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The Eighteenth Sunday After Pentecost C

The Eighteenth Sunday After Pentecost C

Jesus’ question has echoed through the generations until it has come to us.  As it reverberates in the emptiness of our none-too-crowded sanctuaries, it resonates between the poles of despair and pride—despair that our local congregations are dwindling and closing, pride that the few of us still gathered are the faithful remnant.  The truth is that we cannot answer Jesus’ question except to say, “They are not here.”  Perhaps they have gone off as Jesus once commanded, “Go and proclaim the kingdom of God!”  Or maybe they’ve gone off to bury their dead or to say goodbye to father and mother or to find a place to lay their head (cf. Lk. 9:57-62).  Could it be that having once shown themselves to the priest, they were overcome by the desire for attending to the religious duties they so neglected during their time of affliction?  Even today, religious duties of all sorts come between us and our Lord Jesus Christ.  We should, I think, be cautious in our assessment of the absent nine as ungrateful louts… hesitant in our despairing and taking pride… and prayerful in being confronted by Jesus’ question, “Where are the nine?”  Tomorrow, it may be us who are numbered among them.

Prayers from one in constant danger of being numbered among the nine…

Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the healer of our souls, grant that your Son so heal my soul as to take me out of pride and despair and deposit me in eternal gratitude for the healing his salvation has wrought within me.

Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the healer of our souls, grant that your Son forgive my sins of pride and despair which overtake me whenever your saving Word slips from my hearing.

Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the healer of our souls, grant that your Son be delivered to me by my preacher so that my ears do not remain empty of your saving Word.

Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the healer of our souls, grant that, as my ears are full of your saving Word, my hands would be filled with works useful to my neighbors.

Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the healer of our souls, grant that my works, useful though they may be, do not become my source of righteousness; keep that, Father, solely to your Son, Jesus Christ.

Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the healer of our souls, grant the Institute of Lutheran Theology be the recipient of some useful work from the labor of my hands.

Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the healer of our souls, grant that during these days of my baptism you would deliver me out of pride and despair and turn me again and again to the healing wrought by my salvation in Jesus Christ your Son.  Amen