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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 Twenty-First Sunday after Pentecost A

The Twenty-First Sunday after Pentecost A

Jesus points out the obvious to his interlocutors.  The coin used to pay taxes bears an image, the image of Caesar.  Whatever bears the image of Caesar belongs to Caesar.  By implication, whatever bears the image of God belongs to God.  Human beings bear the image of God and therefore belong to God.  Jesus’ response commends whatever bears Caesar’s image is rendered to him; whatever bears the image of God is rendered to God.  What, then, is the image of God?  Some would like to claim that human beings are made in the image of God because we have free will.  Such claims are pure speculation drawn from the presence of commandments in scripture which humans choose to obey, or not.  The answer to such speculation is to say quite simply, “An ought does not imply a can.” In other words, just because we are commanded to obedience doesn’t mean we have either the will or the ability to be obedient. In his commentaries on Genesis, Luther developed a more active understanding.  Humans are to image God to the earth.  Just as God has stewardship and lordship over the entirety of creation, humans are to image God in stewardship and lordship over the earth.  Yet another view (my favorite) relies upon God’s foreknowledge.  God foreknew the image and likeness which his Son, Jesus Christ, would take upon his Incarnation.  God, out of his foreknowledge, fashioned humanity into that same image which his Son would come to bear.

Prayers from one who takes pride in his obedience to the commandments and rejoices that the exercise of his free will provides occasions for a common pridefulness…

Heavenly Father, you are mindful of us, the men, and women of a common humanity.  Grant that we come to image your Son, Jesus Christ to this earth as we are conformed to him in both life and death.  Father in heaven, fashion and form us.

Heavenly Father, you are mindful of us, the men, and women of a common humanity.  Give us the eyes of faith to see in our suffering, affliction, and death that you are at work conforming us to Jesus Christ in his suffering, affliction, and death.  With such eyes of faith, we will behold your trustworthiness in all things.  Father in heaven, fashion and form us.

Heavenly Father, you are mindful of us, the men, and women of a common humanity.  Being the beneficiaries of your trustworthiness, we can be confident that since you have begun your good work in us that you will bring it to completion.  Father in heaven, fashion and form us.

Heavenly Father, you are mindful of us, the men, and women of a common humanity.  As we live out of such confidence, turn us to our neighbors so that we would be useful to them in the meeting of their daily needs without our being concerned whether we are obediently righteous or not.  Father in heaven, fashion and form us.

Heavenly Father, you are mindful of us, the men, and women of a common humanity.  As our neighbors enjoy our repentance—our being turned—from selfishness to usefulness, fill our days with the fellowship and camaraderie of a neighborhood joined in common labor.  Father in heaven, fashion and form us.

Heavenly Father, you are mindful of us, the men, and women of a common humanity.  Since a few men and women of this common humanity have come together as the Institute of Lutheran Theology, grant that its community of staff, faculty, and students would especially enjoy such fellowship and camaraderie.  Father in heaven, fashion and form us.

Heavenly Father, you are mindful of us, the men, and women of a common humanity.  The days of my baptism pass by in singular progression.  Keep me mindful that your mercies are fresh every day.  Deliver those mercies to me on the lips of my preacher so that I may endure through that singular progression of days.  Father in heaven, fashion and form us.

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