Devotions: November

The divine services in November focus on “the last things”, namely salvation for the departed and our hope for the future: the return of Christ, the royal priesthood, the overcoming of death, and the resurrection of the dead. The new church year begins with the last Sunday of the month.

The first Sunday in November is dedicated to the departed. The article is based on the account of Jesus’ encounter with a Samaritan woman at Jacob’s well. The Samaritans were rejected by devout Jews, who avoided all contact with them. Jesus transcended these prejudices and made it clear that salvation does not know any barriers. No human being—and no nation—is excluded from salvation. However, attaining salvation is not automatic either. For their part, human beings must have the necessary insight, namely that salvation can never be earned or deserved, but that all are dependent on the gift of salvation. This knowledge is just as necessary for the living as for the dead. In our prayers for the departed we ask God to help them recognize their need for salvation.

The divine service on 8 November centres on the topic of Christ’s return, which is one of the central elements of Christian faith. Among other things, the congregation is being prepared for the return of the Lord by the Apostles, and through Holy Sealing and Holy Communion. For the bridal congregation, the return of Christ marks the start of everlasting fellowship with the triune God. At the same time, it is brought to expression that the return of Christ and the rapture of the bridal congregation does not signify the end of salvation history, but rather that salvation history continues on toward its goal, namely to lead as many human beings as possible into eternal fellowship with God. It is important that the rapture of the bridal congregation be clearly described as an act of advanced salvation. God’s work of salvation comes to its conclusion in the new creation, in which God will be all in all.

In the third divine service of November we occupy ourselves with the royal priesthood, which is that group of people who will proclaim the gospel to all human beings, both living and dead, in the kingdom of peace. The royal priesthood, which is referenced in 1 Peter 2: 9, not only refers to a future condition, but rather also describes a present state, namely that of belonging to God and of having been called to proclaim the gospel to others in word and deed already today.

The 22nd of November is the last Sunday in the church year. On this day we profess the resurrection of the dead. This includes, first and foremost, our profession of the resurrection of Jesus, because it is on this that the hope of our own resurrection and the general resurrection of the dead is founded. For the bridal congregation, this resurrection will take place at the first return of Christ, when the firstfruits of the dead and the living will receive a new body. This spiritual body is of the same composition as the resurrection body of Jesus Christ, the firstfruits of the resurrection.

On 29 November we celebrate the first Sunday of Advent, which marks the beginning of the new church year. The Advent season is a reference to the expectation of the birth of Jesus Christ, which marked the start of a new era within the history of salvation. The Bible passage for this divine service is taken from John 1: 17, which makes reference to Moses and Jesus Christ. Moses is the representative of the old covenant, and this covenant was defined by the law. Jesus Christ is the founder of the new covenant, which is characterized by grace and truth. Jesus is grace and truth personified. Here it becomes evident that nothing Jesus brings, says, or does can be dissociated from His person. Therefore Jesus Christ is not only the example for all Christians, but also an object of faith and worship. At the same time He is an example for the Christian in His active love and devotion to His neighbour

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