And if what was transitory came with glory, how much greater is the glory of that which lasts! (2Co 3:11 NIV)
Just look at those millions of grateful believers, who living and dying have saluted the office of the ministry – this wonderful service of the New Testament – over the past millennia. Can you behold the blessing, trust and recognition this most holy office found with those, who made use of it most and then needed it least? When finally that blessed crowd of uncountable saints is assembled before his heavenly throne will there be something else that they will praise higher and be more thankful for than the means of grace in word and sacraments offered to them by this holy office of the ministry? I don’t believe so. The prophet Daniel proclaims ages ago: “Those who are wise will shine like the brightness of the heavens, and those who lead many to righteousness, like the stars for ever and ever.” (Dan 12:3 NIV) Then it will become manifest for all to see, what was shrouded in invisibility here. St. Paul the apostle writes that the clarity and dignity of the ministry will remain. So this honor must be there already. It is firmly set in the heavens, but the believers also nurture it most devotedly here on earth.
Now that St. Paul has magnified this office of the ministry before your very eyes – much more than I could ever have – I ask you, whether this office of the ministry is with you in clarity and honor and glory too? The lofty praises and glories of political parties and powers is fleeting indeed. While many have written off the office of the ministry before, it still holds its own throughout the world and wherever God doesn’t punish us as we deserve it, but rather is gracious and merciful preserving this wonderful ministry in good stead and health too.
We pray o faithful God for all your pastors, bishops and teachers, whom you have called to serve your people with the preaching and teaching of your most holy word in law and gospel. Grant and promote in and through them your Holy Spirit, so that they will be faithful in guiding, keeping and nurturing your flock under your care and protection – you the good shepherd and archbishop himself. Build your church even among us. Through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord. Amen. (Strassbourg 1565)
Preserve your Word and preaching. The truth that makes us whole, The mirror of your glory, The power that saves the soul. Oh, may this living water, This dew of heavenly grace, Sustain us while here living Until we see your face. (Andreas Gryphius 1616-1664)
This is a rather free translation of Wilhelm Löhe’s devotion for Friday after the twelfth Sunday after the high holiday and festival of the Holy Trinity. It is found on Pg. 303 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.