Epaphras Prayer Letter

Twentieth Sunday After Pentecost

Week of October 4, 2021 | Sunday, October 10, 2021

“…go, sell all that you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven.” Indeed, what shall we say about the poor? Shall we do as Jesus advises here, sell off everything, impoverish ourselves in exchange for treasure in heaven? Or shall we adopt Jesus’ attitude in his response to Judas and his objection: “…for you will always have the poor with you, but you will not always have me” (John 12:4-7). Or, shall we tell the poor to be content with having good news preached to them (Mt. 11:15). Maybe we must resort to saying there are different kinds of poor, e.g., poor in spirit, poor in wealth, or poor in righteousness; we must admit deficiencies in many qualities which could easily be called poverty. The poor and our charity toward them present us with many complexities. One simplicity stands out: there is no quid-pro-quo regarding our charity to the poor. We do not purchase our treasure in heaven by selling all that we have; it doesn’t matter how advantageous you make the exchange rate. The treasure in heaven is already yours. Simply trust that your God doesn’t lie, and, out of that faith, you can sell or keep in complete freedom. The reality is simply as the Apostle Paul declares: “For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery” (Gal. 5:1).


Prayers from one bound in sin, who makes every relationship a quid-pro-quo, especially my relationship with God…


Father in heaven, in your Word of Law and Gospel, you have exposed how desperate I am to obtain that treasure in heaven. I will sell wealth, family, position, and even my soul to purchase my possession of it. Forgive me such idolatry and grant me such faith that I can live in the freedom promised by Christ. Amen


Father in heaven, in your Word of Law and Gospel, you have exposed my lack of faith, even though you have promised to give it to me. Protect my ears from hearing the word of another that stops up my ears so that I do not hear your Word of promise. Amen


Father in heaven, in your Word of Law and Gospel, you have exposed my death beneath the accusation of your Law. Grant that my Lord’s command, “Come forth!” pierce those dead ears and quicken my heart so blackened by sin. At his command, may I come forth to walk in newness of life. Amen


Father in heaven, in your Word of Law and Gospel, you have exposed both my lack of charity and my misuse of charity and convict even my so-called good works as being corrupted by sin. Forgive me such vices and, in my newness of life, turn me to serve those neighbors without inflicting my righteousness upon them. Amen


Father in heaven, in your Word of Law and Gospel, you have exposed me to the needs of my neighbors, grant that I can meet them in meekness and humility. Amen


Father in heaven, in your Word of Law and Gospel, you set forth the need of having a preacher. Grant the Institute of Lutheran Theology be so blessed as to raise up preachers of Law and Gospel so that all things may be taken captive to Christ. Amen


Father in heaven, in your Word of Law and Gospel, you have exposed the end of this old, passing away creation and the beginning of the New Creation which is ours by faith in Christ. Grant that I can be of some use to creation and my neighbors as I await the end of this world and the revelation of the New in Christ’s coming in glory. Amen

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