Here the apostle St. Paul is attesting his affection for the Philippians with a solemn oath although nobody has charged him to do so. However love has pressed him to do this. Love, which justifies all – even this solemn oath. Yes, it is not really necessary to swear to this deep longing he has for the Philippians. It would have been enough to attest to it. Yet nobody would want to miss this from the witness of the New Testament. It is not forbidden, but rather a holy and sanctified work of love – this deep and inmost longing and affection the apostle has for his congregation and Church in Philippi. It is a love similar – yes, even more than that it is of the same kind and nature as that love Jesus Christ himself holds for his Church. On the one side this shows us the poverty on our own part as we lack this sincere and deep affection and love for Christ’s Church in all the world. On the other side it comforts and strengthens us as we remember the love, with which our Lord loves even us.
Gracious God, loving Father! From the bottom of our heart we give thanks to you for keeping us safe another day and night by your goodness and mercy. We pray that you may cleanse and purify our heart through your holy love and gracious forgiveness. Grant that we too would be ablaze with your holy love as we dedicate our bodies and soul to a living sacrifice in service to your people here on earth and to your holy Church. Grant that we may prosper in good works and readily serve those in need. May we grow in godliness and faithfulness all the days of our lives. We ask this in Jesus name. Amen. (W.Löhe)
May God bestow on us his grace and favour To please him with our behaviour And live together here in love and union Nor repent this blest communion. O Lord, have mercy! Let not your good Spirit forsake us, But that heavenly minded he make us; Give you Church, Lord, to see Days of Peace and unity. O Lord, have mercy! (Martin Luther 1483-1545)
This is a rather free translation of Wilhelm Löhe’s devotion forThursday after the twenty second Sunday after the high holiday of the Holy Trinity. It is found on Pg. 372 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.