The “Branch” Is My “Banner”
by Pastor Edwin Lehmann on December 3, 2022 in Isaiah 11:1-10
Lighting Candles at Advent
Quite often the candles in the church’s Advent wreath are lit with no particular acknowledgment of their presence or meaning. What is the meaning of the wreath, and what do the candles signify?
The evergreen in the wreath represents life. In the gloom of winter, the evergreen is about the only thing that shows signs of life. It represents our Savior and the life that is in Him, for in the winter of our sin His coming brings the hope of salvation and everlasting life to all who believe in Him.
The four colored candles in the wreath represent the four Sundays in Advent. Three of them are violet in color, symbolizing a time of repentance and preparation, since it was our sin that made it necessary for Christ to enter our world. The candle for the third Sunday is rose, a color of rejoicing, to remind us that in the midst of our time of repentance there is cause for joy because our Lord has come to take away our sins.
Except for this third candle, which is sometimes called Guadete (Latin for “Rejoice”), no specific names or concepts have been assigned to each candle in the wreath. But over the years several different designations arose. Last year we followed the designation for the candles which refers to them as Prophecy, Bethlehem, Shepherds, and Angel. This year we follow the designation Love, Peace, Joy, and Hope, since these are the fruits of the Spirit which God gives to each believer by way of faith in the Child born in Bethlehem (Gal.5:22).
The first candle in the wreath that was lit last Sunday is called Love. It reminds us of the redeeming love of God that was revealed to fallen mankind during this season. The second candle that we light today is called Peace to symbolize the blessed relationship with God that we now enjoy through the Savior.
The Second Candle: Peace
When our Lord first created Adam and Eve, he created them in His own image – holy and righteous, having perfect knowledge and being in harmony with Him. As a result, there was peace in Eden.
But that peace was soon shattered by Adam and Eve’s disobedience. In the fall into sin, God’s image was lost to mankind. No longer holy, a wall of separation divided God and man, and man with man. That wall is sin. Only the promised Seed of the woman could tear it down and overcome its power in people’s lives. That promised Seed is Christ Jesus.
At His first coming, Christ Jesus breached the wall. He restored the image of God and regained for us the harmonious relationship. Although the perfection of God’s image cannot be enjoyed to its fullest capacity here while this imperfect world exists, still, in the heart of each believer, God’s righteousness has begun its reign.
All who believe in the Savior know again “the peace of God which transcends all understanding” (Philippians 4:7). So may this peace of God, revealed to us this season, compel us by the Spirit’s power to share His love and peace among all until He comes again.
Congregational Scripture Reading:
“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid….You heard me say, ‘I am going away and I am coming back to you’….I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” (John 14:27f; 16:33)
O Holy Spirit, You have called us to faith by the Gospel. Enlighten our hearts with Your gifts. Sanctify and keep us in faith. Let the peace of Christ shine within and through us. Help us to become peacemakers in Your Kingdom, reflecting the light of Christ’s salvation in this dark world of sin, and in such a way to help draw others to faith in Him; through Christ Jesus, our Lord. Amen.
The Second Sunday in Advent December 4, 2022
Text: Isaiah 11:1-2,10 CW-21 Series A 22:2355
Theme: The “Branch” Has Become My “Banner”
Their ancestors built an altar on a hilltop and called it “The Lord Is My Banner” (Ex.17:15). Strange name for an altar, don’t you think? A strange way to speak about God. A banner is a flag, a signal raised on a pole to which an army’s troops rally. Is God a flag? If you knew what happened to Israel that day and saw the battle in which their troops were engaged, you would not think it strange at all.
Israel’s ancestors were slaves in Egypt. The cruel sun beat down on their heads, hour after hour…the stinging lash of an overseer’s whip stung their backs repeatedly…soldiers laughed and mocked as they tore little babies from their mothers’ arms and threw them into the river…mothers sobbed hopelessly for their children, such were the things the Israelites endured and remembered most about Egypt.
Once they had been free, wealthy, and influential. Kings honored men like Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and Joseph. God Himself talked with them, ate with them, gave them special promises of Messiah to come. But all of that was long ago. For centuries God had not spoken to any of them. Gradually, the people doubted, then forgot the things God said. His promises seemed like foolish fairy fables.
But God is faithful and just. Like Isaiah (11:5,4) said, “Righteousness is the belt around His waist and faithfulness encircles His hips…. He will render fair decisions, in favor of the oppressed on the earth….with the breath of His lips He will put the wicked to death” Although they were oppressed during their time of bitterness in Egypt, and many doubted, the faithful clung to God’s promises of better times ahead.
Suddenly, everything changed. The people may have forgotten God’s promises, but God had not forgotten. He raised up a leader, Moses. Through him the Lord delivered His people from the hands of the cruel taskmasters. With great signs and wonders, God led them out of Egypt. Everything changed, except their own sinful hearts.
As they wandered in the desert, that had to learn a new way of living. They had to trust God for everything, even such simple things as a drink of water or a bite of food. How hard it is for human beings to learn such lessons because the sinful heart grumbles, complains, and trembles about the future. Yet, how patiently God bears with our wickedness as He allows our cups to run over with His generosity.
In their wanderings, the Israelites came to a place called Rephidim. Food and water were scarce. The people quarreled with Moses: “Give us water to drink. Why did you ever bring us up out of Egypt to let us die of thirst” (Ex.17:2f). God marvelously supplied water for them out of a rock. Manna fell in the morning, and quail covered the camp in the evening. Things were going well.
Then one morning, on the horizon, there appeared a host of the Amalekites, advancing swiftly towards the camp. They were not friendly. It was plain to see – no women, no children among them. They were armed for battle, their banners flying in the wind before them, gleaming in the sunlight. The Israelites had no horses, scarcely any weapons, no training in the art of war, and no banners to rally the men and lead them into battle. Egyptians did not train slaves to fight.
Moses appointed young Joshua as captain. Then Moses climbed a hill, taking his brother Aaron and Hur along. There, on the hillside, above the noise of battle, he raised his arms in blessing and prayer to God. In that hour of desperate danger, oft grumbling and complaining Israel threw themselves on the mercy and promises of God. And a most wonderful thing happened. The people, untrained and lacking weapons, fought better than the enemy and overcame them. But it was not they, it was God who fought for them. The Lord heard their prayers and came to their aid in the hour of dreadful need.
As Israel rallied around the Lord, His mercy, grace, and strength sustained them. He gave His people a mighty victory. They built an altar in thanksgiving and called it “The Lord Is My Banner.” Do you see why? God rallied His people under Him. He went before them into battle, won the victory, and defeated their enemy.
Some years later as Israel drew near to Edom, near the Great Salt Sea, they grew impatient on the way. They spoke against God and against Moses: “Why have you brought us up out of Egypt to die in the wilderness? There is no food! There is no water! And we are disgusted by this worthless (manna)!” (Nu.21). So unhappy, so ungrateful, so forgetful of all that the Lord had done for them! But aren’t we the same, at times? As we await Jesus’ coming, don’t we also need to hear John’s call to repentance this Advent season?
As Israel grumbled and complained, a shout arose from the middle of the camp. It spread to all its outlying fringes: “Snakes! Poisonous snakes!” The people scattered, but there was no escape. The Lord had sent venomous snakes into the entire camp. They bit the people. What had been murmurings of discontented unbelief, became shrieks of pain and terror. Where the deadly fangs sank into the skin, there followed the fire of fever, and at last death. Many died. The people cried out to the Lord: “We have sinned! We spoke against the LORD. Lord, take the snakes away from us (Nu.21:7).”
Once again, God’s mercy, grace, and mighty power intervened to help Israel in its weakness. “Make a venomous snake.” God told Moses. “Put it on a pole. Anyone who looks at it will live.” Another banner! That’s what the Hebrew language called it. Again, God rallied His people under Him, defeated what was against them, and saved them from death. Are you beginning to see why God’s people were fond of saying “The Lord Is My Banner”?
Throughout their history Israel rallied under Him. For a time, they remained grateful and faithful to the Lord. But then times of discontent and apostasy crept in. The Lord disciplined, Israel repented, and their Banner would rise up to save them as they rallied under Him. Their best times were under Kings David and Solomon. But soon they departed from His ways again, and we wonder how.
Yet, to be truthful, we are more like Israel than we imagine. Without God’s help, we could not lift a finger or draw a breath, let alone defeat Satan who lines himself against us. He deceives us. We sin and can’t help ourselves. But God is faithful, as He was to His people of old. He promised to come and help them and us.
Years passed. Israel grew so far apart from Him that He could do nothing else, He cut down the rulers who turned the people against Him. For over three hundred years, all Judah’s rulers were descendants of good King David. But they were no more. Isaiah compared the ending of their rule to the cutting down of a tree.
Chop down a tree and it over. It appeared like that had happened to David’s line of kings. They were gone, and the nation was taken into captivity again. But God promised that He would raise up a new king, a different kind of king, a heaven-sent king. He would come from David’s family line. The Holy Spirit would rest on Him and fill Him with heavenly wisdom and understanding, God-fearing advice and divine strength to back it, great perception, and, above all, a reverent attitude to the Lord God. It would be His delight to walk in the light of the Lord (Is.2:5), to be kind, compassionate, merciful, and just to all oppressed by Satan. He would deliver us from sin and its horrible consequences forever.
Do you know who that person is? It’s none other than the Lord Jesus. He rallies us under Him to restore harmony with us and God. Isaiah portrayed that restoration of coming unity with God to His people, the Church, as a ceasing of the hostility that exists in nature.
Normally wolves and lambs are not great buddies. The wolf will devour the lamb. Likewise, leopards don’t peaceably lie down with goats. The leopard attacks it. And if there is a poisonous snake around, who of us is going to play with it or put an infant close to its den. But such fears and hostilities change when God restores order and peace and a bond of fellowship to His fallen creation.
And that is what He did through the birth and the life of His Son, Jesus. He was descended from David’s family. The line did not end. He was born like a shoot coming up from the roots of a seemingly dead stump. He rallies us and His whole Church to His side where He gives peace with God for sins forgiven. And we rejoice in a Savior.
Not everyone will live in the hope He gives this Christmas season. But you do, if you believe that the Child born in Bethlehem, is the Branch of David’s line. The “Branch” Has Become Our “Banner.” He rallies us under Him. As He once proclaimed, “I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself” (Jn.12:32). He is the Savior and “His resting place will be glorious.” God grant us its hope in faith; for Jesus’ sake. Amen.
Zion Lutheran Church of Springfield
(A member congregation of the Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod)
4717 S Farm Rd 135 (Golden Avenue)
Church phone: 417.887.0886 Pastor’s cell phone: 417.693.3244
www.zionluthchurch.com email: email@example.com
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The Second Sunday in Advent December 4, 2022
“The kingdom of heaven is near…. Prepare the way of the Lord. Matthew 3:2-3
F o r O u r V i s i t o r s
The family of Zion welcomes you as we worship the Lord today. We encourage children to worship with us. However, if you need to leave with your child, there is a nursery room to the right as you exit the sanctuary. The rest rooms are located in the hallway between the sanctuary and the fellowship hall. Visitors, please sign our guest book to the right, just outside the sanctuary. We’re glad that you are here and pray that through our worship the Lord grants you peace.
U p o n E n t e r i n g G o d’ s H o u s e
“Remember Your mercy, O LORD; remember Your mercy and love. Out of the depths I cry to You, O LORD. Let Your ears be attentive to my cry for mercy. With You there is forgiveness; therefore, You are feared” (Ps. 130).
W h a t T h i s S u n d a y i s A b o u t
Prepare the Way of the Lord. During the Advent Season, the Scriptures encourage us to get ready for Christ at His coming. One gets ready by keeping watch for Him and by “walking in His light” (Is.2:5). Before we walk in His light, we must recognize the way of darkness and turn from it. John helped the people in his day do that, calling them to repentance.
The Greek word for repent means to have a change of mind, to think differently. When it comes to such change, only God can affect it within us. He enables us to see things differently, to stop looking at ourselves and our disobedient ways and to see His saving will for us in Christ. The Holy Spirit works the desire for His presence in our lives, and a way for the Lord to come to us with His saving gifts is prepared in our hearts.
To that end we pray: Stir up our hearts, O Lord, to prepare the way for Your Son. By His coming give us strength in our conflicts and shed light on our path through the darkness of this world; for Jesus’ sake. Amen.
– T h e W o r d o f G o d f o r T o d a y –
The Old Testament Lesson: Isaiah 11:1-10
A prophecy regarding the Messianic Age: When the Savior comes, He will be a descendant of King David – the Branch. HHHe will be filled with heavenly traits and will exercise right judgments on the earth. He will restore peace to His creation as it once again finds its rest in Him.
The Epistle Lesson: Romans 15:4-13
Paul encourages believers to be united in a mindset that looks to the Lord and His ways rather than their own. Then the Lord will fill them with the peace, joy, and hope that He gives in Christ as they endure and encourage each other with the Word of God.
The Gospel Lesson: Matthew 3:1-12
God’s kingdom of grace and peace was near. Christ was coming to begin His earthly ministry, leading to our salvation at the cross. But He hadn’t yet begun for God would first send a messenger to get the people ready. John the Baptist came, calling people to prepare for the Savior’s coming.
O u r P r a c t i c e o f H o l y C o m m u n i o n
Out of deep love for the truth of God’s Word and precious souls, we follow the practice of Close Communion in our congregation. This has been the practice of Christians for centuries and reflects the Bible’s teaching on unity of faith in the reception of the Supper (1 Cor.10:17). It does not judge a person’s heart but anticipates agreement in that which God says. Since we do not wish to put anyone in the position of declaring such agreement with us before study in the Word is possible, we ask that only those who are communicant members of this or another Wisconsin Synod or ELS congregation come to receive the Sacrament.
The Organist: Jane Rips The Preacher: Pastor Edwin Lehmann
Point to Ponder: “The ‘peace on earth’ of which the angels sang was not a program of international good will, nor was it even primarily the peace of man towards man. It was peace between God and man. ‘God and sinners reconciled.’ It was the peace of soul, peace of mind, and peace of conscience which comes from the knowledge that ‘God was in Christ, reconciling the world to Himself, not charging our sins against us.’ It is given fully and freely to all who kneel in humble faith at Bethlehem’s manger. May it possess your heart and mind in special measure during the coming days.” — Herman Gockel on Heavenly Peace
Outline of Our Worship
Opening Thoughts on the Service
Opening Hymn: #316
Order of Worship: The Service: Setting One with Holy Communion: page 154-160
Prayer of the Day
The Ministry of the Word
The Gospel Acclamation pg.161
Sermon: Isaiah 11:1-10 The “Branch” Is My “Banner”
The Nicene Creed pg.162
Our Response to the Word
Prayer of the Church: pg.164
The Lord Blesses Us
Preparation for Holy Communion Hymnal page 165-169
(Visitors: Please read the box on page 2 regarding Holy Communion)
Consecration and Distribution
Distribution Hymn: #312
Thanksgiving & Blessing Hymnal page 170
Closing Hymn: #360
Advent 2 – Series A
Old Testament Lesson: Isaiah 11:1-10 – The Branch from Jesse
1 A shoot will spring up from the stump of Jesse, and a Branch from his roots will bear fruit. 2The Spirit of the Lord will rest on him: the Spirit of wisdom and understanding, the Spirit of counsel and might, the Spirit of knowledge and the fear of the Lord. 3He will be delighted with the fear of the Lord. He will not judge by what he sees with his eyes, nor will he render decisions based on what he hears with his ears, 4but with righteousness he will judge the poor, and he will render fair decisions in favor of the oppressed on the earth. He will strike the earth with the rod of his mouth, and with the breath from his lips he will put the wicked to death. 5Righteousness will be the belt around his waist, and faithfulness the belt around his hips. 6The wolf will dwell with the lamb, and the leopard will lie down with the young goat, the calf, the young lion, and the fattened calf together, and a little child will lead them. 7The cow and the bear will graze together, and their young ones will lie down together. The lion will eat straw like the cattle. 8The nursing child will play near a cobra’s hole, and the weaned child will put his hand into a viper’s den. 9They will not hurt or destroy anywhere on my holy mountain, for the earth will be full of the knowledge of the Lord, as the waters cover the sea. 10This is what will take place on that day. The peoples will seek the Root of Jesse, who will be standing like a banner for the peoples, and his resting place will be glorious.
Epistle Lesson: Romans 15:4-13 – United in Mind, Voice, and Hope in God
4Indeed, whatever was written in the past was written for our instruction, so that, through patient endurance and the encouragement of the Scriptures, we would have hope. 5And may God, the source of patient endurance and encouragement, grant that you agree with one another in accordance with Christ Jesus, 6so that with one mind, in one voice, you may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. 7For this reason, accept one another as Christ also accepted you to the glory of God. 8For I am saying that Christ became a servant of those who are circumcised for the sake of God’s truth, to confirm the promises made to the patriarchs. 9He did this so that the Gentiles would glorify God for his mercy, as it is written: “For this reason I will praise you among the Gentiles; I will sing to your name.” 10And again it says: “Rejoice, you Gentiles, with his people.” 11And again: “Praise the Lord, all you Gentiles, and let all the peoples give him praise.” 12And again Isaiah says: “There will be a Root of Jesse, and he is the one who will rise up to rule the Gentiles; on him the Gentiles will place their hope.” 13Now may the God of hope fill you with complete joy and peace as you continue to believe, so that you overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.
Gospel Lesson: Matthew 3:1-12 – John the Baptist Prepares the Way
1 In those days, John the Baptist appeared, preaching in the wilderness of Judea and saying, 2“Repent, because the kingdom of heaven is near!” 3Yes, this is he of whom this was spoken through the prophet Isaiah: A voice of one crying out in the wilderness, “Prepare the way of the Lord. Make his paths straight.” 4John wore clothing made of camel’s hair, with a leather belt around his waist. His food was locusts and wild honey. 5Then Jerusalem, all of Judea, and all the region around the Jordan were going out to him. 6They were baptized by him in the Jordan River as they confessed their sins. 7But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees coming for his baptism, he said to them, “You offspring of vipers, who warned you to flee from the coming wrath? 8Therefore produce fruit in keeping with repentance! 9Do not think of saying to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our father.’ For I tell you that God is able to raise up children for Abraham from these stones. 10Already the ax is ready to strike the root of the trees. So every tree that does not produce good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. 11I baptize you with water for repentance. But the one who comes after me is mightier than I. I am not worthy to carry his sandals. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. 12His winnowing shovel is in his hand, and he will thoroughly clean out his threshing floor. He will gather his wheat into the barn, but he will burn the chaff with unquenchable fire.””
The Evangelical Heritage Version (EHV), New Testament & Psalms ©2019
C a l e n d a r & A n n o u n c e m e n t s f o r Z i o n L u t h e r a n C h u r c h
Divine Worship Service
with Holy Communion online -Facebook
Fellowship & Bible Study
Confirmation on Skype
Midweek Bible Class
Divine Worship Service
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Fellowship & Bible Study
A Brief Bible Study on God’s Word for Today
John the Baptist, the forerunner of Christ, fixes our attention on the need for true preparation for the Lord’s coming. Such preparation means repenting—recognizing how our sins have offended God and trusting Him for the forgiveness He gives us in Christ. Jesus, the only Savior brings peace to a troubled heart.
The Old Testament Lesson: Isaiah 11:1-10 (answers are found on the back side)
- List examples of how Jesus fulfilled the description in verses 1–5.
- How does the description of peace in verses 6–8 give us comfort?
Those We Remember In Our Prayers: Greg Miller; Lou Schulz; William & Laurie Moon; Pauline Jaeger; Kirsten Jaster (Laurie Moon’s sister); Greg Pierson (the Long’s son-in-law); Libya, Jodi Milam’s granddaughter, diagnosed with anti-NMDA receptor encephalitis; Lucille Huston; Barbara Long; Lois Wiese at Mercy Hospital with an infection.
Special Advent Devotions Once again the pastors and professors at Martin Luther College in New Ulm, MN (our ministerial worker training school), have written daily devotions for the Advent season. The devotions begin December 1 on the general theme: “The Word Made Flesh – The Historical Reality of Christmas.” You will find copies for family and friends in the narthex.
Thanksgiving Offering As we have done in the past, the Thanksgiving Offering taken during the past weeks will be sent to a mission in need in remembrance of how the Lord blessed us through the gifts of other people in our beginning years as a congregation. One of the possibilities to which we may send the offering is Christ the King LC, in Port Charlotte, FL. Christ the King is one of the 5 WELS congregations that received the most damage from the hurricane this fall. The first pastor was the sainted Pastor Leroy Martin, Rachel Bates’ father. It is also the home congregation of Scott Bates
Sunday, December 4 – Church Decorating for Christmas following the Fellowship & Bible Study Time
Tuesday, December 13 – 6 pm Elders & Trustees; 7 pm Monthly Church Council Meeting
Sunday, December 18 – Christmas Potluck Dinner after the worship service
The Week in Review
Last Sunday Worship: 33; Bible Class: 14; Midweek Bible Class: 6; Offerings: $850; for Thanksgiving: $90,
Next Sunday’s Lessons:
Advent 3: Isaiah 35:1-10; James 5:7-11; Matthew 11:2-11 (CW-21, Series A)
Answers to Today’s Old Testament Lesson Brief Study:
- Jesus was descended from David whose father was Jesse. The Holy Spirit descended on Jesus in the form of a dove at His baptism. Jesus’ earthly ministry was marked by wisdom, understanding, power, etc. Jesus knew people’s thoughts and attitudes (see John 2:25).
- The animals paired in Isaiah’s description are natural enemies. Because of sin, we have all been born natural enemies of God. But because of the Savior’s work on our behalf, we are now at peace with God. While the peace between these animals is symbolic, it’s comforting to know that the peace between God and us is real and lasting.
This week I am praying for……