The First Sunday After Christmas

Even the parents of Jesus—who is the end of the Law for all who believe (Ro. 10:4)—obeyed the Law.  The Law kept order in their community.  Their keeping of the Law satisfied the expectations of the neighbors.  Mary and Joseph’s fulfilling of the Law put in their ears the words of two prophets, Simeon and Anna… words meant to sustain them through the years and meant for them to remember during the days of Jesus’ passion.  While the Law is not meant for righteousness in those who believe, it nonetheless retains a salutary use:  It orders our lives, and it orders the death of sinners.  As the Law orders our lives, we can have reasonable expectations of safety and security in our homes and communities.  This order produced in obedience to the Law provides us with opportunities unavailable to us if only chaos prevailed.  Those opportunities include the hearing of the Gospel.  When the Gospel is heard, then the Law’s ordering miserable sinners to a merciful death takes place.  Out of that death, the good news—the viva vox evangelii, the living Word of God– raises up saints to walk in newness of life.   When the ordering function of the Law is respected, the Gospel, then, is God’s ultimate word to us.  We’re able to confess with Paul, “The Law until Christ!” (Gal.3:23-24).

Prayers from those always adding their own words to the Gospel’s ultimate word…

My Heavenly Father, you order both my death and my life.  Reveal to me the sure and certain end that my sin is the death of me.  Amen

My Heavenly Father, you order both my death and my life.  Put the gospel of your Son, Jesus Christ, in my dead ears so that its life-giving power would raise me from the dead.  Amen

My Heavenly Father, you order both my death and my life.  Being raised from the dead, grant that I walk in newness of life because Christ is my life.  Amen

My Heavenly Father, you order both my death and my life.  While I walk in newness of life, turn me toward my neighbors in love.  Amen

My Heavenly Father, you order both my death and my life.  As my neighbors, too, walk in newness of life, turn them toward me in love as well.  Amen

My Heavenly Father, you order both my death and my life.  So order the life of the Institute of Lutheran Theology that it, too, knows and rests in the Gospel as God’s ultimate word.  Amen

My Heavenly Father, you order both my death and my life.  Should Christ’s coming in glory not arrive until I am deep in my grave, so keep those dead ears of mine attuned to hear his voice.  Amen

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The Fourth Sunday of Advent

Those in power accosted John, demanding he reveal his identity… as if he had been “hiding” something about himself.  Really…  what would a man who openly wore clothes made of camel’s hair and leather, ate grasshoppers sweetened with honey, and lived in the desert… what would such a man have to hide?  However, those in power are suspicious of those who are not easily categorizable, especially if they gain popularity with the public.  So those in power accosted John demanding he reveal his identity: “Who are you?” Each of us has a story we tell ourselves about ourselves—a personal narrative.  Bit-by-bit, over the years, we add pieces to this narrative until we can answer the question “Who are you?” satisfactorily… especially to ourselves.  This is the fundamental problem with our identity:  we can’t know ourselves from within ourselves.  We have no vantage point from which to look at ourselves.  This is the condition of our immanence:  we can’t transcend ourselves to see ourselves.  Any identity we give ourselves can never be a true identity.  The story we tell ourselves about ourselves—our personal narrative—will always be a myth, a falsehood, ever in danger of being exposed when it encounters the transcendent, the one who is beyond the imminent.  The transcendent confronts the imminent demanding, “Who are you?”  The coming of your Lord Jesus Christ covers your “I am not” with his great “I am” so that, during these days of your baptism, your spirit and your soul and your body are kept sound and blameless—not because they are your identity but because you have received them from him.  You are not, but Jesus Christ is.

Prayers from those who reject the “I am not,” and instead covet the claim, “I am!”

Heavenly Father, your Son Jesus Christ must increase while I must decrease.  Reveal to me the depths of my sin so that I am brought to nothing while Jesus becomes the one something in my life.  Lord, be merciful and hear my prayer.

Heavenly Father, your Son Jesus Christ must increase while I must decrease.  Grant to me an answer to my cry from the depths of my nothingness and make that answer the life of Christ.  Lord, be merciful and hear my prayer.

Heavenly Father, your Son Jesus Christ must increase while I must decrease.  Give me ears to hear the promise of my savior and Lord when he says to me, “Because I am, you shall be, too.”  Lord, be merciful and hear my prayer.

Heavenly Father, your Son Jesus Christ must increase while I must decrease.  Take away my selfishness when I am confronted by my neighbors so that I can be of help to them in all their physical needs.  Lord, be merciful and hear my prayer.

Heavenly Father, your Son Jesus Christ must increase while I must decrease.  Give my neighbors eyes and ears to hear of my troubles and come to aid me when troubles abound.  Lord, be merciful and hear my prayer.

Heavenly Father, your Son Jesus Christ must increase while I must decrease.  Grant that the Institute of Lutheran Theology be content with the identity it receives from the Word of the Lord.  Lord, be merciful and hear my prayer.

Heavenly Father, your Son Jesus Christ must increase while I must decrease.  During these days of my baptism, continue to pour your Word into my ears so that the Holy Spirit delivers Jesus Christ afresh each day to be my life.  Lord, be merciful and hear my prayer.

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The Third Sunday of Advent

Jesus uses the Greek word from which we draw our English word “scandal.”  To say it as such, “Blessed is the one who is not scandalized by me.”  Jesus frequently uses this word when he warns the disciples of the persecution that is coming not only his way, but their way as well.  He wants them to anticipate the opposition so that they are not scandalized by Jesus and fall away.  This is especially true in the gospel of Joh, e.g., “I have told you all these things so that you will not fall away” (Jn. 16:1).  Jesus was simply not the Messiah that the people expected, both the common people and the religious elite.  As he came in his humility, he simply wasn’t triumphal enough… religious enough… elite enough… and the religious elite manipulated his crucifixion and people in the crowd endorsed it.  Jesus ‘the disappointment’ rather than Jesus ‘the Messiah.’   Jesus wants you to be forewarned as well.  He does not want you to fall away from the truth simply because Jesus will not be the Messiah you want him to be.  When Jesus appears insufficiently triumphal to you and glory is a long time coming, offense comes easy.  Scandal abounds and drives you to manufacture a Messiah more to your liking… a Messiah from your own imagination but definitely more suited to your desires.  Most likely, thought that manufactured Messiah will have little in common with the offensiveness of the Jesus who died on the cross… his death a scandal and not a blessing.

Prayers from those tempted always to conform Jesus to the image of the Messiah they’d rather have . . .

Heavenly Father, your Son died a shameful death at the hands of sinners.  So number me among the sinners that I confess my guilt and receive his forgiveness as the scandal it is.  For Jesus’ sake, hear my prayer.

Heavenly Father, your Son died a shameful death at the hands of sinners.  As I receive his forgiveness of my sins, grant that I trust you, Father, to tell me the truth and your Son, Jesus Christ, to be the truth he has declared himself to be.  For Jesus’ sake, hear my prayer.

Heavenly Father, your Son died a shameful death at the hands of sinners.  Living out of your trustworthy Word, turn me back to the creation… back to the world… so that it is not only a gift to me but that I am a gift to it.  For Jesus’ sake, hear my prayer.

Heavenly Father, your Son died a shameful death at the hands of sinners.  I have work to do, responsibilities to fulfill, and duties to keep in the family and community to which I belong.  Keep those tasks as ends in themselves and keep me from using them as the means to the end of my righteousness before you.  For Jesus’ sake, hear my prayer.

Heavenly Father, your Son died a shameful death at the hands of sinners.  Even as I do not obtain my righteousness through my labors in this world, nonetheless, grant that my work is useful in making this sin broken creation more trustworthy.  For Jesus’ sake, hear my prayer.

Heavenly Father, your Son died a shameful death at the hands of sinners.  Grant to the Institute of Lutheran Theology a deep appreciation for the trustworthiness of your Word and for the discernment of fallibility in all human words.  For Jesus’ sake, hear my prayer.

Heavenly Father, your Son died a shameful death at the hands of sinners.  As I live out the days of my baptism sharing the humility of Jesus Christ, and taking no offense at him, grant that his day of glory soon arrives so that my patience is not exhausted.  For Jesus’ sake, hear my prayer.

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The Second Sunday of Advent

Well, there’s a reversal for you.  The kingdom of God is not near when times are good but is near when times are troubled.  Jesus says so.  How troubled you may ask?  This troubled:  sun, moon, and stars will deliver up portends… the seas will roar, and the nations will be distressed by perplexity… the powers of heaven will shake… and the world will be filled with foreboding.  Perilous times, for sure.  Yet, they are also promising times because Jesus’ has announced that such times herald the nearness… announce the approach… portend the coming… of the Kingdom of God.  Such times are as close as we’ll get to knowing at what day and at what hour the Father will bring in the kingdom (cf. Acts 1:7).  One thing is obvious, though.  Not one of these portends is our doing.  The puny works of humanity do not shake the powers of heaven… they do not fashion signs in the sun, the moon, and the stars… they do not cause the seas to roar… Humanity’s puny works, whether done in pride or despair, are no cause or influence on the nearness of the kingdom of God.  Only Jesus… only Jesus comes announcing “The Kingdom of God is at hand.  Repent!  Believe!” (cf. Mark 1:15).  In those perilous times… in those promising times… Jesus assures us the Kingdom of God is present because he is present.  Thanks be to God!

Prayers from those who believe their lying eyes rather than the enduring Word of God . . .

Father in heaven, your kingdom comes despite all evidence to the contrary.  So grant to us the hearing of your Word that we may be held in faith and live by the revelation of truth delivered in that Word.  Tell me the truth, O Lord and hold me in faith.

Father in heaven, your kingdom comes despite all evidence to the contrary.  As we are held in faith and truth, take from us our fear of perilous times and grant that we live from the certainty of your promise.  Tell me the truth, O Lord and hold me in faith.

Father in heaven, your kingdom comes despite all evidence to the contrary.  As we live out of your promise, keep us humble with respect to our works for you alone bring in the kingdom announced by Jesus Christ.  Tell me the truth, O Lord and hold me in faith.

Father in heaven, your kingdom comes despite all evidence to the contrary.  As we are humble in our works, grant that they are nonetheless useful to our neighbors for the delivery of their daily bread and the announcement of the Bread come down from Heaven.  Tell me the truth, O Lord and hold me in faith.

Father in heaven, your kingdom comes despite all evidence to the contrary.  As we are but a delivery system for the goods of your creation, both this one and the next, give us appreciation for our tasks, duties, and callings set before us from day to day.  Tell me the truth, O Lord and hold me in faith.

Father in heaven, your kingdom comes despite all evidence to the contrary.  As we are appreciative of the work you would have us do, include the Institute of Lutheran Theology and all those who labor within it among those thankful for their vocations.  Tell me the truth, O Lord and hold me in faith.

Father in heaven, your kingdom comes despite all evidence to the contrary.  As we are thankful to labor within these days of our baptism, grant us as well a thankfulness for that coming day when we receive rest from our labors as the New Creation becomes manifest in glory.  Tell me the truth, O Lord and hold me in faith.

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The First Sunday of Advent

This shout of acclamation has been given a place in the liturgy of our service of Holy Communion.  There, we know it as the “Sanctus.”  There, it is the song of the people as they anticipate the Words of Institution… an anticipation full of joy and of an eager hopefulness that their reception of the body and blood of their Lord will indeed be blessed—that is, fruitful… fruitful unto their salvation.  To bless something is to commend it to fruitfulness.  To bless is a prayer for the productivity of whatever is being blessed.  To interpret the people’s shout under this rubric is to hear the “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord” as a cry of confidence that the one bearing the name of the Lord is indeed fruitful and productive.  This Lord’s fruitfulness delivers abundant salvation.  His profligate productivity establishes the people in the forgiveness of their sins.  For now, all this abundance and fruitfulness is a matter of faith; the experience of its glory awaits us.  The very voices who shouted “Hosanna!” as welcome to their king, days later turned to shouting, “Crucify him!” when their king disappointed them by suffering humiliation without any visible or tangible evidence of glory.

Prayers from those frustrated by having to live in humility rather than glory as they await the coming of their king…

Heavenly Father, as you sent your Son so has your Son sent us, grant that I remain in humility as I await the appearance of my glory when He comes again in glory.  Father, hear my prayer.

Heavenly Father, as you sent your Son so has your Son sent us, hold me in a confident faith, enduring and humble, during these days of my baptism.  Father, hear my prayer.

Heavenly Father, as you sent your Son so has your Son sent us, as I endure the humility of this sin-broken world, and the persistence of my sinful self, keep me from taking pride in my piety and trusting in my righteous deeds.  Father, hear my prayer.

Heavenly Father, as you sent your Son so has your Son sent us, deliver me into the hands of my neighbors that I would be of some use to them in the acquisition of their daily bread.  Father, hear my prayer.

Heavenly Father, as you sent your Son so has your Son sent us, as I would lack for my daily bread provide me with neighbors who will deliver that bread to me.  Father, hear my prayer.

Heavenly Father, as you sent your Son so has your Son sent us, keep the Institute of Lutheran Theology in the humility of knowing Jesus and Jesus only.  Father, hear my prayer.

Heavenly Father, as you sent your Son so has your Son sent us, during these days of my baptism place your Word on my lips so that I would deliver the Bread of Life come down from heaven to my neighbors.  Father, hear my prayer.

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Christ The King Sunday A

07 reaction of the righteous and the unrighteous.  Jesus has previously delivered this reassurance to his disciples, “No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him” (Jn. 6:44).  This reality is echoed in Jesus’ call to the sheep, “Come, you who are blessed by my Father…” (Mt. 25:34).  The reality reflects that the Father’s blessing… the Father’s drawing… comes prior to the works of charity.  Another reality is echoed in Jesus’ dismissal of those on his left… the goats…, “Depart from me, you cursed…”  This reality implies that the cursing of the goats took place prior to their lack of charity. The reality of the blessed, the elect of God versus the reality of the cursed, those whom God has not elected draws forth a question from your lips, “What must I do to be among the elect of God?”  The answer?  “Show up!”  Show up in that only place where Jesus can be found “for you!”  There, in the physical presence of the body of Christ… there, where the church is established by the preaching of the gospel and the giving of the sacraments… there, God elects you… God draws you to Jesus… God, the Father blesses you… From there, God sends you out to be busy among your neighbors, feeding them, clothing them, visiting them, and ministering to them.  Unbeknownst to you at the time, the presence of your Lord Jesus is hidden among them.  Surprise!  You have fed, clothed, visited, and ministered to the very Lord of your salvation.

Prayers from one constant in his attempts to achieve his election rather than simply receiving it from the Father…

Heavenly Father, you elect… you choose… you draw… all things through your Son, Jesus Christ.  Deliver this election to me as your Word fills my ears, washes over my head, and feeds my mouth.  Grant me, Lord, the reality of your choosing me.  Amen

Heavenly Father, you elect… you choose… you draw… all things through your Son, Jesus Christ.  Bless me with your choosing that I would be in the company and fellowship of all the others you have called out with your choosing.  Grant me, Lord, the reality of your choosing me.  Amen

Heavenly Father, you elect… you choose… you draw… all things through your Son, Jesus Christ.    As I am in the company of these saints you have chosen, grant me the comfort of their conversation and consolation.  Grant me, Lord, the reality of your choosing me.  Amen

Heavenly Father, you elect… you choose… you draw… all things through your Son, Jesus Christ.  From the blessedness of this company, send me into the world where I might serve my neighbor by feeding, clothing, and ministering to them.  Grant me, Lord, the reality of your choosing me.  Amen

Heavenly Father, you elect… you choose… you draw… all things through your Son, Jesus Christ.  Grant me the anticipation that the serving and ministering to those neighbors of mine would finally be revealed as ministering to my savior and Lord himself.  Grant me, Lord, the reality of your choosing me.  Amen

Heavenly Father, you elect… you choose… you draw… all things through your Son, Jesus Christ.  So hold the Institute of Lutheran Theology in the proclamation of your Word that it, too, would deliver your election to its students.  Grant me, Lord, the reality of your choosing me.  Amen

Heavenly Father, you elect… you choose… you draw… all things through your Son, Jesus Christ.  So work upon me in these days of my baptism that I would show up again and again to that place where Jesus Christ can be found “for me” and in that receiving of your Son “for me,” I would know your election once again.  Grant me, Lord, the reality of your choosing me.  Amen

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Twenty-Fifth Sunday After Pentecost A

Our twenty-first-century ears hear the cursing of that miserly, fearful, and overly protective slave as justified and appropriate.  Who did he think he was, that he should refuse to multiply the talent he’d been given?  Those first-century ears though, they heard this as a scandal.  Their hero… the one-talent slave… the one who didn’t deprive their neighbors of a living… he who followed the law… their neighbor who was normed by cultural restraints and the teaching of the rabbis… their hero received a curse and a casting out.  The owners of those first-century ears would have been struck speechless at the casting of their hero into the outer darkness.  In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.  Perhaps, then, given such consideration, we will realize that this parable isn’t about the talents and their multiplication.  The talents are simply a device to describe those who operate outside the law and social convention and the one who operates inside the law and within social convention.  In that distinction, Jesus is portrayed as that hard man, greedy enough to reap where he did not sow and to gather where he planted no seed.  Here is the harsh scandal:  the master of his domain operates entirely outside of the legal scheme… outside of the honor/shame system… outside of the safe and acceptable teachings of the tradition.  Furthermore, the master judges and condemns the very one who stands within the legal scheme… within the honor/shame system… within the safe and acceptable teachings of the tradition.  The Apostle put it this way: “For we consider that a person is declared righteous by faith apart from the works of the law.” (Ro. 3:28) This distinction is so stark and scandalous that Paul would say that one can be in Christ, or one can be under the law but you can’t be both under the law and in Christ at one and the same time.  Christ is your life; the law is your death sentence.  The law puts you as deep in the dirt as was that one talent given to the miserly slave.  It is the death of you.  And it will not stop accusing you until the dirt is thrown in your face when you return to the dust from which you came.

Prayers from one whose ears are stopped up by the legal scheme… filled with evaluations of honor and shame… obstructed by the safe and acceptable teachings of the tradition…

Heavenly Father, your Son is not safe for he works outside of, and apart from, the law.  Deliver me Father from my confidence in works of the law.  For Jesus’ sake.  Amen

Heavenly Father, your Son is not safe for he works outside of, and apart from, the law.  Deliver me into the salvation of your Son.  For Jesus’ sake.  Amen

Heavenly Father, your Son is not safe for he works outside of, and apart from, the law.  Deliver me from the safety of my tradition and culture.  For Jesus’ sake.  Amen

Heavenly Father, your Son is not safe for he works outside of, and apart from, the law.  Deliver me into the certainty of your Son for me.  For Jesus’ sake.  Amen

Heavenly Father, your Son is not safe for he works outside of, and apart from, the law.    Deliver me from bondage to sin, death, and the power of the devil.  For Jesus’ sake.  Amen

Heavenly Father, your Son is not safe for he works outside of, and apart from, the law.  Deliver me into the kingdom of your Son.  For Jesus’ sake.  Amen

Heavenly Father, your Son is not safe for he works outside of, and apart from, the law.  Grant to the Institute of Lutheran Theology that it preaches and teaches Jesus Christ, him crucified, and him alone.  For Jesus’ sake.  Amen

xemeaino

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Twenty-Fourth Sunday After Pentecost A

This parable is full of distracting details.  It’s similar to those word problems given in Algebra class.  Only in determining the important details does one grasp the problem’s resolution.  The distracting details include:  the number of virgins; the division between those with extra oil and those with none; the lack of charity exhibited by those with extra oil; the buying in the marketplace; and so forth.  The one detail that matters is that some were present when the bridegroom came, and some were absent.  Those present amounted to those prepared and ready to enter in with the bridegroom.  They were seized by the moment.  Those who weren’t present amounted to those who were left behind because they could not seize the moment.  The bridegroom takes into the marriage feast all those waiting for him.  The lamps and their oil do not appear to be criteria for admission.  The only readiness is the readiness of presence—that is, being there to welcome the bridegroom and to follow him into the marriage feast.  By telling this parable Jesus admonishes his hearers to stand fast… to stand firm… to stand in eager expectation of his imminent return… and not be distracted by the non-essentials.

Prayers from one who is easily distracted…

Heavenly Father, you have set my salvation before me as Jesus and Jesus only.  Grant that the vision of my eyes corresponds to the hearing of my ears so that both are filled with Jesus Christ, him alone, and him crucified.  Lord in your mercy, hear my prayer.

Heavenly Father, you have set my salvation before me as Jesus and Jesus only.  As both my hearing and sight are filled by Jesus Christ, the Word of God, grant that his presence crowd out the presence of every distraction.  Lord in your mercy, hear my prayer.

Heavenly Father, you have set my salvation before me as Jesus and Jesus only.  When distraction no longer troubles me, grant to me the joy of keeping Jesus the one and only thing in this sin-broken world of nothings.  Lord in your mercy, hear my prayer.

Heavenly Father, you have set my salvation before me as Jesus and Jesus only.   While Jesus fills my ears and my eyes, grant to me the presence of my neighbors making known their needs that I may be useful in the fulfilling of them.  Lord in your mercy, hear my prayer.

Heavenly Father, you have set my salvation before me as Jesus and Jesus only.  Grant to my neighbors such a hearing of the Word of God that they come to know my needs and then are useful to me in the fulfilling of them.  Lord in your mercy, hear my prayer.

Heavenly Father, you have set my salvation before me as Jesus and Jesus only.  Grant to the Institute of Lutheran Theology such a hearing of the Word of God that it cannot help but speak that Word in its preaching and teaching.  Lord in your mercy, hear my prayer.

Heavenly Father, you have set my salvation before me as Jesus and Jesus only.  Bring me to that day when both my hearing and seeing in faith will end for Jesus has come in all his glory and my glory too will be evident.  Lord in your mercy, hear my prayer.

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All Saints’ Sunday A

“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied” (Matthew 5:6). The desire and the quest for righteousness—that is, justification for our life—never ceases. As long as it continues, we have no contentment and no satisfaction in our lives. Those in sales… Those in advertising… Those in politics… and, even those in the pulpit… use this lack of contentment and dissatisfaction to exhort and motivate us. They set before us a vision of the righteous life… a justified life… which could be ours if we would only buy their products, succumb to their marketing… vote for them and their agendas… or, if from the pulpit, adopt the preacher’s program for living righteously. The human hunger and thirst for righteousness is preyed upon and manipulated by those benefiting from human dissatisfaction and lack of contentment. When heard in this context, Jesus’ words deliver a blessing indeed. They are a blessing spoken into the misery of human dissatisfaction and discontent… a blessing of promise… a blessing of satisfaction as the end of human dissatisfaction… a blessing of contentment in all circumstances ending the human discontent. The blessing is delivered only in the person of Jesus Christ who fulfills our desire and quest for righteousness. His righteousness and not our own… His justification and not our own… In him and him alone, we receive satisfaction and contentment. Jesus and only Jesus, provides us with the Apostle Paul’s confession, “I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content” (Phil. 4:11).

Prayers from one long dissatisfied and discontent…

Holy Father, the person of your Son Jesus Christ delivers me into a creaturely wholly-ness. Grant me to rest and be satisfied, content to be wholly a creature and not striving after divinity. Lord Jesus Christ be my life. Amen

Holy Father, the person of your Son Jesus Christ delivers me into a creaturely wholly-ness. Protect my creaturely wholly-ness by silencing the lies of Satan, putting your Word into my ears so that your Holy Spirit would have its way with me. Lord Jesus Christ be my life. Amen

Holy Father, the person of your Son Jesus Christ delivers me into a creaturely wholly-ness. As my ears are filled with your Word and I am delivered into contentment, grant that my hunger be sated, and my thirst be quenched. Lord Jesus Christ be my life. Amen

Holy Father, the person of your Son Jesus Christ delivers me into a creaturely wholly-ness. Keep me from establishing my supposedly righteous agendas upon my neighbors but open my ears to opportunities that prove useful to them. Lord Jesus Christ be my life. Amen

Holy Father, the person of your Son Jesus Christ delivers me into a creaturely wholly-ness. Protect me from the imposition of my neighbors’ agendas upon me and do not let me be caught up in their quests for righteousness and justification. Lord Jesus Christ be my life. Amen

Holy Father, the person of your Son Jesus Christ delivers me into a creaturely wholly-ness. Grant that the Institute of Lutheran Theology be held in its place as a creaturely institution and not succumb to blandishments tempting it to pretensions of holiness. Lord Jesus Christ be my life. Amen

Holy Father, the person of your Son Jesus Christ delivers me into a creaturely wholly-ness. Re-establish me in this creaturely wholly-ness day-after-day for the Father of Lies never ceases to coax me into desiring some other righteousness than that provided by Jesus Christ who is my life. Lord Jesus Christ be my life. Amen

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Reformation Sunday A

In the scriptures, both the psalmist and the Apostle Paul decry the falsehoods of humanity: “All people are liars” (cf. Ps. 116:11 & Ro. 3:4).  Everybody lies, especially these Jews who had believed in Jesus.  These Jews were deep in the practice of self-deception and had been for generations.  Because of the lies they have been telling themselves about themselves, Jesus eventually names them sons of Satan, the Father of Lies (John 8:44).  In this old creation broken by sin and passing away, we cannot tell ourselves the truth about ourselves.  No, we cannot.  Instead, we have to be told the truth about ourselves and God.  The telling of such truth comes from only one source—that is, the one who claimed himself to be the truth. This exclusive truth-teller is Jesus Christ, him crucified and him alone.  When your preacher speaks for Jesus (Luke 10:16), your preacher speaks truth to you, handing the Word of God over to you in the person of Christ himself.  While you are in the flesh, you have been, are now, and will continue to be an inveterate liar.  Your preacher comes, however, to put the truth in your ears, to pour it upon your head, and to lay it upon your lips and tongue… the one and only truth… the exclusive of all others truth… that singular and unique Son of God come for you.

Prayers from liars who need the truth told to them…

Heavenly Father, your Son is the one truth-teller in a world of liars.  So put the truth that is Jesus Christ in his person to my ears that the Holy Spirit would deliver the truth to be my life and drive out the death of my lies.  Father in heaven, work your truth upon me.

Heavenly Father, your Son is the one truth-teller in a world of liars.  Break me free from my bondage to Satan, the Father of Lies, by binding me to Jesus Christ and, in this bondage to your Son, grant me enjoyment of his true freedom.  Father in heaven, work your truth upon me.

Heavenly Father, your Son is the one truth-teller in a world of liars.  As I enjoy the freedom of being bound to your Son, do not let me fall again beneath the yoke of bondage… bondage to lies.  Father in heaven, work your truth upon me.

Heavenly Father, your Son is the one truth-teller in a world of liars.  I confess that I have placed lies in my neighbors’ ears, forgive me for those falsehoods that I might start afresh.  Father in heaven, work your truth upon me.

Heavenly Father, your Son is the one truth-teller in a world of liars.  As I can be confident that you have forgiven me my lies, grant too that my neighbors forgive me as I and they suffer the consequences of my falsehoods.  Father in heaven, work your truth upon me.

Heavenly Father, your Son is the one truth-teller in a world of liars.  Keep the Institute of Lutheran Theology in the narrow way as it teaches and preaches the singular and unique truth which is your Son, Jesus Christ, him crucified and him alone, handed over to be the life of dead sinners.  Father in heaven, work your truth upon me.

Heavenly Father, your Son is the one truth-teller in a world of liars.  Hold me in such faith that I can endure the falsehoods and lies which swirl around me day after day.  Grant to me the bright lamp that is your Word and your Word alone so that I walk the way of the one truth until Jesus comes in all his glory.  Father in heaven, work your truth upon me.

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