High Lowliness
Philipp Nicolai, Johann Heermann, and Paul Gerhardt, Hymnwriters
26 October 2018
Whenever we have failed to help our fellow believers in Christ, we have failed to help Christ Himself. So closely does He identify Himself with His children that "whatever you do to the least of these My brothers you do unto Me" (Mt 25:40). When we have served the little ones of Christ, we have served Christ Himself. If we fail to do this, it is a sin of omission. By failing to care for our neighbor in his body, we're just as guilty of breaking the fifth commandment as if we put an ice pick in his heart. But when we help him, we're helping not just our neighbor, but Christ himself in our neighbor. How exalted this service becomes then!
 
There is a flip side to this service. We generally have no problem conceiving of serving Christ through serving those brothers and sisters who are weak and in need. Where many people struggle with this is when we are on the receiving end of the service. We have difficulty conceiving of ourselves as weak or in need of service. And yet, we deprive our dear brother or sister of an opportunity to serve their Lord, when we decline to receive their service for us. It should give us great joy when we receive the service of others in the midst of our own need. In such a case, it is quite clear that we are the brothers of Christ being taken care of by Christ's church for Christ's sake. In our needy weakness we are most closely identified with Christ our Lord. Christ was weak and lowly and when we are weak and lowly we are like Him. The classic sign of Christ in the church is Christ the crucified; the church portrays Him at his weakest. And yet in that weakness the greatest gift is granted to the church through his death. When we are weak, we are like Him. There is no higher lowliness than this.

Rev. Dr. Scott R. Murray
Memorial Lutheran Church

   Martin Luther
"God rightly calls all people murderers who do not provide counsel and help in distress and danger of body and life. He will pass a most terrible sentence upon them in the Last Day, as Christ Himself has announced that He will say, 'I was hungry and you gave Me no food, I was thirsty and you gave Me no drink, I was a stranger and you did not welcome Me, naked and you did not clothe Me, sick and in prison and you did not visit Me' (Mt 25:42-43). This means: You would have allowed Me and Mine to die of hunger, thirst, and cold. You would have allowed wild beasts to tear us to pieces, or left us to rot in prison or perish in distress. What else is that but to rebuke them as murderers and bloodhounds? For although you have not actually done all this to someone, you had still, so far as you were concerned, let him wither and perish in misfortune.
 
"It is just as if I saw someone navigating and laboring in deep water, or one fallen into fire, and could extend a hand to pull them out and save him, and yet refused to do it. How would I look, even in the eyes of the world? Just like a murderer and a criminal."

Martin Luther, Large Catechism,
1.191-92
1 Peter 5:5-11

Clothe yourselves, all of you, with humility toward one another, for "God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble."
 
Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you. Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. Resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world. And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you. To him be the dominion forever and ever. Amen. (ESV)
Prayer
Almighty God, the apostle Paul taught us to praise You in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs. We thank You this day for those who have given to Your Church great hymns, especially Your servants Philipp Nicolai, Johann Heermann, and Paul Gerhardt. May Your Church never lack hymnwriters who through their words and music give You praise. Fill us with the desire to praise and thank You for Your great goodness; through Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen.
 
For Steve Tackett, that the One who gives sight to the blind might return his sight to him following eye surgery
 
For Bishop Vsevolod Lytkin and the Lutheran Church of Siberia, that God would continue to keep them in the one true faith
 
For all those suffering from slavery to addiction, that they might be freed by Christ from its demonic power
Art: Albrecht DURER, The Adoration of the Trinity (1511)
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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