Ours
Easter Wednesday
4 April 2018
The ministry of the Word is God's gift to the church. The church holds in common this gift from God. If she is a communion of saints, part of her community property is the ministry of the Word. She holds this possession not in such a way that she is queen and mistress ruling over the ministry, any more than she is queen and mistress over Christ the Lord who gives the ministry of the Word to her. She may never presume upon the ministry or take it for granted. Her members must never grasp or take possession of that which is a common gift to the whole community.
 
The church's children must never act like a couple of little tykes who squabble over a single gift given to them both, "No, it's mine. You can't have it!" We may not covetously command the gifts of God, nor Lord them over our brothers and sisters. And because the ministry is not the possession of any individual it must be placed into the care and stewardship of those who have been called to proclaim the Word of God publicly. Only those called by the people of God to preach may preach. Any other arrangement of things robs the divine gifts from the bride of Christ.
 
It is right for the people of God who are the communion of saints to ask those who preach, "Who called you?" and to demand an answer from them. It is right for those who are called to proclaim the Word of God and nothing else and thus maintain the stewardship God gives them through the communion of saints. So too they will administer according to Christ's institution the sacraments and absolution, because the church is to dispense these gifts in Christ's name and by Christ's command (Jn 20:21-23).

Rev. Dr. Scott R. Murray
Memorial Lutheran Church

   Martin Luther
"If you believe, then you are called and numbered among those who believe and confess. Thus they give proof of their calling. They were, first of all, gathered into a Christian congregation through baptism, and now they are in possession of the sacraments and absolution. Thus we are the Christian Church, or a segment of it. This church has the power to engage pastors. The church selects such as are able and competent, not for their own sakes but for the welfare of the church. And in an emergency everyone must take care of his own needs.
 
"Yet not all are authorized to preach, but only one is to preach to the entire congregation. Thus, the ministry is not mine; it belongs to all the others; it is a public office and confession. Therefore, I say to the pope: 'Who sent you? Prove to us that your doctrine is God's Word. See whether our doctrine is at variance with this Word. See whether you can say: "We are presenting God's Word to you." Furthermore, see whether we baptize, whether we have absolution; see whether we have preachers and whether we have people who delight in listening to the Word of God. If we do, you must admit that we are sent and that we preach the Word of God.' We have, in fact, witnessed it and it has come to this, that all our adversaries are constrained to admit that we preach the Word of God and are sent by God." 

Martin Luther, Sermons on John's Gospel, 3.34
John 20:19-29

On the evening of that day, the first day of the week, the doors being locked where the disciples were for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said to them, "Peace be with you." When he had said this, he showed them his hands and his side. Then the disciples were glad when they saw the Lord. Jesus said to them again, "Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, even so I am sending you." And when he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, "Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of anyone, they are forgiven; if you withhold forgiveness from anyone, it is withheld."
 
Now Thomas, one of the Twelve, called the Twin, was not with them when Jesus came. So the other disciples told him, "We have seen the Lord." But he said to them, "Unless I see in his hands the mark of the nails, and place my finger into the mark of the nails, and place my hand into his side, I will never believe."
 
Eight days later, his disciples were inside again, and Thomas was with them. Although the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them and said, "Peace be with you." Then he said to Thomas, "Put your finger here, and see my hands; and put out your hand, and place it in my side. Do not disbelieve, but believe." Thomas answered him, "My Lord and my God!" Jesus said to him, "Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed." (ESV)
Prayer
Almighty God, by the glorious resurrection of Your Son, Jesus Christ, You destroyed death and brought life and immortality to light. Grant that we who have been raised with Him may abide in His presence and rejoice in the hope of eternal glory; through the same Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen.
 
For the faithful Lutheran seminaries throughout the world, that God would grant them the grace to prepare men who will proclaim the holy gospel to the people of God
 
For Charles Wokoma, who is serving the church in Nigeria, that the Lord of the church would watch over him keeping him safe and giving success to his labors
 
For those being brought more deeply into the Easter mystery in these days of Christ's new life, that they would find joy in that learning
Art: GRÜNEWALD, Matthias,  Resurrection (c. 1515)
Memorial Lutheran Church
smurray@mlchouston.org
http://www.mlchouston.org
© Scott Murray 2018
Memorial Lutheran Church, 5800 Westheimer Rd., Houston, TX 77057
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