✠ One Message: Christ crucified and risen for you ✠
Colossians 4,2-4 (5-6) 3012
Rogate (5. Sonntag nach Ostern) 040 weiß
Servatius, Bishop of Tongeren, Belgium † 384
13. May 2012
1. O Lord, from whom all good things do come; Grant us, Your humble servants, that by Your holy inspiration we may think those things that are good, and by Your merciful guiding may perform the same (The Book of Common Prayer 113). Amen.
2. Continue steadfastly in prayer, being watchful in it with thanksgiving. At the same time, pray also for us, so that God may open to us a door for the Word (λόγου), to speak the mystery of Christ, on account of which I am in prison﹣so that I may make it clear, which is how I ought to speak. Conduct yourselves wisely toward outsiders, making the best use of the time. Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person.
3. Rogate Sunday encourages us to pray. The Apostle Paul exhorts us to be steadfast in our prayers and thanksgivings to God. There are different types of prayers in the Bible: some are tumultuous in the face of an anguishing tribulation, others are joyous thanksgivings, still others intercessions on behalf of our neighbor (ELKB). The apostle asks the Colossian Church to pray for opportunities to proclaim the Word of God.
4. The apostle told Timothy: »Preach the Word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke and exhort, with complete patience and teaching« (2. Timothy 4,2). The apostle knew that there is a season of abundance and a season of drought as regards the Word. For a time, the preached Word will prosper, many will come to faith and the Church will gather in a great harvest. At other times, the preached Word will not prosper, many will reject the Word and the Church will struggle to gather in any harvest. The Holy Spirit moves through the preached Word where and when He wills, and many times it seems to be a complete mystery to us.
5. In the 21. century, many places around the world are hostile against the Church and her proclamation. Competing philosophies and religions seek to choke out the Church. The apostle warns that »the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths« (2. Timothy 4,3-4). In the age of instant communication and internet access to all information, our present age is one rife with heresies and false teachings that are quickly disseminated. The task of preaching the Word thus faces a host of challengers which may seem overwhelming.
6. Paul’s exhortation to pray for opportunities to preach the Word is still a necessary exhortation in the 21. century. Jesus promises to hear and answer our prayers. He says: »Ask, and you will receive« (John 16,24). We pray for our borough, that the Holy Spirit would open the door for the gospel. There are many people who have heard the Word, but they have become discouraged and disillusioned. We pray that they hear the Word and return to the Church. There are also many people who have not heard the gospel. We pray that the Holy Spirit use the Word to create faith in their hearts. We pray for our nation. Many of the strengths and values in our culture stem from a deep and rich influence of Christian doctrine and virtues. Many perceive that the very Western culture that owes Christianity so much is now casting aside the Church and her influence. We pray that our nation does not cast aside the Church, but rather that the preached gospel blows from shore to shore as a cool, liberating breeze for those enslaved by the philosophies of this world that devalue humanity and human beings. We pray for the world, that locked doors would be opened to the gospel proclamation. In Paul’s day, he had wanted to go into Bithynia (northwest Turkey), but for a time the Holy Spirit had closed that region to the gospel. Instead, the Holy Spirit had opened up Macedonia to the gospel proclamation. Today, many regions are closed to the gospel throughout Africa, Asia and the Middle East. There are nations in the world where it is illegal to have a Bible and to evangelize. Even in those regions where the door is opened a crack, Christians are still persecuted and martyred. We hear how Palestinian Christians are removed from their houses and deprived of their property. We hear how Coptic Christians in Egypt have their church buildings vandalized or burned down. We pray that the Holy Spirit bust down all the fortified doors and surge through with the gospel of Christ crucified and risen for the consolation of sinners oppressed by inhumane treatment.
7. Jesus promises His apostles: »In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world« (John 16,33). Jesus opens doors closed to the gospel. He liberates those in bondage to sin and other human atrocities. He strengthens faith. Our Victorious Savior has overcome sin, death and the devil. »The Triune God desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. For there is One God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave Himself as a ransom for all people« (1. Timothy 2,4-6). Our Lord Jesus Christ sends the Holy Spirit to create faith in hardened hearts, to soothe the wrath of oppressive rulers and to uplift those downtrodden by their culture or neighbors.
8. Jesus’ triumph over the world is not some distant, future reality that always seems on the edge of the horizon but never quite materializes. Jesus’ victory, rather, is a real, present victory over the world and those who seek to hinder the proclamation of the gospel. The decisive victory in this millennia-long war fought by Jesus against the devil occurred on the cross. There Jesus paid for all sin and bore mankind’s curse. On the third day Jesus rose from His tomb, and death was powerless to detain Him. Eternal life had triumphed over death (triomphe la vie éternelle!). This victory is yours. Now. Wherever and whenever the gospel of Christ crucified and risen is proclaimed, the Holy Spirit is saving and liberating those oppressed by sin and the world. Many times this salvation and liberation is only grasped by faith as it has not fully been manifested in its fullness. This is the paradoxical now and not yet. The gospel promises us that Jesus is aware of our circumstances, He is proceeding to liberate is, but this may not be fully implemented until His return on the last day when He gathers all His people into the heavenly realm of glory. Until that day, we remain fervent in prayer for ourselves, and our brothers and sisters in the faith around the world, for the manifestation of God’s mercy in our lives and tribulations. Amen.
9. Let us pray. O Christ Jesus, our Divine Mediator, hear our prayers and answer our petitions so that we may live a peaceful live grounded firmly upon Your glorious resurrection from death and the grave. Amen.
To God alone be the Glory
All Scriptural quotations are translations done by The Rev. Peter A. Bauernfeind using the Biblia Hebraica Stuttgartensia, 4th Edition © 1990 by the Deutsche Bibelgesellschaft, Stuttgart, and the Novum Testamentum Graece, Nestle-Aland 27th Edition © 1993 by Deutsch Bibelgesellschaft, Stuttgart.
Book of Common Prayer, The. Copyright © 1549 Cambridge University Press.
ELKB. Evangelisch-Lutherische Kirche in Bayern. www.bayern-evangelisch.de/www/index.php. Copyright © Evangelisch-Lutherische Kirche in Bayern.