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Posts Tagged ‘epistles’

Acts 20: 28-35

Psalm 71: 1-14

Titus 1: 1-9

St. Luke 10: 1-9

St. Titus, like Timothy with whom he is often  associated, was a friend and co-worker of St, Paul. Titus was a Gentile, perhaps a native of Antioch, who accompanied Paul and Barnabas to Jerusalem when they brought assistance to the Christians in Judea during a famine (Acts 11:29-30; Galatians 2:1). It is not known if he accompanied Paul on his first or second missionary journeys, but Titus was with him on the third one, when he helped reconcile the Corinthians to Paul (2 Corinthians 7:6-7) and assisted with the collection for the Church in Jerusalem (2 Corinthians 8:3-6). It was probably on the return to Jerusalem that Paul left Titus in Crete (Titus 1:4-5). Afterward he is found working in Dalmatia (2 Timothy 4:10). According to tradition, Titus returned to Crete, where he served as bishop until he died about AD 96. 

(From The Treasury of Daily Prayer, CPH)

The Epistle Reading:  Titus 1: 1-9

Greeting

Paul, a servant of God and an apostle of Jesus Christ, for the sake of the faith of God’s elect and their knowledge of the truth, which accords with godliness, in hope of eternal life, which God, who never lies, promised before the ages began and at the proper time manifested in his word through the preaching with which I have been entrusted by the command of God our Savior;

To Titus, my true child in a common faith:

Grace and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Savior.

Qualifications for Elders

This is why I left you in Crete, so that you might put what remained into order, and appoint elders in every town as I directed you— if anyone is above reproach, the husband of one wife, and his children are believers and not open to the charge of debauchery or insubordination. For an overseer, as God’s steward, must be above reproach. He must not be arrogant or quick-tempered or a drunkard or violent or greedy for gain, but hospitable, a lover of good, self-controlled, upright, holy, and disciplined. He must hold firm to the trustworthy word as taught, so that he may be able to give instruction in sound doctrine and also to rebuke those who contradict it.

Note:  I was on a 24 hour overnight retreat, the 26th and 27th, and the worship leader, ans was not able post this article in time- Pr. Schroeder

Reflection:

This past Friday was the Feast Day of St. Timothy, yesterday, January 25th, the Conversion of St. Paul, today St. Titus and tomorrow the Commemoration of St. John Chrysostom, Preacher.  When I began at my third congregation, the first one in the south, I went to see a homebound man, in a wheelchair, at his home and when I came in, in a Southern accent said, “The preacher man is here!”  These four days of feasts and a commemoration are all about preacher men.  

The Apostle Paul tells his brother Pastor Titus that through the preaching of Word that the fulness of the truth was “manifested”.  The Greek word is very much akin to the name of this liturgical season:  epiphany. God makes manifest His will of salvation by grace alone through the preaching of the Word which means the Lord calls faithful preachers.  This is a good day to give thanks to the Lord for faithful preachers especially the men you have known, bringing the Word to pulpit Sunday after Sunday, at the hospital, in a home bound member’s home, in a school, in classes, at the grave.  As  you give thanks to the Lord let your thanks be known to your pastor as well.

In The Large Catechism by Martin Luther, in his explanation of the 4th Commandment, Honor Your Father and Your Mother, Luther taught about fathers that the commandment is  expansive:

“…we have three kinds of fathers presented in this commandment: fathers by blood, fathers of a household, and fathers of the nation. Besides these, there are also spiritual fathers—not like those in the papacy who applied this title to themselves but performed no fatherly office. For the name spiritual father belongs only to those who govern and guide us by the Word of God. St. Paul boasts that he is a father in I Cor. 4:15, where he says, “I became your father in Christ Jesus through the Gospel.”

The two words in the good work of being a father, or a mother, are the authority of “no” and “yes”.  You can’t do this, you should not do that, be careful and the like.  Yes, come, let us worship the Lord, Yes,the Lord has forgiven you, Yes, I love you and will care for you.  “Fathers of a nation”, that is government, usually only use the word “No”, the political use of the Law for restraining evil (cf.  Romans 13:4) .  “Fathers of a household” meant for Luther the household with staff, that is, maids and servants.  Since many of us do not have such (!), and watch Downton Abbey wishing we did (!), this portion of the catechism seems irrelevant, but some have suggested that the modern equivalent is our places of work and  our superiors at work.  The boss must also apply with wisdom “no” and “yes”.  It is clear mothers and fathers do as well, and so do pastors.

In Paul’s short epistle to Titus, describing the work of the elder/overseer, that is pastor, Paul uses the word rebuke three times, as in the first time in the Epistle reading above:

 He (the pastor)  must hold firm to the trustworthy word as taught, so that he may be able to give instruction in sound doctrine (yes) and also to rebuke those who contradict it (no).

But in our forever affirming, self-esteeming, always should feel good culture and society, the role of pastor actually rebuking, saying “no”  to false doctrine spoken by the baptized, is even actively despised.  This means that the reality of sound doctrine, that Christ saves sinners, is also blunted.  Some pastors like to think of themselves as “coaches”, constantly cheering on the team…but that’s a cheerleader and an actual sports’ coach has plenty of rebukes!  Pastors are not to relish in rebuking, and they do not, because it is not pleasant to receive  discipline or to discipline, but for the sake of the “sound doctrine”, it needs to be done at the right time.   The pastor is also “disciplined” in his comportment according the humility of knowing that the Lord loves me a sinner as well, but when that sinfulness is not acknowledged and confessed (cf.1 John 1:7-9), and false doctrines are sought to justify sinfulness, something has to be said.  Pray for your pastor or priest and minister as he teaches you God’s Word of No and Yes, Law and Promise for you to love and know Jesus Christ!

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New Testament Reading for Today:  Hebrews 13: 1-21

Remember your leaders, those who spoke to you the word of God. Consider the outcome of their way of life, and imitate their faith.

17 Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they are keeping watch over your souls, as those who will have to give an account. Let them do this with joy and not with groaning, for that would be of no advantage to you.

Introduction:  The New Testament reading is the pastor’s encouragement to the Church in times of persecutions from without and within.  The meditation below is by Pastor Scott Murray (Pastor, Memorial Lutheran Church, Houston, TX) from his book  A Year with the Church Fathers: Meditation for Each Day of the Church Year (I am not paid by Pr. Murray to so advertise but gladly do so!)  The meditation is on the verses cited above.

Meditation

We presume that something is better than nothing. This truism is not always true. It is better to be without a leader than to have one who teaches us into hell. If we are to imitate the faith of those who lead us, we need someone leading us who has sound teaching, someone who is faithful to Christ the Word and His Holy Scripture. Without that faithful instruction, we are being led into misbelief, which is the worst vice. It is the worst evil, because it has such horrible results. We are all sinful, even and especially our Church leaders. If we wait until the Church leader arrives who has no fleshly weaknesses or spiritual peccadilloes, we will be waiting forever. Such a person ministered visibly only once among men.

So what should we look for from leaders? The faith. We need them to teach us Christ, His death, His life, His sacrifice for our sins—all that He has done “for us men and for our salvation.” We should imitate the faith that leaders teach. The substance of what is taught, of what is to be believed, should be the outcome of their lives. Like us, our leaders are imperfect clay pots. The excellence of what is preached should commend them to us. Let’s expect neither more nor less.

“When should we obey an evil leader? What kind of evil do we mean here? If he isevil in regard to faith, flee and avoid him. Not just if he is a man, but even if he is an angel from heaven. But if his life is evil, do not pry. This case I am not arguing from my own opinion, but from Holy Scripture. Hear Christ say, ‘The scribes and the Pharisees sit on Moses’ seat’ (Matthew 23:2). Having previously spoken many fearful things concerning them, Christ says, ‘Practice and observe whatever they tell you—but not what they do. For they preach, but do not practice’ (Matthew 23:3). They have the dignity of office but have an unclean life. Pay attention not to their life but to their words. As regards their character, no one would be harmed by it. Why? Both because their characters are manifest to all, and also because, although they might be ten thousand times as evil, they will never teach what is evil. But in regard to the faith, the evil is not apparent to all, and the leader with a wicked faith will not decline to teach it” (John Chrysostom, Homilies on Hebrews, 34.1).

20 Now may the God of peace who brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, the great shepherd of the sheep, by the blood of the eternal covenant, 21 equip you with everything good that you may do his will, working in us that which is pleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen.

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