It would be a very impressive recommendation for any congregation today, to have been founded by the apostles and to have remained steadfast in the teaching of those apostles throughout the ages up to today. Yet such a congregation does not exist. Only the word of the apostles has remained throughout the centuries and has born children for the kingdom of God all over the globe, has gathered congregations and established churches, united them and kept them in the true faith. Its friends and foes passed away. No friendship kept it in one solitary place. No enmity expelled it either. No human powers were able to diminish its effectivity or controlled its reach. It is a wonder of wonders that the word of the holy Bible has remained in this world and that the Church was always gathered around this word, so that it remained the son of all light rays and comforting warmth in this world of ours. Popes passed away, the sites of the Church councils, synods and conventions are left deserted, constitutions and bylaws of the church have been forgotten, situations and contexts have changed significantly and even unrecognizably so – but the Word of God has remained in this world – and therefore also the holy Christian Church. That’s how it is going to be like in future too. It is not carried, maintained or vitalized by anybody, yet itself carries and supports and vitalizes and maintains the Church wonderfully and miraculously – and because of her the world too is not lost yet. The Church remains the lampstand for the brilliant and saving light of God’s word. No storm or calamity will extinguish this lovely flame. Heaven and earth will pass away, but the Word of God remains eternally. Blessed are those, who trust in it. Blessed is the Church that is founded firmly on it – and is supported and maintained by it too. It will remain forever + Amen.
Dear heavenly Father! You have given your divine revelation to your Church in this world so that it would recognize your fatherly goodness and lasting mercy. We thank you for your holy Word, which has kept your divine revelation alive in all generations from the time of the apostles and prophets of old. We pray: Let your Holy Spirit effect true and saving faith in us by your holy Word. Let us become alive through its godly strength and goodness. Let us be grounded more and more in its truth. Let us accept and abide its message ever more willingly. Let us rejoice in its comfort and forgiveness. Let it be to us the heavenly light, which leads us home through the darkness of the ages to you. Amen. (A.Linderholm)
1 Lord Jesus Christ, with us abide, For round us falls the eventide; Nor let Thy Word, that heav’nly 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. O prosper well Thy Word of grace And spread its truth in ev’ry place!
4. And as the cause and glory, Lord, Are Thine, not ours, to us afford Thy help and strength and constancy. And keep us ever true to Thee.
5. Thy Word shall fortify us hence, It is Thy Church’s sure defense; O let in its pow’r confide, That we may seek no other guide.
6. O 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 st 1 and Nicolaus Selnecker, 1532-1592)
This is a rather free translation of Wilhelm Löhe’s devotion for the 9th January during the high holiday of Epiphany. It is found on Pg. 50 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.