Herrenhuter readings for Saturday, the 17th January 2015

gorlitz Gottesdienst

Lift up your heads, O ye gates; and be ye lift up, ye everlasting doors; and the King of glory shall come in. (Ps.24:7)

 And ye yourselves like unto men that wait for their lord, when he will return from the wedding; that when he cometh and knocketh, they may open unto him immediately (Lk. 12:36)

There are some dates that are fixed in stone. Dates which we can’t forget. Dates for which we need to make room and plans and space. One of those is 2017. A year of great significance for the Lutheran Church, because that’s its 500th anniversary. The local Lutheran Church in Southern Africa will be commemorating the 50th anniversary of its constitution in Ventersdorp 1967. God willing I’ll be ordained 25 years then too. That’s high on our agenda. Lots of preparations are on the front burner. The rollout has started. Yet daily business often pushes these big dates aside. The telephone needs answering, the post needs to be addressed. The doors need to be unlocked and locked again. Day and night come quicker than we anticipated. Another day has passed and the big dates are looming ever larger. And it already more than half way through the 1st month of 2015.

There is one date, which is drawing near just as relentlessly, yet we don’t know, when it will be. We need to be prepared even if we don’t know the time schedule. Yet it is the one date, which none of us will miss. The date of Christ’s glorious return and the final Judgement day. Nobody knows when this will be, but the Father. It will come like a thief in the night and it will surprise many. Just like in the days of Noah, when everybody was going about their business as usual until the floods started rising and swallowed all except those in the safe sanctuary of the arc. In the same way those, who are members of the holy Church because they are baptised in the name of the triune God and believe in Jesus Christ as their saviour, will also be carried through that final calamity and storm, that will swallow everything even the earth and moon and sun – the entire cosmos. Yet extra ecclessiam nulla salus (Cyprian: “Outside the Church there is no salvation!”)

Today’s reading reminds us to be ready. To remember this crucial date. To plan accordingly and not to go about our daily chores and business with our lots of stuff as if we are going to live like this for ever. The end is coming up – just like the finish of every film even if it is longer than usual. There comes an inevitable end. We all must die even if we might live a little longer than our neighbour or spouse or even our own children. Therefore we should reckon with our death and demise. We should also remember that we are not just dying and that’s it. Even if many faithless and unbelieving people try to convince us of this dissolution into nothingness. No, our death is not the end, but just the passing through to face God’s eternal judgement. That’s where we’re heading. We’ll have to answer him for all we thought, said and did every day of our lives – and also left undone. And we’ll have to answer who and what we were, are and will be. That’s off course far more than we can cope with for we’re but poor, miserable sinners. Yet, we believe and trust that our Lord and God has had mercy on us. He has given his only begotten Son Jesus Christ to live and die for us, so that by his gracious redemption we should have forgiveness of sins, life and eternal salvation. Solus ChristusSola gratia et sola fide as the Holy Scriptures of both the Old and New Testaments inspired by the Holy Spirit and penned down by his inspiration through his apostles and prophets testify in unison, clarity and utter sufficiency. Therefore the 2nd coming of our Lord Jesus Christ is not as intimidating and terrifying for us anymore, because we trust and believe that he is coming for us and our salvation. He is coming to finish off the good work, that he has already started long ago in each one of us. Calling, inviting and tenderly caring for us daily, so that we would trust him and his loving goodness and favour – not doubting because of our weakness, failings and unworthiness, but building on his promises and his faithfulness.

So we’re assured, that the Lord is coming, not when we’re ready, but when he is. For his return does not depend on our work or preparation or accomplishments, but rather on his grace and mercy, which is still drawing closer to him all those, who are lost and without saving faith all over the world, living in darkness and the shadow of death. Afraid, helpless and clueless – but our Lord wants everybody to be saved and come to the knowledge of truth. That is why there is still time. It is still day. His good tidings are still being proclaimed. His servants are still going out inviting people to come in for the big wedding feast of the Lord. Inviting, calling: Come all you, who are weary and heavily burdened – our Lord Jesus Christ will give you rest! Peace that passes all understanding. Life and eternal salvation. Come and taste how friendly our God is. Hear of his glorious works, miracles and wonders. Hear and look forward to the wonderful vision of his new creation, which he has revealed to us in Jesus Christ our Lord.

He is coming graciously to take up his blessed bride – the Church, the holy Christian congregation of those, who have been saved through the washing and regeneration of the Holy Spirit in holy Baptism. This Church, which has been fed by his most holy body and his precious blood and which therefore abides in him – come what may. This Church, which is his joy and delight, because through the forgiveness of sins, he has made her lovely, precious and most glorious too. She reflects his grace and goodness. She is the living proof that he is faithful and does what he says. It’s not something to behold with our poor and weak and failing eyes, but rather something to hear from his promises. He has said: Where 2 or 3 are gathered in my name, that’s where I am too + So, don’t forsake the assembly of the holy Church. Don’t run off and try and do your own thing. Stay in the congregation of those, who partake and share in the true gospel preaching and the administration of the most precious sacraments according to his mandatory and efficacious institution. And when you art converted, strengthen the brethren. (Lk.22:32) Together wake and be prepared, for the Lord is coming soon. Take comfort and don’t give up. Keep the faith, hold on to Christ’s promises and don’t despair. For he, who has called you is faithful. He will surely do it  + Therefore we pray: Maranatha + Come Lord Jesus + Come soon + Amen.

“Almighty, everlasting God, who through thy Son has assured forgiveness of sins and deliverance from eternal death, we pray thee, strengthen us by thy Holy Spirit, that we may daily increase in this trust in thy grace in Christ, and hold fast to the hope that we shall not die, but fall asleep and on the last day be raised to eternal life through Jesus Christ, thy Son, our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Ghost, ever one God, world without end. Amen.” (Dobberstein 54)

Now into thy keeping, O God, I put all my doings, all my delights, all my disappointments, all my negligences, all my sins, and all my work. And to Thee, O Lord, I commit all whom thou lovest, thou Maker, Restorer, Shepherd, Healer and Lover of our souls, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen. (Dobberstein 56)

Seek Where You May to Find a Way by: Georg Weissel

Seek were you may
To find a way,
Restless, toward your salvation.
My heart is stilled,
On Christ I build,
He is the one foundation.
His word is sure,
His works endure;
He over throws
All evil foes;
Through him I more than conquer.

Seek whom you may
To be your stay,
None can redeem his brother.
All helpers failed;
This man prevailed,
The God man and none other,
Our Servant King
Of whom we sing.
We’re justified
Because he died,
The guilty being guiltless.

Seek him alone,
Do not postpone;
Let him your soul deliver.
All you who thirst,
Go to him first
Whose grace flows like a river.
Seek him indeed
In every need;
He will impart
To every heart
The fullness of his treasure.

My heart’s delight,
My crown most bright,
O Christ, my joy forever.
Not wealth nor pride
Nor fortune’s tide
Our bonds of love shall sever.
You are my Lord;
Your precious Word
Shall guide my way
And help me stay
Forever in your presence.

Hymn # 358 Lutheran Worship Georg Weisel 1590-1635 tr  Arthur P. Voss 1899-1955
Tune: Such, wer da will ein ander Ziel die Seligkeit zu finden… 

About Wilhelm Weber

Pastor at the Old Latin School in the Lutherstadt Wittenberg
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