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The Institute of Lutheran theology not only provides programs to train pastors and teachers, but it also provides educational and devotional resources for individuals and congregations. These resources are provided free of charge and made available through our web page. Please subscribe to and use any of these resources.

The Institute of Lutheran theology not only provides programs to train pastors and teachers, but it also provides educational and devotional resources for individuals and congregations. These resources are provided free of charge and made available through our web page. Please subscribe to and use any of these resources.

The Fifth Sunday After Epiphany A

The Fifth Sunday After Epiphany A

Perhaps you’ve heard of this strategy:  Lowering expectations and so increasing the chances of success.  That’s exactly what Jesus refers to as he teaches during his Sermon on the Mount.  Perhaps he is looking directly at the Pharisees when he says this.  They were frequent practitioners of lowered expectations when it came to the Law, reducing it to manageable demands for those who had wealth and leisure.  These lowered expectations provided them with greater opportunity for successfully obeying the Law.  Consider their lowered expectation regarding divorce.  They lowered the expectation of successful obedience as “no divorce” period to the standard which Moses gave them:  a husband could divorce his wife with a writ and still be acting lawfully.  Jesus rejected that teaching: “He said to them, Because of your hardness of heart Moses allowed you to divorce your wives, but from the beginning, it was not so” (Mt. 19:8).  Jesus’ accusation has come down to us:  What laws are relaxed by us in order that we can fulfill those laws?  But then, because we no longer bear the guilt of failure, we think we don’t need as much of Jesus’ forgiveness.  Isn’t it better to let Jesus be the majestic Lord and Savior rather than us trying to reduce our guilt through manipulating the Law?

Prayers from one who is all on board with lowered expectations…

Father Divine, the Law remains in full force until heaven and earth pass away, grant that the Law’s demands would order my life and all creation during these days when my life and all creation are so broken by sin that they will not be ordered by love.  Lord in your mercy, hear my prayer.

Father Divine, the Law remains in full force until heaven and earth pass away, grant that the Law never stops pursuing me with its accusation… grant that I am kept from relying on my own fulfillment of the Law… grant that I rely solely on Jesus’ perfect fulfillment of the Law.  Lord in your mercy, hear my prayer.

Father Divine, the Law remains in full force until heaven and earth pass away, grant that the Law finally establish me in its reality:  I am dead in my sin.  Grant those dead ears of mine to be filled with the gospel of Jesus Christ who’s come to be the life of dead sinners.  Lord in your mercy, hear my prayer.

Father Divine, the Law remains in full force until heaven and earth pass away, grant that, if I cannot love my neighbors as I ought, I still serve them out of obedience to the Law.  Lord in your mercy, hear my prayer.

Father Divine, the Law remains in full force until heaven and earth pass away, grant that my neighbors, too, be well-ordered by the Law so that my life in this creation will be protected and peaceable.  Lord in your mercy, hear my prayer.

Father Divine, the Law remains in full force until heaven and earth pass away, grant that the Institute of Lutheran Theology recognizes its obligations under the laws and regulations of those bodies that govern it and that it strives to fulfill those obligations.  Lord in your mercy, hear my prayer.

Father Divine, the Law remains in full force until heaven and earth pass away, grant me the ears to hear your Word, Jesus Christ, as he speaks to me during these days of my baptism and as he calls me forth out of the dust from which I came.  Lord in your mercy, hear my prayer.

Father in Heaven, your ways are not the world’s ways, grant to the Institute of Lutheran Theology an ongoing proclamation of your Word so that it, too, would bring your kingdom among us.  My Lord, make it so!

Father in Heaven, your ways are not the world’s ways, grant me such certainty of your kingdom’s presence come to me that, even when my thinking, feeling, and doing contradict its presence, I return again and again to hear your Word and receive your Sacraments which restore my faith that your kingdom is indeed present.  My Lord, make it so!

To you, Father, I pray, confident that you hear me and will indeed make it so.  Amen

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