Ember Wednesday in Lent 2019
One of the hardest things for us to remember is that we are in God’s gracious care and keeping. We confess in the First Article of the Creed that God graciously gives us clothing and shoes, food and drink, house and home, wife and children, land, animals, and all I have. When we pray the Fourth Petition, “Give us this day our daily bread,” it is a confession that God gives us absolutely everything that we need, and He does it even if we fail to ask for it or thank Him for it. But the anxiety still creeps in. Is God really looking out for me? It didn’t feel like He was with me through that trial. If God is really with me, would He let me stare this problem that just keeps getting worse? When Satan tempts us with unbelief, when he asks us “Does God really care,” it’s easy for us to fall into one of the two faithless responses we have seen in tonight’s Readings. But as Paul reassures Timothy: “If we are faithless, [God] remains faithful” (2 Tim 2.13).
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.