January 8, 2021
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
Greetings in the name of Jesus Christ, the Word made flesh! I pray that in the Lord Jesus Christ you find comfort and hope during these difficult times!
Where do we turn with all that is happening in our world and in our nation today? As always, the saints return to the Lord God in repentance and faith and seeking guidance from His Word. For it is in the Scriptures that God reveals Himself and His will to us. Rather than turning to media and social media outlets, Christians bow their knees in humble prayer to God and hold sacred the Word of God as we read and take it to heart.
The Scriptures sets forth principles for how Christians are to live in relationship to the State. St. Paul writes in Romans 13, “Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God. Therefore whoever resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment. For rulers are not a terror to good conduct, but to bad. Would you have no fear of the one who is in authority? Then do what is good, and you will receive his approval, for he is God's servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword in vain. For he is the servant of God, an avenger who carries out God's wrath on the wrongdoer. Therefore one must be in subjection, not only to avoid God's wrath but also for the sake of conscience.” Christians therefore recognize that governmental authority is given by God and we honor such authority and keep the laws because in so doing we honor the one who has instituted this authority. The events that took place on Wednesday, January 6, 2021 in the storming of our nation’s capitol are disturbing for us as citizens of both kingdoms, the Church and the State. Mob violence and sedition are always sinful and rejection of that authority that is instituted by God. As Christian citizens, we submit to the temporal authority, as St. Peter describes in his first epistle, even if we suffer for doing what is good (2:13‐14, 17; 3:17).
St. Paul encouraged that the saints of God in his first letter to young pastor Timothy to pray for kings, magistrates and those in authority so that might lead “peaceful and quiet lives.” The Christian Church is called to pray for those in authority over us, whether we agree with them or not. The purpose of the authority of the state is to provide peace and justice for the common welfare of all. As Paul encouraged to Timothy and the readers of his epistle, we also continue to offer such petitions for mayors and magistrates, governors and legislatures, the president and congress, regardless of our affinity for them.
I invite your congregation to pray for our nation, our elected leaders (present and incoming) and our citizens this weekend in all of the congregation’s services. Please consider using “The Litany” from page 288 in Lutheran Service Book as a congregation or as a family as we pray that God would deliver us from “sedition and from rebellion” and that He would “preserve our land from discord and strife.” In this prayer, we also offer petitions for all those in authority from the perspective that they are gifts from God as we are taught in Dr. Luther’s explanations to the Fourth Commandment and the Fourth Petition to the Lord’s Prayer.
Please bear in mind that the Scriptures also teach us a realistic view of those who are given temporal authority. The Psalmist writes, “Put not your trust in princes, in a son of man, in whom there is no salvation. When his breath departs, he returns to the earth; on that very day his plans perish. Blessed is he whose help is the God of Jacob, whose hope is in the LORD his God, who made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, who keeps faith forever.” (Ps. 146:3‐6) Those who serve the state are no different than those who serve in the Church. We are all fallen sinners, in whom there is no salvation and whose plans perish. With each election, our communities, state and nation will give responsibilities to sinners in whom we should not place our trust. We pray that they serve with honor, integrity and for the good of those under their care.
Lastly, dear friends, I pray that you are encouraged with the assurance that “he who is in you is greater than he who is in the world.” (1 John 4:4) Christ conquered Satan and the world in His triumphant resurrection from the grave so that we do not need to live in fear. God’s promises stand sure regardless of the year, the nation, the leader or the circumstances. Therefore, we place our hope and trust in the One who is faithful, Jesus Christ, our Lord. Therefore, in repentance and faith, we bow our knees, our heads and our hearts in prayer as we ask God to bring unity and peace to our communities and our nation.
Prayer – Almighty God, You have given us this good land as our heritage. Grant that we remember Your generosity and constantly do Your will. Bless our land with honest industry, truthful education, and honorable way of life. Save us from violence, discord, and confusion, from pride and arrogance and every evil course of action. Grant that we, who came from many nations with many different languages, may become a united people. Support us in defending our liberties and give those to whom we have entrusted the authority of government the spirit of wisdom, that there may be justice and peace in our land. When times are prosperous, may our hearts be thankful, and in troubled times do not let our trust in You fail; through Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen.
Fraternally in Christ,
Rev. Dr. R. Lee Hagan
President, Missouri District