Almighty, Everlasting God; Make us to have always a devout will towards Thee, and to serve Thy Majesty with a pure heart; through Thy Son, Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with Thee and the Holy Ghost, ever one God, world without end. Amen.
--Common Service Book of the Lutheran Church
“But when the Helper comes, whom I shall send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth who proceeds from the Father, He will testify of Me. And you also will bear witness, because you have been with Me from the beginning.
“These things I have spoken to you, that you should not be made to stumble. They will put you out of the synagogues; yes, the time is coming that whoever kills you will think that he offers God service. And these things they will do to you because they have not known the Father nor Me. But these things I have told you, that when the time comes, you may remember that I told you of them.
“And these things I did not say to you at the beginning, because I was with you.
--John 15.26-16.4 (NKJV)
Though the power of the Holy Spirit, we bear witness to Christ. In the United States, we are called to bear witness in an increasingly hostile culture that will not tolerate the notion of a God who makes claims about truth and judgment of people's deeds, even though he offers them forgiveness and grace. We may not be far from the time when 'whoever kills you think they he offers God service.' I pray that God will have mercy upon us, but we must be ready to suffer and die in witness to Christ as countless brothers and sisters around the world have done for centuries and do even today. As awful as that sounds, we should be reminded that those of us in Christ need not fear death nor those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. So we cry out to God that we might always have a devout will towards him and serve him with pure hearts.
O Lord, My God, I Cry to Thee (Nikolaus Selnecker)
O Lord, my God, I cry to Thee!
In my distress Thou helpest me.
To Thee myself I now commend:
O swiftly now Thine angel send
To guide me home and cheer my heart,
Since Thou dost call me to depart.
O Jesus Christ, Thou Lamb of God,
Once slain to take away our load;
Now let Thy Cross, Thine agony,
Avail to save and solace me;
Thy death to open Heaven, and there
Bid me the joy of angels share.
O Holy Spirit, at the end,
Sweet Comforter, be Thou my Friend;
When death and hell assail me sore,
Leave me, O leave me nevermore,
But bear me safely through the strife,
As Thou hast promised, into Life!
Photo by Melissa Askew on Unsplash