Epaphras Prayer Letter
Third Sunday After Pentecost
Week of June 7, 2021 | Sunday, June 13, 2021
In these two little parables, Jesus robs free will of its mastery over the kingdom of God. To the old sinner in each of us, Jesus is the worst of thieves, stealing the growth of the kingdom away from the decisions of free will and the labors of sinners’ hands. The sower simply goes about his daily routine, sleeping and rising as usual. Yet the “earth produces by itself” (vs. 28). Faith, starting as small as the “grain of the mustard seed” grows, on its own, large enough to house the nests of birds. Such growth is an “organic necessity” when the branches grow from the vine, when the seed falls into the soil, and when the branch bears fruit. Many Christians, even some Lutherans, reject “organic necessity.” They desire to preserve their free will, its decisions, and its labors. Jesus himself rejects such desires. These parables witness to that rejection. The supposedly free will of sinners is bound to their sin and sin has no place in the kingdom established by God through the preaching of the Word—that is, Jesus Christ, him crucified, and him alone. As the Apostle Paul maintains: “…God gives the growth” (1 Cor. 3:7).
Prayers from those who pray that the kingdom comes to them…
Heavenly Father, grant me your Holy Spirit as I hear your Word so that I might be established in faith and so be the New Creature in Christ and welcome in your kingdom. Lord in your mercy; hear my prayer.
Heavenly Father, as I am the New Creature in Christ grant me that godly life which is mine in that kingdom of yours coming into being through Jesus Christ my Lord. Lord in your mercy; hear my prayer.
Heavenly Father, grant that the fruit of kingdom flow spontaneously from me and my hands as I am that New Creature in Christ. Lord in your mercy; hear my prayer.
Heavenly Father, so establish the fruit of your kingdom that my neighbors find my and my labors useful for their life in this creation where the flesh still adheres. Lord in your mercy; hear my prayer.
Heavenly Father, so establish the preaching of your Word, Jesus Christ, as the fruit of my lips that my neighbors hear the Good News and are given life in the creation coming into being through Jesus Christ our Lord. Lord in your mercy, hear my prayer.
Heavenly Father, you have established the Institute of Lutheran Theology and nurtured its growth. Grant that it, too, bear fruit in this kingdom and the next. Lord in your mercy, hear my prayer.
Heavenly Father, in this time of waiting and the hiddenness of your kingdom, grant that I may live from the bread of life provided by useful neighbors and from the Bread of Life provided by useful preachers. Lord in your mercy, hear my prayer. Amen