We can all relate to Elijah. We know what it’s like to have had enough. Enough of the tensions that exist in this life. You know everything that’s bothering you right now, everything that’s weighing you down—anxiety over the next chapter in life, wondering how to manage everyone’s hectic schedule, how this month’s bills will be paid, when the doctor will finally call with the test results. And the list goes on. All of these stresses weigh on you. You wonder just how much more you can bear.
Today the Church reminds us that we are at war against our ancient enemy, the devil. There is no complacency. This spiritual warfare is serious. It’s been going on for thousands of years, since the very first days after Creation. But there is no dodging the draft. Everyone who is Baptized has been enlisted and is fighting. If the devil fought against our first parents, if he fought against Our Lord, what makes you think he’ll leave you alone? And if you think he is leaving you alone, then he’s already winning.
Why does the Pastor preach? Scripture explains that the role of preaching the Word of God is how saving faith is created: “How then will they call on Him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in Him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching? And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written, ‘How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!’ … So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the Word of Christ” (Romans 10:14-17). The Augsburg Confession, seeing this connection between the Preaching Office and saving faith, summarizes Scripture on the Office of the Holy Ministry in this way: “To obtain [saving, justifying] faith, God instituted the Office of Preaching, giving the Gospel and the Sacraments. Through these, as through means, He gives the Holy Spirit who produces faith, where and when He wills, in those who hear the Gospel. It teaches that we have a gracious God, not through our merit but through Christ’s merit, when we so believe” (AC V 1-3). The whole reason the Pastor preaches is so saving faith can be created, so we know that “we have a gracious God” who loves us and has saved us from our sin by the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.