Herrenhuter readings for Saturday, the 6th February 2106

King David said to Solomon his son: „Be strong and of good courage, and do it: fear not, nor be dismayed: for the Lord God, even my God, will be with thee; he will not fail thee, nor forsake thee, until thou hast finished all the work for the service of the house of the Lord.“ (1 Chronicles 28:20 KJV)

The holy apostel St. Paul writes to his student and bishop St.Timothy: „Consider what I say; and the Lord give thee understanding in all things.“ (2.Timothy 2:7) 

Dear friends of our Lord and saviour Jesus Christ + The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you always + Amen. 

In this mornings reading from the first book of Chronicles we hear King David talking with his son the crown prince Solomon. These were Israel’s finest and men according to the heart of God. Chosen, called and installed by the holy Trinity to rule and reign his people once Saul had failed in this very same calling. David himself had favoured Solomon before others, older than him, but not god-fearing and wise as Solomon himself – or was it just because he was the son of his dearly beloved and most highly esteemed Bathsheba? Although David did many great and wonderful things during his reign, it was left to this his special son and successor on the throne of Israel & Judah that the task and mission fell to build the Lord’s temple. What a wonderful task! What a beautiful mission! What a grand undertaking! God wanted to live amongst his people and after the years of sojourning in a tent throughout the desert stretches he had chosen to take abode in the very city of David, in the delightful Jerusalem, God’s very own and special mercy seat on earth – and king Solomon was to build it. That much was given! For God himself was behind this work. It was his plan and decree. So it was just a matter of time and these promises would be seen fulfilled. Yes it was as king David said: „The Lord God, even my God, will be with thee; he will not fail thee, nor forsake thee, until thou hast finished all the work for the service of the house of the Lord.“ Therefore Solomon can be strong and of good courage. He can just do it without fear or dismay.

Yesterday we watched another part of the film „Luther“ and we saw Pope Leo X standing before a replica of St.Peter’s papal basilica in Rome even if for us who don’t recognise the Pope as the true vicar of Christ and only a bishop amongst others and thus this is for us but the cathedral of the bishop of Rome. Well, be that as it may, Pope Leo X wanted to build the church. Expand, grow and glorify it and make it stand out way beyond all others in this world. So he construed a number of monetary schemes and fundraising fancies to get this spectacular work done. We know, what a thorn in the flesh Luther’s protests and attacks against the financial shenanigans of the likes of Tetzel, Albrecht von Mainz and the rest of this mercenary priests must have been in his side. Still, how misguided were these endeavours. The Church is not in bricks and mortar. The Church is God’s people called, gathered, preserved by the very treasure of the Church, his most efficacious gospel – the divine means of working, sharing, effecting and putting into life his godly grace through his holy Word preached, taught, learnt and heard and most precious Testaments in the most holy Baptism & His very Body and Blood, tasted, eaten and digested for the forgiveness of sins and the preservation to the new and blessed life everlasting. 

The temple in Jerusalem lies in ruins. There are but foundation stones left. It’s the wailing wall, were pious, orthodox, hard-core and other Jews continue to mourn the destruction of this Solomonic temple and pray for the return of the Messiah, whom they are waiting for and who has already be born amongst them in the very town of David, in Bethlehem – the house of the living bread called Jesus Christ – the very Son of David, who grew up in Nazareth and who tore apart the curtain in the temple separating God from mankind and gave free access to the very holy of holies through his very own suffering, death and dying there in Jerusalem and then outside the city on the mount of Calvary – together with sinners, robbers and other godless folk. He who said, tear down this very own temple and in just three (3) days I will build a new temple. He was talking about the temple of his very own body, which was buried in the grave of Joseph of Arimathea to rise again on that glorious Easter – the very third day – and to build his one, holy and Christian Church starting in Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria and to the very ends of the earth. Oh, what wisdom and richness of the glory of the living God. How wonderful are his ways and merciful his devices and schemes! This Church and body of Christ is no longer just here and there on this or that mountain or reserve, but rather wherever the gifts of his Holy Spirit reign through his true word of Law and Gospel, there the triune God himself works faith in those, who hear it – as through means and instruments – where and when he wills and decrees. His word doesn’t come back empty. He does, what he desires and what he has promised.

So today St.Peter’s papal basilica or better cathedral of the bishop in Rome stands high and mighty and glorious for all to see. Thousands assemble there weekly from across the globe and yet, and yet I fear that they are but mislead by pomp and finery and spectacular procedures, traditions and ritual. I fear that it is just too impressive to disregard and not attach the hearts unto. I fear that it but blocks out the true treasures of the Church in the forgiveness of sins and the pronunciation of peace to those, who trust solely in the Lord and not also in their own holiness, works or achievements. See, it is harder that a rich man is saved than for a camel to go through the eye of a needle. The gospel is for those poor and feeble in spirit – not the rich and mighty, who go empty away! The tax collector, who prays: Kyrie eleison + Christ have mercy upon us + Kyrie eleison + Just as those in that distant Zulu kraal in Umsinga or the bushman sunshade in the outposts of the Kalahari at the very end of the world, where the pastor, missionary or evangelist visits the blind, hurting, poor and miserable shut-ins, who are just too old and weak  and far-off to come to church, but receive the very gifts of God in the laying on of hands, the small piece of bread, the little sip of wine, the few words of the readings and sermon for which we pray in the prayers of our Lord and the church in psalms, hymns and spiritual songs. The Lord of the Church promises: „Where 2 or 3 are gathered in my name, there I am in the midst of you!“

It is this very Lord Jesus Christ, who promised his disciples: „Behold – all power in heaven and on earth has been given to me! Therefore go and make disciples of all nations. Teaching them all that I have entrusted you with. Baptise them in the holy Trinity. And behold – I am with you – until the very ends of the world!“  See – it is still true as King David said to Solomon – so it is with you today too for the Lord God, even my own living, allmighty, gracious and good God, will be with thee; he will not fail thee, nor forsake thee, until thou hast finished all the work in his service that he wants you to do. Therefore be strong and of good courage dear friend and brother of Christ. You can do it without fear or dismay.

In this sense remember that the holy apostel St. Paul writes to his own student and bishop of Christ’s church St.Timothy: „Consider what I say; and the Lord give thee understanding in all things.“ (2.Timothy 2:7)  Amen. The peace of the Lord be with you always + Amen.

  1. Preserve your Word, O Savior,
    To us this latter day,
    And let your kingdom flourish;
    Enlarge your Church, we pray.
    Oh, keep our faith from failing;
    Keep hope’s bright star aglow.
    Let nothing from truth turn us
    While living here below.
  2. Preserve, O Lord, your honor,
    The bold blasphemer smite;
    Convince, convert, enlighten
    The souls in error’s night.
    Reveal your will, dear Savior,
    To all who dwell below,
    Great light of all the living,
    That all your name may know.
  3. Preserve, O Lord, your Zion,
    Bought dearly with your blood;
    Protect what you have chosen
    Against the hellish flood.
    Be always our defender
    When dangers gather round;
    When all the earth is crumbling,
    Safe may your Church be found.
  4. Preserve your Word and preaching.
    The truth that makes us whole,
    The mirror of your glory,
    The power that saves the soul.
    Oh, may this living water,
    This dew of heavenly grace,
    Sustain us while here living
    Until we see your face.
  5. Preserve in wave and tempest
    Your storm-tossed little flock;
    Assailed by wind and weather,
    May it endure each shock.
    Stand at the helm, our pilot,
    And set the course aright;
    Then we will reach the harbor
    In your eternal light.

Hymn # 337 from Lutheran Worship authored by Andreas Gryphius 1616-1664 and translated by William J. Schaefer and melody composed by Felix Mendelsohn.

 

About Wilhelm Weber jr

Rector of the Lutheran Theological Seminary in Tshwane
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