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Posts Tagged ‘St. Paul’

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)

Reflection:  In 1539, Father Martin Luther wrote, On the Councils and Church.   The most noted section in it is the Seven Marks of the Church.  Luther asked a good question, 

The Creed teaches us that a people of God must be on earth and remain until the end of the world. This is an article of faith, which cannot cease until that comes which it believes, as Christ promises, “I am with you even unto the end of the world.” But how can a poor, erring man know where this Christian, holy people in the world is?(emphasis my own)

Luther’s answer to his own question is the 7 marks of the Church. By these 7 marks a “poor, erring man” can publicly see the Church and know where the Church is true to the Word. These are quotes from his treatise:

  1. First , This Christian, holy people is to be known by this, that it has God’s Word,

  2. Second . God’s people, or the Christian holy people, is known by the holy Sacrament of Baptism, when it is rightly taught and believed and used according to Christ’s ordinance.

  3. Third . God’s people, or a Christian, holy Church is known by the holy Sacrament of the Altar, when it is rightly administered according to Christ’s institution and is believed and received

  4. Fourth . The people of God, or holy Christians, are known by the keys, which they publicly use. Christ decrees, in Matthew 18:15 that if a Christian sins, he shall be rebuked, and if he does not amend his ways, he shall be bound and cast out; but if he amends, he shall be set free. This is the power of the keys

  5. Fifth . The Church is known outwardly by the fact that it consecrates or calls ministers, or has offices which they occupy.

  6. Sixth . The holy, Christian people is known by prayer and public thanksgiving and praise to God.

  7. Seventh . The holy, Christian Church is outwardly known by the holy possession of the Holy Cross.

 I concentrate today, the Festival of St. Titus, Pastor and Confessor on number 5:  called and ordained Servants of the Word, pastors and bishops.

Christianity is the only religion on earth who calls their ministers Pastors: Pastor literally means “Shepherd”.  For instance, a congregation called “Good Shepherd” is in Spanish, “El Buen Pastor”.  A shepherd leads his flock to “good pastures”, see Psalm 23:2;  St. Mark 6: 39;  St. John 6: 1-14, 33-35.  He calls pastors to feed His flock with the Word preached and taught, baptizing,administering His Body and Blood, and forgiving repentant brothers and sisters, who also are sinners. The Lord commanded Peter: Feed My sheep( John 21:16-18).  We need to  eat and drink every day and every week, so we need Him. This was the vocation of Paul and his brother pastors  Timothy and Titus.

The past 3 days are respectively the Festivals of St. Timothy, St. Paul and St. Titus:  all pastors. Luther said a called and ordained Servant of the Word, a pastor,  is a mark of the Church.  

In the TV show M*A*S*H, Fr. Mulcahy was always wondering was he really useful.  The Korean War era helicopters could only take two wounded soldiers at a time, one on each side of the helicopter.  When there was only one wounded, the pilot would use a dummy or a person who volunteered. In one episode, in order to feel useful, Fr. Mulcahy did so.  Colonel Potter was not pleased.  Hawkeye and the other surgeons tried to comfort Fr. Mulcahy that he was indeed useful.  In the  show, one barely sees him saying Mass on Sundays or even talking about it or preaching.  He does hear confessions but usually for the humor in it.  He never evangelizes the Korean villagers. He never baptizes.  It really is a sham portrayal of military chaplains. But many pastors who do all of the above will still feel the need to be “useful”.  As a pastor I think many of us suffer from the  Father Mulcahy Syndrome.  Pastor and something else:  therapist, CEO of church growth, social activist, community organizer and the like.  The pastor can assuage his conscience that he is “useful”.  In terms of this world, yes, I think pastors are useless:  the world of sin, death and the power of the devil of course has no use for Word and Sacraments, for Jesus Christ!  “It’s not practical”  will think our pastor feeling the need to be useful.  I think that conclusion is sheer unbelief and unbelief is  the world and the flesh and devil’s desired outcome. This is a sore temptation to want to feel “useful”.  The thing is that the devil knows the Enemy’s Word is quite practical, for the practice of faith and the fruit of faith, love, His light in the darkness. Numbers 1-4 of Luther’s 7 Marks of the Church is deemed not enough, but it is.  The Lord calls pastors to carry out marks 1-4 which will result, by God’s Word, marks 6-7. Paul, Titus and Timothy were not looking for adjuncts to heighten their need for usefulness in the Holy Ministry.  Your pastor needs prayer and encouragement to do the one thing needful, the good portion that will not be taken away:  preaching and teaching the Word written, spoken and incarnate (see St.Luke 10:41-42)

Almighty God, You called Titus to the work of pastor and teacher. Make all shepherds of Your flock diligent in preaching Your holy Word so that the whole world may know the immeasurable riches of our Savior, Jesus, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.

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Acts 9:1-22  Galatians 1:11-24 Matthew 19:27-30

Prayer of the Day

Almighty God, You turned the heart of him who persecuted the Church and by his preaching caused the light of the Gospel to shine throughout the world. Grant us ever to rejoice in the saving light of Your Gospel and, following the example of the apostle Paul, to spread it to the ends of the earth; through Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.

About the Day:  St. Paul’s life-changing experience on the road to Damascus is related three times in the Book of Acts (9:1-9; 22:6-11; 26:12-18). As an archenemy of Christians, Saul of Tarsus set out for Damascus to arrest and bring believers to Jerusalem for trial. While on the way, he saw a blinding light and heard the words: “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me?” Saul asked, “Who are You, Lord?” The reply came, “I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting.” In Damascus, where Saul was brought after being blinded, a disciple named Ananias was directed by the Lord in a vision to go to Saul to restore his sight: “Go, for he is a chosen instrument of Mine to carry My name before the Gentiles and kings and the children of Israel” (Acts 9:15). After receiving his sight, Saul was baptized and went on to become known as Paul, the great apostle.

Suggested Reading from the Book of Concord: Large Catechism IV 56-67

(Source for the above: The Treasury of Daily Prayer)

From Luther’s Sermon on, Acts 9,  The Conversion of St. Paul

Introduction: After the Lord Jesus Christ reveals Himself to Saul of Tarsus, Saul could no longer see. The Lord guides his footsteps. Luther in his House Postil (Sermon) for this Feast Day has great insight on the importance of pastors.   Then I will comment on it and the day:

Arise, and go into the city, and it shall be told thee what thou must do. (vs. 6)

Although he speaks with Paul directly from heaven above, God does not intend to put away the pastoral office or establish something extraordinary for him. Indeed, he might have spoken to him directly and revealed what he wanted him to do, but instead he directs him to go to the parish pastor in the city where he would hear and learn what he was supposed to do. Our Lord God does not purpose some special thing for each individual person, but gives to the whole world—one person like the next—his baptism and gospel. Through these means we are to learn how to be saved, and have no need to wait for God to reveal some new thing from heaven, or send angel.  For it is his will that we go to hear the Gospel preached by the pastor;  there we will find him, and in no other way…

Our Lord God did not mandate anything extraordinary for Paul to do, for he, after all, had heard the physical voice of Christ, the Lord, and he was to become a foremost preacher. Instead he is told to go into the city and to hear Ananias. So, get up and go! he says. Nothing special beyond this is done, no further instruction there along the road, no baptism, just the directive to go where his Word and baptism are to be had. And Paul willingly complies with the Lord’s directive, although he does not yet know where and by whom this will all happen…

Ananias to Saul: “Brother Saul, the Lord, even Jesus that appeared unto thee in the way as thou tamest, hath sent me, that thou mightest receive thy sight, and be filled with the Holy Ghost. (“vs. 17)

That is something we must really note well, so that we esteem the preaching office as we ought.  Paul receives his sight, his insight and the Holy Spirit, through the ministry of Ananias, so that he knows who Christ is, understands the power of baptism, and forthwith emerges as a changed man.

 My comments:  I would guess that if you asked a knowledgeable fellow Lutheran and Christian when was Paul converted, the answer would be, ‘On the road to Damascus”  But based upon the Text and from it, Luther’s sermonic insight,  Saul’s conversion does not take place on  the road to Damascus but in the Word and the Font, prayed and administered by the pastor, Ananias. Baptism is conversion, born from above, transformed. As the Apostle well knew when he wrote to the Corinthians, 1 Corinthians 6:

Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, 10 nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God.11 And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.(emphasis my own)

What happened to Saul on the road was not his conversion but the apocalypse by the Lord to Saul.  Note that  our word “apocalypse” is from the New Testament Greek, “reveal”, and “reveal” is the word the Apostle Paul used in his letter to the Galatians about that famous walk to Damascus: Galatians 1:16.  Similarly, when Peter confessed Jesus as the Christ, the Lord said the Father revealed, literally, “apocalypsed” this to Peter.  I think this day should be called the Apocalypse to Saul.

 Saul is blinded for 3 days (vs. 9) as in the Lord in the tomb for 3 days.  Saul was blinded by his own sin and the Lord’s judgment of his sin in consenting to the arrest and murder of Christians, such as the first martyr, Stephen, see Acts 7: 60-8:1.  Only by the Word of the Gospel that Ananias administered in prayer was Paul able to see and in Baptism be saved, receiving Christ Jesus’ forgiveness in His death and resurrection (see Romans 6: 1-11!!!). This is when Saul of Tarsus is converted.

Note:  there is no “decision of Christ” at all!  As Paul well knew this when he wrote:  “The letter (of the Law) kills, and the Spirit gives life.” (see 2 Corinthians 3:6) There is no intervention of the choosing self, the Old Adam.   It is all the Lord’s doing and it is marvelous in our eyes! Receive the Holy Ghost, says the Pastor on the street called straight. Paul had no choice for the Lord chose him, one “untimely  born”(see 1 Corinthians 15:7-9).   We look for God in all the wrong places.  We think it should be glorious, but it is not, it is the Cross. Jesus does not give Saul any instruction but to go the means He Himself has appointed for Saul to be washed and saved:  Water and the Word (cf. St. Matthew 28: 18)

 Woody Allen’s  movie, Love and Death,  is  his funny take on 19th century Russian novels and his main character continually asks for ‘vision’, a revelation, for the proof of the existence of God.  He is always stymied. Those so  wanting a revelation will be disappointed, deluded and demonized because they are not looking to where the Lord said He will be found: His Word and His Sacraments. We have all sorts of people who consider themselves “spiritual” and even think the Lord has revealed Himself to them apart from His Word and Sacrament and then go on to  deny His means of grace.  But the Lord directed Saul to the Font, as Paul would also direct the Lord’s people, as did the Lord,  and as a  saint in your life also pointed the way to the Lord in His forgiveness for you:  not in the sky, but in the laver of regeneration, Baptism.  Thank Him for His grace which causes the blind to see His love in the washing unto eternal life! (see 1 Corinthians 6:11)  

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"So Ananias departed and entered the house. And laying his hands on him he said, "Brother Saul, the Lord Jesus who appeared to you on the road by which you came, has sent me that you may regain your sight and be filled with the Holy Spirit." And immediately something like scales fell from his eyes and he regained his sight. Then he rose and was baptized, and took food and was strengthened." - Acts 9:17-19. This is one of the scenes from the window of St Paul's life in Melton Mowbray.

Acts 9:1-22  Galatians 1:11-24 Matthew 19:27-30

Prayer of the Day

Almighty God, You turned the heart of him who persecuted the Church and by his preaching caused the light of the Gospel to shine throughout the world. Grant us ever to rejoice in the saving light of Your Gospel and, following the example of the apostle Paul, to spread it to the ends of the earth; through Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.

About the Day:  St. Paul’s life-changing experience on the road to Damascusis related three times in the Book of Acts (9:1-9; 22:6-11; 26:12-18). As an archenemy of Christians, Saul of Tarsus set out forDamascusto arrest and bring believers toJerusalemfor trial. While on the way, he saw a blinding light and heard the words: “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me?” Saul asked, “Who are You, Lord?” The reply came, “I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting.” In Damascus, where Saul was brought after being blinded, a disciple named Ananias was directed by the Lord in a vision to go to Saul to restore his sight: “Go, for he is a chosen instrument of Mine to carry My name before the Gentiles and kings and the children of Israel” (Acts9:15). After receiving his sight, Saul was baptized and went on to become known as Paul, the great apostle.

Suggested Reading from the Book of Concord: Large Catechism IV 56-67

(Source for the above: The Treasury of Daily Prayer)

From Luther’s Sermon on, Acts 9,  The Conversion of St. Paul

After the Lord Jesus Christ reveals Himself to Saul of Tarsus, Saul could no longer see and this is where we read Luther’s  House Postil (Sermon) for this Feast Day.  Then I will comment on it, especially the bold-faced sections,  and the day:

“(Saul) was now ready to be taught. The man, who is called Jesus of Nazareth, is able to speak with such earnestness that it goes deeply to the heart. Paul would have despaired and died, had not Christ again pulled him to his feet and comforted him, as he now says:

Arise, and go into the city, and it shall be told thee what thou must do. (vs. 6)

Although he speaks with Paul directly from heaven above, God does not intend to put away the pastoral office or establish something extraordinary for him. Indeed, he might have spoken to him directly and revealed what he wanted him to do, but instead he directs him to go to the parish pastor in the city where he would hear and learn what he was supposed to do. Our Lord God does not purpose some special thing for each individual person, but gives to the whole world—one person like the next—his baptism and gospel. Through these means we are to learn how to be saved, and have no need to wait for God to reveal some new thing from heaven, or send angel.  For it is his will that we go to hear the Gospel preached by the pastor;  there we will find him, and in no other way.

Those who seek for some special revelation get what they deserve, namely, the devil. The enthusiasts—Carlstadt, Muentzer, and others like them—gather in a corner waiting there for the Lord God and the Holy Spirit. The devil dupes them into thinking that they can importune our Lord God to give them a special direct revelation. Our Lord God, thereupon, purposely sends them a delusion, according to which the devil comes to them in the form of an angel to punish them. Our Lord God did not mandate anything extraordinary for Paul to do, for he, after all, had heard the physical voice of Christ, the Lord, and he was to become a foremost preacher. Instead he is told to go into the city and to hear Ananias. So, get up and go! he says. Nothing special beyond this is done, no further instruction there along the road, no baptism, just the directive to go where his Word and baptism are to be had. And Paul willingly complies with the Lord’s directive, although he does not yet know where and by whom this will all happen.

At this juncture, then, our Lord God sends Ananias to meet Paul, to preach the Word to him and baptize him; he lays his hands upon him and says:

Brother Saul, the Lord, even Jesus that appeared unto thee in the way as thou tamest, hath sent me, that thou mightest receive thy sight, and be filled with the Holy Ghost. (vs. 17)

Thus Paul came into the light of the Word, to baptism, to the Holy Spirit, through Ananias who was no more than a finger compared with Paul, like a little candle in comparison with the sun. From him, this little wooden match, Paul was to take his light; from this little doctor the famous Doctor Paul was to hear what he was to do!

That is something we must really note well, so that we esteem the preaching office as we ought.  Paul receives his sight, his insight and the Holy Spirit, through the ministry of Ananias, so that he knows who Christ is, understands the power of baptism, and forthwith emerges as a changed man.

 My comments:  I would guess that if you asked a knowledgeable fellow Lutheran and Christian when was Paul converted, the answer would be, ‘On the road to Damascus”  But based upon the Text and from it, Luther’s sermonic insight,  Saul’s conversion does not take place on  the road to Damascus but in the Word and the Font, prayed and administered by the pastor, Ananias.  What happened to Saul on the road was not his conversion but the apocalypse by the Lord to Saul, noting that  our word “apocalypse” is from the New Testament Greek, “reveal”, and “reveal” is the word the Apostle Paul used in his letter to the Galatians: Galatians 1:16.  

 Saul is blinded for 3 days (vs. 9) as in the Lord in the tomb for 3 days.  Saul was blinded by his own sin and the Lord’s judgment of his sin in consenting to the arrest and murder of Christians, such as the first martyr, Stephen, see Acts 7: 60-8:1.  Only by the Word of the Gospel that Ananias administered in prayer was Paul able to see and in Baptism be saved, receiving Christ Jesus’ forgiveness in His death and resurrection (see Romans 6: 1-11!!!).

Note:  there is no “decision of Christ” at all!  As Paul well knew this when he wrote:  “The letter (of the Law) kills, and the Spirit gives life.” (see 2 Corinthians 3:6) There is no intervention of the choosing self, the Old Adam.   It is all the Lord’s doing and it is marvelous in our eyes! Receive the Holy Ghost, says the Pastor on the street called straight.  We look for God in all the wrong places.  We think it should be glorious, but it is not, it is the Cross. Jesus does not give Saul any instruction but to go the means He Himself has appointed for Saul to be washed and saved:  Water and the Word (cf. St. Matthew 28: 18)

Recently I re-watched Woody Allen’s  movie, Love and Death, which is  his funny take on 19th century Russian novels and his character continually asks for ‘vision’, a revelation, for the proof of the existence of God. Luther compared the “enthusiasts” to the way the Lord Himself has appointed the means of His salvation, His Word and Sacraments.   Those so  wanting a revelation will be disappointed, deluded and demonized. We have all sorts of people who consider themselves “spiritual” and even think the Lord has revealed Himself to them apart from His Word and Sacrament and then go on to  deny His means of grace.  But the Lord directed Saul to the Font, as Paul would also direct the Lord’s people, as did the Lord,  and as a  saint in your life also pointed the way to the Lord in His forgiveness for you:  not in the sky, but in the laver of regeneration.  Thank Him for His grace which causes the blind to see His love in the washing unto eternal life! (see 1 Corinthians 6:11)  Saul knew his washing quite well!

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Part I is  from the blog  Aardvark Alley

Part II is my reflection on the day.

Today we commemorate Saint Timothy, Pastor and Confessor. The festival days for Pastors Timothy and Titus are set on either side of the day marking Saint Paul’s conversion. This proximity reminds us of their connection with the apostle, including his establishing them in office and the letters he wrote to them.

Timothy grew up in the faith as taught by his mother and grandmother, Eunice and Lois. He was a companion of Paul for many of the apostle’s travels and spent much of his own pastorate in Ephesus.

Timothy is mentioned in Acts 16-20, and appears in 9 epistles either as joining in Paul’s greetings or as a messenger. Additionally, two of Paul’s three “pastoral epistles” — 1 Timothy and 2 Timothy — were addressed to him and his congregation.

The letters Paul wrote to Timothy and Titus are collectively known as the Pastoral Epistles. Much of Christianity’s understanding and practice of the pastorate comes from these three relatively brief letters.

Lection:

Psalm 71:15-24
Acts 16:1-5
1 Timothy 6:11-16
Matthew 24:42-47

Part II:

 Paul wrote epistles (letters) to Pastor Timothy twice and both epistles are in the Bible.  In those letters there is a lot about the importance and centrality  of the Bible, the written Word of God, in preaching, teaching and liturgy.   When Paul wrote of the “Scripture”, he probably meant the Old Testament, but now the Old Testament is revealed and fulfilled in Jesus Christ.  Here are the passages: 1 Timothy 4:12-141 Timothy 5:17-19,   2 Timothy 1:4-6  and 2 Timothy 3:15-17 read together;   2 Timothy 4:1-3.  The Word of God is the Sword of the Spirit ( Ephesians 6:17) and is the indispensable weapon and tool in the pastors’ arsenal and with him the congregation’s (cf. 2 Corinthians 10:4-6).  The Lord commands us to be fed the Word of the Lord (cf. John 21:16-18).  Timothy was taught out of the Bible from the beginning of his life and to it’s end.  Bible classes are so important for any congregation or mission.  We need every Word from God (see Matthew 4:3-5).  The Word alone is our food, our guide and our companion in this world into the Kingdom come.  A strong witness to the Scripture  was given in  the most recent edition of the secular news magazine,  The Week (The Week) January 28, 2011: 

It Wasn’t All Bad

Sixth-grade teacher Debra Court of the St. Paul Lutheran School in Bonduel, Wis., was searching an old safe for baptism records to show her students when she came across an aged Bible.  No one at the church realized just how old it was until the church pastor sent pictures of it to the Concordia Seminary Library in St. Louis, where a cataloger concluded it had been printed 340 years ago. ‘To hold something that tells us, in 1670, the same message of God’s grace and Christ that we tell each other today, ‘ said Pastor Timothy Shoup, ‘that helps me to be even more thankful.’

Amen!

Let us pray…Lord Jesus Christ, You have always given to Your Church on earth faithful shepherds such as Timothy to guide and feed Your flock. Make all pastors diligent to preach Your holy Word and administer Your means of grace, and grant Your people wisdom to follow in the way that leads to life eternal; for You live and reign with the Father and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.

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