Today's Reading: Galatians 2:1-10
For he who worked through Peter for his apostolic ministry to the circumcised worked also through me for mine to the Gentile. (Galatians 2:8)
In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. The Office of the Ministry is not the work of any one individual. It's not Peter's ministry, or Paul's ministry. Neither does the ministry belong to any one pastor today.
But human nature is always fighting against this notion. Every minister who's ever worked in the ministry is always looking for ways to put a personal touch or an individual touch on his work. And so ministries multiply like rabbits. Everything that even touches the Church or the Christian faith gets repackaged into a ministry. The idea is that, by diversifying "ministry," we can reach a more diverse crowd.
But notice that Peter does not conduct a "circumcised ministry," and Paul does not conduct a "Gentile ministry." No, the ministry is the same for both Peter and Paul. It's an apostolic ministry--Peter to the circumcised (the Jews), and Paul to the Gentiles.
To say that the ministry is apostolic means that both Peter and Paul were sent by another (apostle means "one who is sent"). And that's what Paul writes about in his letter to the Galatians. The same person who sent Peter to the Jews also sent Paul to the Gentiles, and because of this, it's the same person who is doing the work, whether through Peter or Paul. That person is Jesus Christ. He is the one who ministers; the Office of the Ministry is Christ's Office. It is Christ's work. This doesn't mean that we should denigrate or avoid all the other "ministries" that Christians offer. Many of them provide good and beneficial services. But we must always distinguish those services from the Divine Service of Jesus Christ, which is offered through His called and sent ministers.
So, let us give thanks for Peter and Paul and for their respective ministries, and let us give thanks to Him who worked in Peter's ministry and in Paul's and still works in your pastor's ministry to deliver to you the forgiveness of sins. In the Name + of Jesus. Amen.
Merciful and eternal God, Your holy apostles Peter and Paul received grace and strength to lay down their lives for the sake of Your Son. Strengthen us by Your Holy Spirit that we may confess Your truth and at all times be ready to lay down our lives for Him who laid down His life for us, even Jesus Christ, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen. (Collect for St. Peter and St. Paul, Apostles)