We ought always to thank God for you, brothers and sisters, and rightly so, because your faith is growing more and more, and the love all of you have for one another is increasing. (2Th 1:3 NIV)
This is the apostolic thanksgiving for the spiritual condition of the congregation and Church in Thessalonica. God has wonderfully answered his prayers penned down in his first letter to this congregation. The reason for his gratitude is threefold: Faith, love and patience. St. Paul is praising this church most highly. The growth of this congregation in spiritual gifts and Christian virtues was reason enough for him to thank God most elaborately. The Church joins the apostle in this thanksgiving if it intones with the pastor leading them in the liturgy of the Lord’s supper: It is truly meet, right and salutary that we should in all time and in all places give thanks to thee, O Lord. The apostle gives thanks for growth and expansion of the congregation. It is appropriate for a congregation to grow and not remain static year-in, year-out. Like everything alive, a congregation ought to grow. St. Paul even attests: Your faith is growing more and more and your love is increasing. Must we sink our heads in shame for our lack of growth in faith and love? Or can we join him in his thanksgiving for God’s good gifts and mercies showered upon us and our Church? Amen.
Lord God, Father in heaven, King and master of the Church! We fall down before you and acknowledge your grace and never-ending mercy. We are but poor creatures. You want to enrich and empower us by your divine love. We are but sinful people. You want to grant us your overwhelming grace. We are migrant pilgrims, wandering around in the vale of death. You want to give us your peace and eternal rest. O Lord, let us remain in the company of the saints, where your blessings abound. Free us from ourselves, that we don’t remain fixed on our own abilities and strengths, but rather expect all from you. Grant us growth in your Son Jesus Christ, he our head and our everything. Amen. (A. Stöcker)
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.
Preserve in wave and tempest Your storm-tossed little flock; Assailed by wind and weather, May it endure each shock. Stand at the helm, our pilot, And set the course aright; Then we will reach the harbour In your eternal light. (Andreas Gryphius 1616-1664 tr David Spaiser LW 337)
This is a rather free translation of Wilhelm Löhe’s devotion for the twenty sixth Sunday after the high holiday of the Holy Trinity. It is found on Pg. 397 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.