Lessons for the 21st Sunday after Trinity

The watchword from the holy apostle St. Paul’s letter to the Romans: “Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.” (12:21)

The Introit for this Sunday is from Psalm 19: “The judgments of the LORD are true and righteous altogether. More to be desired are they than gold, yea, than much fine gold: sweeter also than honey and the honeycomb. Moreover by them is thy servant warned: and in keeping of them there is great reward. Who can understand his errors? cleanse thou me from secret faults. Keep back thy servant also from presumptuous sins; let them not have dominion over me: then shall I be upright, and I shall be innocent from the great transgression. Let the words of my mouth, and the meditation of my heart, be acceptable in thy sight, O LORD, my strength, and my redeemer. (9-14 KJV)

God’s holy Word written by the holy prophet Jeremiah in the 29 chapter: “This is the text of the letter that the prophet Jeremiah sent from Jerusalem to the surviving elders among the exiles and to the priests, the prophets and all the other people Nebuchadnezzar had carried into exile from Jerusalem to Babylon.  2 (This was after King Jehoiachin and the queen mother, the court officials and the leaders of Judah and Jerusalem, the craftsmen and the artisans had gone into exile from Jerusalem.)  3 He entrusted the letter to Elasah son of Shaphan and to Gemariah son of Hilkiah, whom Zedekiah king of Judah sent to King Nebuchadnezzar in Babylon. It said:  4 This is what the LORD Almighty, the God of Israel, says to all those I carried into exile from Jerusalem to Babylon:  5 “Build houses and settle down; plant gardens and eat what they produce.  6 Marry and have sons and daughters; find wives for your sons and give your daughters in marriage, so that they too may have sons and daughters. Increase in number there; do not decrease.  7 Also, seek the peace and prosperity of the city to which I have carried you into exile. Pray to the LORD for it, because if it prospers, you too will prosper.”  8 Yes, this is what the LORD Almighty, the God of Israel, says: “Do not let the prophets and diviners among you deceive you. Do not listen to the dreams you encourage them to have.  9 They are prophesying lies to you in my name. I have not sent them,” declares the LORD.  10 This is what the LORD says: “When seventy years are completed for Babylon, I will come to you and fulfill my gracious promise to bring you back to this place.  11 For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.  12 Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you.  13 You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.  14 I will be found by you,” declares the LORD, “and will bring you back from captivity. I will gather you from all the nations and places where I have banished you,” declares the LORD, “and will bring you back to the place from which I carried you into exile.” (29:1.4-7.10-14)

The Epistle lesson is from Ephesians in the 6th chapter: “Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power.  11 Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes.  12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.  13 Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand.  14 Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place,  15 and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace.  16 In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one.  17 Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.” (verses 10-17)

The holy Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ as recorded by the holy evangelist St. Matthew in the 5th chapter: “You have heard that it was said, ‘Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.’  39 But I tell you, Do not resist an evil person. If someone strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also.  40 And if someone wants to sue you and take your tunic, let him have your cloak as well.  41 If someone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles.  42 Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you.  43 “You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’  44 But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you,  45 that you may be sons of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.  46 If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that?  47 And if you greet only your brothers, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that?  48 Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.” (verses 38-48)

Together with the holy Christian Church we pray a collect for this Sunday: O God, our refuge and strength, the author of all godliness, hear the devout prayers of Your Church, especially in times of persecution, and grant that what we ask in faith we may obtain; through Jesus Christ Thy Son, our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with Thee and the Holy Spirit one God now and forever. Amen.

The hymn for this week is from the Evangelical Hymnal 273:

German Text (verses in bold print set by Bach)

English Translation

1

Ach Gott, vom Himmel sieh’ darein
Und lass’ dich des erbarmen,
Wie wenig sind der Heil’gen dein,
Verlassen sind wir Armen:
Dein Wort man laesst nicht haben wahr,
Der Glaub’ ist auch verloschen gar
Bei allen Menschenkindern.

Ah God, look down from heaven
and still have mercy on us,
how few are the saints that belong to you,
we poor wretches are forsaken.
People simply will not accept your word as truth,
faith is also fading away
among all mankind.

2

Sie lehren eitel falsche List,
Was eigner Witz erfindet;
Ihr Herz nicht eines Sinnes ist,
In Gottes Wort gegründet.
Der wählet dies, der andre das,
Sie trennen uns ohn’ alle Mass’
Und gleißen schön von außen.

They teach vain, false cunning,
the invention of their own wit.
Their hearts are not of one mind,
based on God’s word.
One choooses this, another that,
they cause endless divisions amongst us
and have a fine outward gleam.

3

Gott woll’ ausrotten alle Lehr’r,
Die falschen Schein uns lehren,
Dazu ihr’ Zung’ stolz offenbar
Spricht Trotz, wer will’s uns wehren?
Wir haben Recht und Macht allein,
Was wir setzen, das gilt gemein;
Wer ist, der uns soll meistern?

May it be God’s will to root out all the teachers
who teach us false appearances.
For this purpose their tongues arrogantly and openly
speak defiance: “Who will oppose us ?
We alone have right and power.
What we set up is commonly accepted.
Who is there who should be master over us?”

4

Darum spricht Gott: Ich muß auf sein,
Die Armen sind verstöret,
Ihr Seufzen dringt zu mir herein,
Ich hab’ ihr’ Klag’ erhöret.
Mein heilsam Wort soll auf den Plan,
Getrost und frisch sie greifen an
Und sein die Kraft der Armen.

Therefore God speaks: “I must take action,
the poor are bewildered.
Their sighs pierce through to me,
I have heard their lamentation.
My healing word shall according to my plan
bring them consolation and relief
and be the strength of the poor.

5

Das Silber durch’s Feuer siebenmal
Bewaehrt, wird lauter funden:
Am Gottes Wort man warten soll
Desgleichen alle Stunden:
Es will durch’s Kreuz bewaehret sein,
Da wird sein’ Kraft erkannt und Schein
Und leucht’t stark in die Lande.

Silver by fire seven times tested
is found to be pure.
We should in the same way wait for God’s word
at all times:
through the cross it will be tested,
in this way its power
and glory will be known and it shine strongly.

6

Das wollst du, Gott, bewahren rein
Fuer deisem argen G’schlechte,
Und lass uns dir befohlen sein,
Das sich’s in uns nicht flechte,
Der gottlos’ Hauf’ sich umher findt,
Wo diese lose Leute sind
In deinem Volk erhaben.

May you , God, keep pure that [Word]
in the face of this evil generation
that we may entrust ourselves to you,
so that nothing in us may twist it.
The godless crowd surounds us
where such mischievous characters
are exalted among your people.

And the Bach Cantate for this hymn is from BWV 2: Ach Gott vom Himmel sieh darein …

About Wilhelm Weber jr

Rector of the Lutheran Theological Seminary in Tshwane
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