When they had all had enough to eat, he said to his disciples, “Gather the pieces that are left over. Let nothing be wasted.” So they gathered them and filled twelve baskets with the pieces of the five barley loaves left over by those who had eaten. (John 6:12-13 NIV)
Jesus is saving the leftovers. For whom? Perhaps for his apostles giving each one a basket filled from this divine abundance. For each apostle one basket. Each apostles picks up enough to fill a basket. So the Lord rewards the work of his apostles and servants. They served him when he fed the multitudes. When the people were satisfied, the apostles now take their part and its no small part either. Yes it is made up of pieces, but its more than enough for each one. It was never the intention of the Lord, that his servants should be short-changed or receive only poor sustenance. If a congregation is the bride of Christ and has his character and shares his mind and inclination, then she will say nothing less to her Eliezer, who brings the bride to the bridegroom: “Come, you who are blessed by the LORD,” he said. “Why are you standing out here?” (Gen 24:31 NIV) Yes, if she shares in his way of doing things, then she will even hold back from eating herself, so that his servants will get their food first. Those serving at the altar, should eat from the altar; those serving the herds and flocks, should also nourish themselves from the milk.
Oh, how much would I prefer to be silent about this, especially if there is no reason to complain for myself. However the Lord’s reasoning should not be suppressed, but rather repeated: The Lord and his bride, the holy Church, saves for those, that serve them! If the Lord helps and serves the congregation, then he helps and serves his servants simultaneously.
Lord, our God! We ask you for the fathers of our Church, for the pastors of our congregations, for those servants serving in difficult callings and ministries, for the pastors in huge and widespread congregations, for those despairing and for those stormy and energetic ones, for all we plead you: Keep them from losing faith and over-sensitivity, grant them rather holy joy and happy spirit. We ask you for those, that you have gifted with new ideas and great plans. Keep them humble and sufficient patience; guide their paths according to your will and let them be a blessing for many. You yourself be the comfort and power for the missionaries and their families. Grant them open doors for your holy word and saving gospel and let your kingdom come. Yours is the glory everywhere and always! Amen. (P. Wurster)
Blessed are your beloved people o Lord, who you have presented with faithful shepherds according to your will and heart. Shepherds that lead your flock heavenward with passion, spirit and might, faithful and conscientiously, touching hearts of sinners mercifully + Faithful pastors that do not let your people go wanting, but rather are saved together with your people. (Johann Daniel Karl Bickel, 1737-1809)
This is a translation of Wilhelm Löhe’s devotion for Friday after Laetare (4th Sunday in Lent). The prayer was translated rather literally and not poetically. Both are found on Pg. 143 in Lob sei Dir ewig, o Jesu! (Eternal Praise to you o Jesus!) edited by A. Schuster and published in the Freimund Verlag, Neuendettelsau 1949.