You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; (Eph 4:22 NIV)
What kind of expectations does the Apostle have for us. We are to take off the old self like an old garment even though it permeates our entire being and is really part of ourselves. Even our Lord grants that you can’t pick grapes from thorn trees nor figs from thistles. Why do we always need to hear: “Do this!” or “Don’t do that!” if it is quite clear that we can’t get it right – not even by a long shot. Do not forget the addressees of this apostolic admonition. He is writing to those, who have been reborn by the Holy Spirit. It is from them that the holy Apostle demands spiritual fruits, good works and a life according to the Holy Spirit. This fits with the prayer of St. Augustine: “Lord grant whatever you command and then command whatever you would want!” God grants the will and success – and you can achieve all and everything through him, who empowers you: Jesus Christ! You don’t need to fear if you look at your empty hands. He will provide. He will come up for the price tag. Yet go where his stewards share his precious gifts with those in need. Go there and pray for what you need and you’ll receive according to the grace and mercy of him, who hears our prayer. Perhaps you are to be blamed for your own poverty. Perhaps God’s hour has not yet arrived. He wants everybody to be helped and that they come to the knowledge of truth and that everybody would receive life and quite enough of it too. Therefore wait and pray and he will grant you his richest blessings. Amen.
We thank you dear heavenly Father that we could rest today and receive your grace and goodness! Take our restless hearts and make them find rest in you. Reveal thyself to us in your holy earnestness and in your divine power and might, but also in your loving mercy and unending patience and goodness. Reveal your holy and good will to us and lead us ever closer to you. Amen. (Württembergisches Kirchenbuch 1931)
O Holy Spirit, enter in, Among these hearts Thy work begin, Thy temple deign to make us; Sun of the soul, Thou Light divine, Around and in us brightly shine, To strength and gladness wake us. That we may be truly living, To you giving prayer unceasing and in love be still increasing.
Give to Thy Word impressive pow’r And in our hearts from this good hour As fire it may be glowing; that in true Christian unity we faithful witnesses may be, your glory ever showing Hear us, cheer us by your teaching let our preaching and our labor praise you Lord and serve our neighbour.
O mighty Rock, O Source of life, Let Thy dear word ’mid doubt and strife Be so within us burning, That we be faithful unto death, In Thy pure love and holy faith, From Thee true wisdom learning! Your grace and peace on us shower; By Thy power Christ confessing, Let us win His grace and blessing. (Michael Schirmer, 1606-1673 tr Catherine Winkworth 1827-1878
This is a rather free translation of Wilhelm Löhe’s devotion for the nineteenth Sunday after the high holiday and festival of the Holy Trinity. It is found on Pg. 349 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.