Prayer of the Day: Pentecost 14A.
The prayer begins “O God, from whom all good proceeds…” I think this can be understood in two ways. First, there is no good which we receive that is not from God. Secondly, everything which proceeds from God is good, even though we may wonder about that at times.
Next, we assert that we are God’s humble servants. I am reminded that that’s what I am, a servant of Christ humbled by the measures to which Christ went to save me from my own pride. I am also humbled that thousands of fellow believers are making a confession of humility on my behalf.
Now we humble servants ask God for the gift of “Holy inspiration” to help us do two things. First, to set our minds on things that are right. But how am I to discern what things are right? Well, it’s the Holy Spirit who teaches us all things in Christ. Thinking right things begins with repentance, believing the Gospel and obeying Jesus command to love one another even as he has loved us.
Secondly, to do what is right. Here we also need help, so we prayed for his merciful guidance to not only lead us in right thinking, but also in actively doing them.
Then as Martin Luther directs us, “go joyfully to your work.”
Thus, we prayed this weekend: O God, from whom all good proceeds, grant to us, Your humble servants, Your holy inspiration, that we may set our minds on the things that are right and, by Your merciful guiding, accomplish them; through Jesus Christ, our Lord.
There is enough for three sermons in the Gospel reading for Sunday, Matthew 18:1-20, It ends with Jesus talking about, “If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone.” If that doesn’t settle it, then take a couple of witnesses and finally involve the whole body of Christ.”
Consider the context. The disciples asked who is the greatest in the kingdom of God. Jesus put a little child in their midst, who was of little significance in the light of the disciples’ question, and tells them, “You become like little children. This child is the greatest. Don’t the little ones in the faith with contempt.”
If one your brothers or sisters in Christ strays, put everything aside and go after them. In the Father’s family, restoration of lost one is the priority. And it involves sinning against another family member, then go and talk with them. If that doesn’t work, take along a couple of others to listen and be witnesses. If that doesn’t work involve the whole family of Christ in seeking to return the lost little brother or sister. If that doesn’t work, then regard them as a mission project.
Jesus is with you the whole way, even where only two or three are gathered. This is a priority for Christ also.
In the text which follows, Peter asks how often do you go through this process. Seven times seems good. But Jesus says, “It never ends. Keep at the business of forgiveness. Because your heavenly Father is forever forgiving you.”
In the church, this priority is also one of the most difficult activities, and often the least fruitful. But Jesus is indicating that we should not let the straying, remain lost in the wilderness of the world.