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Psalm 72

Give the king your justice, O God, and your righteousness to the royal son! May he judge your people with righteousness, and your poor with justice! Let the mountains bear prosperity for the people, and the hills, in righteousness! May he defend the cause of the poor of the people, give deliverance to the children of the needy, and crush the oppressor! May they fear you while the sun endures, and as long as the moon, throughout all generations! May he be like rain that falls on the mown grass, like showers that water the earth! In his days may the righteous flourish, and peace abound, till the moon be no more! May he have dominion from sea to sea, and from the River to the ends of the earth! May desert tribes bow down before him and his enemies lick the dust! May the kings of Tarshish and of the coastlands render him tribute; may the kings of Sheba and Seba bring gifts! May all kings fall down before him, all nations serve him! For he delivers the needy when he calls, the poor and him who has no helper. He has pity on the weak and the needy, and saves the lives of the needy. From oppression and violence he redeems their life, and precious is their blood in his sight. Long may he live; may gold of Sheba be given to him! May prayer be made for him continually, and blessings invoked for him all the day! May there be abundance of grain in the land; on the tops of the mountains may it wave; may its fruit be like Lebanon; and may people blossom in the cities like the grass of the field! May his name endure forever, his fame continue as long as the sun! May people be blessed in him, all nations call him blessed! Blessed be the LORD, the God of Israel, who alone does wondrous things. Blessed be his glorious name forever; may the whole earth be filled with his glory! Amen and Amen!










A Quarter for Your Thoughts

Tuesday of Christmas 1

30 December 2014

When I was a seminary student, because I loved John's Gospel I arranged my class schedule so that I could take the Gospel of John rather than the Gospel of Luke. Many of my classmates took John only to avoid the professor who taught Luke and had a reputation for piling on the work. He had earned his reputation quite honestly, as I found out when I took him for a course on the Letter to the Hebrews. By contrast, the professor who taught John, was very kindly and (almost) never demanded more from students than they were able to put out. His classes were Socratic; question and answer was the order of the day. He constantly looked for student participation. He did not just want to lecture to us, but he wanted us to share his joy in the Word of God and his love for delving into it. He had the habit of taking a quarter from his pocket and placing it on the table in the lecture hall, and he would say, "Brothers, ah, who would like to give me an opinion about this verse? Or perhaps you might like to translate it for the class. All for a quarter." I heard that in subsequent years that the payment rose to a dollar. This proves that educational inflation is growing faster than in other segments of the economy (I know. I had children in college!).


Unfortunately, most of my classmates were only in his class because they were fleeing the more difficult professor. Such shirkers seldom even paid attention, let alone competing for the monetary prizes offered. This dear professor and pious gentleman day after day tried to coax a little thought from the class. It was a bit like wringing water from a stone. It was a painful thing to watch. He was a true thoroughbred teaching the plow horses how to run. The professor begged and cajoled day after day and to frustratingly little avail, "Brothers, a quarter for your thoughts." I wondered if maybe he was promising to pay too much for an apparently worthless product. In the eighth week of classes, the professor got an exceptionally inept reply to his blandishments. That began the most wonderful lectures I ever experienced as a seminary student. Out of sheer frustration, angered beyond his enduring, this dear man began to lecture on the Gospel of John. Three weeks of solid gold lecturing!


I promised myself if ever I had him as a professor again, I would attempt to make him angry on the first day of classes, even if I had to resort to kicking him in the shins, so that there would be ten weeks of great lectures. I never had him as a teacher again, and therefore never got to test my theory. His monumental patience with students and anyone else with whom he had any contact, led the students to theorize that, if there were an exception to the universal plague of original sin, he would have been it. Our dear professor was like Joseph in Genesis; talented, exalted, but patient; forgiving even the worst slights. Here is a truly god-like figure, one who keeps giving forgiveness to those who in no way deserve such gifts of grace. Joseph could have crushed his brothers like bugs, but instead he embraced them and forgave them. God meant something truly blessed in the way Joseph's brothers mistreated him and now he would repay them: in kindness and mercy. "Dear brothers, a quarter for your thoughts."


Martin Luther


"See, then, how in forgiving sins Joseph excels his own father and Moses, since he does not mention the selling. However, his father will curse Reuben, Simeon, and Levi (Gn 49:1-7); and Moses passes over Simeon in silence. Joseph alone addresses them lovingly and deals very tenderly with them. 'Ah, my dear brothers Simeon and Levi, I pardon you from my whole heart and forgive you!' They were in his power just then, and by rights he could have avenged the injury he had received at their hands. However, his outstanding compassion and tenderness of soul does not permit this. He thinks of nothing other than forgiving, blessing, and comforting, because their conscience has been gravely wounded, and they are afflicted by the bitterest griefs, which cannot be soothed or easily taken away. Impelled by mercy, therefore, he thinks: 'Well, I want to become a theologian, a doctor, a servant of servants, in order that I win back those who wanted me destroyed.' Not only in words does he want them to be saved, but also in deeds. Nevertheless, punishments divinely inflicted through Jacob and Moses will follow. Our Lord God does not want this to go unpunished."


Martin Luther, Lectures on Genesis, 45.15



Almighty God, give us the strength to bear with those who do evil toward us, that we might bless them with the gifts of Your mercy and that in us they might see You. Amen.


For Paul Lodholz, who underwent brain surgery, that the Lord Jesus would grant him strength and healing


For Florence Brimberry, that the Lord God would knit her together and grant her a full recovery 


For those who travel professionally, that the holy angels would watch over them 

Art: GRÜNEWALD, Matthias  Nativity c. 1515

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Memorial Lutheran Church | 5800 Westheimer Rd. | Houston | TX | 77057