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TEXT: GAL 3:23-29/LUKE 2:21
LIVING FROM THE RESOLVE OF HIM NAMED “JESUS”!
Preached by Rev. Kenneth W. Wieting

Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ, who gave Himself for our sins to deliver us from the present evil age…

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ:  Have you made any New Year’s resolutions for 2010?  The experts say that annual favorites of “losing weight” and “exercising more” have been surpassed at the top of this year’s resolution list by “saving more.”

The experts also say that only about 40% of resolutions last for a few months and less than 20% get to the second year.  In other words, getting “psyched up” with good intentions at the start of a year doesn’t have a good track record.  Willpower seldom gets past the rush of duties and the discouragement of desire that can come a few days into another year.

So, have you made any New Year’s resolutions for 2010?  Do any resolutions from previous years come to mind that have made your life seem different and improved?  Do any resolutions come to mind that you have made again and again that haven’t carried through for very long?





TEXT: GAL 3:23-29/LUKE 2:21
LIVING FROM THE RESOLVE OF HIM NAMED “JESUS”!
Preached by  Rev. Kenneth W. Wieting

Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ, who gave Himself for our sins to deliver us from the present evil age…

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ:  Have you made any New Year’s resolutions for 2010?  The experts say that annual favorites of “losing weight” and “exercising more” have been surpassed at the top of this year’s resolution list by “saving more.”

The experts also say that only about 40% of resolutions last for a few months and less than 20% get to the second year.  In other words, getting “psyched up” with good intentions at the start of a year doesn’t have a good track record.  Willpower seldom gets past the rush of duties and the discouragement of desire that can come a few days into another year.

So, have you made any New Year’s resolutions for 2010?  Do any resolutions from previous years come to mind that have made your life seem different and improved?  Do any resolutions come to mind that you have made again and again that haven’t carried through for very long?

The truth is that whether we make determined formal pledges or not, we all have hopes and resolve for the upcoming year.  We have in mind things we want to do or do better and things we want to do less or stop doing altogether.  What would be the need for changing or improving our performance, our personality, our punctuality, our preparedness, our perseverance, our prayers, if we had it all together?  What we desire may be more healthful habits or more consistent communication or more disciplined use of time or more intentional rest or being more organized or whatever.  But to recognize things that could use attention in our lives is a good thing – isn’t it?  Therefore making resolutions this time of year may be considered helpful, don’t you think?  

For you see, bad habits don’t take resolutions to continue.  Doing the comfortable thing, the habitual thing, the lazy thing, the blame-others thing, doesn’t require decision and determined effort.  It only requires rolling along – unconcerned enough to plan and to strive for positive change.  So resolutions may be good and helpful in this way.

But they may also be harmful and dangerous to us in another way.  So, before we travel one minute into the New Year of 2010, the words the Holy Spirit caused St. Paul to write to the Christians in Galatia can help us see a big deficiency with resolutions.  Now before faith came, we were held captive under the law, imprisoned until the coming faith would be revealed.  

You see, all the resolutions in the world can’t change our captivity under the law.  In the prison house of sin under the law, it doesn’t matter if you’ve tried to do more good in 2009 than 2008.  Nor does it matter if you make and for the most part keep ten helpful resolutions for 2010.  Even if you impress everyone, including yourself - you’re still in the prison house of sin under the law and you can’t get out.  

And there is more!  So then, the law was our guardian until Christ came, in order that we might be justified by faith.  The Greek word for “guardian” is the slave who made sure the master’s child got to school.  This slave was to protect the child from others and from himself and to punish the child when needed.  The slave took orders from the master and not the child he was guarding.  No amount of pleading or plotting by the child could keep the guardian from making the child go where required, when required.  

That is a good picture of the law of God.  As we prepare to enter 2010, the law remains the law – like a prison cell and like the unswerving guardian.  You can’t change the law to conform to your pleasures and your preferences.  You can’t satisfy the law by doing better on a few resolutions.  The law is God’s law.  It commands, “do this” and “do not do that”.  In addition, the law imprisons you by saying, “If you fail doing what is required even once – then you are dead.  It doesn’t matter if you are Jew or Greek, male or female, slave or free – it doesn’t matter if you do pretty well humanly speaking.  Disobey the law just once and you are worthy of death, temporal and eternal death!

So, husbands should you listen more actively and caringly to your wives and resolve to lay down your life for them more faithfully?  Wives, should you be more aware of the pressures your husbands are under and resolve to put your life under their lives more faithfully?  Children, should you resolve to lose any stinky attitudes or whiny words and love and honor and obey your parents more faithfully?  Should we all resolve to pay more attention to our family station and duties?  Well, yes, for that is a good way to make them stronger.  Should you resolve to control your anger?  Well, yes, for anger doesn’t accomplish much and controlling it may help all your relationships.  Should you resolve to focus on good nutrition and exercise?  Well yes, those two emphases may certainly help improve your health and energy to serve others and to enjoy self.  Should you set aside more time for study and contemplating virtuous things?  Well yes, that’s a wonderful aid to your mind and could positively affect your words and actions.  Should we all resolve to speak the truth in love in this culture of death and decay and suffer whatever consequences may come?  Well, yes, that is one of the greatest spiritual needs of our time.  Should we all resolve to worry less and to complain less and to be more patient and to put away self-pity and prideful bitterness?  Well, yes!  In general, yes!  For genuine effort expended to follow God’s law, provides better relationships and outcomes then just pleasing oneself.  In that sense resolve to amend life is proper at the beginning of a New Year – or on every day of every year.  

But make no mistake - none of these actions can give you or me life!  The law of God is strictly pass/fail – and you failed since the moment you were conceived in your mother’s womb.  If you think you can live before God by rules and by resolutions to do better, then you are dead even before you begin.  Earlier in his letter to the Galatians, St Paul wrote, for all who rely on the works of the law are under a curse (3:10).  

Therefore, as one year turns over to the next, we do not pin our hopes on our resolutions – even those we may not immediately break.  Rather on this day, the appointed texts turn our attention to the Name and the circumcision of Jesus.  It is His resolve to do the Father’s will, His coming in our flesh, His living by every Word that proceeds from the mouth of God that makes the New Year bright with promise.  

And at the end of eight days, when he was circumcised, he was called Jesus, the name given by the angel before he was conceived in the womb.  


The child born to save you was no ghost or shadow.  He partook of human flesh and blood (Heb. 1:14).  At the moment His blood was first shed, he received the name given Him by the angel – Jesus – because He would save His people from their sins! His name and our salvation go together.  There is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved (Acts 4:12).

As we step into the year 2010 it is good to remember that nothing is as great as God’s name.  His name is a strong tower (Prov. 18:2) and the object of trust for His people (Ps 20:7).  His Name is holy (Is 57:13) for He lives forever in a high and holy place.  But He also lives with him who is contrite and lowly in spirit.  He also lives with him or her who sees the failure of their resolutions and who presses forward with the cry, “Lord, have mercy” and “Lord, forgive my sins”.   

And that brings us back to the eighth day of the life of this child.  He is the one who with the Father and the Holy Spirit instituted circumcision.  Yet now He is flesh and blood.  Circumcision indicated the cutting away of sin which Jesus did not need but which He did for us.  In the cutting of his flesh, in the shedding of His infant blood, God is both the doer and the object of what is done.  Holy is His Name!  Un-measurable is His love!

As we prepare for the change of a New Year, as we contemplate making resolutions to change – or not formally making them - it is good to remember that which does not change – God’s Name.  At the Name of Jesus every knee shall bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father (Phil 1:10, 11).  This is true even for those who betrayed His Name and mocked His Name and accused His Name before Pilate.  This is true for Pilate who put the name “Jesus of Nazareth” and the charge “King of the Jews” on His tree of execution.  This is true also for you.  That’s why the most important resolution you can make for the New Year is to keep bowing your knee in repentance and to keep confessing in faith that He is your Lord.  That resolve you will not keep perfectly.  But Jesus’ resolve to forgive you in His promised gifts He will perfectly carry out.  

As Scripture says, In Him you were also circumcised with a circumcision made without hands in the removal of the body of flesh by the circumcision of Christ; having been buried with him in baptism in which you were also raised up through faith in the working of God (Col 2:11).  Or as St. Paul states in our epistle, But now that faith has come, we are no longer under a guardian, for in Christ Jesus you are all sons of God through faith.  For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ.  

Now that’s a joyful way to enter the New Year and to trust that it will be for your good!  Not on the strength of your goodness and resolve but on the strength of Christ’s resolve to keep you covered with Himself.  He Himself is your garment – His innocence – His forgiveness – His salvation – His life – His peace!  

Indeed, it is the same type of covering that God commanded Aaron and His sons to put on Israel in the Aaronic benediction.  It was the official duty of the priests to speak the blessing God commanded to God’s people.  It was not a wish for a blessing or a prayer for a blessing, but the actual bestowing of God’s blessing.  It is a blessing that Lutheran’s still use to end the Divine Service.

The Lord bless you - you can’t bless yourself even with the mightiest resolve – The Lord bless you and keep you - you can’t keep yourself in this coming year – but God will hold you fast and defend you.  The Lord make his face to shine upon you and be gracious to you – the blessing God commands be put upon His people (upon you) is His grace and favor, the sum of all delight.  The Lord lift up his countenance upon you and give you peace – God blesses you with the sum of all good, peace in His presence – peace even as God looks upon you – yes, peace even for your tender conscience that knows so many failed resolutions.  

So shall they put my name upon the people of Israel and I will bless them. 
Where His name is, there God is bound to be!  His name marks you as His own!  He put His name on you in Holy Baptism.  He has clothed you in Christ and He is fully resolved to continue blessing you in the New Year.  That is resolve you can count on!  

In the Name of Jesus, Amen.