Thursday after Trinity 18 (Henry Melchior Muhlenberg)

Psalmody
1I lift up my eyes | to the hills.*
         From where does my | help come?

2My help comes | from the LORD,*
         who made | heaven and earth.

3He will not let your | foot be moved;*
         he who keeps you will not | slumber.

4Behold, he who keeps | Israel*
         will neither slum- | ber nor sleep.

5The LORD is your | keeper;*
         the LORD is your shade on your | right hand.

6The sun shall not strike | you by day,*
         nor the | moon by night.

7The LORD will keep you from all | evil;*
         he will | keep your life.

8The LORD will keep your going out and your | coming in*
         from this time forth and for- | evermore.
               —Psalm 121

Additional Psalm: Psalm 131

Old Testament Reading:
Deuteronomy 6:10–25
[The Greatest Commandment]
10“And when the LORD your God brings you into the land that he swore to your fathers, to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, to give you—with great and good cities that you did not build, 11and houses full of all good things that you did not fill, and cisterns that you did not dig, and vineyards and olive trees that you did not plant—and when you eat and are full, 12then take care lest you forget the LORD, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery. 13It is the LORD your God you shall fear. Him you shall serve and by his name you shall swear. 14You shall not go after other gods, the gods of the peoples who are around you—15for the LORD your God in your midst is a jealous God—lest the anger of the LORD your God be kindled against you, and he destroy you from off the face of the earth.

16“You shall not put the LORD your God to the test, as you tested him at Massah. 17You shall diligently keep the commandments of the LORD your God, and his testimonies and his statutes, which he has commanded you. 18And you shall do what is right and good in the sight of the LORD, that it may go well with you, and that you may go in and take possession of the good land that the LORD swore to give to your fathers 19by thrusting out all your enemies from before you, as the LORD has promised.

20“When your son asks you in time to come, ‘What is the meaning of the testimonies and the statutes and the rules that the LORD our God has commanded you?’ 21then you shall say to your son, ‘We were Pharaoh’s slaves in Egypt. And the LORD brought us out of Egypt with a mighty hand. 22And the LORD showed signs and wonders, great and grievous, against Egypt and against Pharaoh and all his household, before our eyes. 23And he brought us out from there, that he might bring us in and give us the land that he swore to give to our fathers. 24And the LORD commanded us to do all these statutes, to fear the LORD our God, for our good always, that he might preserve us alive, as we are this day. 25And it will be righteousness for us, if we are careful to do all this commandment before the LORD our God, as he has commanded us.’”

New Testament Reading:
Matthew 9:18–38
A Girl Restored to Life and a Woman Healed
18While he was saying these things to them, behold, a ruler came in and knelt before him, saying, “My daughter has just died, but come and lay your hand on her, and she will live.” 19And Jesus rose and followed him, with his disciples. 20And behold, a woman who had suffered from a discharge of blood for twelve years came up behind him and touched the fringe of his garment, 21for she said to herself, “If I only touch his garment, I will be made well.” 22Jesus turned, and seeing her he said, “Take heart, daughter; your faith has made you well.” And instantly the woman was made well. 23And when Jesus came to the ruler’s house and saw the flute players and the crowd making a commotion, 24he said, “Go away, for the girl is not dead but sleeping.” And they laughed at him. 25But when the crowd had been put outside, he went in and took her by the hand, and the girl arose. 26And the report of this went through all that district.

Jesus Heals Two Blind Men
27And as Jesus passed on from there, two blind men followed him, crying aloud, “Have mercy on us, Son of David.” 28When he entered the house, the blind men came to him, and Jesus said to them, “Do you believe that I am able to do this?” They said to him, “Yes, Lord.” 29Then he touched their eyes, saying, “According to your faith be it done to you.” 30And their eyes were opened. And Jesus sternly warned them, “See that no one knows about it.” 31But they went away and spread his fame through all that district.

Jesus Heals a Man Unable to Speak
32As they were going away, behold, a demon-oppressed man who was mute was brought to him. 33And when the demon had been cast out, the mute man spoke. And the crowds marveled, saying, “Never was anything like this seen in Israel.” 34But the Pharisees said, “He casts out demons by the prince of demons.”

The Harvest Is Plentiful, the Laborers Few
35And Jesus went throughout all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom and healing every disease and every affliction. 36When he saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. 37Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; 38therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.”

Writing
St. Paul exhorts the Thessalonians [I Thess. 4:13–18] not to sorrow over the dead as others who have no hope, but to comfort each other with God’s Word as having a certain hope of life and of the resurrection of the dead.

It is little wonder if those are sad who have no hope. Nor can they be blamed for it. Since they are beyond the pale of faith in Christ, they must either cherish this temporal life as the only thing worthwhile and hate to lose it, or they must expect that after this life they will receive eternal death and the wrath of God in hell and must fear to go there.

But we Christians, who have been redeemed from all this by the dear blood of the Son of God, should by faith train and accustom ourselves to despise death and to regard it as a deep, strong, and sweet sleep, to regard the coffin as nothing but paradise and the bosom of our Lord Christ, and the grave as nothing but a soft couch or sofa, which it really is in the sight of God; for he says, John 11[:11], “Our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep,” and Matthew 9[:24], “The girl is not dead but sleeping.”

Thus, too, St. Paul in I Corinthians 15[:42–44] bans from his sight every ugly aspect of death in our mortal body and brings to the fore a wholly delightful and joyous picture of life when he says: “What is sown is perishable, what is raised is imperishable… It is sown in weakness, it is raised in power. It is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body.”
               —Martin Luther

Hymnody
If thou but trust in God to guide thee
         And hope in Him through all thy ways,
He’ll give thee strength, whate’er betide thee,
         And bear thee through the evil days.
Who trusts in God’s unchanging love
Builds on the rock that naught can move.
               —If Thou But Trust in God to Guide Thee (LSB 750:1)

Prayer of the Day
Lord Jesus Christ, the Good Shepherd of Your people, we give You thanks for Your servant Henry Melchior Muhlenberg, who was faithful in the care and nurture of the flock entrusted to his care. So they may follow his example and the teaching of his holy life, give strength to pastors today who shepherd Your flock so that, by Your grace, Your people may grow into the fullness of life intended for them in paradise; for You live and reign with the Father and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. (1096)

Henry Melchior Muhlenberg, Pastor
Moving from the Old World to the New, Henry Melchior Muhlenberg established the shape of Lutheran parishes for North America during a forty-five-year ministry in Pennsylvania. Born at Einbeck, Germany, in 1711, he came to the American colonies in 1742. A tireless traveler, Muhlenberg helped to found many Lutheran congregations and was the guiding force behind the first Lutheran synod in North America, the Ministerium of Pennsylvania, founded in 1748. He valued the role of music in Lutheran worship (often serving as his own organist) and was also the guiding force in preparing the first American Lutheran liturgy (also in 1748). Muhlenberg is remembered as a church leader, a journalist, a liturgist, and—above all—a pastor to the congregation in his charge. He died in 1787, leaving behind a large extended family and a lasting heritage: American Lutheranism.

Suggested Reading from the Book of Concord
Apology of the Augsburg Confession XV (VIII) 31–44

By Rev. Michael Mayer

Lutheran Pastor of two small Lutheran Churches in rural SW Ontario.