Herrenhuter readings for Saturday, the 18th April 2015

minor prophets

The Lord said to Moses: “Now therefore go, and I will be with thy mouth, and teach thee what thou shalt say.” (Exodus 4:12)

But when the Comforter is come, whom I will send unto you from the Father, even the Spirit of truth, which proceedeth from the Father, he shall testify of me: And ye also shall bear witness, because ye have been with me from the beginning. (John 15:26-27)

It’s remarkable that both Moses and St. Paul were not adept speakers in their own evaluation and that of their hearers. Still the living God called them and made them into the most eloquent witnesses of his will and doing. Moses becomes the greatest of all prophets before Jesus and St. Paul the most published apostle and missionary after Jesus. Both have had the most remarkable impact and influence on the Church – even as they themselves confess that their speech and presence is far from convincing. The effective cause of this is God himself is with the “mouth of Moses” and he himself  “teaches him, what to say!” Just as our Lord Jesus Christ empowers this servant St. Paul through his revelation at his conversion and calling on the road to Damascus. So the entire Church is built on the testimony and witness of the apostles and prophets, where Jesus Christ is the one and only corner-stone.

That’s God’s doing. He calls his people and makes them speak his message and be his faithful witnesses. So most importantly is the actual faithfulness to the original message and the truthfulness of the witness. Not innovation firstly nor the entertainment factor, not so much rhetorics, but rather reliability, stability, facticity and veracity of the apostolic and prophetic message – just as the Schaliach institue would have us expect from those, who are ambassadors, messengers and witnesses of their Lord and God, Jesus Christ, who also expects his Church to make disciples of all nations by teaching them “all that I have entrusted to you” (cf. Mt.28:18ff) For this reason Jesus can say: “Whoever hears you, hears me – and who despises you, despises me and him, who sent me…” And that is why somebody, who comes to a Lutheran Church or attends a Lutheran divine service should be able to expect to hear and experience, what is indeed Lutheran – and not some  kind of obscure or strange message. God’s word should indeed be that – and not some compilation of ideology, philosophy and popular culture. Just as his sacraments should  indeed be in accord with his original instution or else they would loose all relevance and authenticity – and have no divine cause and salvific effect whatsoever.

That is why Wilhelm Loehe stresses the point, that God has entrusted his Church with his saving message of divine truth and life giving treasures from the very beginning. There are not big surprises or new revelations to be expected. Nothing out of the ordinary or unheard of. Nothing like papal infallibility or mariological sinlessness or cooperation in salvation. Nothing like the “Toronto Blessing” (horribile dictu!) or “Prosperity Christianity” (even more dreadful fallacy and terrible delusion!) either. Rather the Holy Spirit and Comforter of God’s people throughout the Ages does the one thing – namely pointing us to our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, reminding us of everything he has taught and endeared to us, confirming the divine promises and strengthening our hope and trust in the triune God’s faithfulness. Through this gracious action of our God he calls, keeps and ties us to Jesus Christ, so that we remain in him and he in us. So much so that we sing his praises, testify his truth and are his witnesses where and when it pleases him in exactly that place and service to which he has called us by his omniscient and omnipotent goodness and mercy.

It’s what we together with all ecumenical Christendom do with the triune Creed – the Apostolic Creed, the Nicene Creed and also the Athanasian Creed. It’s what we do, when we read and confess the gospel truth with the readings from the Bible, both the Old and the New Testament declaring, preaching, confessing and teaching publically and for all the world to hear, what our God wants and what he has done for us and our salvation. Or as St. John writes: “Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not written in this book; but these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name” (20:30-31). We should expect that Christ’s witnesses are indeed sharing his testimony and message faithfully and not something else.

Obviously that is written only summarizes God’s doing and is by now means exhaustive. Yet you have to start somewhere. That is why it’s good to start with the 10 commandments or with the “Our Father” as the Christian Catechism teaches us and our children the main parts of the holy and only saving faith like it did our fathers and their fathers. It – like all theology, scripture and godly truth – is but emphasizing God’s will and promise in unison even though in different parts, times and spaces, yet all in great harmony of the one big story which is then also enacted and made real in the practice of the Order of the Divine Service in word and sacrament, in admonition and forgiveness, in prayer, song and worship too. Even after a long and fulfilled life of Christian living, we will have all reason to confess with Luther, that we remain beggars after all, but that our Lord continues to fill our hands and mouths, our hearts and lives with his most abundant grace and goodness so that we lack nothing at all. Our cup truly overflows and we’ll stay in the house of the Lord always. For he is good and his mercy remains for ever. Amen.

1.Thy strong Word did cleave the darkness;
At thy speaking it was done.
For created light we thank Thee
While thine ordered seasons run
Alleluia! Alleluia!
Praise to thee who light dost send!
Alleluia without end!

2. Lo, on those who dwelt in darkness,
Dark as night and deep as death,
Broke the light of thy salvation,
Breathed thine own life-giving breath.
Alleluia! Alleluia!
Praise to thee who light dost send!
Alleluia without end!

3. Thy strong Word bespeaks us righteous;
Bright with thine own holiness,
Glorious now, we press toward glory,
And our lives our hopes confess.
Alleluia! Alleluia!
Praise to thee who light dost send!
Alleluia without end!

4. Give us lips to sing thy glory,
Tongues thy mercy to proclaim,
Throats to shout the hope that fills us,
Mouths to speak thy holy name.
Alleluia! Alleluia!
May the light which thou dost send,
Fill our songs with alleluias,
Alleluias without end!

5. God the Father, light-creator,
To Thee laud and honor be.
To Thee, Light from Light begotten,
Praise be sung eternally.
Holy Spirit, light-revealer,
Glory, glory be to Thee.
Mortals, angels, now and ever
Praise the Holy Trinity!

Martin H. Franzmann (1907-1976)

About Wilhelm Weber

Pastor at the Old Latin School in the Lutherstadt Wittenberg
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