliver. So is Christmas really all that it is cracked up to be? Is it really all that special?



Here today, let us again hear another Christmas message: a message that has been drowned out by the commercialization that our society keeps throwing our way. Hear again that which truly does make Christmas, truly Christmas. Hear again why this day really is special and life changing, in the midst of all of this other ‘bull dust’.



Hear the message of the angels to the shepherds on that first Christmas night. "Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people.  Today in the town of David a Saviour has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger."



Here remember that this is not just some nice fairy story, that has been written down to give some sense of wonderment to our children. This is God’s message to humanity. This is God’s message into our modern day Christmas. It is here in this message; when we are prepared to unwrap this gift, we will find that which gives true peace, joy and goodwill to all mankind. This gift continues on and on giving meaning and purpose to people no matter what they face in life; whether it be plenty or nothing; health or sickness and death: whether in a great family or all alone.



This gift works right into the very core of our lives and gives us all that we really need. This is good news of great joy that is for all the people. This good news: this great Christmas gift, is that the Saviour has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord. In Jesus, the baby born in Bethlehem some 2,000 years ago, we have the Saviour being born. God himself has come to be with us: is with us now, and has eternal life for all. This surely is good news.



Or is it? Do we believe that we need a saviour? For most people in the western world, we don’t need a saviour. We have got it all. We have told ourselves that we are the centre of life itself. We just need to follow Jesus’ example and we will make this world what we want it to be. It is all ours and it is all up to us.



But as we truly listen and humble ourselves before him we are brought to the knowledge that we are sinful and that we desperately need the Saviour. Already at the beginning of the Bible we see what our problem is. We, like Adam and Eve, have told God to move over: we want to be the centre of life. We want to do what we want to do, instead of following what God has given us and told us is good for us.



We have set our opinions above what God himself has set down for us, and the results are nothing short of catastrophic. We have brought all kinds of troubles on ourselves and one another and most significantly death and eternal separation from God. Now in our selfish pride we still want to work against God: we try to eliminate sickness and death, and we even want to work our way back into God’s presence. We want to even make Christmas all about us and what we want and do. But we cannot achieve it and are doomed to failure because of our sinful human nature. Without God’s intervention we are doomed to an eternity in hell.



However, this is what makes Christmas so truly special and great. God sent his only Son as a gift into our world. He came as one of us, so that not only could he do what was necessary for our salvation, but just maybe we might listen to him and submit ourselves to him. He came as little baby, born in poverty and meanness: he lived as a normal human being, but without sin. He alone listened to God and followed his commands and ways. Then he allowed himself to be killed on the cross, so that God could punish him, instead of us. He gave his life so that we might have life:  eternal life with God. He extended forgiveness of sins to each and every one of us – without exception. There is once again peace made possible between God and us; extended to us as a free gift.



This is his gift to you and me. Jesus Christ has brought forgiveness of sins, life and salvation to each of us. This is his Christmas gift to you and me. This is truly the greatest and most wonderful gift that we could ever receive. This is what makes true peace, joy and goodwill possible. This is what enables us to have the real festive spirit and be able to impart Christmas cheer to one another. We have peace with God: we have eternal life with him. This wonderful gift now impacts on everything else that we face and that we do.



This naturally then gives us hope and joy. Not the joy that is a bubbling over smile from ear to ear; but an underlying contentment which knows that no matter what we now face in life we have eternal life with God, which no one and nothing can take away from us. Now that we have Christ in us, we have that quiet and sure confidence that He will see us through, even when we face our crosses in this life, for we know that he himself goes and has gone before us, and now uses all these things for good. God himself has assured us now that he is at work in and through our lives, seeking to draw all people into his eternal kingdom.



That being the case, now we can share this joy and hope that we have now been given, with one another. We can impart this Christmas cheer with all others that we come into contact with. Not just today and tomorrow; but every day is now Christmas for us. God is with us; we can now share him with those that we come into contact with. We can share his peace and goodwill in all circumstances. And just as we have received from him; and that includes now seeing every gift that we receive from others as a gift given from God Almighty himself; now then we too can give.



Yes, Christmas now has truly given to us all that it has promised. Peace, joy and goodwill has now come to us. Now we can celebrate and now we can live with confidence and hope. For Today in the town of David a Saviour has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger. Our Lord has come to live with us so that we can live with him for all eternity. To him then be all glory and honour now and always. AMEN.

A blessed Christmas to you all.



Pastor Roger Atze

Glandore/Underdale Lutheran Parish

Friday, December 09, 2016


Matthew 11:2-11.                                            Advent a time of expectation                     11/12/16



When John, who was in prison, heard about the deeds of the Messiah, he sent his disciples to ask him, “Are you the one who is to come, or should we expect someone else?”

Jesus replied, “Go back and report to John what you hear and see: The blind receive sight, the lame walk, those who have leprosy are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the good news is proclaimed to the poor. Blessed is anyone who does not stumble on account of me.”

As John’s disciples were leaving, Jesus began to speak to the crowd about John: “What did you go out into the wilderness to see? A reed swayed by the wind? If not, what did you go out to see? A man dressed in fine clothes? No, those who wear fine clothes are in kings’ palaces. Then what did you go out to see? A prophet? Yes, I tell you, and more than a prophet. 10 This is the one about whom it is written:

“‘I will send my messenger ahead of you,
    who will prepare your way before you.’

11 Truly I tell you, among those born of women there has not risen anyone greater than John the Baptist; yet whoever is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he.



Ah, what a sight! To stand up here and look at all of you sitting there in the pews. All sitting back with an air of expectation. Although I am not sure what the expectations are: perhaps it is a chance for a rest and to let your mind wander; or, how many mistakes will the pastor make today; or how many flies can we count on the ceiling. Others of course, and most of you I hope, are listening to hear what God has to say. Whatever, you all have come with some expectation or other.



At the same time, you are all, I imagine, looking forward to Christmas with certain hopes and expectations. For the children it could well be the presents under the tree. For others it may be a break from work and its pressures. For others again it may be the family get together and the good feed. We pray that for many it may perhaps be the expectation of some peace, hope and joy as they reflect on Christ and his coming to be with us and what that really means for us.



Here this morning we are reminded that Advent is a time of many expectations. As Christians it surely has a great deal to do with the Lord Jesus Christ and his coming into our world to be with us. Firstly, as a baby in Bethlehem and then all the way through to his death on the cross and his resurrection. But also it is a time to reflect on his coming to be with today. Then also to his final coming at the end of time. From each of these events, I am sure, that we have certain expectations.



John Baptist in this reading was looking to Jesus with certain expectations. He was looking forward to the coming of the Messiah, or Saviour, that was promised by God long ago. Then when this Jesus came to him at the Jordan River he knew that there was something special about this man. But, was he this Promised Messiah. As time went on he heard all these reports about how this Jesus was doing some pretty       marvellous things and that people were flocking to him.



All this prompts him to send the question to Jesus: “Are you the one who is to come, or should we expect someone else?” To which he received the reply; what do you hear and see: The blind receive sight, the lame walk, those who have leprosy are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the good news is proclaimed to the poor.          



Here remember that it was this Jesus doing all of this. Wherever he goes, these things are happening, Fantastic things are happening. Things that only God himself can do.



So yes, here is the expected Messiah: the one promised that would come doing away with sickness, pain, poverty and death. In connection to him true happiness is there for those who do not fall away. Here then, is the one that was to usher in God's rule and be the King of this kingdom of God and of heaven. This is what John the Baptist was looking forward to with great hope and expectation. Now here he was - has come - doing everything that was expected of him.



As he walked this earth he gave glimpses of God's almighty power: showing that he can heal sick, give life to the dead; and who has good news for the poor. Along with that he showed us where to find real happiness, peace and hope. As he walked this earth he showed that he definitely was from God and that he has come be with us to help us.



Then to show us the extent of his love and help, and the real purpose for his coming, he goes to the cross and dies in our place. He takes the punishment for our sin on himself so that we can now have forgiveness of sins, life and salvation. He then rises from the dead three days later just as the Scriptures said he would, so that we can know for sure that here God himself has worked all these things for us so that we can be a part God's family forever. All so that inner peace and joy can be ours in abundance.



So now our expectations of Jesus Christ and his coming all those years ago are grounded in a reality that is sure and certain. We can look back there and know for sure that God has truly come and done what was necessary for our salvation and eternal life. As we look to his life, death and resurrection we can have confidence to live today and to face his coming again at the end of time.



With that confidence in the fact the God has come in Christ Jesus, enables us to have clear expectations now as we live out life today. Even though life may be rough and tough for us, we can have a sure confidence that God himself is with us in the midst of it. Jesus Christ himself is present with us every moment of every day. This is what he has promised us, so we can be sure that this is true.



To help us to remember this he has given us Holy Communion, where he gives us his very body and blood so that we can be sure that he forgives us, and so also lives in us as we go about our daily lives. With him living in and with us we know that; yes, we too then will share in his suffering, but he will be with us to see us through. Because he is with us he will use us and our suffering for good.



With him with us we too can now have the confidence to listen to him and what he tells us through his Word, the Bible. Because the Scriptures that were written hundreds and hundreds of years before, told us of his coming and his death and resurrection, we can now be sure of what he says to us today through his Word, the Bible. There we know that we have encouragement and directions for living that are right, good and helpful for us as we live out our lives in the midst of a sinful world. So with that we can get on with life with confidence and certainty.



Through his presence with us today, we can then face the future with the expectation that there too he will see us through to the end, and then take us to be with himself in eternity. When he comes again to usher in the new kingdom we can face that day with confidence. For as Judge who has died and rose again for us, and who lives with us now, he also enables us to trust in him and his sure promises. So we can be confident that he will see us through and so take us to be with himself in heaven.



So now we are able to have expectations that are sure and certain. As we look to Jesus Christ who has come, is come now and who will come again, we can be sure that all will work out for good. In connection with him we can reliably expect that everything will work out as he has promised.



Unfortunately, too often however, we look with expectation elsewhere. We look in the wrong direction and then wonder why things are not so good. We look to humanity and our technological achievements, for our salvation. We look to money and status to get us where we want to go. We look to our achievements to give us the elixir of life, so that one day we might have eternal youth. We look for happiness and peace within ourselves and what we think should be.



But in all of this we are left sadly disappointed: looking in hope, but in the end finding only despair. And even worse still, beyond death finding only Hell.



We need to remember that it is in Christ alone that we are to put our hope and trust in. For it is in him alone that we will find all these things that we really need. So let us look with eager expectation to the time when our Lord finally does away with all sickness, poverty and death for all time. Looking forward to when he welcomes us into his heavenly home, where we will enjoy his company without fear or want for anything. Ushered in by Christ himself; allowing all who trust in what he done for us through his life, death and resurrection to join him for all eternity.



So this Advent season again, may our expectations find a sure and certain hope that will not         disappoint us or let us down. As we look to Christ and his presence with us we can have the same certain assurance that Christ is for real and his heavenly kingdom is ours, just as John the Baptist had in our reading.



May these days and weeks ahead again, reassure us of the peace, hope and joy that is beyond understanding. May that assurance then sustain us through thick and thin. Yes, these expectations in Christ are guaranteed. So may we now look forward and go forward with great confidence and a sure hope. And may our Lord bless you and grant you the joy that lies in these expectations.



To him again then be all glory and honour, now and always. AMEN



Pastor Roger Atze

Glandore/Underdale Lutheran Parish