“Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father has been pleased to give you the kingdom.” (Luk 12:32 NIV)
There may well be times in which the Church appears to be but a mere stream, which is struggling to flow through the thorny brush of desert lands. Times when not much confluence occurs from the ground and the heavenly gates are shut down. Those are times, when the scarcity of saved souls convince even an Elijah that he alone is left over. These times may occur in countries and even continents, where the Christians are but few and isolated. There was a time however, when St. Cyprian could write a triumphant booklet on the “Unity of the Church” and the Christians were multiplying in significant numbers. There were such times in history, when the Church and its congregations were like the city on the mountain – visible and impressive in its appearance.
Yet even if there are many or just few, what is the issue? There is no truthful statistics for the Church on earth anyway. Yet the big idea of the one, holy and worldwide Church and the glorious vision of Revelations 7 strengthen the lonely heart and faithful believer even in their isolation whilst in the barren stretches and deserted lands. Even if there is but one faithful member of the Church, the holy Christian Church is truly present there. The Lord does not forget or exclude even these faithful individuals from the Church although they are so far removed from the rest of the Christian congregation. He knows those, who are his. Finally they will appear as the great and glorious multitude, that nobody can count, whereas now this is not visible and far removed from our experience. It remains an article of faith. The narrow path followed by the little herds in most lands and eras culminate into that wonderful congregation revealed to St. John and for whose appearance we are waiting with great hope and faithful conviction. It will be that we will see that truly global (catholic) Church of heaven and eternity – by God’s grace and goodness. Amen.
O Lord Jesus Christ, our saviour and our God. Bless your holy Church, where you are known both here and there, inside and outside our borders and boundaries. Bless all those souls, that worship you and all hearts that confess your holy name. Bless especially all those congregations of the old and young Churches throughout the world that are small and insignificant in their own eyes and let them grow and flourish in the true faith and knowledge of the truth, that you have made them part of your one, holy Christian Church and that they don’t need to despair or give up, because you are with them with your word and sacrament, with your abiding faithfulness, love and mercy. We commend all our being and doing into your hands as nothing is too small for you and your caring benevolence. We commit all our loved ones into your gracious care, but also our people and countries and continents. Amen. (Wilhelm Löhe)
Oh, how I love that precious maiden and can’t get her out of my mind. Praise, honour and good order are hers always. She’s got my heart all right and even if I should suffer calamity, she will continue to please and uplift me with her love and faithfulness as she cares graciously for all my desires. (Dr. Martin Luther, 1483-1546)
This is a rather free translation of Wilhelm Löhe’s devotion for the 7th January during the high holiday of Epiphany. It is found on Pg. 48 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.