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Friday, January 30, 2009

Sermon for the Feast of St. Titus

Having a Harvest Perspective.

Luke 10:1-9

Grace, Mercy and Peace . . .  

Luke 10:2

    And he said to them, "The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few. Therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest. "

It was the Lord’s will to call 12 men to be His disciples, His apostles.

It was the Lord’s will to call St. Paul, in an extraordinary way, to be an apostle. 

We know a great deal about St. Paul’s apostolic ministry, more than the others, because he left such an extensive, inspired written record of his life and work.

We can see from that record that it was the Lord’s will that Paul should train up successors to His apostolic work. 

It was the Lord’s will that Titus was called and assigned to serve the Gospel.

It was the Lord’s will that Titus, likewise, would appoint overseers to serve at the congregations in the various towns under his pastoral care.

It is the Lord’s will for our generation, that pastors be called, ordained and appointed to serve in the harvest of the Kingdom of God.

Jesus tells us to pray for that.

It was the Lord’s will that the 72, as they went out to preach the Good News of the Kingdom at hand, should pray for more workers in the harvest.

And so it is more than safe to assume that it is the Lord’s will that we should be praying for more workers to serve Him in His harvest and in the future generations until He return.

Does that ever make you feel awkward, as it does me?

How can we pray for more workers when so many of the workers we have available now are under employed, under appreciated, under utilized.

When our Lord teaches us to pray – now let us remember, we need the Lord to teach us how to pray – when the Lord teaches us to pray, He directs us to lift our eyes up out of our own belly buttons and our own problems, our own pet peeves, our own opinions of how things really ought to be and He directs our eyes and our priorities to Himself and His Kingdom and His will.  Such that if You seek first His Kingdom and His righteousness all these other cares and concerns will be easily handled.

So when the Lord teaches us to pray for more workers in the Kingdom He does not allow us to complain about the problems we have presently.  Instead of thinking about all the problems that we know of in the ministerium or to be feeling all bruised up because of the problems in your ministry, it is the Lord’s will that you have a harvest perspective and that you think prayerfully about the worldwide Kingdom of God, in desperate need of the preached Gospel and the administered sacraments.  He wants you to think of the future generations that might be.  New people that will still have these old problems of sin and death.  Pray for His Kingdom.

You’ve probably complained enough already and you will have time to complain more later.  But now He wants you to take the moment to pray for His Kingdom and for workers in His harvest.

Now when we talk about these things.  When we think about Titus and His ministry and the will of the Lord to set men into ministry here and there, those of us who have this ministry upon us, cannot help but feel the weight of the law.

Don’t drink too much, says St Paul.

Be hospitable.

Don’t be quick tempered or violent or greedy.

In fact, just be above reproach.

Follow the example of St. Paul himself, who, as he reminds the Christians in the reading from Acts, that for three years he did not cease night or day to admonish everyone with tears.

The task you have to do is so important, so essential that you ought to be working at it day and night, ceaselessly.

And in the meantime, tend to your wife.

Make sure your children are well behaved.

And in the meantime, check your email, you’ve probably got something from Synod headquarters there telling you to take care of yourself.  Be sure to manage your stress in a healthy way.  Take up a hobby perhaps.  And by the way, you should really exercise more.

It’s only 9:30am.  If you’re not feeling inadequate yet, just wait, much of the day still lays before you.

It is the Lord’s will that you pray.  Pray, having a perspective towards the Lord’s harvest for eternity.

The work you have to do, pastors, provides little earthly glory.  And perhaps little earthly pleasure.  But it is given you to do because of our Lord’s concern about the harvest for eternity.

Jesus directs His disciples and the 72 proto-pastors He sent out to look at the mess of people around them and think, “harvest time”.

You've got to deal with an annoying or an unlovable person.  Look him in the eyes and say silently in your mind, “Buddy, the Lord is sending His angels to bring His harvest home, you and I are getting ready for that.”

You are burdened with a load of work.  Piles of papers on your desk, all of them important.  A list of phone calls to make and visits to do, upcoming events to plan for.  Get to them, with the prayer and the thoughts of “harvest time.”

You have worries about how to make ends meet financially, how to provide for your livelihood and your loved ones. Pray for the harvest.  Think harvest time.  And then of course continue to pray as your Lord has taught you, trusting Him for daily bread.

Thanks and praise are due to our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ for His glory.  He was sent into this deeply troubled and flawed life, to suffer and die.  As He redeemed His flock with His blood, He went at His task thinking “harvest time”. 

He was watching over as you were brought to the font of baptism and He was thinking “harvest time”.   

He is with us now in order that His promises be fulfilled. And that His harvest be brought home as His beloved people are brought into the feast of His kingdom.

On your last day, the Lord’s will will be fulfilled and he and His angels will rejoice over you and with you.  Harvest time.