Reflections: Wednesday of the 22nd Week after Trinity

He [the pastor] must hold firmly to the trustworthy message as it has been taught, so that he can encourage others by sound doctrine and refute those who oppose it. (Titus 1:9)

In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. The Table of Duties of the Small Catechism gives shape to the life of the believer. We are not left to make our own way in determining the contours of our holy orders and positions. Are you a pastor or do you know a pastor? 

The Table of Duties tells us what God says about the shape of that work as the Office of pastor or preacher. That is the focus in our Small Catechism reading for today. This Holy Office is defined by three passages of Scripture, all drawn from what are appropriately called “pastoral epistles.” Paul reminds pastors Timothy and Titus of the great responsibility they bear as servants of Christ and of God’s people. 

All three texts included in this section of the Table of Duties deal with unique aspects of pastoral work. First is an admonition to a life that is not characterized by open, public sin. Second is a warning against conceit (your pastors know that is their greatest weakness). And third is a reminder of the pastor’s responsibility to faithfully use God’s word to encourage all believers and refute false teaching. 

Humanly speaking, your pastor can do none of these things well, if at all. But thanks be to God that NOTHING rests in the person of your pastor. As John the Baptist said of his relationship to Jesus, Paul wrote of himself and all pastors, “But we have this treasure (the preaching of the Gospel and administration of the Sacraments) in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us” (2 Corinthians 4:7). 

Your pastor is as much of a sinner as you are. He needs the same forgiveness of Christ that he proclaims to you in the Absolution. And God gives that to him as freely as He does to you. Give thanks to God this day for your pastor. Pray that God would keep him faithful in his calling and safe from the snares of the devil. He needs such prayer. In the Name + of Jesus. Amen.

O almighty God, Your Son, Jesus Christ, gave to His holy apostles many excellent gifts and commanded them earnestly to feed His flock. Make all pastors diligent to preach Your holy Word and the people obedient to follow it that together they may receive the crown of everlasting glory, through Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen.