Wherever the Spirit is, there life is too. And vice versa: Wherever there is not life, there no Spirit is either. That is why Luther translated the expression “ministry of the Spirit” appropriately as the “ministry, which gives the Spirit”. Emperors and kings have an office pleasing to God and instituted by him also. However these forms of government and political authority don’t have a “ministry of the Spirit”. They don’t propagate that and nobody looks for that with them either. Let us look even further back in history and time – right into the age of the Old Testament and concentrate on the office of Moses and his brother Aaron, but also at that of the priests and prophets. Is it justified to call their office and ministry a service that gives the Spirit? The apostle Paul rejects this notion outright. He calls the office of the Old Testament an office of the letter. Therefore the office of the New Testament, the ministry that Jesus Christ instituted by calling the apostles is unique. There is no other office or ministry that gives and transmits the Holy Spirit. That quiet pastor, who serves rather unobtrusively at the altar and preaches faithfully from the pulpit is perhaps disregarded by the high and mighty and all that count in the eyes of men. He might even seem rather helpless if not even a poor burden to most outsiders, who would not consider his demise a loss at all. Yet – in the eyes of God and also in the eyes of those, whom he serves – he has a very precious and high calling and vocation: To preach and to administer the most holy sacraments by which God gives the only saving faith where and when it pleases him in those who hear the gospel. May he never forget it and carry out his duty and obligation joyfully and with gladness and conviction!
Almighty and eternal God, by your inexpressible grace and mercy of your dear Son you have called us to the testament of the Holy Spirit. We plead you: Take the haze and obstructions from our eyes that we may see the clarity of your precious gospel and that it may mirror itself in our lives and we enlightened from one clarity to the next. We ask this in the name of your Son Jesus Christ, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit now and forever. Amen. (Evangelical Hymn- and Prayerbook 1817)
Equip us poor children with your gifts that we have strength and courage of faith added to a passion for your house and people. Yes, grant that we would gladly give a world with many treasures, all human honour and recognition, our time, body and life for this big and holy challenge.
Grant us that lofty spirit of those early confessors in the apostolic band, who readily defied all ridicule and shame to preach the blood of Christ to all! Let us confess this truth that has made us free and full of joy – oh grant that we don’t give it up, but rather stay in league with you and yours. (Karl Johann Philipp Spitta, 1801-1859)
This is a rather free translation of Wilhelm Löhe’s devotion for Wednesday after the twelfth Sunday after the high holiday and festival of the Holy Trinity. It is found on Pg. 302 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.