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Mark 6:7-12

 

And Jesus called the twelve and began to send them out two by two, and gave them authority over the unclean spirits. He charged them to take nothing for their journey except a staff- no bread, no bag, no money in their belts- but to wear sandals and not put on two tunics. And he said to them, "Whenever you enter a house, stay there until you depart from there. And if any place will not receive you and they will not listen to you, when you leave, shake off the dust that is on your feet as a testimony against them." So they went out and proclaimed that people should repent. (ESV)  

 

 

 

Rejoice at the Harvest

Friday of Pentecost 17 

20 September 2013

The worst poverty is spiritual poverty. Some years ago, a prospective seminary student wrote a letter declining to attend the seminary because his wife, a physician, would have had an income reduction if she had to move her practice to the town where the seminary was located. The prospective student explained that they would be unable to manage if his wife's income would be reduced from $150,000 to $100,000 per year. This declination was a net gain for the seminary. While this family was rich in the things of this world, one can't help but lament their poverty in the things of God. The holy ministry is not exactly a cash cow for those who are called by the Lord into His harvest fields. People often attempt to discourage promising young people from taking up church work vocations by pointing out to them how poor they will be if they work in the church, where the pay is poor, the hours long, and the creature comforts few. When I made it known that I would be going to seminary to be a pastor, my relatives encouraged me to consider medicine or the law instead, because "they had so much more upside income potential." Yet rich people can be poor indeed, if they do not have the one thing needful (Lk 10:42).

 

The Lord Jesus keeps us from spiritual poverty by sending preachers into the harvest fields that they might rightly proclaim the Word of God among us. Where the Word of God is proclaimed there can be no poverty. He Himself sees to the needs of His church by sending laborers into the harvest. There is no pride of place in the Son of God who, though He is the good Shepherd, does not fail to send undershepherds to gather and care for the sheep. He Himself has sown the seed, watered the seed with His blood, and sent out His harvesters to bring in the growth. The joy of the harvest comes to those whom He sends. As Isaiah says, "you have increased its joy; they rejoice before you as with joy at the harvest" (Is 9:3). The precious souls for whom Christ died are the greatest riches of the church, because the price paid for them is so high (Ps 49:7-8). If church workers must face poverty for the sake of these pearls of great price, so be it; they will still not be poor. This is why the Lord says that our constant prayer should be that He would send laborers into the harvest (Mt 9:38).

 

We are to pray and He is to send. Hermann Sasse was reputed to have recommended that American Christians should build a retreat center in the barren middle of America where they would pray that the Lord send laborers into the harvest fields. He suggested that this fervent praying would have far more beneficial results in forwarding the mission of Jesus Christ in the world than all the busy mission efforts of American Lutheran church bodies. Jesus is busy sending, we should be busy praying. If God's kingdom is truly to come among us, our prayers must also lead us to encourage our children to consider church work vocations. We must not greedily keep them to ourselves, but give them over to the Lord's work that they too might rejoice before Christ at the harvest.

 

Martin Luther

 

"The Lord Christ himself complains that He is lacking such shepherds. He says, 'The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest' (Mt 9:37-38).

 

"Indeed, the whole world stands open, if only someone would want to pasture it, as St. Paul says, 'If one aspires to the office of bishop, he desires a noble task' (1Ti 3:1). One must not compel, run after, and look for (I mean the Christians who would like to be saved) such shepherds; and one cannot find enough of them. For the burghers and peasants too say now, 'Why should I let my son go on with his studies? He will be a beggar if he becomes a pastor. I would rather let him learn a trade or become a merchant.' Well then, if churches and schools too become barren of God's word, then those who have given the cause for such desolation, be it through the theft of church goods or the keeping away of children from the schools or however they hinder, or help to hinder-they will have to assume the responsibility here and at the Last Judgment.

 

God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit testify that pasturing the sheep was His dearest work, for which the Son became man and shed His blood, so that the people should be saved. He who does this work or helps in it (which cannot happen without schools and churches) shall be a great saint in heaven, with the patriarchs, prophets, apostles, martyrs, and all the saints." 

 

Martin Luther, 
Against the Roman Papacy
 
Prayer

Merciful God, heavenly Father, You said to us through the mouth of Your dear Son our Lord Jesus Christ: "The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few;  therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest." Upon this Your divine command, we pray heartily that You would grant Your Holy Spirit richly to Your servants, to us, and to all those who are called to serve Your Word so that the company of those who publish the good tidings may be great, and that they may stand faithful and firm against the devil, the world, and the flesh, to the end that Your name may be hallowed, Your kingdom grow, and Your will be done. Be also pleased at length to check and stop the detestable abomination of the sects which blaspheme Your name, hinder Your kingdom, and oppose Your will. Graciously hear this our prayer, since You so commanded, taught, and promised, even as we believe and trust through Your dear Son, Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, now and forever. Amen. (Martin Luther)

 

For those despairing of salvation, that they might be comforted by the forgiveness of sins and the promise of eternal life

 

For Brian and Mary Havers, who are celebrating their wedding anniversary, that they might have many more years of joy in serving one another

 

For Juanita Duffala, who is recovering from a fall, that she might be patient in her tribulation and that she would call upon the Lord in every trouble

 

For Paul Lodholz, as he undergoes angioplasty, that the proper therapy would be applied and health restored
Art: Eyck, Jan van  The Adoration of the Lamb (1425-1429) 

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