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2 Timothy
4:5-18

 
As for you, always be sober-minded, endure suffering, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.
 
For I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time of my departure has come. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Henceforth there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will award to me on that Day, and not only to me but also to all who have loved his appearing.
 
Do your best to come to me soon. For Demas, in love with this present world, has deserted me and gone to Thessalonica. Crescens has gone to Galatia, Titus to Dalmatia. Luke alone is with me. Get Mark and bring him with you, for he is very useful to me for ministry. Tychicus I have sent to Ephesus. When you come, bring the cloak that I left with Carpus at Troas, also the books, and above all the parchments. Alexander the coppersmith did me great harm; the Lord will repay him according to his deeds. Beware of him yourself, for he strongly opposed our message. At my first defense no one came to stand by me, but all deserted me. May it not be charged against them! But the Lord stood by me and strengthened me, so that through me the message might be fully proclaimed and all the Gentiles might hear it. So I was rescued from the lion's mouth. The Lord will rescue me from every evil deed and bring me safely into his heavenly kingdom. To him be the glory forever and ever. Amen. (ESV)
Human Instruments
St. Mark, Evangelist
25 April 2016
Our congregation will have a vicar assigned to it on Tuesday evening in a service at Kramer Chapel, Concordia Theological Seminary in Fort Wayne, IN. This is an exciting time both for the congregation and for the vicarage candidate. I remember the excitement I experienced many years ago on my vicarage placement day. A number of our congregation's members have received calls into the ministry of word and sacraments over the years. One of our young men, Keith Emshoff, is going to the seminary in the fall where he will begin his training for a call into the ministry of Jesus. Our former vicar, John Stebbins, will be placed into a parish as a pastor in a service on Wednesday night and will be taking up his duty of preaching the Word of God in a couple of months. This is an unforgettably exciting time in a new preacher's life. The thing for which he hoped, prayed, and studied has now at long last come to fruition. What an exalted company they will join by being called into the ministry of the Word (Ps 68:11)!
 
The ministry is God's and it consists in the Word of God and the sacraments. The people placed into the office of the ministry come and go. God calls them out of their office by death. What is consistent and exalted is the office, not the office holder. God sends men into the office of word and sacrament ministry. Some men he places into the office directly and without external means. This was the case with the prophets and apostles of old, the Apostle Paul says that his ministry comes "not from men nor through man" (Gal 1:1). Such a call without human agency is a direct call. This was the call of the all the apostles who received their office directly from God (Mt 10: 1, 7).
 
The second way of sending men into the ministry is through the agency of men, but not of man. The ministry of the church remains a gift from God but which God gives through human instrumentality. Congregations, church agencies and aggregations of congregations call men into the ministry of word and sacraments. Whether the calling is direct, as in the case of the apostles, or indirect, as is the case for all other office holders, it is the same ministry into which they are called by God. Human instrumentality does not make the office holders any less divinely called, any more than the body of Christ distributed in the hands of men becomes any less the body of the Lord. Human, fleshly instrumentality is always God's way of doing things (Jn 1:14). 

 

Martin Luther

"There are two ways of sending. First, God sent his messengers, the prophets and apostles, like Moses and St. Paul, directly and without the help of an intermediary. These men were called by God's word of mouth and without human agency. Such sending was done only when God wished to inaugurate something new, as was the case when He sent Moses and the prophets. This exalted method came to an end in the New Testament with the apostles, who were the last to be called directly by God.
 
"The other way of sending is indeed also one by God, but it is done through the instrumentality of man. It has been employed ever since God established the ministry with its preaching and its exercise of the Office of the Keys. This ministry will endure and is not to be replaced by any other. But the incumbents of this ministry do not remain; they die. This necessitates an ever-new supply of preachers, which calls for the employment of certain means. The ministry, that is, the Word of God, Baptism, and Holy Communion, came directly from Christ; but later Christ departed from this earth. Now a new way of sending was instituted, which works through man but is not of man. We were sent according to this method; according to it, we elect and send others, and we install them in their ministry to preach and to administer the Sacraments. This type of sending is also of God and commanded by God. Even though God resorts to our aid and to human agency, it is he himself who sends laborers into His vineyard.
 
"Therefore everyone must realize that he has to be sent. That is, he must know that he has been called; he dare not venture to sneak into the office furtively and without authorization. It must be done in the open. The sending is done through man, for example, when a city, a prince, or a congregation calls someone into office. But at the same time this person is sent by God."

Martin Luther,  Sermons on John, 3.34
 
Prayer
Lord God, You have called men into the ministry of Word and sacraments through the agency of the church. Grant that I might hear the preaching and service of my pastor as it is in truth the voice of God. Amen.
 
For all pastors, that they would be faithful in leading the flocks entrusted to their care using the Word of the good Shepherd
 
For Mary Vidal, that the Lord Jesus would give her His strength
 
For Headmaster Heine and the faculty and staff of Memorial Lutheran School, as the school year draws to a close, that they would be strengthened in body and soul
Art: RUBENS, Peter Paul  The Resurrection of Christ (1611-12)

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