Saint Paul's Lutheran Church of Irvine

Tomorrow May 26th, 2013 Holy Trinity Sunday at Saint Paul’s Lutheran Church of Irvine


Dear Brothers and Sisters in the Lord Jesus Christ,

My deep apologies for falling behind on emailing and phoning you...I owe a good dozen parishioners return contacts.
Upon returning from St. Louis (and the joyous occasion of our daughter-in-law's graduation from St. Louis University with a Masters in Bio-Medical Engineering, with a 4.0 GPA to boot, and attending Vicar Espinosa's (my son's) vicarage congregation for worship, and then having a great visit with my 14-year old son David who is attending a Christian Academy in Piedmont, MO), I got back just in time to develop a significant problem.
During the Bible Study last Wednesday night, I noticed my speech being affected. On Thursday I was diagnosed with Bell's Palsy and the left side of my face is suffering from a paralysis from what is assumed is a viral infection which impacted a facial nerve from my left ear. The good news is that a CT scan was negative for a stroke.
I am now taking an anti-viral med, prednisone, and putting drops in my left eye. In addition, I received acupuncture today as I am being as proactive as possible to address this. I will also be taking additional B-12. For now, it is also important that I rest and will do my very best to stay put next week.
For the record, the Lord has blessed me so as to rely more heavily on His grace and to be reminded that none of us even lift our fingers apart from His merciful enabling. I am grateful that I am here to go into tomorrow for an extremely important day in the life of our congregation.
Just be informed that I need to ask you to work with me as you adjust to your pastor's affected wife Traci has pointed out my similarities to Popeye the Sailor, though she assures me that I am still loved.
ABOUT tomorrow:
Tomorrow is our second official youth confirmation since the restart of our congregation on April 10th, 2011 (the first class was Christina Espinosa, my daughter, on December 25th, 2011). This class will see confirmed:
1. Grace Brashears
2. Kate Panichi
3. Esbeydi Espinosa
4. Gunnar Ashmon
This will be an extremely special service in the life of our congregation and I am extraordinarily proud of the confession of faith that each of these will be making. Please join us in receiving the Word and Sacrament of our Lord Jesus Christ on this Holy Trinity Sunday!
Also, just a word on the terrible catastrophe occurring in Moore, OK this past week. One of our members -- Ann Ashmon -- has parents who live in Moore. The huge tornado missed her parents by one block. In the meantime, they are among the citizens of Moore who need our prayers and resources. I am announcing here and tomorrow that we will conduct a special collection/offering to forward to our LC-MS Human Care and Disaster Relief going directly to help the people of Moore, OK. This collection will be conducted not tomorrow, but the following Sunday, June 2nd.
May the Lord bless us as we continue to abide in Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, and rejoice in His everlasting love for us. I am so glad that I am permitted to serve this wonderful congregation in the office of the holy ministry.
As for the main focus on Trinity Sunday...we are so blessed that our Great God has revealed Himself as the Holy Trinity! But too often this revelation is treated as stale doctrine. The truth of the matter is that to know the Lord as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit is to also understand how to live! Tomorrow, I will be sharing this short outline with our confirmands and with all of God's people:

“Our Baptized Lives To The Father, In The Son, and By The Holy Spirit”

Rev. Dr. Alfonso O. Espinosa

  1. Live TO the Father (think Lord’s Prayer).
  2. Live IN the Son (think “I’m Forgiven!”).
  3. Live BY the Holy Spirit (think Word and Sacrament).
In Your Service and To God's Glory,
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This Sunday May 19th, 2013 at Saint Paul’s Lutheran Church of Irvine: Pentecost Sunday!


Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

This Sunday, May 19th, is the Feast of Pentecost celebrating the outpouring of the Holy Spirit upon the Lord's Church as recorded in Acts chapter 2. It has been said that the Holy Spirit is the "half-known God" because the Church so often preaches and teaches so infrequently about the Holy Spirit!
We pray to our Heavenly Father constantly when we pray, "Our Father..." and in the Lutheran confession we emphasize (and properly so) our Savior and Lord Jesus Christ. But what about the third-person of the Holy Trinity?
He is indeed Almighty God (Acts 5:3-4); and He is put forth as our great Comforter and Counselor (John 14:16 & 25). By Him we confess that Jesus is Lord (1st Cor. 12:3b) and He Himself intercedes for us (Romans 8:26).
Luther's Small Catechism teaches powerfully about the Holy Spirit's ministry in our lives.
First the third article of the Creed:

I believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy Christian church, the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and the life everlasting. Amen.

Secondly, the actual explanation. Notice the powerful teaching on the Holy Spirit:

What does this mean? I believe that I cannot by my own reason or strength believe in Jesus Christ, my Lord, or come to Him; but the Holy Spirit has called me by the Gospel, enlightened me with His gifts, sanctified and kept me in the true faith. In the same way He calls, gathers, enlightens, and sanctifies the whole Christian church on earth, and keeps it with Jesus Christ in the one true faith. In this Christian church He daily and richly forgives all my sins and the sins of all believers. On the Last Day He will raise me and all the dead, and give eternal life to me and all believers in Christ. This is most certainly true.

The personal pronoun "He" = The Holy Spirit! Wow! Praise the Lord for this amazing work of God the Holy Spirit!
Come receive Christ's Word and Sacraments this Sunday. The Revelation series is over! It is now time to move on to a new part in God's Holy Word. This time to further equip us on the indispensable ministry of the Holy Spirit!
You will also -- as always -- receive Jesus directly through His precious Sacrament, His true body and true blood for the forgiveness of all your sins. This Sacrament is what directly strengthens you through the ongoing battle against your flesh, the world, and the evil one.
Invite a friend and let's spread the Word about Saint Paul's!
In Your Service and To Christ's Glory,
Pastor Espinosa
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Sunday May 12th, 2013 at Saint Paul’s Lutheran Church of Irvine: “The Right To The Tree Of Life (Revelation 22:2 & 14).”


Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

The Word of God describes paradise as having "the tree of life." It was in the Garden of Eden and it is described as being in the new heaven and earth. What is it? We should all want to know, because to have access to the tree of life is to live forever in the greatest version of life ever known. Interestingly, Revelation 22 says that those in the new heaven and earth -- with this tree of life -- have "the right" to it. What does this mean?
This vision of your future in Christ in Revelation 22 actually identifies a connection to God throughout life: from the Old Testament Garden of Eden, to the ministry of our Lord Jesus during His public ministry, through the age of the Church giving Christ's Word and Sacrament, all the way to the new heaven and earth. We will all get a better understanding of the tree of life.
By knowing about the tree of life you will know how the Lord sustains you through the tumult of this life and through the incessant attacks of our own sinful flesh against us, the evil in this world which is in our face every day, and the evil one who never tires trying a new approach against you and me. How are we sustained and protected from this barrage? The answer is through the tree of life. It pays to be clear about this tree of life.
It has been my great joy to offer this series on the book of Revelation in order to demonstrate that this book is simple, beautiful, and comforting when presented in a Christ-centered way (its intended sense). Sunday is the last installment of this six-part series.
Sunday is also our second New Member Sunday in two weeks. This service will welcome six new members, three of whom are being confirmed into the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod as adults. This promises to be an exciting day even as we give thanks to the Lord for the gift of mothers in our children's message and in our prayers.
Please invite a friend to church. Let us gather to receive Christ once again through Word and Sacrament!
Here is an excerpt from Sunday's sermon:

We must face and confess our sin: we treat the Word of Christ as less than vital. We pay more attention to the evening news than we do to the 66 books of the sacred canon. We thirst and yearn for so many other things. We prefer things that bring worry and even worse, death, instead of seeking and longing for the Word and the Sacrament. We embrace the world’s priorities, loves, fears, and worries and when we do we begin to emulate the world…we start to become like the world…like wandering and thirsty dogs that are running around lost from their masters who can only devour the trash in the world…we become desperate and before we know it, we can begin to participate in the rebellion and immorality that is all around us. Such a soul forsakes faith and forsakes God. This should make us very concerned, because our sin proves that we practice idolatry -- loving other things more than God -- and that we do not belong to this picture of the heavenly paradise.


What is there to do? By the grace of God through His Word alone, we must change our thinking or better said pray that The Lord changes our thinking through the Word and Sacrament which give us Jesus. Our way of approaching everything must be changed. We must repent. The great Lutheran systematician Francis Pieper wrote in his essay “What is Christianity?”


“[The devil] endeavors to mislead man either utterly to despise the atonement of Christ or to attempt to establish his own righteousness, as a result of which Christ’s reconciliation is forfeited. The consequence is that God must punish the world with dreadful plagues, wars, floods, earthquakes, and other frightful calamities to remind man for what purpose the earth still stands, namely, that he might repent and by faith accept the reconciliation of God which Christ has effected.” (What Is Christianity? And Other Essays, CPH 1997 Reprint, 49)


The great irony which occurs when someone complains about the tumult while insinuating that God is not in control is that they are complaining about the very sign that proves that God is in control (as we witness the fulfillment of His prophetic prediction, Jn 16:33, 2nd Tim 3:1ff, et. al.).

In Your Service and To Christ's Glory,
Pastor Espinosa
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Tomorrow Sunday May 5th, 2013 at Saint Paul’s Lutheran Church of Irvine: “Its Lamp Is The Lamb” (Revelation 21:22-27)


Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

Tomorrow we are going to delve into what are perhaps the most important metaphors in all of Scripture describing life: the two paths -- and every, single human being travels on one or the other -- called "light" and "darkness."
Needless to say the Lord is ingenious and knows precisely how to help us as we journey through life. I have found that when we begin to understand the metaphors, the Holy Spirit is active in drawing us closer to Jesus Christ, the Light of the World (John 8). We will become more aware of how we are threatened by darkness and how light is our salvation and our constant protection to keep us in our salvation so that darkness does not envelope and destroy.
Invite a friend so they can get closer to Jesus, the Light of the World!
Tomorrow is also our short, voter's assembly meeting which will present the slate of officers which will complete the parish council for the 2013-2014 year. If you are a confirmed, adult member, please come to this important meeting that will put us on pace for getting the important work -- the holy ministry -- that the Lord is putting before us to get done in the coming year.
ALSO: tomorrow and the following Sunday, May 12th are our two, back-to-back New Member Sundays. We are sooooo blessed to be receiving the following new members:
Tomorrow, May 5th:
1.        Adam R. Lee transferring from Emmaus Lutheran Church, Alhambra, CA (LCMS).

2.       Bruce & Debbie Dannemeyer transferring from Abiding Savior Lutheran Church, Lake Forest, CA (LCMS).

3.       Loren Kellogg being confirmed and also becoming a new member of The Lutheran Church Missouri Synod.

And on May 12th:

4.       Nikki Atanasova being confirmed and also becoming a new member of The Lutheran Church Missouri Synod.

5.       Melanie Junge being confirmed and also becoming a new member of The Lutheran Church Missouri Synod. Melanie             is joining with her two baptized children, Alyssa (finishing 5th grade) and Darren (finishing 2ndgrade).

6.      Dr. Shannon Gallina being confirmed and also becoming a new member of The Lutheran Church Missouri Synod. Shannon’s family members are friends of the congregation including her husband Todd and their children Logan and Leah.

7.       Steve Fischer transferring from Abiding Savior Lutheran Church, Lake Forest, CA (LCMS).


Here is an excerpt from tomorrow's sermon:


“Its Lamp Is The Lamb” (Revelation 21:22-27)

Rev. Dr. Alfonso O. Espinosa

            Grace to you and peace from God our Father and from our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Amen. Let us not forget that we are still in the holy season of Easter, today being the Sixth Sunday of Easter!


Pastor: Alleluia! Christ is risen!

People: He is risen indeed! Alleluia!


            Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, John the holy apostle in the Gospel of John, in his epistles like 1st John, and here again in the book of Revelation -- all written by the Apostle John -- is always talking about light and darkness. Light and darkness for him and for us might be the most important metaphors in the Bible that teach us about the way of life that knows God and walks with God as distinct from and contrasted against the way of death that rejects and rebels against God.


            And if there was ever a time that we need these rich metaphors to help us live, it is now. We seem inundated with our own sin, the evil in the world, and from the devil and his demonic forces to do one of two things:



(1)   Reject God’s light altogether.




(2)   Try to change God’s light to allow darkness into it. It doesn’t work. This “second option” is really nothing but getting back to the first option; it is just another way of rejecting God’s light.


I mention it, however, because experientially this is what the devil tries to make us do:




(1)   Reject the faith clearly and in an outright fashion (often expressed in forms of atheism, or even through agnosticism or “none-ism” (being a “none,” as opposed to a Roman Catholic “nun,” means that one has no religion, belongs to none, including the Christian faith of course).




(2)   Continuing to claim to be a Christian, while trying to make a so-called “faith” accommodate the things of darkness. This is when a so-called “Christian” wants to have their cake and to eat it too.


If we do either, then Satan becomes our master. Never forget this Christian: everyone is religious or to put it simply, everyone has an ultimate allegiance and serves a higher power, everyone has a faith, and everyone has a master or a god. There is no such thing as ultimate fence-straddling. If a person says they don’t believe in God, then that is their faith: they have faith that God does not exist and when one considers the evidence for God, then indeed to not believe requires faith. If a person rejects Jesus Christ, they are still very religious and they very much follow a god who is not the True God.


I don’t think we consider these matters often enough. Our sinful flesh doesn’t want us to. But if we are not aware of the threat, how can we possibly defend against the darkness which is constantly and daily trying to pervade our souls?


Now we have to be careful here. Precisely because the metaphors are so powerful, we need to be as precise as possible in trying to understand them. For example, light is not always necessarily a good thing and darkness is not always necessarily a bad thing. Too much light directly above you at mid-day in the desert can represent that which saps your life and kills you by dehydration or heat stroke. There are times when married couples welcome the darkness to hold each other, to get away from the rest of the world and in darkness, their love is celebrated and cemented again. Some forms of light are bad and some forms of darkness are good.


I know for example one of the forms of darkness that is bad is when I have to get up in the middle of the night and I stub my toe into a piece of furniture that I could not see. Darkness is definitely bad in these instances! On the other hand, when I want to scare my kids, darkness is fun! You get the picture.


But in God’s Word, this is what we need to know about the categories of light and darkness:

Light                                                                        Darkness

1. Shows the power                             1. Represents the powers

and presence of God.                          that oppose God.


2. Light shows or reveals                 2. Darkness = Physical &

Life, esp. Eternal Life.                             Spiritual Death.



  • Light means knowing                   3. Darkness = ignorance

God through faith in                               & unbelief.



(Koester, Symbolism in the Fourth Gospel, 143-144)


With this basic introduction to light and darkness, we are in a better position to approach Revelation chapter 21.


May the Lord continue to bless you and keep you in His saving light!


Pastor Espinosa

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