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Luke 10:1-12

 

After this the Lord appointed seventy-two others and sent them on ahead of him, two by two, into every town and place where he himself was about to go. And he said to them, "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. Go your way; behold, I am sending you out as lambs in the midst of wolves. Carry no moneybag, no knapsack, no sandals, and greet no one on the road. Whatever house you enter, first say, 'Peace be to this house!' And if a son of peace is there, your peace will rest upon him. But if not, it will return to you. And remain in the same house, eating and drinking what they provide, for the laborer deserves his wages. Do not go from house to house. Whenever you enter a town and they receive you, eat what is set before you. Heal the sick in it and say to them, 'The kingdom of God has come near to you.' But whenever you enter a town and they do not receive you, go into its streets and say, 'Even the dust of your town that clings to our feet we wipe off against you. Nevertheless know this, that the kingdom of God has come near.' I tell you, it will be more bearable on that day for Sodom than for that town. (ESV)

 

 

 

 

 

 

God Makes a Vow

Tuesday of Epiphany 2

20 January 2015

As a child I chafed at the Pauline blessing solemnly intoned by my pastor at the beginning of every sermon. I was bugged because it was so predictable; I found myself mouthing it as the sermon started. I thought to myself that he could at least speed up the delivery; it seemed such a waste of time. Just get on with the preaching!

 

Unsurprisingly enough, the Pauline blessing, or Pauline votum as it is sometimes called, stuck with me like glue. I now use the later Pauline version (1Ti 1:2; 2Ti 1:2) of it at the head of most of my sermons, probably to the impatient chagrin of some small child in the congregation. I have sometimes thought that a sermon series should be preached to my congregation focused entirely on these twelve words (in Greek). But how would you divide the series? It could go on for twelve weeks without too much effort; these words carry so much content and represent so many blessings.

 

Since repetition is the mother of learning; I am glad for my pastor's persistence, because this votum is a creed-like summary of the faith of the apostle. You might ask how this can be; it says nothing of faith. It only speaks of me as the receiver of what it describes. It is not a votum in the sense used by the ancient Romans, who used the word for that which was done to fulfill a vow to a god. No, it is God's vow to us to give us the very things He has unilaterally worked for us in Jesus Christ. God is making a vow. Notice it describes us only as receivers of the action of God, not as doers of action toward God. If it is then a creed-like summary of the faith, then it is entirely a gospel summary. God as doer; us as receivers.

 

About the much abrogated vow of clerical celibacy, Martin Luther said, "If you want to make a vow you can keep, vow not to bite off your own nose," to show that humans are notoriously unable to follow through on their promises of better behavior and greater piety. The vows and promises that are always kept are the ones actually made by God to us. Here it is: 'Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ' (Rm 1:7).

 

John Chrysostom

 

"This is an address that brings countless blessings to us (Rm 1:7)! Christ told the Apostles to use this greeting as their first word when entering into houses (Lk 10:5). From this, Paul also in all places takes his beginning, from grace and peace; for it was no small war to which Christ ended, but indeed one varying and of every kind and of a long season; and this happened not by our efforts, but through His grace. Since then love presented us with grace, and grace with peace, having set them down in the due order of an address, he prays over them that they might abide perpetual and unmoved, so that no other war may again be blown into flame, and beseeches Him that gave the grace and peace, to keep these things firmly settled, saying as follows, 'Grace be to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.'

 

"In this passage, the 'from' is common to the Son and the Father, and this is equivalent to 'of whom.' For he did not say, 'Grace be unto you and peace from God the Father, "through" our Lord Jesus Christ;' but, 'from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.' How mighty is the love of God! We who were enemies and disgraced, have all at once become saints and sons. For when Paul calls Him Father, he shows the Roman Christians to be sons; and when he calls them sons, he has uncovered the whole treasury of blessings."

John Chrysostom, Homilies on Romans, 1.7

 

Prayer

God our Father and our Lord Jesus Christ, You have given us grace, mercy, and peace. Grant us to dwell securely in such blessings that we might confess them to the last for Your glory and for the benefit of our neighbor. Amen.

 

For those experiencing inclement weather, that they would be kept safe in the midst of the challenges it presents

 

For Paul Lodholz, that the Lord Jesus would be with him as he undergoes therapy for a brain tumor

 

For those traveling to the Symposia at Concordia Theological Seminary, Fort Wayne, that they would be kept safe on their way

 

 

Art: RENI, Guido Baptism of Christ (c. 1623)

 

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