Getting ready for Church this 6th Sunday after Trinity, which commemorates our Holy Baptism and with that God most gracious election and sure providence, his merciful preservation through all calamities over the ages and His faithful perseverance throughout. The Introit puts that into long-term context of how God chose us even well before he created us well before conception in secret places and how He leads us to our eternal salvation in His faithful and everlasting ways.
O Lord, you examine me and know me.
You know when I sit down and when I get up;
even from far away you understand my motives.
You carefully observe me when I travel or when I lie down to rest;
you are aware of everything I do.
Certainly my tongue does not frame a word
without you, O Lord, being thoroughly aware of it.
You squeeze me in from behind and in front;
you place your hand on me.
Your knowledge is beyond my comprehension;
it is so far beyond me, I am unable to fathom it.
Where can I go to escape your Spirit?
Where can I flee to escape your presence?
If I were to ascend to heaven, you would be there.
If I were to sprawl out in Sheol, there you would be.
If I were to fly away on the wings of the dawn,
and settle down on the other side of the sea,
even there your hand would guide me,
your right hand would grab hold of me.
If I were to say, “Certainly the darkness will cover me,
and the light will turn to night all around me,”
even the darkness is not too dark for you to see,
and the night is as bright asday;
darkness and light are the same to you.
Certainly you made my mind and heart;
you wove me together in my mother’s womb.
I will give you thanks because your deeds are awesome and amazing.
You knew me thoroughly;
my bones were not hidden from you,
when I was made in secret
and sewed together in the depths of the earth.
Your eyes saw me when I was inside the womb.
All the days ordained for me
were recorded in your scroll
before one of them came into existence.
How difficult it is for me to fathom your thoughts about me, O God
How vast is their sum total.
If I tried to count them,
they would outnumber the grains of sand.
Even if I finished counting them,
I would still have to contend with you.
If only you would kill the wicked, O God!Psalm 139
Get away from me, you violent men!
They rebel against you and act deceitfully;
your enemies lie.
O Lord, do I not hate those who hate you,
and despise those who oppose you?
I absolutely hate them;
they have become my enemies.
Examine me, O God, and probe my thoughts.
Test me, and know my concerns.
See if there is any idolatrous way in me,
and lead me in the everlasting way.
The Old Testament lesson from the great prophet Isaiah underlines His divine ways as He continues to lead and guide His chosen people through thick and thin and from the very ends of the earth to the promised fatherland prepared for us in heaven.
Now, this is what the Lord says,Isaiah 43:1-7
the one who created you, O Jacob, and formed you, O Israel:
“Don’t be afraid, for I will protect you.
I call you by name, you are mine.
When you pass through the waters, I am with you;
when you pass through the streams, they will not overwhelm you.
When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned;
the flames will not harm you.
For I am the Lord your God,
the Holy One of Israel, your deliverer.
I have handed over Egypt as a ransom price,
Ethiopia and Seba in place of you.
Since you are precious and special in my sight,
and I love you,
I will hand over people in place of you,
nations in place of your life.
Don’t be afraid, for I am with you.
From the east I will bring your descendants;
from the west I will gather you.
I will say to the north, ‘Hand them over!’
and to the south, ‘Don’t hold any back!’
Bring my sons from distant lands,
and my daughters from the remote regions of the earth,
everyone who belongs to me,
whom I created for my glory,
whom I formed—yes, whom I made.
The Holy Gospel from the evangelist St. Matthew emphasizes this godly mission and clarifies, that He works salvation through His divine means of grace – which effectively creates, grows and flourishes justifying faith not just among the predestined Jews, but includes gentiles from all nations, races and tongues around the globe and to the very ends of the earth in the holy destiny of God´s selected people. This is the awesome and amazing work of the triune God, who lives and reigns – today as He did yesterday – and tomorrow too. Peace be with You + Therefore, don´t be afraid. He is with us always until the very end of the age.
So the eleven disciples went to Galilee to the mountain Jesus had designated. When they saw him, they worshiped him, but some doubted. Then Jesus came up and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”Gospel of St. Matthew 28:16-20
The sermon on the Old Testament lesson from Deuteronomy 7:6-12 stresses, that this selection and predestination to be a people holy i.e. belonging exclusively to God is not on account of our merits, net-worth, size, numbers or other capacities, works or deeds, but rather is determined solely by God´s gracious election, His undeserved love for us and His ongoing compassion for us and all people – just as He promised our Fathers – Abraham etc. Israel´s ancestors, whom He delivered from slavery in Egypt and all tyranny of Pharao and kept them throughout the years of wanderings – until He brought them finally to the promised land. He is a sure and faithful God – who keeps His promises for thousand generations – way better and far beyond our wildest dreams.
For you are a people holy to the Lord your God. He has chosen you to be his people, prized above all others on the face of the earth. It is not because you were more numerous than all the other peoples that the Lord favored and chose you—for in fact you were the least numerous of all peoples. Rather it is because of his love for you and his faithfulness to the promise he solemnly vowed to your ancestors that the Lord brought you out with great power, redeeming you from the place of slavery, from the power of Pharaoh king of Egypt. So realize that the Lord your God is the true God, the faithful God who keeps covenant faithfully with those who love him and keep his commandments, to a thousand generations, but who pays back those who hate him as they deserve and destroys them. He will not ignore those who hate him but will repay them as they deserve! So keep the commandments, statutes, and ordinances that I today am commanding you to do. If you obey these ordinances and are careful to do them, the Lord your God will faithfully keep covenant with you as he promised your ancestors.Deuteronomy 7:6-12
Together with the Christian Church and all saints and forgiven sinners we sing His glorious praises – here in somewhat low key, but there in all His perfection and promised glory to come:
1. All mankind fell in Adam's fall, One common sin infects them all; From sire to son the bane descends, And over all the curse impends. 2. Through all man's powers corruption creeps And him in dreadful bondage keeps; In guilt he draws his infant breath And reaps its fruits of woe and death. 3. From hearts depraved, to evil prone, Flow thoughts and deeds of sin alone; God's image lost, the darkened soul Nor seeks nor finds its heavenly goal. 4. But Christ, the second Adam, came To bear our sin and woe and shame, To be our Life, our Light, our Way, Our only Hope, our only Stay. 5. As by one man all mankind fell And, born in sin, was doomed to hell, So by one Man, who took our place, We all received the gift of grace. 6. We thank Thee, Christ; new life is ours, New light, new hope, new strength, new powers: May grace our every way attend Until we reach our journey's end!