Saint Paul's Lutheran Church of Irvine

Ash Wednesday February 10th at Saint Paul’s Lutheran Church of Irvine: “A Place At The Table For You” (Luke 22:1-13)

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Tonight we worship in the Good Shepherd Chapel at Concordia University Irvine at 7:00 pm. CUI is located at 1530 Concordia West, Irvine, CA 92612

 

Dear Christians,

 

We commence the holy season of Lent. Christ is our Lent. Christ is our Renewal. If you "give up" anything, it is not to perform a good work, but to remind yourself that all that you really need is Jesus!

We start a sermon-series entitled, "Places of the Passion." Dr. Mueller and myself will present this series. Tonight, I will proclaim, "A Place at the Table for You" based on Luke 22:1-13.

We will celebrate the service of Vespers with some special elements added to the service for Ash Wednesday.

 

The Lord bless us all during the 40 days of Lent.

 

In Jesus' Love,

 

Dr. Espinosa

Tomorrow, Sunday, February 7th, 2016 at Saint Paul’s Lutheran Church of Irvine: “Endurance!” (Hebrews 3:1-6)

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Location: Crean Lutheran South High School in Irvine: 12500 Sand Canyon Ave., Irvine, CA 92618

Directions: Exit Sand Canyon from the 405 or 5, head East towards the hills, cross Irvine Blvd., turn right on Saint's Way (this will put you on the campus of Crean Lutheran South High School...we worship in the event center/gym)

Divine Service: 930 am

Bible Study and Sunday School: 11 am

 

Dear Ones for Whom Jesus Died and Rose to Save,

How many of us have felt that we were running out of gas and that we just could not go on? And if we are feeling this way, how do we go on? But not just grudgingly, but truly with confidence and new hope? This is what the message is about tomorrow. I hope you will hear me proclaim it.
But even if one of your pastors totally bombs a sermon, you will still have the perfect Gospel in the body and blood of Jesus.
You're in a win-win on Sunday mornings!
Hope to see you in God's house, after all, you ARE His household! (Hebrews 3:1-6).
Here is tomorrow's extended outline-sermon:
“We Are His Household” (Hebrews 3:1-6)

The Transfiguration of Our Lord, February 7th, 2016

Pastor Espinosa

 

Introduction: A Glimpse of Glory for Hope Because It’s Hard To Endure.

 

  1. Moses endured: He died at 120 and “His eye was undimmed, and his vigor unabated.” (Deut. 34:8) I’m not sure how well I’m enduring (for example, me and my little bible are parting ways because of my diminishing vision!) L
  2. Under Joshua, the people of Israel knew a season of endurance. Under Joshua, “the people of Israel obeyed him and did as the Lord had commanded Moses.” (Deut. 34:9) Israel knew some generations of endurance.
  3. And of course Jesus endured. Just before the record of the glorious Transfiguration of our Lord, our Savior foretold His death: dark times were coming and it would be a time requiring endurance. We need to remember this as we are about to move into Lent. He said, “The Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed…” (Luke 9:22) How our Lord’s soul must have been filled with dread! How did He live with so much love and compassion while knowing what was coming? And yet He did! That was how faithful He was…and this is how faithful He is!
  4. And then the Lord spoke about us (all true disciples): “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross DAILY and follow me.” (Luke 9:23) It’s the “DAILY” part that is about endurance. Not just yesterday, not just today…every day, daily…endurance.
  5. There is no resting on laurels. Our endurance from last year or even yesterday, does not guarantee my endurance today.
  6. David was a man after God’s own heart, but there were times when he did not endure. Solomon had the greatest wisdom and he entered a time when he chose to no longer endure.
  7. Are we that different from David and Solomon?
  8. How often have we stopped enduring? We say that the day-to-day is the crucial way and yet on how many days in our past did we stray from the path? How consistent has your endurance been?
  9. To worship the Lord?
  10. To abide in His Word?
  11. To die to yourself and to love even your enemies?
  12. To live in forgiveness?
  13. To strive for endurance?
  14. Endurance is hard. Think of a cross-country runner or marathon runner. I’ve never run those kinds of distances (not even in the Army), but you hear such athletes “hitting the wall.” It’s when your body says, “no more,” and yet you find a way to keep going.
  15. Endurance is one of THE traits of those who are “successful” in their respective fields. Many who have “made it” in their chosen field, resent it when others describe them as having “natural-born talents,” etc., when they know how hard they have had to work. One aspect of success, factors in the so-called 10,000 hour-rule: if you put in that much time essentially practicing or working out on something (some skill for example), then yes, you will develop a real ability (like learning to play an instrument, speak another language, get really good at something. Ted Williams was lauded as a “natural” in baseball, but he would practice swinging a bat so often that his hands would start to bleed (so the story goes).
  16. Endurance is also that trait of the FAITHFUL. I have met married Christians who described their storm and have heard the words, “It’s over, I can’t go on,” but in some cases – through endurance -- resurrection occurs in the marriage. That’s when God does something that only He could do to bring the marriage back and sometimes, better than ever before. And how many Christian parents have learned endurance as they go through storms with their children and families? How many devout parents have felt as though all hope was gone, but they kept loving and serving their children anyway…[because] “love covers over a multitude of sins” (1st Peter 4:8).

 

Part I: But How Can You Endure?

 

  1. But I don’t want to sound like “pie in the sky,” how can you know this kind of endurance? What is there, if anything that can truly cause you endure, not with resentment and bitterness taking over your soul (as if being held captive in prison), but enduring with confidence; enduring with real hope; enduring with a sense of a victorious scenario?
  2. To answer that question, we begin with today’s revelation on this Transfiguration Sunday: you can know the new you – created by the Lord – who also knows a new endurance!
  3. Consider how the Lord refers to you His people: Hebrews 3:1: “holy brothers” and “heavenly calling”!
  4. The amazing thing here is that these things were done for you! You didn’t make yourself holy, but God did; you didn’t call yourself, but God did!
  5. How did God do this?
  6. Consider today’s revelation of Jesus Christ! He is:
  7. 1) the apostle: THE sent One. He was SENT for you; 2) high priest…He sympathizes with your weaknesses; He knows you…and still loves you!
  8. But put these two together: “apostle” and “high priest,” and consider what Jesus DOES for YOU! As apostle, the One sent for you: “He pleads the cause of God with you!” AND as High Priest “He pleads your cause with God!” (let me repeat that) The apostle is sent for God’s Word to be given to you and to be put IN you! The high priest takes up your cause, your needs – your need for ENDURANCE for example – and presents these to God!
  9. And His through His saving work for YOU Christian, you make a good CONFESSION (verse 1). And it is a confession that gets back to your true ability to endure: you confess or speak of Christ’s

 

Part II: The Key To Endurance is the LORD’s Faithfulness!

 

  1. The key to our endurance does not rest in us, but it rests in Christ!
  2. We don’t rely on our feeble, weak and failing effort, but we rely on the Lord’s faithfulness!
  3. Moses was faithful! God raised up a faithful leader in Moses. Even when Israel was NOT enduring and NOT being faithful, Moses was faithful. In Exodus 32 Moses pleaded their case: “O Lord, why does your wrath burn hot against your people…Turn from your burning anger and relent from this disaster against your people.” (vv 11 & 12) Moses was a faithful intercessor and the Lord answered his prayer!
  4. But as great as Moses was – the servant of God’s household – Jesus is even greater, because He is “over” God’s household as a son! He is over us…you’re shielded, you’re protected; He is faithful and will keep you safe!
  5. Now THIS ONE intercedes for you. Jesus prays for you!
  6. And when we have received such faithfulness – by the grace of God in Christ through the Lord’s Word and Holy Sacrament – the Lord forms faithfulness in us!
  7. We need this because there was a time that even with the great servant of God Moses, Israel was not faithful, but now you have someone greater than Moses! Should we give up being faithful when His faithfulness has given us so much? Dare we be faithless when He has been so faithful towards us?! We mustn’t give up! Endurance becomes everything to us! It is the response of faith to the Lord’s faithfulness to us! We endure because the Lord has given us EVERYTHING; because He has endured for us! For us, He even endured the cross so that we would not be condemned by our sin!
  8. Such endurance by the Lord produces in us a new attitude; a laser-like simplicity and focus:

 

Part III: Therefore “consider”!

  1. The word translated “consider” at verse 1 is “katanoeo”…it means to “rivet [one’s] attention on”…
  2. How can you possibility endure Christian with all of the struggles and storms you face?
  3. The answer is rivet your attention upon Jesus!
  4. It’s like Peter sinking, but then crying out to Jesus! Jesus takes hold of Him and saves Him! Jesus saves you too! Rivet your eyes on Him, because He pulls you up from drowning in your storms of life!
  5. So see this Gospel truth once again: He was faithful for you! And He IS faithful for you! And He WILL BE faithful for you! He has covered your yesterdays, and today, and tomorrows with His faithful endurance FOR YOU!
  6. And through our faithful leader; the leader of our household (God’s household, the Holy Church, all of us), we now have in Christ: 1) fearless confidence! AND 2) Triumphant hope!
  7. You know how to live now. As clearly as you see your weakness and need for endurance; you rivet your eyes on Jesus!
  • Who is your Apostle.
  • Who is your High Priest.
  • Who has made you into “holy brothers”!
  • Who has extended His “heavenly calling” to you!
  • Who is faithful for you!
  • Who is over you (God’s people), God’s household! Talk about being looked after and cared for!
  • And in Him, we are given fearless confidence.
  • And in Him, we are given triumphant hope.

 

Conclusion: We have fearless confidence now that God will accomplish what He has promised. His glorious transfiguration was God’s guarantee to His Son that He would endure! But that same glorious transfiguration is also why we will endure. The glorious Christ, our glorious Lord, our King of Kings, our best friend is faithful. He will provide also our endurance!

 

In Jesus' Love,

 

Pastor Espinosa

Tomorrow Sunday January 31st, 2016 at Saint Paul’s Lutheran Church of Irvine: “But The Greatest of These Is Love” (1st Corinthians 12:31b-13:7)

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Location: Crean Lutheran South High School in Irvine: 12500 Sand Canyon Ave., Irvine, CA 92618

Directions: Exit Sand Canyon from the 405 or 5, head East towards the hills, cross Irvine Blvd., turn right on Saint's Way (this will put you on the campus of Crean Lutheran South High School...we worship in the event center/gym)

Divine Service: 930 am

Bible Study and Sunday School: 11 am

 

Dear Christians,

Many Christians don't want to admit it, but when it comes to the "love chapter" in Holy Scripture (1st Corinthians 13), we don't even know how to BEGIN to live out the love it describes! As hard as it is to admit, we struggle with this love. The LORD tells us what true love does and does not do and...we fail...constantly!
Tomorrow the sermon is about this true love and the only way we may know it in our lives and also live it too, but without the key, forget about it. We will expound on the key.
Come also to receive the body and blood of our LORD and Savior Jesus Christ. He is both host and guest at tomorrow's service. Let's connect to Jesus through His holy means of grace!
Pastor Mueller and I hope to see you in the morning!
Here is the manuscript for tomorrow's sermon:

But The Greatest of These Is Love”

(1st Corinthians 12:31b-13:7)

Pastor Espinosa

 

Grace to you and peace from God our Father and from our LORD and Savior Jesus Christ. Amen. 1st Corinthians 13 might be the single most popular text used in Christian weddings, but it is given to Christians to apply to all relationships across the board. It’s known as “the love chapter” of the Bible and it expounds upon what true love looks like:

This is “all or nothing” rhetoric (The Lutheran Study Bible, p 1967) with verses 4-7 being that famous, seemingly definitive description of love: two positive statements, eight negative statements (the last one adds a positive contrast), then four more positive statements. (Ibid., 1968)

So here it is:

  1. Love is patient.
  2. Love is kind.

 

  1. Love does not envy.
  2. Love does not boast.
  3. Love is not arrogant.
  4. Love is not rude.
  5. Love does not insist on its own way.
  6. Love is not irritable.
  7. Love is not resentful.
  8. Love does not rejoice in wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth.

 

  1. Love bears all things.
  2. Love believes all things.
  3. Love hopes all things.
  4. Love endures all things.

 

This is a magnificent description of love, but we mustn’t forget dear Christians that this love is the gift of God! In chapter 12 the Lord teaches us about the many manifestations of the Holy Spirit given to you, the Body of Christ, but love is among the “higher gifts” and is indeed the “more excellent way.” This love is “of” God, and like all of the gifts, we can’t take any credit for any of them. They belong to and are from God.

 

If we experience any of these gifts – like leadership or service or hospitality or impressive abilities in medicine or languages – these things are of God.

 

As much as we are responsible for creating our respiratory, nervous, or circulatory systems, we are responsible for generating spiritual gifts. As much as you gave yourself your heart and lungs, you gave yourself your spiritual gifts. “You are not your own, you were bought with a price.” (1st Cor. 6) Consider how active Adam was when God made him from dust. Consider Eve’s contribution when she was formed from Adam’s side (nor did Adam do anything either as he was asleep the whole time). Consider how active you were when you were born from your mother’s womb. All of you belongs to God; He is the Actor and Creator. He has also created and given to you your gifts.

 

So why is this insight so important? Because this insight reminds us to give God all of the glory; and to thank Him for our very ability to live and move and have our being (Acts 17). We are His and everything we are able to do is His gift to us. What is more, however, the gifts that are the Lord’s which we manage and employ are intended by God for the SERVICE of OTHERS…for the common good of the Church (1st Corinthians 12:7)! Love is not for us to bask in, in our private corners, but to share, to give, not for our ego, but for the good of someone else. You are God’s conduit for His gift of love to flow through you to someone else!

 

But how often we totally forget about this! How often do we assume that this love in 1st Corinthians 13 is what we must hoard for ourselves and cling to? Another Christian gave me an illustration: we act like we do when we handle our coffee in the morning, our mug, our thermos. Have you noticed how we handle “our coffee,” our café mocha? We hold it close, hold with one hand, and further contain the heat with the other, or just hold it with two hands. “This is MINE!” Sometimes our mugs have our NAMES on them for crying out loud! “Back off!” We hold it so close that the last thought we have is to pass it around to share with others. I’m not suggesting you should (when it comes to your coffee), but you get the point. It’s the handling part.

 

This is how we might treat love at times: it is for me to take in and soak in; it is for my pleasure. It is for my meditation on what I get; it is what is mine! It is all about me!

 

 

But such a “gimme, gimme” self-serving attitude does not get along with what the LORD says about love itself. Consider the first two positive descriptions: love is patient and love is kind. St. Paul wrote about these virtues elsewhere in Galatians 5 on the fruit of the Spirit. John Stott put forth the idea that in the second triad of the 9 fruit of the Spirit – patience, kindness, goodness – we are esp. describing what is needed in relationship with others (Baptism and Fullness, p 77)!

 

How easily we get critical, upset, resentful; how easy it is for us to not love our neighbor, esp. our closest neighbors like our spouse for example. Never underestimate the evil one’s attack upon marriage. His desire is to pull you apart and to destroy your family. He does this by first eliminating your glue and protective gifts: like patience and kindness. But what do relationships really need? They need patience, and they need kindness. These are fertilizer for the blessed growth of your marriage, but they are also shields against the evil one!

 

Trust me that when I work with couples we counsel about the importance of communication, finances, trust, intimacy, etc., but how easy it is to neglect the basics: just making it a point to be patient. Just striving to be kind!

 

Our tendency, however, is our nature. How easy it is for us NOT to be patient (“Enough is enough;” “I’ve had it;” “All I do is give and give!”). This is defeatist language, but more importantly, it is the antithesis to faith and the enemy of love.

 

1st Corinthians 13 is fascinating in that it teaches at the end that faith, hope, and love abide, but the greatest of these is love. But we must not misinterpret what we mean by “faith” here. This faith is not THE FAITH; not the CHRISTIAN FAITH, the Word of Christ! It is rather the faith in the heart. So that even if I have personal faith to move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing! (1 Cor. 13:2) That is, the Word of God must guide our love; and it must also produce it as the Holy Spirit works through it! To truly love God is to love the person right next to you. There is no other tangible way to love God, with the exception of being faithful in receiving His means of grace such as the Holy Sacraments, or by simply obeying His commandments (1st John 5:3), but how many of those commandments are focused on how we treat our neighbor? And how vital it is that this world just see patience and kindness?

 

Think about it: what goes through your head when you are cut off on the road! How patient are you? How kind are you?

 

This is why dear Christians that we can’t leave these first two positive virtues on love dependent upon ourselves. We need help. Thank God for His Word!

 

Let me ask you to back up and answer this question: “WHO – IS – LOVE?” Not WHAT is Love? But WHO is Love? You know the answer. God is love (1st John 4:8 & 16) Jesus Christ is Love. So WHO is really patient? Who is really kind?

 

This is where I’m going with this: Christian, you need patience in order to give patience (that’s just how weak we are…I am just stating a fact). You need to know that the LORD is patient with you. If you don’t know this patience, if you don’t actually live in receiving this patience; if you are not actually fed and nourished with this patience, then game over. There will be no patience flowing through you.

 

You need kindness. You desperately need to see someone kind to you. Truly kind to you, generously kind to you. Someone who pours out kindness to you and never stops. Without this kindness, you will never be inspired enough to be kind. You need to see it first. You need to know it first. Otherwise, your soul will be like a parched desert, and you won’t have anything else left to give.

 

So back to what we must know: “WHO is Love?” Jesus the LORD is LOVE. And He, dear brothers, dear sisters, is patient with you and Jesus the SAVIOR is kind towards you. His patience is never ending. This we must keep before us or our patience-tank will be empty. But with this truth of what we cling to in faith, then we can rejoice each day: He is patient with me so that I won’t be lost, so that I won’t perish, so that I won’t miss eternal life; He is patient with me so that I’m forgiven over and over and over and over and over and over…again and again and again…not just 7 times forgiven, but 70 times 7 times…He never tires of being patient. His blood that covers my sin is proof, because not even my lack of patience can erase my covering of His patience over me. This patience, however, is not only for your justification, but it is also for your sanctification. If this patience from the LORD is really for ME (and it is), then how can I NOT be patient towards that other person in relationship with me?! It’s no longer about me, my feelings, my frustration, my anger, because these have been covered by God’s patience for me. In Jesus’ patience, I can now extend patience. That is how “it works.”

 

Kindness is no different. How kind has the LORD been to you?! When you have deserved condemnation for YOUR SIN, He has performed the kindness of regeneration, the kindness of grace; the kindness of giving you the Kingdom of God and the Holy Spirit; the kindness of welcoming you into His Church; the kindness of giving you His body and blood. The kindness of calling you friend and child, after you’ve betrayed Him and let Him down (Romans 5). He is still kind. He is super-abundantly kind. He is so kind that now your kindness towards others can’t be about what the other person “deserves” (that question is utterly and totally beside the point), because you have deserved only hell, but in kindness the LORD has given you heaven. From His kindness, we can begin to be kind and know that when we are, we are being kind back to Jesus…”whatever you did for the least of these, you did it to me.” (Matthew 25)

 

And when this new way of seeing comes upon us, everything changes in our approach to love: I am now led to know what else to do:

 

  1. Love does not envy! But I do, so I confess it and I’m forgiven so that I can live in Christ!
  2. Love does not boast! But I do, so I confess it and I’m forgiven so that I can live in Christ!
  3. Love is not arrogant! But I am, so I confess it and I’m forgiven so that I can live in Christ!
  4. Love is not rude! But I am, so I confess it and I’m forgiven so that I can live in Christ!
  5. Love does not insist on its own way! But I do, so I confess it and I’m forgiven so that I can live in Christ!
  6. Love is not irritable! But I am, so I confess it and I’m forgiven so that I can live in Christ!
  7. Love is not resentful! But I am, so I confess it and I’m forgiven so that I can live in Christ!
  8. Love does not rejoice at wrongdoing! But I do, so I confess it so that I may then rest in Jesus and rejoice in the truth.
  9. Love bears all things…and I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me! (Philippians 4:13)
  10. Love believes all things…and I can believe all things in accord with the eyes of faith because with God all things are possible! (Matthew 19:26)
  11. Love hopes all things…and Christian “hope does not put to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.” (Romans 5:5)
  12. Love endures all things…because I know Jesus who went to Calvary’s cross FOR ME and endured to the point of death FOR ME…so yes, with Christ, I can endure; in Christ, I will.

 

Such love never ends (1 Cor. 13:8) because it is God’s love,

but it is also a love that has been gifted to you dear Christian. Let us live in this love, because “the greatest of these is love.”

In Your Service and To the Glory of Christ!

 

Pastor Espinosa

Tomorrow, Sunday, January 24th, 2016 at Saint Paul’s Lutheran Church of Irvine: “The Body of Christ” (1st. Corinthians 12)

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Location: Crean Lutheran South High School in Irvine: 12500 Sand Canyon Ave., Irvine, CA 92618

Directions: Exit Sand Canyon from the 405 or 5, head East towards the hills, cross Irvine Blvd., turn right on Saint's Way (this will put you on the campus of Crean Lutheran South High School...we worship in the event center/gym)

Divine Service: 930 am

Bible Study and Sunday School: 11 am *Tomorrow, we have a voter's meeting, but we will still offer Sunday School for the pre-confirmation and confirmation aged children.

 

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

The world can be a lonely place and the evil one tempts us to isolate ourselves just to make it worse. But God has a different plan and it is far better: we have each other, we have the Body of Christ, we have the Church; we have one another. When we come together not only are we fed and nourished through Word and Sacrament, but we also share in a ministry of love and mutual encouragement. We are reminded that we are not alone, but what is more, God gives us gifts to share with one another. This also is how we become stronger.
Let us practice this truth by coming together tomorrow morning.
Pastor Mueller and I hope to see you in God's house, our house...your house.
In Jesus' Love,
Pastor
p.s. After Divine Service, we have our quarterly voter's meeting. The main presentation is the 2016 budget for our congregation. Please come to help us consider the council's proposal and then to vote on whether or not to adopt it. There will be a helpful overview of our walk together over the last 5 years.

Tomorrow Sunday, January 17th, 2016 at Saint Paul’s Lutheran Church of Irvine: “The Manifestation of the Spirit” (1st Corinthians 12:7)

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Location: Crean Lutheran South High School in Irvine: 12500 Sand Canyon Ave., Irvine, CA 92618

Directions: Exit Sand Canyon from the 405 or 5, head East towards the hills, cross Irvine Blvd., turn right on Saint's Way (this will put you on the campus of Crean Lutheran South High School...we worship in the event center/gym)

Divine Service: 930 am

Bible Study and Sunday School: 11 am

 

Dear Christians,

This is the season of Epiphany when we celebrate the appearance of and our seeing of God's glory, but the world is pretty skeptical: "I can't see God, so why should I believe in Him?!"
Well, that come-back is only partially true: we can't see God AND we CAN see God!
Tomorrow, we will cover how God has been seen and how God CONTINUES to be seen!
We need this reinforcement, because to see Him as He has willed is to be blessed and strengthened in our faith. We walk by faith not by sight (2nd Cor. 5:7), but what faith does see is the rest of the story. It's the rest of the story that we will receive tomorrow!
Come and see!
Hope to see you in God's house tomorrow morning!
Come and receive the body and blood of Jesus...FOR YOU!
In Jesus' Love,
Pastor Espinosa

Tomorrow Sunday, January 10th, 2016 at Saint Paul’s Lutheran Church of Irvine: The Baptism of Our Lord

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Location: Crean Lutheran South High School in Irvine: 12500 Sand Canyon Ave., Irvine, CA 92618

Directions: Exit Sand Canyon from the 405 or 5, head East towards the hills, cross Irvine Blvd., turn right on Saint's Way (this will put you on the campus of Crean Lutheran South High School...we worship in the event center/gym)

Divine Service: 930 am

Bible Study and Sunday School: 11 am

 

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

To be baptized is to be joined. We were buried with Christ and therefore shall be raised with Christ because we were joined to Him in baptism (Romans 6). But don't forget: Jesus was baptized also to be joined to you. We will teach on why this is so significant for our lives of faith.

Let us also thirst for the Holy Sacrament that will be given to God's people in the morning. This bread and this wine also brings to you the very body and very blood of the Lord Jesus Christ. Come, partake, receive God's grace. It is "for you"...Jesus said so.

I hope to see you in the morning!

In Jesus' Love,

Pastor Espinosa

Tomorrow Sunday January 3rd, 2015 at Saint Paul’s Lutheran Church of Irvine: “The Plan All Along” (Ephesians 1)

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Location: Crean Lutheran South High School in Irvine: 12500 Sand Canyon Ave., Irvine, CA 92618

Directions: Exit Sand Canyon from the 405 or 5, head East towards the hills, cross Irvine Blvd., turn right on Saint's Way (this will put you on the campus of Crean Lutheran South High School...we worship in the event center/gym)

Divine Service: 930 am

Bible Study and Sunday School: 11 am

 

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

The new and improved Pastor Espinosa is preaching tomorrow morning. Don't miss it!
More importantly, come and receive the Word and Sacraments of the Lord Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of sins. There is no better way to commence the new year!
Hope to see you in God's house in the morning!
In Jesus' Love,
Pastor Espinosa

p.s. Rev. AJ Espinosa, Rev. Dr. Espinosa's son is preaching tomorrow!

Come Celebrate Christmas at Saint Paul’s Lutheran Church of Irvine!

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Location: Crean Lutheran South High School in Irvine: 12500 Sand Canyon Ave., Irvine, CA 92618

Directions: Exit Sand Canyon from the 405 or 5, head East towards the hills, cross Irvine Blvd., turn right on Saint's Way (this will put you on the campus of Crean Lutheran South High School...we worship in the event center/gym)

Services:

Thursday, December 24th: Christmas Eve candlelight service with carols: 7 pm.

Friday, December 25th: Christmas Morning Divine Service with Holy Communion: 9:30 am.

Sunday, December 27th: Third Day of Christmas Divine Service: 9:30 am.

Come receive the Word and Sacraments of the Lord Jesus Christ!

 

In Christ,

 

Dr. Espinosa and Dr. Mueller

Tomorrow Sunday December 20th, 2015 at Saint Paul’s Lutheran Church of Irvine: “The Baby Leaped for Joy” (Luke 1:39-45)

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Divine Service: 9:30 am

Bible Study for adults, high school, and Sunday School for junior youth and little children starts at 11:00 am

Location: Crean Lutheran South High School in Irvine: 12500 Sand Canyon Ave., Irvine, CA 92618

Directions: Exit Sand Canyon from the 405 or 5, head East towards the hills, cross Irvine Blvd., turn right on Saint's Way (this will put you on the campus of Crean Lutheran South High School...we worship in the event center/gym)

 

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

Tomorrow is the last Sunday before Christmas. The entire enterprise of the Advent season is to properly prepare for Christmas. Tomorrow is about that. Our text examines the preparation of three humble biblical figures: 1) Mary; 2) Elizabeth; and 3) John the Baptist.
All three examples are comforting and inspirational to us. They were real people with real weaknesses, but God's grace worked in their lives and they were prepared to receive Jesus. They were recipients of grace. They were blessed.
God also comes to us in our weaknesses and when He does He gives grace. He blesses us too.
Please remember to bring your $10.00 gift cards for the Teen Project Christmas box. Remember all gift cards should be for fast-food restaurants, grocery stores, or coffee shops. Thank you for your participation!
We will also receive the blessed Sacrament. The body and blood of the Lord is given for your forgiveness, life and salvation. It is also given to strengthen you in your walk with the Lord.
Let us gather as the people of God. Let us gather that we may know once again that the weak may say that they are strong in the Lord.
Here is the manuscript for tomorrow's sermon:

“The Baby Leaped For Joy!”

(Luke 1:39-45)

The Visitation

Pastor Espinosa

 

Grace to you and peace from God our Father and from our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, Amen. We are anxious in a very good way to celebrate the birth of our Savior! Do you remember my dear friends when as a child you counted down the days? I can remember sitting by the Christmas tree and deriving so much excitement from just peering at the lights and the ornaments…and to see presents underneath, well, that was almost too much to take in! Christmas is almost here and we can’t wait!

 

But here in our Gospel this morning, there is a special song for us to consider before Christmas on the occasion of what the Church calls “The Visitation,” when Mary traveled for about four (4) days to visit her cousin Elisabeth. In this scene there is a kind of Christmas before Christmas. That is, we mustn’t forget dear Christians that before the birth of our Savior, there was for Him just like there was for you, a conception -- the vehicle used by God to initiate the incarnation insofar as it touches our lives in this world -- God taking upon Himself human nature; true God becoming also at the same time, true man nine months before His birth. True God became your brother, a true  human like you and was therefore able to be your human representative and human substitute to save you from your sin and to save you from death. As the great Athanasius wrote, “This He did out of sheer love for us, so that in His death all might die, and the law of death thereby be abolished because, when He had fulfilled in His body that for which it was appointed, [the law of death] was thereafter voided of its power for men…[and I especially love this part]…Thus He would make death to disappear from them as utterly as straw from fire (On the Incarnation, 34).”

 

We see that Jesus is God even at conception! Pieper wrote, “Not only as a man (Matt. 16:13-17; 26:63f.), not only as a boy (Luke 2:49), not only as the child in the manger (Luke 2:11), but already as the child in His mother’s womb He is [The Lord], the Lord God, called that by Elisabeth (Luke 1:43). He was then already received into the Person of the Son of God (Volume II, 79-80). The Augsburg Confession summarizes exactly what the Word of God is presenting us through the conception of Jesus: “Also they teach that the Word, that is, the Son of God, did assume the human nature in the womb of the blessed Virgin Mary (Trigl. 44, Art. III, 1).”

 

So much for our doctrinal review for this Sunday, but there is much more to this text. We have to consider that this great miracle of Christ’s coming is presented in connection to the most humble of circumstances and characters in the narrative of The Visitation. Why is this important? Because sometimes we are tempted that on account of our humility, our weakness, our inability, our insecurity, that God can seem very far away. Not so. God comes to the humble; and God comes to the weak. Consider first of all Mary.

 

Mary was very young, just a little older than my youngest daughter Katherine. Consider how well you would do at age 15 if the angel Gabriel came to announce to you that you would be as an ark or tabernacle, a carrier of the Living God in order for the world to receive Him and be saved by Him! Mary is quite simply an example of faith to us all, but it took a little bit to get there: “At first Mary was disturbed (vs. 29), then she expressed incredulity (vs. 34), but, finally, in vs. 38 she expressed submission according to what the Lord said (Buls, Exegetical Notes: Gospel Texts Series C, 10).”

 

I hope that these facts are an incredible source of encouragement to you dear Christian. When you are going through a hardship, and the Word of the Lord is first given to you, what is your initial reaction? Is it always instantaneous faith and obedience? Is it automatic joy and eagerness? No, and the Lord knows that you are only a poor sinner which is why He needed to be conceived to begin with. Often we are disturbed when the Word comes and to say that we are “challenged” by it is an understatement. But even then the journey does not soon become easy. We may move like Mary from being disturbed to being incredulous -- not quite believing and still having doubts -- but the greatest saints described in the Bible are described as wrestling with doubts. We say like Mary did, “How will this be?” (Lk 1:34)

 

But pause here. Do these traits thus far describe in your opinion the ideal candidate for God to use for His high purposes? There is a part of us that wants to say, “No way!” But consider again…the process did not end there for Mary. In Elisabeth’s chanted song she calls Mary “blessed” that means “blessed by God out of grace (Just, Luke 1:1-9:50, 73).” This is the reason for you’re being blessed dear Christian. The original word at Lk 1:42 – eulogeo – describes the benefits received from God who speaks those blessings into being. God speaks His love and mercy upon you in Jesus and now you are “blessed”!

 

So like Mary we know what it is like to be disturbed and to be incredulous…skeptical, doubtful, questioning…”How will this be?” we ask God! We can only see our sin and how unworthy we are! But by God’s grace, He speaks to us in love and we’re blessed! He gives us His very Word and faith is created within us as a gift. Now we know why Rm 10:17 says that faith comes by hearing the Word of Christ! What is that Word? It is a Word of welcome, a Word of forgiveness, a Word of restoration, a Word that breathes new life into us...a Word that does not hold your weakness and sin against you, but a Word which covers all the bad; it is a Word that makes you new. He speaks to us so that He blesses us and we become blessed ones! That is what you are heading into Christmas! Thank God!

 

But if we remove the Word from our lives, then our faith can easily die, but if the Word remains our lives, then our faith remains! It is that simple. And with that Word given to Mary, her state of being disturbed and her state of incredulity was replaced by a state of faith, so Ambrose wrote:

 

“You see that Mary did not doubt but believed and therefore obtained the fruit of faith, “Blessed…are you who have believed.” But you also are blessed who have heard and believed. For a soul that has believed has both conceived and bears the Word of God and declares his works (Ancient Christian Commentary, New Testament Volume III, 22-23).”

 

Mary bore Jesus within her according to the flesh, but since you too have received the Word of God, you bear Jesus within yourself according to faith…yes, even you with all of your disturbances and incredulity, God has chosen to give you faith through His Word! And even if your faith is extremely weak this Christmas, rejoice, because the power of faith does not come from itself, but from the strength of the One faith holds on to! You are strong not for the strength or for the weakness of your faith, but on account of the One your faith holds onto and won’t let go of! Jesus! He is the One who transfers our disturbances of soul and our incredulities of mind into the strength of faith. Thanks be to God for this example of Mary!

 

But there is another example to you and me in our gospel to help us in our pre-Christmas struggles. Let us now consider Elisabeth. She was an older woman who had been barren. Barrenness – to be unable to conceive – was a great shame for a woman in this time and culture. To be barren in the Hebrew mindset was in a way to be cursed. It was a terrible burden. It was like being dead inside.

 

But Mary was eager to visit Elisabeth because the angel Gabriel had revealed to Mary that besides the miracle that she herself was experiencing by the conception of Jesus in her womb by the Holy Spirit, that another miracle had taken place. The Scriptures record Gabriel as having said, “And behold, your relative Elizabeth in her old age has also conceived a son, and this is the sixth month with her who was called barren. For nothing will be impossible with God (Luke 1:36-37).”

 

Therefore with great haste and excitement Mary went to see her cousin Elisabeth. For Mary, the four-day journey must have flown by. She could not wait to witness the confirmation of God’s Word with her own eyes! But perhaps just as exciting was what Elisabeth herself had been experiencing. She thought that she had been dead inside, and then the Lord brought life where there was once death. Ephrem the Syrian said, “Our Lord prepared his herald in a dead womb, to show that he came after a dead Adam. He vivified Elizabeth’s womb first, and then vivified the soil of Adam through his body (Ancient Christian Commentary, New Testament Volume III, 21).”

 

That is, John the Baptist had come into the world to announce, to preach, and to herald to people in the darkness of sin and in the shadow of death, that the Light of the World Jesus Christ had come! Elisabeth had in her -- in other words -- a great light inside of her who would prepare the way of the Lord…she had in her womb the greatest prophet who ever lived who would point to Jesus in the flesh!

 

But not only did this once barren woman carry a prophet in her womb, but in this instance of coming in contact with Mary and the Lord Jesus in Mary’s womb, Elisabeth herself was filled with the Holy Spirit (v 41), and she chanted with a great voice (v 42) a prophecy-song that confessed that the Lord-God was in Mary’s womb (v 43)! This is astounding! Jesus was no more than a week old…[repeat] no more than a week old! The child conceived in the womb is no glob of embryonic tissue, but a living being…just as this less-than-a-week old Jesus was already known as God in the flesh by Elisabeth!

 

And this is how the Lord prepares you dear Christian for Christmas. Though in your soul you may know barrenness and deadness inside on account of sin, God sends His Word through what is announced, preached, and heralded to you. As a result, your barrenness is replaced by the light of the Gospel and you recognize the Christ, the Light of the World through the light that has been given to you by God. You are no longer barren; you are no longer dead inside, because the Lord has given you the recognition that Jesus is Lord who has come to save. This is how we are helped through the example of Elisabeth.

 

And this leads me to the final example of all of us here today in this narrative of The Visitation…not only is Mary a picture of you once disturbed and incredulous, but now given faith; not only is Elisabeth a picture of you once barren and dead inside on account of sin, but now filled with the Spirit and recognizing the Lord who comes to you; but the baby John the Baptist is also a picture of you.

 

He is only 6 months old in the womb, not yet born, completely weak, dependent, helpless, and absolutely the picture of total inability right? Not quite! This baby was leaping! Talk about the proper response for being on the verge of Christmas. I mentioned at the opening of this sermon the excitement. We can see it in our children’s smiles…and if those smiles get amped up, they will translate into what is described in our text as “exultation.” To exult is to express joy that causes you to be lifted up! If not simply in soul, but also in body! In Acts 3:8 when the lame man is healed, he goes forth “leaping” (same word) into the temple!

 

“The fleshly presence of Messiah, the agent of creation, causes great things to take place within God’s creation. Already now the new creation is beginning, and a baby still in the womb hails the new creation’s inception. In John’s leap are foreshadowed the miracles of Jesus, who will cause all creation to leap at his presence: ‘Blind are seeing again, lame are walking around, lepers are being cleansed, and the deaf are hearing, dead are being raised, poor are proclaimed the Good News’ (Luke 7:22) [Just, Luke 1:1-9:50, 75].”

 

Elisabeth was not the only one filled with the Holy Spirit, so was unborn, baby John (Luke 1:15) and it happened because the baby – yes, the little unborn baby – knew that he was in the presence of Jesus. He was leaping for joy and prophesying through his leaping that Jesus had come into the world; that sinners would be saved; that life was conquering death; that light was invading darkness; that hope was being given to the likes of you and to the likes of me…John the little unborn baby knew – he already knew – that the Jesus he was in the presence of was going to cause all of us to leap!

 

We leap, though so weak and so fragile like the unborn baby John…we nevertheless leap for joy…we leap because we are forgiven; we leap because we shall live past death; we leap because we shall leap when our tombs are overcome by the trumpet and the voice of the King of Kings…we leap even now because on this Sunday before Christmas, the Word of God has once again prepared our hearts…we leap, because we are ready for Christ to come…and we leap because even as we await for Him to come again, we know we are already in His presence and it is a presence not of judgment and condemnation, but of forgiveness and grace. We leap because in His presence He makes us the very children of God. We leap because we are ready for Christmas!

In Jesus' Love,
Pastor

Tonight Wednesday December 16th, 2015 Third Wednesday of Advent: “Thanksgiving for Restoration” (Zephaniah 3:14-20) 7 pm Good Shepherd Chapel, Concordia University Irvine

16Dec/15Off

Tonight we worship in the Good Shepherd Chapel at Concordia University Irvine at 7:00 pm. CUI is located at 1530 Concordia West, Irvine, CA 92612

 

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

It feels strange that just when we enter into a season in which everything seems to get busier and more taxing, that the Church also gets busier. Are we trying to add to the madness and stress? Much to the contrary, we are countering it!
In times as these, we need the Word of Christ more, not less. We seek to serve your spirit and your peace; keeping you full with God's consolation while protecting and guarding your soul. In this third week of Advent in which we celebrate the joy the coming Christ gives, we have this theme in tonight's reading that reminds us of the basis for this joy: restoration.
How much we need it! When we add up all that stands against us, it is easy to feel overwhelmed. Thanks be to God for His ministry of restoration for us in and through Jesus!
Please come tonight at 7 pm. It is a shorter service of the Word. This is a good service to invite a friend to. We hope to see you!
In Jesus' Love,
Pastor
Two other things:
1. You're also invited to stay for our last choir practice...this is the Christmas Eve choir. We would love to have you.
2. I plan on bringing The Teen Project box. Remember that we are collecting $10.00 gift cards to fast-food, grocery, or coffee shop for teens on the streets. Teen Project is doing a great joy in demonstrating God's mercy to those in need and going through tough times. You can slip in your gift card or $10.00 into the box.