Epaphras Prayer Letter

Eighth Sunday After Pentecost

Week of July 12, 2021 | Sunday, July 18, 2021

“…[T]hey were like sheep without a shepherd” (vs. 34). Jesus assesses the crowd that pursued him around the lake. He concludes that they had no shepherd, and he begins to teach them many things (vs. 34)—that is, he became their shepherd. The shepherd/sheep metaphor exists through scripture as a description of the Lord and his people. There were good shepherds, e.g., the Lord; there were bad shepherds, e.g., self-serving leaders; and the people could be without a shepherd, as Jesus concludes in this passage. Sheep without a shepherd are in the wild; they are chaotic and disorganized; and they are under constant threat. They have no protector. Sheep without a shepherd are today’s Christians without a preacher. They are in the wild and susceptible to “wild” thoughts about what constitutes the Christian faith. They are chaotic and disorganized to the extent that there is no regulation or limit upon those “wild” thoughts or upon the so-called charities on which they will expend their resources. Sheep without a shepherd have no protector to guard them from the dangers of the world and its deceitful champion; no protector to declare to them their election as children of God; and no protector from dishonest purveyors of a salvation outside of Jesus Christ, him crucified, and him alone. In short, it is nigh unto impossible to be a Christian without a preacher—that is, to be without Word and Sacrament ministry which the Holy Spirit uses as instruments to work faith within you.

Prayers from Christians who recognize their need for a preacher…

Heavenly Father, your dear Son assured those he sent out as apostles to bear witness to him that those who heard them speak would be hearing Jesus himself speak. I beg you, Father, send such a witness to me. Amen

Heavenly Father, as you send me a preacher in the line of those sent out by Jesus, grant that my preacher declares to me my election in Christ before the foundation of the world. Amen

Heavenly Father, grant me to receive a preacher who declares me chosen by God to be given the life of Jesus Christ, him crucified, and him alone. Amen

Heavenly Father, as I receive the life of Christ, hold me in such faith that I am no longer suspicious of my neighbors and extend to them such help as they may need. Amen

Heavenly Father, send me out to be of help to my neighbors, useful to them in providing daily bread—the fruit of this creation; and in providing Daily Bread—the fruit of the new creation, Jesus Christ. Amen

Heavenly Father, you know that each generation must raise up preachers of Jesus Christ, him crucified, and him alone. Grant that the Institute of Lutheran Theology remains a place which provides such preachers. Amen

Heavenly Father, as I continue in the days of my baptism, fill my ears with the words of Jesus Christ as spoken by my preacher so that the evil one has no power over me and I wait in peace for your Son’s arrival in glory. Amen

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