Herrenhuter readings for Sunday, the 18th January 2015

coffin-at-funeral

“Naked came I out of my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return thither.” (Job 1:21)

“For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out. And having food and raiment let us be therewith content.” (1.Timothy 6:7-8)

Contentment is a wonderful thing. Something of Spinoza’s “amor fati”, but not just resignation into our sorry state, but rather the blessed conviction of St. Paul:

“I know both how to be abased, and I know how to abound: every where and in all things I am instructed both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.”  (Phil 4)

It is as the wise Job declares and Paul Gerhard sings: “Nackend lag ich auf dem Boden als ich kam, als ich nahm meinen ersten Odem. Nackend werde ich auch hinziehen, wenn ich werd’ von der Erd als ein Schatten fliehen.” (This is translated rather freely “I lay in fetters, groaning…” (LSB 334:3) Knowing were I come from and my destination too is a good antidote against overrating the presence and even absolutising it. It’s just a relative short time of passing through. That of course makes the suffering bearable, but increases our reluctance to let go of the good things. Job confesses in the same breath: “The Lord gave, and the Lord hath taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord.” (Job 1:21b)

This conviction should let us receive our daily bread with thanksgiving, knowing that it is the good Lord himself, who blesses and keeps us together with all good and bad people, letting it rain over all and granting life and its support every day anew.

He knows best, what is good for us and let’s everything serve to our best. Having or not having both has its challenges, burdens and even joys. Therefore however things are, we should recognise thankfully that the Lord favours us so much, that he deals with us personally to our very best and as is most edifying and salvific to us. We however should not be envious of what others have, nor covet what is not ours. Rather we should accept that God knows best and therefore not be dissatisfied with our lot, nor grumble or be discontent. For it is like those old desert fathers taught us: “Less is often more” and “More is not necessarily better.” The wise people from the far East know this too.

This insight also helps us to deal wisely with the goods and materials of this world. Not clinging to them as if they were eternal, but rather as good gifts of our Lord, which we are to use appropriately – and mostly to attain eternal and heavenly treasures, seeking the kingdom of God first and trusting that all else will befall us in good – meaning his – time. So act prudently – like faithful stewards of those things, which the Lord has entrusted to you for a time to do, what is good, meet, right and salutary.

Sometimes the Lord takes away, so that we recognise that having him surpasses all. He is not just a means to an end, but rather the final goal and summum bonum (highest good). Having him is more than heaven and earth even. His grace is better than life. He truly is all in all – and being in him and him in us we lack nothing, but are well taken care of. Our being is fulfilled by being in and with him now and always. Amen.

“O Savior, Precious Savior” by Francis R. Havergal, 1836-1879

1. O Saviour, precious Saviour,
Whom, yet unseen, we love;
O Name of might and favour,
All other names above.
We worship Thee, we bless Thee,
To Thee, O Christ, we sing;
We praise Thee and confess Thee,
Our holy Lord and King.

2. O Bringer of salvation,
Who wondrously has wrought
Thyself the revelation
Of love beyond our thought,
We worship Thee, we bless Thee,
To Thee, O Christ, we sing;
We praise Thee and confess Thee,
Our holy Lord and King.

3. In Thee all fulness dwelleth,
All grace and power divine;
The glory that excelleth,
O Son of God, is Thine.
We worship Thee, we bless Thee,
To Thee, O Christ, we sing;
We praise Thee and confess Thee,
Our holy Lord and King.

4. Oh, grant the consummation
Of this our song above
In endless adoration
And everlasting love!
We worship Thee, we bless Thee,
To Thee, O Christ, we sing;
We praise Thee and confess Thee,
Our holy Lord and King.

Hymn #352  The Lutheran Hymnal Text: 1 Pet. 1:8
Author: Francis R. Havergal, 1870 Composer: Arthur H. Mann, 1881
Tune: “Angel’s Story”

About Wilhelm Weber jr

Rector of the Lutheran Theological Seminary in Tshwane
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