Herrenhuter readings for Friday, the 11th March 2016

Thus says the Lord our God: “I am the LORD, and there is no other. I form the light and create darkness, I bring prosperity and create disaster; I, the LORD, do all these things.” (Isa 45:6-7 NIV) And the apostle St.Paul writes to the Corinthians in his 2nd epistle: “For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of God’s glory displayed in the face of Christ.” (2Co 4:6 NIV)

Dear friends of our Lord Jesus Christ: The omnicausality of our Lord and God fits divine dimensions even if it remains a conundrum for our limited perception and logic. Luther advises us to look at the revealed God in the face of Christ and not get involved into the fruitless speculation about the hidden God, who does all things – not just those bringing prosperity, but also disaster. This is not a solution to the challenging enigma, but it sure is a safe way out and one that promotes faith, hope and love too, whereas the other avenue leads us into the cul-de-sac of desperation, fear and bitter void. The daring philosophers of the past century have shown that way at least for some part of it. It’s dark, daunting and quite terrifying too. No wonder, that we should only try that route on the best and sunny of days and then only partially and as long as we have the safety railing of the gospel to hold onto and the sure net of Jesus Christ to fall back into.

It is in the big calamities of our world – like the sacking of Rome or the bombing of Hiroshima or burning of Dresden or the genocide in Rwanda and chaos in Syria – that we flee the horrendous insight that it is the living and devouring God, who does all these things. We can only fall on our knees and plead for mercy: Kyrie eleison, Christe eleison, Kyrie eleison! We have no other resource at our disposal, nor excuses to make, never mind demands to raise for we know, it is me and my sin – together with that sin of my fathers and my children, my people and those of the rest of the world too – that are as countless as the sand at the seaside that have awoken God’s wrath and have brought about the snowballing calamity as it is enfolding before our eyes.

It is Jesus Christ, who does what Bonhoeffer describes as falling into the spokes of the madly spinning wheel of tyranny and chaos. We others are but chewed up by the devouring beast and ugly dragon of evil. Yet Jesus Christ was a bite to big to chew for the evil one. Death, sin and devil could not devour him. He choked and crooked, died himself on this godly potion. His poison was drawn. His deadly energy sapped. He’s bound, tied up and left to growl, bark and bay but that’s it. He can no longer harm us. We no longer need to fear him. His time is over. He’s had it. One word can fell him: Jesus Christ, who is Lord and king with all authority in heaven and on earth. Thus we have been pulled from darkness into light.

Every day this baptismal wonder happens and reoccurs, when we wake from sleep to live another day in the caring goodness and loving light of our heavenly Father, who rules and reigns for our benefit in his son Jesus Christ, who freed us from the power of sin, death and devil so that we can lead our lives in righteousness and holiness as is pleasing in God’s sight – joyfully, thankfully and in constant service to our next of kin, neighbours and fellow human beings. We thank and praise our triune God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” and made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of God’s glory displayed in the face of Christ.” (2Co 4:6 NIV) Amen.

The peace of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ be with you always + Amen.

Hear my prayer, O Lord; let my cry come to You.

  • In the day of my trouble I call upon You; for You answer me.
  • Hide Your face from my sins, and blot out all my iniquities.
  • Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me.
  • Cast me not away from Your presence, and take not Your Holy Spirit from me.
  • Restore to me the joy of Your salvation, and uphold me with a willing spirit.
  • Because Your steadfast love is better than life, my lips will praise You.
  • For You have been my help, and in the shadow of Your wings I will sing for joy.
  • Teach me Your way, O Lord, that I may walk in Your truth; unite my heart to fear Your name.
  • I give thanks to You, O Lord my God, with my whole heart, and I will glorify Your name forever.

“Why Should Cross and Trial Grieve Me?”
by Paul Gerhardt, 1607-1676

1. Why should cross and trial grieve me?
Christ is near With His cheer;
Never will He leave me.
Who can rob me of the heaven
That God’s Son For my own
To my faith hath given?

2. Though a heavy cross I’m bearing
And my heart Feels the smart,
Shall I be despairing?
God, my Helper, who doth send it,
Well doth know All my woe
And how best to end it.

3. God oft gives me days of gladness;
Shall I grieve If He give
Seasons, too, of sadness?
God is good and tempers ever
All my ill, And He will
Wholly leave me never.

4. Hopeful, cheerful, and undaunted
Everywhere They appear
Who in Christ are planted.
Death itself cannot appal them,
They rejoice When the voice
Of their Lord doth call them.

5. Death cannot destroy forever;
From our fears, Cares, and tears
It will us deliver.
It will close life’s mournful story,
Make a way That we may
Enter heavenly glory.

6. What is all this life possesses?
But a hand Full of sand
That the heart distresses.
Noble gifts that pall me never
Christ, our Lord, Will accord
To His saints forever.

7. Lord, my Shepherd, take me to Thee.
Thou art mine; I was Thine,
Even e’er I knew Thee.
I am Thine, for Thou hast bought me;
Lost I stood, But Thy blood
Free salvation brought me.

8. Thou art mine; I love and own Thee.
Light of Joy, Ne’er shall I
From my heart dethrone Thee.
Savior, let me soon behold Thee
Face to face, -May Thy grace
Evermore enfold me!

Hymn #523
The Lutheran Hymnal
Text: Ps. 73: 23
Author: Paul Gerhardt
Translated by: composite, based on John Kelly, 1867
Titled: Warum sollt’ ich mich denn graemen
Composer: Johann G. Ebeling, 1666
Tune: Warum sollt’ ich mich denn graemen

About Wilhelm Weber jr

Rector of the Lutheran Theological Seminary in Tshwane
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