Herrenhuter readings for Friday, the 23rd January 2015

reconciliation

Be not wroth very sore, O Lord,
neither remember iniquity for ever:
behold, see, we beseech thee, we are all thy people. (Isaiah 64,9 AKJV)

Our Lord Jesus Christ came and preached peace to you which were afar off, and to them that were nigh. (Ephesians 2,17)

There’s enough reason for our God and Lord to be wroth and very sore in dealing with us. If he would remember iniquity, there would be a pile far too great speaking volumes against us. We are not in the position to clarify that never mind hide or even get rid of it. Still the faithful of all times have not fled away from him, but rather have sought his countenance to look favourably at us, because he alone is God and he alone can help and save us.

In coming before God with supplications and prayer, they did not point out their own merits or worthiness for they knew it was worthless and even non-existent. It didn’t hold any water and was meaningless. Rather they recall that God is their creator and maker, he is the one, who has led, protected, helped and sustained them throughout as their Lord and King. This was the cornerstone of their faith in Israel. God had elected them. They were his people – not because of their size, ability or other seeming credits – but rather, because he had loved them from the very outset. He cared for them. He had made a covenant with them. They were his very own people.

St. Paul writes to the Ephesians that the scope and range of this divine love, care and favourable covenant was not limited to Israel or the physical descendants of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, but to all nations and people – even those, who are not considered people in the eyes of the worldly elite like the Dalits and Pariah in India, the Romani/gypsies in Europe, the Pygmies/bushpeople in Congo and the Basarwa/San/bushmen in Botswana. The discriminated and outcast, the marginalised and homeless are not out of bounds for him. He seeks those near by and those far off. Those first, but also the last. Those rich, but also the poor. The healthy, but also the ill – starting off in Jerusalem, but reaching out to the very ends of the earth for: Our Lord Jesus Christ came and preached peace to you which were afar off, and to them that were nigh. (Ephesians 2,17)

Did he not say, that when he was going to be lifted up (crucified), he would draw all towards him – the Jews and the Greeks, the descendants of Abraham, the Samaritans, the Asians and Africans and Aborigines? That is why he ordered his Church to make disciples of all nations – teaching and baptising all of them. That’s his farewell to his faithful believers. No doubt about it.

That is why Christians across the globe personally confess readily and consistently before God and all people:

“I, a poor, miserable sinner confess unto You all my sins and iniquities with which I have ever offended You and justly deserved Your temporal and eternal punishment. But I am heartily sorry for them and sincerely repent of them, and I pray You of Your boundless mercy and for the sake of the holy, innocent, bitter sufferings and death of Your beloved Son, Jesus Christ, to be gracious and merciful to me, a poor sinful being.” (LSB 184) 

And thank God we all hear the wonderful words of forgiveness and truth through the mouth of God’s servant, who in stead and by the command of our Lord Jesus Christ announces the delightful and most lovely gospel:

“Upon this your confession, I,  by virtue of my office, as a called and ordained servant of the Word, announce the grace of God unto all of you, and in the stead and by the command of my Lord Jesus christ I forgive you all your sins in the name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Spirit.”

And the forgiven penitent responds with a joyful and grateful: “Amen” – and goes his way in the peace of the Lord. Amen.

“Jesus Sinners Doth Receive” by Erdmann Neumeister, 1671-1756

1. Jesus sinners doth receive;
Oh, may all this saying ponder
Who in sin’s delusions live
And from God and heaven wander!
Here is hope for all who grieve–
Jesus sinners doth receive.

2. We deserve but grief and shame,
Yet His words, rich grace revealing,
Pardon, peace, and life proclaim.
Here their ills have perfect healing
Who with humble hearts believe–
Jesus sinners doth receive.

3. Sheep that from the fold did stray
No true shepherd e’er forsaketh:
Weary souls that lost their way
Christ, the Shepherd, gently taketh
In His arms that they may live–
Jesus sinners doth receive.

4. Come, ye sinners, one and all,
Come, accept His invitation;
Come, obey His gracious call,
Come and take His free salvation!
Firmly in these words believe:
Jesus sinners doth receive.

5. I, a sinner, come to Thee
With a penitent confession;
Saviour, mercy show to me
Grant for all my sins remission.
Let these words my soul relieve:
Jesus sinners doth receive.

6. Oh, how blest it is to know;
Were as scarlet my transgression,
It shall be as white as snow
By Thy blood and bitter Passion:
For these words I now believe:
Jesus sinners doth receive.

7. Now my conscience is at peace,
From the Law I stand acquitted;
Christ hath purchased my release
And my every sin remitted.
Naught remains my soul to grieve,–
Jesus sinners doth receive.

8. Jesus sinners doth receive.
Also I have been forgiven;
And when I this earth must leave,
I shall find an open heaven.
Dying, still to Him I cleave–
Jesus sinners doth receive.

Hymn #324  The Lutheran Hymnal Text: Luke 15:2
Author: Erdmann Neumeister, 1718 titled: “Jesus nimmt die Suender an
Tune: “Meinen Jesum lass’ ich nicht

About Wilhelm Weber jr

Rector of the Lutheran Theological Seminary in Tshwane
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