Living apostolically – who would not recognize this as a benchmark of Christian living? Who would not agree that whoever patterns himself according to the apostolic model lives a truly Christian life. This apostolic admonition surely is not a prideful overestimation of St. Paul’s own virtues and gifts, but rather a thankful acknowledgement of God’s grace and mercy that was so powerful in his life and being. However we don’t have such a clear picture of this apostolic lifestyle – even if we would like to follow his example meticulously. Still – and even better – we have the example of Jesus Christ himself – and that of his disciples, who followed him during his wanderings here on earth. Next to the bright Sun of Jesus’ example the apostle’s is but a shining moon. Surely these examples are quite good enough for us to follow. What is the most striking of St. Paul’s life – and that is also that which is most worthy of following and reproducing even – is his consistent glorification and praise of Jesus’ cross and vicarious suffering, dying and victorious resurrection. Let us follow him in that!
Almighty and heavenly Father, we thank your most holy and precious name that you have given your holy apostles to preach forgiveness of sins, righteousness and eternal life through your dear Son Jesus Christ our Lord. We ask you most incessantly rule us by your Holy Spirit, that we follow their apostolic teaching in an ardent and burning faith and persist in this faith all the days of our life. We ask this in Jesus name. Amen. (W.Löhe)
1. Lord Jesus Christ, with us abide, For round us falls the eventide; Nor let Thy Word, that heavenly light, For us be ever veiled in night.
2. In these last days of sore distress Grant us, dear Lord, true steadfastness That pure we keep, till life is spent, Thy holy Word and Sacrament.
3. Lord Jesus, help, Thy Church uphold, For we are sluggish, thoughtless, cold. Oh, prosper well Thy Word of grace And spread its truth in every place!
4. Oh, keep us in Thy Word, we pray; The guile and rage of Satan stay! Oh, may Thy mercy never cease! Give concord, patience, courage, peace.
5. O God, how sin’s dread works abound! Throughout the earth no rest is found, And falsehood’s spirit wide has spread, And error boldly rears its head.
6. The haughty spirits, Lord, restrain Who o’er Thy Church with might would reign And always set forth something new, Devised to change Thy doctrine true.
7. And since the cause and glory, Lord, Are Thine, not ours, to us afford Thy help and strength and constancy. With all our heart we trust in Thee.
8. A trusty weapon is Thy Word, Thy Church’s buckler, shield and sword. Oh, let us in its power confide That we may seek no other guide!
9. Oh, grant that in Thy holy Word We here may live and die, dear Lord; And when our journey endeth here, Receive us into glory there. (Philipp Melanchton 1497-1560 and Nicolaus Selnecker 1532-1592 tr F. Samuel Janzow 1913-2001)
This is a rather free translation of Wilhelm Löhe’s devotion for the twenty third Sunday after the high holiday of the Holy Trinity. It is found on Pg. 376 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.