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Fourth Sunday After Epiphany C

Fourth Sunday After Epiphany C

Week of January 24, 2022 | Sunday, January 30, 2022

Luke 4:31-44

“And in the synagogue, there was a man who had the spirit of an unclean demon…” (vs. 33).

Here we have scriptural attestation that even the demon-possessed attend church (or, in this case, synagogue). The demon-possessed may even appear more knowledgeable because this demon knew Jesus’ identity. The devil and his demons know the factual and historical details of the faith, but they do not have those details… they do not have Jesus, his Father, and their Holy Spirit “for you.” In other words, Jesus is not their life. He is not present for them in faith. This line that separates faith from non-faith, belief from unbelief is drawn in three places: First it is drawn between the world and the church, separating those who are called out of the world from those who remain in the world. Second, it is drawn among those in the called-out assembly, separating those who receive faith from the work of the Holy Spirit from those who are merely called out. And third, the line is drawn within those upon whom the Holy Spirit works, for it is they who cry, “Lord, I believe. Help my unbelief” (Mk. 9:24).

Prayers from one who must trust that the Holy Spirit works faith in the hearing of the Word because all he can find through self-examination are virtues and conceits of his own devising…

Heavenly Father, by my own reason or strength I cannot come to your Son or believe in him; give me confidence and assurance that the Holy Spirit has called me through the gospel, enlightened me with his gifts, sanctified, and kept me in the one true faith which is Jesus Christ, your Son. Amen

Heavenly Father, by my own reason or strength I cannot prove the existence of the faith your Holy Spirit gives me; grant that I can be confident of my salvation simply because your Word tells me again and again that you have given me salvation, which is Jesus Christ, your Son. Amen

Heavenly Father, by my own reason or strength I cannot fulfill the good you command of me; grant that I have your forgiveness of both my vices and of my virtues since all my works are under the condemnation of your judgement, in Jesus Christ, your Son. Amen

Heavenly Father, by my own reason or strength I cannot love my neighbor as myself; grant that, even in my selfishness, I may still be well-behaved toward those in my family and my community, in Jesus Christ, your Son. Amen

Heavenly Father, by my own reason or strength I cannot treat my neighbors as ends in themselves but, in my bondage, must consider them as either implements to demonstrate my righteousness or as impediments to such demonstration, in Jesus Christ, your Son. Amen

Heavenly Father, by my own reason or strength I cannot bring about the success of the Institute of Lutheran Theology, but I pray and petition you that you keep it in the faithful teaching of Jesus Christ, him crucified, and him alone, in that same Jesus Christ who is your Son. Amen

Heavenly Father, by my own reason or strength I cannot hope to endure in faith until the coming of your Son, Jesus Christ, in glory. Grant that your Holy Spirit continue to work such faith and such hope as I hear your Word preached, receive your Sacraments, and have the forgiveness of sins pronounced upon me, for the sake of your Son, Jesus Christ. Amen

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