Herrenhuter readings for Tuesday, the 21st April 2015

Jesus stills the storm

Then Job answered the LORD: “I am unworthy– how can I reply to you? I put my hand over my mouth.” (Job 40:3-4 NIV) and “Lord, teach us to pray” (Luk 11:1 NIV)

Reading post-graduate student Eric Gboto’s account of the recent killing of Mozambican Sithole left me speechless. The horrific calamity of cold-blooded murder in broad daylight and getting away with it, leaves me shell-shocked. Similarly the stories floating in the net over the weekend of those Christian migrants, who while hoping to make it to the promised other side of the Mediterranean get thrown out of the boat by their muslim counterparts to drown desperately. Their dreams cut short just as they were about to realize them. Similar stories chase each other on the web – one worse than the other – and I’ve hardly time to digest one before the other is piled on. Calamity upon calamity and an end to this terrible sequence is nowhere in sight. On the contrary, it seems as if terrorists and other extremist populists are aiming at just that – spreading terror, horror and dread to prevent peaceful and grateful life in which we can joyfully join in the theme of this week: “Misericordias Domini plena est terra!” (The earth is full of God’s goodness, mercy and kindness!)

This stunned silence is not so different from that, which overwhelms us when loved ones suffer and die, when we bury young mothers and stand at their open graves with grieving husbands and desolate children. Job went through the darkest affliction himself. Losing children, livelihood, good health and so much more. His friends blamed him for all that. His wife advised to forsake God and die. Dire straits for sure. Yet instead of blaming God, he did not forget, who God was and what he was in the sight of God. Although he complained, argued and even accused God, he reprimanded himself saying: “I am unworthy– how can I reply to you? I put my hand over my mouth.” There are lots of things to say, but who are we to judge God? It’s just not right. We can ask questions. We can lament. We can cry out in despair. Yet, God as God is above reproach. He is righteous and just and he will finally judge and adjudicate rightly. At that time all we see him in his glory and all knees will bow before him – even those, who here cursed him and persecuted and martyred his very own – and all tongues will confess that he is Lord of Lords and King of kings – the one true God of all.

In face of all unrighteousness and hideous evil in these dark latter days, we want to shout out in anger, revulsion or despair. Yet following Job’s lead it might be most conducive if we shut our mouth and learn to be quiet. Or and that is the cue of today’s teaching text we could approach our Lord and ask him to give us the right words and things to think and say in these desperate situations: “Lord, teach us to pray!”

The Psalms of lament give us words to say the unspeakable. The Church pleads regularly: Kyrie eleison + Christe eleison + Kyrie eleison + Dear Father in heaven … deliver us from all evil. For Thine is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever and ever. Amen!

And our Lord has made the wonderful promise that he will hear us in all our need. He will rescue and save us. He will help and heal us. He will finally bring us home and let us live with him in blessed peace and quietness even – for ever and ever. Even if we can’t see it now. Even if we think, it’s all over and out. He lives and reigns in eternity. This is most certainly true.

That hope and sure conviction teaches us to not despair even in the sight of death, sin and all evil in this world – and speak out about God’s goodness and mercy, which fills all the earth and makes our cup overflow. So we sing even at the open graves. Songs of victory and overcoming – hymns, carols and spiritual songs. The Church has a whole treasure trove full of them. Words with which the Holy Spirit empowered the militant, suffering and struggling Church to articulate its tormenting experience here on earth. Just think of Paul Gerhard’s treasury. Those songs were penned down in the wars devastating and destroying German lands and people for more than 30 years. Hymns and words, which still teach us to pray even today. Taught by the Holy Spirit and instructed by His comfort and the true faith Christians can even bless those, who curse and persecute them, they can give up retaliation and even thoughts of revenge and retribution for they know and believe and trust that God is judge and he will make everything serve to our best. He does not deal with us as we deserve, but rather according to his goodness and mercy forgiving sins and healing our diseases.

Let us pray for this continent and all its people, that they might come to salvation through faith in the triune God – Father, Son and Holy Spirit – and be brought to the knowledge of truth, that was brought to light by Jesus Christ our Lord and saviour through the gospel of his suffering and dying on the cross, furthermore through his victorious resurrection from the dead and his overcoming sin, death and devil once and for all: Lord have mercy and grant us your peace that is higher than all understanding. Amen.

O God, forsake me not!

Your gracious presence lend me;
Oh, lead your helpless child;
Your Holy Spirit send me
That I my course may run.
Be you my light, my lot,
My staff, my rock, my shield.
O God, forsake me not!

O God, forsake me not!
Take not your Spirit from me;
Do not allow the night
Of sin to overcome me.
Increase my feeble faith,
Which you yourself have wrought.
Be you my strength and power.
O God, forsake me not!

O God, forsake me not!
Lord, hear my supplication!
In every evil hour
Help me resist temptation;
And when the prince of hell
My conscience seeks to blot,
Be then not far from me.
O God, forsake me not!

O God, forsake me not!
My heart your grace addressing,
O Father, God of love,
Grant me your heavenly blessing
To do when duty calls
Whatever you allot,
To do what pleased you.
O God, forsake me not!

O God, forsake me not!
Lord, I am your forever.
The true faith grant to me;
Grant that I leave you never.
Grant me a blessed end
When my good fight is fought;
Help me in life and death.
O God, forsake me not!

Hymn # 372 from Lutheran Worship Author: Solomon Franck

About Wilhelm Weber jr

Rector of the Lutheran Theological Seminary in Tshwane
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