Sunday, July 22, 2012

Lord, Teach Us to Pray

Congregational Retreat
Eighth Sunday after Pentecost
Commemoration of Mary Magdalene
July 22, 2012
I’m really struggling to determine which is the greater prayer: the prayer our Lord has taught us or the prayer of the disciples to Jesus. The Lord’s Prayer is considered the preeminent prayer, and rightly so. How can you improve upon the prayer God Himself has taught us to pray? You may not know what to pray for but you always have the prayer your Lord has given you. In the Lord’s Prayer is contained everything that we need to pray for. The Lord’s Prayer cannot be exhausted. We can mine the depths of it and still find more treasurers. It is a no-brainer that there is not a greater prayer. It is the prayer our Lord has taught us to pray and it is the prayer that encompasses all that we know we need as well as all we’re not even aware of that we need.

So why do I have such a strange notion that the prayer of the disciples may be the greater prayer? I’m fascinated by how the Holy Spirit inspired the words of Scripture to be written as they were. It’s not that Jesus said to the disciples one day, “Okay men, today I’m going to teach you how to pray.” That certainly would have been a wonderful thing. I would love to have been in on that session. For all we know Jesus may well have done just that. But in giving us the Lord’s Prayer in the Holy Scriptures the Holy Spirit did not give us any such account of Jesus taking the initiative of teaching His beloved disciples to pray. No, it was those beloved disciples who said to Jesus, “Lord, teach us to pray.”

There’s a big part of me that hears that and says, “I can’t think of a greater prayer.” We have it right there in black and white in the pages of the Scriptures. The disciples coming to Jesus and asking Him to teach them to pray. I wonder how different our prayer life would be if we approached Jesus in that same way. I wonder how different our Christian life would be if we approached Jesus in the humility of knowing that we need to be taught to pray and that we need to be taught by our Lord to pray. It’s one thing to jump right to the Lord’s Prayer and pray it. It’s another thing to learn to pray by learning from the Lord’s Prayer and by praying it and making it a part of us.

But we also need to realize that we need to learn to pray. We learn from our Lord. And perhaps, “Lord, teach us to pray,” should be a part of our daily prayer life. Even if we don’t speak those words as we do when we say the actual words of the Lord’s Prayer, then with the understanding each day that, Lord, I need to learn to pray. I need You to teach me to pray. Lord, teach us to pray.

In a sense, these words are indeed the greatest prayer. They are so in that they are at the heart of what is being prayed in the Lord’s Prayer. If we begin to understand our need to learn to pray we will see more and more that when we pray the Lord’s Prayer, “Lord, teach us to pray,” is exactly what we are praying. It’s so easy to recite the words of the Lord’s Prayer and forget that not only are we praying to our Heavenly Father when we pray those words, we are also praying this prayer: Lord, teach us to pray. It’s easy to forget that when we pray the Lord’s Prayer we are learning to pray. When we pray the prayer our Lord has taught we are not only praying as He has taught us we are being taught to pray.

The apostle Paul said something that has fascinated me my whole life: pray constantly. How do you do that? How do you pray all the time? How does one pray, as some translations have it, without ceasing? The answer, I think, is in this amazing prayer, “Lord, teach us to pray.” Praying is not just engaging in the actual act of saying words to God. Praying is assuming a posture, or perhaps better, a disposition, of humility and asking your Lord to teach you to pray. This is the posture Jesus assumed. It wasn’t in constantly walking around with folded hands and speaking words to His dear Father in heaven. It was in being one with His Heavenly Father’s will. It was in joyfully submitting to His Heavenly Father’s will.

Jesus didn’t need to learn to pray. He was in perfect communion with His Heavenly Father. His life was the perfect picture of what it means to pray constantly. But us? We need to learn to pray. We’re like the disciples coming to Jesus, with the request, the fervent prayer, “Lord, teach us to pray.” There is something immensely freeing about this prayer. It’s something of a confession of sin. Lord, I don’t know how to pray. Lord, I need to be taught by You to pray. When we don’t submit to our Lord and how He teaches us to pray in His prayer He has given us we end up with prayers that go far astray from what He has given us in His prayer He has taught us to pray.

Not that we shouldn’t pray for what we want or need or think are good things to pray for. We are the children of our Heavenly Father, after all. If children can’t come to their father in their needs and even their wants, what good is there for them to have a father? A loving and good father, though, will listen to his children and respond with what they truly need and what is truly beneficial to them. Children need to learn how to ask their father for what they need and want, learning to trust him that his answers may not always be what they want to hear but often are what is truly best for them. God our Heavenly Father bats .1000 every time. We don’t need to wonder about what He gives us. In the Lord’s Prayer we see what we truly need. In the prayer our Lord has taught we learn what ultimately benefits us. And so as we pray we do so with the mindset, that Lord, we need You to teach us to pray. Bend our will to Yours. Re-orient our desires with Yours.

Did you notice the prayer of the disciples in today’s Gospel reading? Lord, send these people away. They’re tired. They need food. They ain’t gonna get it here. Their prayer to Jesus wasn’t one of, we have a situation here Lord, teach us to pray. It was, this is the situation Lord, act according to what seems to us the best course of action. No, that won’t do at all, Jesus told them. I will teach you how to pray. His way was by taking the little that was there and providing for them in abundance. He didn’t need even the little that was there of course, Him being the Lord who brought into creation things from nothing. But it’s powerful to see abundance of bread and fish from five and two, so much so that there was a lot left over. Lord, teach us to pray.

The little we have, an Introduction, seven petitions, a conclusion, it’s not much, but out of it our Lord produces an abundance. In the few words our Lord has given us in what we call the Lord’s Prayer there is more than what appears to be. The beauty of it also is that it’s not even ours to begin with. He gives us the words. These few simple words He gives us and produces out of it an abundance. And in them He teaches us to pray. The words He has given us, the words of the Lord’s Prayer, He gave us in view of the cross. Just as He gave us the words to pray in His Prayer, “Thy will be done,” He prayed the very same words as He was about to approach the cross. We need to learn to pray, to pray to our Heavenly Father in light of the cross.

Our asking our Lord to teach us to pray may certainly be done by speaking to Him what the disciples did: “Lord, teach us to pray.” We also ask our Lord to teach us to pray by praying the Lord’s Prayer. Remember what is behind this. It’s not you. It’s not up to you. Learning to pray is not something you go to school for or in which you need to keep trying harder. God Himself is behind this. He is the one who has given you His word, where you are given an amazing prayer such as “Lord, teach us to pray.” And so you do. You pray your Lord to teach you to pray. To which He responds, Amen. It shall be so.


Sunday, July 15, 2012

The Gospel Cannot Be Stopped

Seventh Sunday after Pentecost
July 15, 2012
The Gospel cannot be stopped. A constant barrage of people and things try to stop it. There are people outside the Christian Church who try to stop it. There are even people inside the Church who try to stop it. Satan tries to stop the Gospel. Even you try to stop it, but we’ll get back to that in a bit. People acting alone and people gathered together attempt to bring the Gospel to an end but it cannot be stopped.

When what appears is that the Gospel has come to a crashing halt you can know that the Gospel cannot be stopped. This is invaluable knowledge when it seems that the Gospel has lost its power. You can hang on to this certainty when the world and your sinful flesh and Satan cause you to wonder if the Gospel really is all that powerful or beneficial. When this happens, know that the Gospel cannot be stopped. This is a fact. How things appear is that the Gospel may not be all that it’s cracked up to be. But the Gospel doesn’t operate in the realm of how things appear to be. Often it works in ways that appear to be the opposite of the power it’s really operating in.

You can see this in what happened to John the Baptist. Mark tells us about John the Baptist in today’s Gospel reading. I suppose if we were watching this as a movie this would be portrayed as a flashback. Mark begins with Jesus. Jesus is doing His thing and more and more people are taking notice. It’s so much so that Herod the king takes notice. In fact, Herod starts getting a little nervous, even scared. You see, he’s the one that got rid of John the Baptist and now here’s this prophet teaching all kinds of God things and doing all kinds of miracles and gathering a following. When you see the story of how Herod dispatched John you begin to see how Herod was becoming a nervous wreck. This guy who’s doing all the teaching and miracles must be John the Baptist! He must have come back from the dead!

But it wasn’t anything like that. John was safely dead, just as Herod had brought about, having him executed by beheading him. What Herod should have been worried about was that what he had really attempted to do was to stop the Gospel. The Gospel cannot be stopped. What he should have been fearful of was that he continued in his state of unrepentance and therefore he was not able to experience the Gospel as it was meant to be experienced. Herod continued to hold on to the things of this world rather than seeing that in the one he had executed was the voice of the Gospel; the thing that could bring him to things of value far behind what his kingship could bring him. But he was once again trying to stop the Gospel, in fearing that John had come back from the grave.

This Gospel cannot be stopped. God had called John the Baptist to be a preacher of the Gospel. When he was beheaded his voice stopped preaching the Gospel. But the Gospel wasn’t stopped. It continued on. It continued to be proclaimed and made known. Jesus Himself was proclaiming the Gospel and making it known. If Herod thought that he had had a problem on his hands with John the Baptist, what would He do with Jesus?

People don’t know what to do with the Gospel. That’s why they try to stop it. Mark says in the Gospel reading that “Jesus’ name had become known. Some said, ‘John the Baptist has been raised from the dead. That is why these miraculous powers are at work in him.’ But others said, ‘He is Elijah.’ And others said, ‘He is a prophet, like one of the prophets of old.’ But when Herod heard of it, he said, ‘John, whom I beheaded, has been raised.’ So many people didn’t know what to make of Jesus. Instead of just seeing Him for who He was, the Gospel incarnate, they through one way or another tried to stop the Gospel.

What had first brought about all this angst on Herod was Herodias, his brother’s wife that he stole. Herodias hated John the Baptist. Why was this itinerant preacher telling powerful King Herod how to live his life? Herodias wanted her new husband to just get rid of John. What she didn’t realize is that the Gospel cannot be stopped. There was one problem. There was something about this prophet that caught Herod’s attention. He was perplexed about him but there was something about him that made him want to continue to listen. The Gospel has a way of doing that.

Herodias was undaunted. She found a way where she could put an end to this once and for all. She used her own daughter to bring it about. Young daughter danced before Herod and that brought about the vow that Herod made; the kind of promise where you wake up the next morning, wondering what in the world you were thinking. He promised her whatever she asked for and obedient young daughter went to mommy for instructions in what to ask. This couldn’t have worked out better for scheming Herodias. Precious daughter of mine, go to the king to tomorrow and ask for a very simple thing: the head of John the Baptist. That will stop the Gospel. I will finally get my way and be able to do what I want without God getting in the way. The only problem is, the Gospel cannot be stopped.

Not that she wasn’t successful. That she was is obvious. She had a problem and she got rid of the problem. In doing this she may have thought her life was going to be easier but she didn’t realize that she couldn’t stop the Gospel. We’re not told what ended up happening to Herodias and Herod. But this isn’t about them. It’s about the Gospel. It’s about the fact that the Gospel cannot be stopped. If the likes of Herod and the evil woman he committed adultery with couldn’t stop the Gospel, what makes us think we could? Perhaps you don’t see yourself as one who would do what they did. But Satan is very persuasive in his temptations. The world is very enticing in its attempts to get you to join its ranks rather than letting the Gospel reign free in your life. So, yes, as stated at the outset, you are much more like Herod and his wife then you might care to admit in acting just like them and trying to stop the Gospel.

The good news is that the Gospel cannot be stopped. Herodias had her prize, unthinkable for most of us, but for her a perverse satisfaction, receiving the head of John the Baptist on a platter. For her, the final act was victory, his disciples coming for the body so that they could bury it. For them this final act was perhaps one of despair, certainly of sorrow. Their beloved teacher would never preach the Gospel again. But that is the way it is with the Gospel. All preachers at some point have no more voice to preach the Gospel. That doesn’t mean the Gospel is stopped. It means that in this fallen world we die. But the Gospel is not of this world. The Gospel can never be stopped by the things of this world and not even by death.

If the disciples of John were stunned by burying their teacher, imagine what the disciples of Jesus went through as they saw their Lord now lying in a tomb. It appeared to them that the Gospel had come to a crashing halt. But only we in our sinful flesh see it that way. Jesus laying in a tomb actually shows how the Gospel can never be stopped. Death could not hold Jesus. He is the Gospel in the flesh and that very body rose from the grave, the Gospel shown to be something that can never be stopped. At the moment when all seemed lost and their Lord succumbed to death while hanging on the cross, where Satan appeared to have the greatest victory, all eternity was given meaning. The Gospel cannot be stopped. It was in that very suffering and death of Christ that the Gospel was shown in all its glory. It was in this event salvation was accomplished, forgiveness attained for you. You see, the Gospel cannot be stopped. What this means for you is that you will live forever. Amen.


Sunday, July 8, 2012

The Progression

Sixth Sunday after Pentecost
July 8, 2012
There is a progression in today’s Gospel reading and it’s the same progression begun in the Garden when God promised to Adam and Eve that He would send them a Savior. The irony is not lost on God, that at the moment of man’s fall into sin, God begins a progression in order to restore man to his previous good and blessed state. While the world seems to be in a constant regression, with natural disasters and individuals and groups of people causing disasters of their own on other people, there is a distinct progression God has been bringing about throughout history. This has absolutely nothing to do with the notion many people have that the human race continues to get better and will continue to accomplish greater and great achievements. This notion really is at the heart of God’s command to have no other gods. The first and foremost god in mind here is not gods of any other religion but of man himself. There’s no doubt we as a human race have achieved remarkable feats and there are many to come. It seems even more clear, though, that mankind continues not to progress, but to regress, going back again and again to that first sin Adam and Eve committed of wanting to be their own god; of feeding the sinful flesh and all its evil desires.

Whether things are getting worse or getting better or staying the same, there is a distinct progress in the midst of it all. God never stops in His relentless carrying out of His salvation work first promised there in the Garden and first begun. The very speaking of the promise was the very first act and work of God in this accomplishing of salvation. His Word has power and that is why even though Adam and Eve were told that in the day they would eat of the fruit of the tree they would surely die, God’s salvation was already in effect. They were not dead but rather given salvation.

Much of the Old Testament is history and in that history we see this progression. How many times must Adam and Eve have told the story to their sons and daughters of that fateful day in the Garden? How often must they have reminded their children of the amazing salvation God promised to them on that day and that in fact had already come into play as they were given mercy by their God whom they had thrown under the bus? Some of the descendents of Adam and Eve and their children were some of the well-known people we know from our being in the Scriptures. Abraham and Noah and David come to mind. There are many others. How often did these people marvel at the grace of God even as they often continued to question God and go their own way over God’s way, going back again and again to the same sin Adam and Eve had committed? Much of the history of the Old Testament reads like a lesson in, Did you learn anything from your ancestors?

Through it all was this progression. God at work in His people, calling them to repentance. Giving them His grace and mercy. Pointing them forward to the Savior He would send. A striking example of this is in today’s Old Testament reading. God sends Ezekiel to the Israelites, God’s very own people, and God calls them nations of rebels, people who have rebelled against Him. His message to them is judgment. He is calling them to repentance. That’s what God does for His people. He loves them and is unwilling to sit by while His people go their own way. That’s why God didn’t abandon Adam and Eve in the Garden when they had abandoned Him. He reached out to them, calling them to repentance, embracing them with His love and forgiveness.

God says to Ezekiel that if he will speak God’s Word to the people, whether or not they will take it to heart they will know that a prophet has been among them. God has continued all along to make known His Word to His people through people who are sinful as they are. When they speak it’s not their own words they speak. It’s not their own opinion. It’s not something new or progressive. It’s the same word of God that was first spoken in the Garden when Adam and Eve desperately needed to hear that God was still for them, would never give up on them, would always love them, would give them a Savior and salvation.

In our day and age we think we’re so far beyond all those in the past. We know more, we’ve achieved more, we’re on the cusp of spectacular things never dreamed of in former times. But who are we kidding? We’re no different than anyone else throughout history. We think we know better than God. Sounds a little bit like all those people who went before us, doesn’t it? We think we’re so advanced. Sounds a little bit like Adam and Eve thought they could be. We never learn. We continue to regress even as God continues His progression of coming to us in His Word and with His salvation.

Paul knew something of being advanced and beyond all others. In many ways he was. But when Jesus came to him to bring him to his senses, Paul realized—well, I’ll just let him do the describing of himself—he realized he was the chief of sinners. He came to see that he was no better than anyone who had gone before him, that he needed salvation as every other person, that his heart and soul were rotten to the core. And in his new life given him by Jesus he realized something else. That in this life on earth there are problems, and hardships, and trials, and that he was very, very weak. His realization of this as a new creation in Christ was that he could, and even should, boast in these weaknesses. As he says in the Epistle reading, a thorn was given him in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to harass him, to keep him from being too elated. “Three times” he says, “I pleaded with the Lord about this, that it should leave me. But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”

This is always the challenge our sinful flesh faces. It is the moment we face every day, and many times throughout each day, where we are met with the Word of God which says we should fear, love, and trust in Him above all things and our sinful flesh says that it’s got way better ideas than that. When God says to us that we should love Him with all our heart, soul, strength, and mind, our sinful flesh says that we should do what we think is best, what we feel like doing, what will not impinge on our own desires.

So the world, the devil, and our own sinful flesh will appeal to us: we don’t have to step out of our comfort zone and share the Gospel with our neighbor because the relationship there is nice and comfortable just in being good neighbors. We know we’re forgiven and don’t need to spend time each day in reading and pondering the Word of God. Since we have to take care of ourselves, our health, our peace of mind, we shouldn’t place extra burdens on our ourselves when others are in need.

Sound familiar? It should. You know these things to be true in your life. If for some reason none of these actually apply to you, never fear, because the Ten Commandments have you covered. God in His Law pins you to the wall in every corner of your life. You have no better chance of hiding from God than Adam and Eve did.

And it should sound familiar to you in another way as well. You are just like the people Jesus went to in the Gospel reading. God’s description of His people to Ezekiel sound a lot like them, don’t they? And if you are wise enough to hear it, you will see that it’s an apt description of you. It all boils down to this. Who you are, what you have done, how you have continued in the downward spiral as your ancestors in the faith have, means something. It means you need to repent. And it means that Jesus will keep coming to you. Just as He did with those people in our Scripture readings this morning. He continues His progression.

It’s remarkable how Jesus came to those He knew would reject them. God had said to Ezekiel that you need to go to them. Whether they listen to you or not, they’ll know a prophet has been among them. When Jesus came to those who had known Him as the guy who grew up down the street, they refused Him as their Lord. But they knew a prophet had been among them. And there’s another thing. Even though He marveled at their unbelief, even though He went on to the next towns, and continued His Gospel message to others, He nevertheless, and even was the reason, He went to the cross for those very people who rejected Him. He paid for their sins. He died for them, He took in His place what was rightfully theirs—their sin, their guilt, their shame of rejecting Hm.

While we should never think that it’s okay for us to do the same, we should marvel at the fact that we are just like them. And marvel at the fact that Jesus, just as He did for them, went to the cross for us. And knowing this, you can also know that He continues to come to you, calling you to repentance, and forgiving you of your sins. His progression never ceases, He continues on in His progression, always loving you and forgiving you. And when you hear Him as He is proclaimed to you and as He comes to you in His body and blood in His Supper, you will know that He has been among you. Amen.


Sunday, July 1, 2012

What Would Jairus Do?

Fifth Sunday after Pentecost
July 1, 2012
Now that the What Would Jesus Do? slogan appears to have gone away as a fad I’m going to campaign for a new one: What Would Jairus Do? The WWJD phenomenon, that is, What Would Jesus Do?, was always a well-intended slogan to get Christians to think about what the best thing to do is in a given situation. There’s a lot of good in that and we could probably use more of it than we have. The problem with What Would Jesus Do? is where it leaves you. It leaves you in a place where you in fact do not do what Jesus would do which is in fact why Jesus did what He did. That’s why the question of what has Jesus done is infinitely of more value to us than the question of what He would do.

We know what He would do in any given situation. He would do the right thing. He would do the best thing. He would do the thing that is of infinite value and benefit to us. We, on the other hand, often do what is best for ourselves. We do the opposite of what Jesus would do. We should always try to do the right thing and the best thing and the thing that is of value and benefit to others, it’s just that we fail so miserably at it, don’t we? There are moments where it really looks like we’ve got it. Where we do the right thing. Where we help the other person. Where we do the thing that is the best thing. And this is wonderful. But the thing about it is, it’s all by the grace of God and to the glory of God, not out of any notion that we can actually bring about doing the thing that Jesus would do.

That’s why a new WWJD slogan is needed to replace What Would Jesus Do? What Would Jairus Do? should be the question we ask. Okay, not really. And yet, the portrayal Mark gives us in today’s Gospel reading amounts to an exhortation to be like Jairus; even to do what he did. And Mark goes on also to show us a woman who touched Jesus’ cloak.

Jairus and the woman who tried to get close to Jesus were in need. They were in need and they were desperate. There was nothing they or anyone else could do for them in their need. So what did they do? They put themselves at the mercy of Jesus. They put their situation completely in His hands. The way we would say it is that they had faith in Him or put their faith in Him. This is what faith is. If the question were to be of what Jesus would do then we’d be left with unbelief because Jesus has perfect faith. We can’t have the kind of faith Jesus can. We try at times. But so often we fall short of the perfect fear, love, and trust in God above all things.

But that’s where looking at what Jairus would do comes in. The impetus for his faith in Jesus was his love for his daughter. There was nothing else he could do for his precious little daughter so he put all his faith in Jesus. There was no way he could do anything to prevent his daughter from dying so he did one last thing. That one last thing is the essence of faith. It is leaving it completely in God’s hands. And notice what leaving it completely in God’s hands looks like. It is going to God as He has made Himself known to us. Namely, in the human being that is Jesus.

How could Jairus have possibly known that this person, this man, this human being just like him, could bring his dying daughter back to health? There was, of course, the word that had gotten around that Jesus had performed many miracles and that He was a great teacher. But think about it, there’s a difference between those miraculous things happening to others and them happening to you. Sure, I’ve heard He’s done amazing things, but could it really happen for my little girl? He went to Jesus with just that request.

And that is what we should learn from this. What Jairus did is what we should do. We are in need. We are desperate. Illnesses and injuries ravage our lives and we very much want deliverance from those things. But these are symptoms. They are symptoms of disease. Whether you are struggling with severe illness or are in good health, you are wasting away in the disease that infects us all. It is original sin and there is no cure. There is no what would Jesus do and we can do that, because He is without sin. He alone was born into this world without being infected with this disease.

But there are no crowds thronging around Him anymore when we look to Him. He is instead all alone; everyone, even us, has deserted him. When we look to Him in our need and our desperate state we look to Him as He hung all alone on the cross. It’s what He has done that provides for us what we need. In the Collect of the Day we prayed, “Heavenly Father, during His earthly ministry Your Son Jesus healed the sick and raised the dead. By the healing medicine of the Word and Sacraments pour into our hearts such love toward You that we may live eternally.”

Jairus got his daughter back. Not only did she recover from her sickness, she recovered from death. The woman who touched Jesus’ cloak was healed instantly from her long illness. But what did Jesus’ healing of these two people really accomplish? It accomplished just that and nothing more. The girl presumably went on to live a long full life and the woman at the end of her life presumably closed out the last years of her life free from the pain and suffering she had endured for twelve years. That’s why even as Jairus and the woman came to Him and fixed their eyes on Him, we ought to do the same. Jesus gave these two people a great blessing.

However, when we see them in heaven and ask them what it was like I imagine they’ll be much more interested in talking the way our Collect of the Day uses language to describe what we need from Jesus and what He has done for us. During His earthly ministry Jesus healed the sick and raised the dead. Here we are two thousand years later facing the very same illnesses and unable to keep ourselves from death. That’s why at a certain point Jesus discontinued His earthly ministry with the throngs hanging on His every word and seeking mercy from Him for healing and He walked alone to the cross where He was nailed to it. It’s why in being nailed to the cross every sin and sickness and guilt was placed upon Him. It’s why He who was without sin died Himself as the one who took all our sinfulness upon Himself.

That’s what the likes of Jairus and the woman ended up coming to see in Jesus: the one who had given healing they had sought was the one who delivered them of all their sin. It’s why Jesus having suffered on the cross for the sins of the world no longer continued on in His earthly ministry. It’s why, as the language of today’s Collect says, He comes to us by the healing medicine of the Word and Sacraments and pours into our hearts such love toward Him that we may live eternally. Faith is hard. It is not some simple thing of, whatever it is you pray for Jesus will deliver to you. It is fully trusting in Him to do for you what you truly need.

The prayer we prayed in the Collect of the Day is the prayer of faith. Praying that Christ would give us what we need in the healing medicine of the Word and Sacraments and pour into our hearts such love toward Him that we may live eternally. We may want to be delivered from the pain we’re suffering through. We may want to be removed from the trials we are experiencing. What will our prayer be? Will it be the prayer of seeking what we want, or what we truly need? Will it be the prayer of our sinful nature, or the prayer of faith? What would Jairus do? He would pray to Jesus fully trusting that Jesus would give him what he truly needed. And what did Jesus do? Exactly that.

He delivered his daughter from death, to be sure. That kind of power and love is amazing. But it gets even better. It’s the kind of power and love that points to the other things Jesus did for Jairus. He delivered him from his sins. He went to death Himself so that Jairus would be raised from death as his daughter was. In the healing medicine of Christ’s Word and Sacraments He gives us this power and love. It is power over sin and death and it is love which gives us life eternally—life in which we live now and forever, in body and soul. Amen.