Reflections: Wednesday of the Second Week after the Epiphany

Today’s Reading: Small Catechism: Table of Duties, To Widows

Daily Lectionary: Ezekiel 44:1-16, 23-29; Romans 9:1-18

The widow who is really in need and left all alone puts her hope in God and continues night and day to pray and to ask God for help. (1 Timothy 5:5)

In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. At the time of Luther, the church was saying that there were works to get to, super-duper good works, in order for you to be declared good in God’s sight. Pray the rosary so many times each day. Pray to the saints. Join a monastery. Put enough money in the offering plate to make God Himself take notice. Do the penance prescribed by the priest. Make a pilgrimage to Rome. On and on went such lists. 

And if all you did was go to work, change diapers, wipe noses, raise a family, provide for your children, bear with the sins of others? You were never going to be declared good enough in God’s sight. Not in this life, anyways. Make it to purgatory by being at least “good enough” in the eyes of the church, and your sufferings there would do for you what Jesus’ Cross here never could, according to that teaching: declare you, a sinner, holy and righteous in God’s sight.

Luther knew better. The Gospel taught him better. Jesus’ death for the sins of the whole world has already declared you good in God’s sight. Righteous. His child. An heir of Paradise. There are no works, ordinary or super-duper, for you to get to in order for those declarations to be true for you now. Jesus’ death upon the Cross for you makes that true for you now. His Word promises it to you. Your Baptism seals it for you. The Supper celebrates it for you.

And that makes even the most ordinary works you do extraordinary now in God’s sight. Even just a prayer? Yes. For by the death of His Son for you upon the Cross, God has you so wrapped up in His redeeming love that there is never a moment now when He isn’t delighting in you. Even if “all” you can muster is a quick prayer. Or a diaper change. Even then. In the Name + of Jesus. Amen.

Sin, disturb my soul no longer; I am baptized into Christ! I have comfort even stronger: Jesus’ cleansing sacrifice. Should a guilty conscience seize me Since my baptism did release me In a dear forgiving flood, Sprinkling me with Jesus’ blood? 

Satan, hear this proclamation: I am baptized into Christ! Drop your ugly accusation, I am not so soon enticed. Now that to the font I’ve traveled, All your might has come unraveled, And, against your tyranny, God, my Lord, unites with Me! (“God’s Own Child, I Gladly Say It” LSB 594, st.2-3)

-Rev. Bradley Drew is pastor of Mount Olive Lutheran Church in Metairie, LA.

Audio Reflections Speaker: Pastor Duane Bamsch