Herrenhuter readings for Wednesday, the 4th March 2015

Baptism-of-Saint-Augustine-of-Hippo:

I said, LORD, be merciful unto me: heal my soul; for I have sinned against thee. (Psa 41:4 KJV)

And the prayer of faith shall save the sick, and the Lord shall raise him up; and if he have committed sins, they shall be forgiven him. (Jam 5:15 KJV)

Today’s reading emphasizes that our fall into sin has necessitated healing. Without sin and in paradise everything was fine and whole and very good. Now however things have changed fundamentally and not for better, but rather for much worse. It’s not just Adam to be blamed for this, but me too. I myself have sinned against the Lord and done, what is wrong in his eyes. That’s not all, I am also not as I should be. My being is utterly corrupted, mortally wounded and hence prone and destined for death and dying and that rather sooner than later. I’m really just a can of worms and scumbag waiting to return to dust.  That’s why healing, repair and restitution are so desperately needed. That’s why we so deeply crave for salvation. That’s why our heart is so restless in us until it finds rest in the triune God, our Lord and saviour.

The awesome miracle and wonder is that our Lord and God does just that right there in baptism – in the washing off all our sins, granting us forgiveness and release from all debt and turning wrath into gracious favour. For his son Jesus Christ’s sake he forgives us all our sins and grants us eternal life and blessed salvation. The Lord does not forsake us as we have rightly deserved to be, but rather adopts us as his children, let’s us be heirs of heaven and restores us to heavenly perfection and to the original state – just that then we will no longer be able to sin. Healing that is not just skin deep, but goes to the core and makes everything good and right once more.

This he will do through our very death and dying. Until then sin, illness and corruption cling to us as very part of our being. This will only stop and disappear, when they put us into the grave and our bodies decay and go back to where they come from: Ashes to ashes, dust to dust! Through the resurrection of this very body from the dead and out of the grave, the new creation of our very selves, our own flesh and bones will arise in restituted righteousness, purity and just as our Lord had intended us to be from the very start of things. Holy Baptism gets us into this dying and rising again on a daily basis. Here this is in faith, there we will experience it – feel it, see it, hear, touch and taste it. Now it’s just in the hearing of God’s promise even as we struggle with the cause and effect of our sinfulness. Yet, what he says is true and real – more than anything else – even if we can’t grasp, prove or demonstrate it – not even to ourselves. It remains hidden to our senses. Yet, just as the Lord rose Lazarus from the dead so too shall we rise again, but not to die again like Lazarus, but rather to be like himself in eternal glory and light. There were the head has gone, the limbs will follow suit. He is no longer subject to death and dying, so we too shall be free from suffering and illness, from corruption and godless faith, doubt in God’s goodness and grace and all other such terrible sins and vices. There healing will be complete and we too shall at last say: It is done. It is finished. We have arrived. Just because he has already paved the way. He has opened up the door. He has granted forgiveness of all our sins, life and salvation. Praise be to the lamb of God, who bears all the sins of the world now and forever. Amen.

“Who Knows when Death May Overtake Me” by Aemilie Juliane, 1637-1706

1. Who knows when death may overtake me!
Time passes on, my end draws near.
How swiftly can my breath forsake me!
How soon can life’s last hour appear!
My God, for Jesus’ sake I pray
Thy peace may bless my dying day.

2. The world that smiled when morn was breaking
May change for me ere close of day;
For while on earth my home I’m making,
Death’s threat is never far away.
My God, for Jesus’ sake I pray
Thy peace may bless my dying day.

3. My end to ponder teach me ever
And, ere the hour of death appears,
To cast my soul on Christ, my Savior,
Nor spare repentant sighs and tears.
My God, for Jesus’ sake I pray
Thy peace may bless my dying day.

4. Help me now set my house in order
That always ready I may be
To say in meekness on death’s border:
Lord, as Thou wilt, deal Thou with me.
My God, for Jesus’ sake I pray
Thy peace may bless my dying day.

5. Reveal the sweetness of Thy heaven,
Earth’s galling bitterness unfold;
May I, amid this turmoil riven,
Thy blest eternity behold.
My God, for Jesus’ sake I pray
Thy peace may bless my dying day.

6. My many sins blot out forever
Since Jesus has my pardon won;
In mercy robed I then shall never
Fear death, but trust in Thee alone.
My God, for Jesus’ sake I pray
Thy peace may bless my dying day.

7. Naught shall my soul from Jesus sever;
In faith I touch His wounded side
And hail Him as my Lord forever.
Nor life nor death shall us divide.
My God, for Jesus’ sake I pray
Thy peace may bless my dying day.

8. Once in the blest baptismal waters
I put on Christ and made Him mine;
Now numbered with God’s sons and daughters,
I share His peace and love divine.
My God, for Jesus’ sake I pray
Thy peace may bless my dying day.

9. His body and His blood I’ve taken
In His blest Supper, feast divine;
Now I shall never be forsaken,
For I am His, and He is mine.
My God, for Jesus’ sake I pray
Thy peace may bless my dying day.

10. Then may death come today, tomorrow,
I know in Christ I perish not;
He grants the peace that stills all sorrow,
Gives me a robe without a spot.
My God, for Jesus’ sake I pray
Thy peace may bless my dying day.

11. And thus I live in God contented
And die without a thought of fear;
My soul has to God’s plans consented,
For through His Son my faith is clear.
My God, for Jesus’ sake I pray
Thy peace may bless my dying day.

Hymn #598  The Lutheran Hymnal Text: Ps. 90:12
Author: Aemilie Juliane, 1686, ab. Titled: “Wer weiss, wie nahe mir mein Ende

About Wilhelm Weber jr

Rector of the Lutheran Theological Seminary in Tshwane
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