Herrenhuter readings for Friday, the 30th January 2015

Daniel_praying

Daniel went home to his upstairs room where the windows opened toward Jerusalem. Three times a day he got down on his knees and prayed, giving thanks to his God, just as he had done before (Daniel 6,10)

Be rejoicing in hope; patient in tribulation; continuing instant in prayer. (Romans 12,12)

Daniel gave thanks to God regularly. Three times a  day was the normal procedure. That framed his daily routine. That gave his life structure and a solid framework. That doesn’t mean, he didn’t thank God more often. No, this was his staple diet for man doesn’t live off bread alone, but rather from the very Word of God +

Now it wasn’t as if Daniel wasn’t busy. In his calling as one of the three administrators over 120 satraps in King Darius the Mede’s kingdom he had his hands full – and yet he was so successful, that his king wanted to promote him to highest honours and even greater service. Thank God, you get faithful and believing Christians even in high offices and important posts. It’s a gift and grace of God – if you get faithful judges, presidents, generals, professors etc serving in these difficult, strenuous and demanding callings. (cf CA XVI) Yet such success is not always welcome by all. There are always those, who envy this advancement, flourishing and the great administration of their colleagues and competitors perceived as rivals. So they try to trip him. Make him falter, stumble and even fall from grace. “The administrators and the satraps tried to find grounds for charges against Daniel in his conduct of government affairs, but they were unable to do so. They could find no corruption in him, because he was trustworthy and neither corrupt nor negligent.” (Dan 6:4) That must have gotten them quite mad and it might have even perturbed and troubled Daniel. Still his prayer routine continued unabated. God’s grace and mercy, his gracious gifts and blessings sustained Daniel through all, always and everywhere.

The jealousy of Daniel’s foes could have been further aggravated because he was a foreigner and not an adherent of the local faith, worship customs and religious traditions. He was a Jewish exile. Far away from Jerusalem and the living God’s temple. Xenophobia is not a new phenomenon. Locals fear strangers – and if they’re successful where other’s just failed and against even imposing odds, then that’s even more reason to go against them and heighten the stakes against them, packing up obstacles, piling up handicaps and just making life as miserable as possible going so far as to make survival impossible. Feverishly those foes devised plans to trip up old Daniel. They were devious, discontent and resentful. In the end they came up with the fiendish trick to let Daniel’s blameless conduct and pious devotion be counted against him – and all with the appearance of legality (ML explains the 7th Commandment thus: “mit einem Schein des Rechts!” translated blandly as “in any dishonest way”). The rest of the story is well known.

Daniel continued praying to the living God – Father, Son and Holy Ghost – although the king had been coerced into passing that odious and idolatrous law that only the king was to be worshipped. Well, Daniel wouldn’t stop and was thrown amongst the ferocious beasts in the lion’s den, where the living God kept and preserved him throughout the night – safe and sound. No harm came to Daniel. He was blessed even though his enemies tried so hard to bring him down.

It’s a lesson full of great encouragement: “What a friend we have in Jesus…” He doesn’t let us down. Even though we don’t pray towards this or that city, this or that mountain, not to the rising sun nor to the shining moon, not to things up in the sky, down on earth or even below the earth, living or dead – no – we don’t pray, worship nor serve these, but only the one and only Holy Trinity – now and evermore: Rejoicing in hope; patient in tribulation; continuing instant in prayer. (Romans 12,12)

There’s plenty distraction. There’s even more reason for praying in the trouble of the Church, its mission in this world and amongst all people. Continue to look unto the living Lord for help. He has promised: “Call upon me in all trouble. I will hear and save you. You shall praise me!” “Ask and it will be given to you!” For we trust in God’s promises and not in our prayer ritual or schedule. It’s not because we are so punctual in prayer that we are well off, but rather because God has promised to hear our prayer and even does far more than we ask and could ever hope for. It’s his promise and gracious mercy that we trust in. Nothing else! Therefore be patient in tribulation and all trouble that is afflicting you, the church and the people of this world. Continue in waiting for the Lord. Call upon him. He hear’s your cries for mercy and deliverance. It’s not going to be long now for He’s coming shortly and in all his glory to complete his good work. He won’t fail, but reign victorious now and forever. Therefore be patient, continue in prayer and rejoice in the Lord’s salvation and abiding presence. Amen.

Who Trusts in God a Strong Abode by Joachim Magdeburg (1525-1587) and translated by Benjamin H. Kennedy (1804-1899)

Who trusts in God a strong abode
In heaven and earth possesses;
Who looks in love to Christ above,
No fear that heart oppresses.
In you alone, dear Lord, we own
Sweet hope and consolation,
Our shield from foes, our balm for woes,
Our great and sure salvation.

Though Satan’s wrath beset our path
And worldly scorn assail us,
While you are near, we shall not fear;
Your strength will never fail us.
Your rod and staff will keep us safe
And guide our steps forever;
Nor shades of death nor hell beneath,
Our lives from you will sever.

In all the strife of mortal life
Our feet will stand securely;
Temptation’s hour will lose it power,
For you will guard us surely.
Our God, renew with heavenly dew
Our body, soul, and spirit
Until we stand at your right hand
Through Jesus’ saving merit.

Hymn # 414 from Lutheran Worship Author of tune Claudin de Sermisy
Tune: Was Mein Gott Will 1st Published in: 1572

About Wilhelm Weber jr

Rector of the Lutheran Theological Seminary in Tshwane
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