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Seventh Sunday after Trinity MMXII

O God, whose never-failing Providence ordereth all things in heaven and earth: we humbly beseech thee to put away from us all hurtful things, and to give us those things which be profitable for us; through...

Deus, cujus providentia in sui disositione non fallitur: te suplices exoramus ut noxia cuncta submoveas; et omnia nobis profutura concedas, per
Gelasian Sacramentary 

Introit: O clap your hands all you people
Ps: He shall subdue the people under us
Epistle: Romans 6:19-23  I speak after the manner of men because of the infirmity of your flesh...
Gradual: Come, ye children, harken after me ...
Gospel: Mark 8:1-9 In those days the multitude being very great.

The above translation is from the Lutheran Service Book and eloquently conveys the meaning of the original Latin without innovation.

-- O God, whose never-failing providence ordereth all things in heaven and earth:
"Deus, cujus providentia in sui disositione non fallitur"

Our salutation is simply to God, and the attribute is that he is the master of destiny.  He fails not. There is a trend in popular Christianity today that fails to salute a sovereign and almighty God, and chooses rather a God who is not too involved with day to day events and is rather standoffish. Like a great clock-master who had set his timepiece in motion and simply observes events emerge.  This was the God of diests of the 18th century like Mr. Jefferson.  They conceived of the Almighty rightly enough as the Creator (as the Declaration of Independence affirms strongly). It ended there however, and they believed we folk are left to random chance and the works of man for our destiny. Miraculous intervention was seen as superstition, as well as any guiding Providence that ruled day to day events. 

Some years later we in America came into a great conflict and the men of that age differed greatly in their conception of God's Providence in the course of human events.  One may see this in the statements of Lincoln, Davis, Jackson, Lee and others of good and sound mind. 

Lincoln was born into a HardShell Baptist family (Old Regular -- Calvinist like my ancestors) in the wilds of Kentucky.  He rejected his roots in his youth, but there was that seed planted of "Providence" which would revisit him. On the occasion of his young son's untimely death during the war, the minster's eulogy had a profound affect on Linclon and turned him. He requested and received a copy of the sermon, and this quotation, "What we need in the hour of trial, and what we should seek by earnest prayer, is confidence in Him who sees the end from the beginning and doeth all things well"  It was the hour of trial for the Union and for Lincoln personally at that moment with loss after loss at the hands of Lee and the Army of Northern Virginia.

In September of 1862 was a dark period for the President, and he sought an answer. He wrote, 

"The will of God prevails. In great contests, each party claims to act in accordance with the will of God. Both may be, and one must be wrong. God cannot be for and against the same thing at the same time. ... I am almost ready to say this is probably true -- that God wills this contest, and wills that it shall not end yet -- By his mere quiet power, on the minds of the now contestants, He could have either saved or destroyed the Union without a human contest -- Yet the contest began -- And having begun He could give the final victory to either side any day -- Yet the contest proceeds." 
[Meditation on the Divine Will]

God is indeed in Command. He indeed sees what we cannot fathom. He moves events and guides with his hand those great and small things for his own divine purposes.

Next we come to the petitions:

-- we humbly beseech thee to put away from us all hurtful things, 
'te suplices exoramus ut noxia cuncta submoveas"

Our petition follows: the most common of man I suspect: a prayer for relief from adversity and calamity.  They say there are no atheist in foxholes. When danger is near man naturally turns to God and begs his protection and relief. We ask that he put far from us those things that we think will harm us, and grant us peace.

 -- and to give us those things which be profitable for us; 
"et omnia nobis profutura concedas, "

We then ask that God would grant to us all things that are good for us.   Now, in a war good men on both sides ask God to do both of these things: to protect them from the things that would hurt them, and to grant them the victory... success in things that are profitable for their cause.  Lincoln considered these petitions too, and came again to the conclusion that God is Sovereign and acts according to his design. He wrote

Neither party expected for the war, the magnitude, or the duration which it has already attained. ... Both read the same Bible and pray to the same God, and each invokes His aid against the other. ... The prayers of both could not be answered. That of neither has been answered fully. The Almighty has His own purposes.

What then shall we think? Will God answer our prayer or those of our adversary who also prays with faith for the opposite thing?  We may turn again to our presidents of faith and hear a good response.  Lincoln was asked if he did not think that God was on the side of right (meaning the Union).  He replied, 

I am not worried about that, for we know that the Lord is always on the side of right.  My concern is that I and this nation should be on the Lord's side.

Years later another president of faith, Ronald Reagan, said, 

America was founded by people who believed that God was their rock of safety.  I recognize we must be cautious in claiming that God is on our side, but I think it's all right to keep asking if we're on His side."

One of my favorite scriptures of Christ Militant echos this thought:

And it came to pass, when Joshua was by Jericho, that he lifted up his eyes and looked, and, behold, there stood a man over against him with his sword drawn in his hand: and Joshua went unto him, and said unto him, Art thou for us, or for our adversaries? And he said, Nay; but as captain of the host of the LORD am I now come 
[Joshua 5:13ff]

What then shall we think? Let us with all confidence in Providence remember the words of Isaiah quoted by Paul,

"Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him."

An homily of Chrysostom on the Epistle


(Portions were paraphrased and passages cited from The Collect of the Day, by Paul Zeller Strodach, 1939, The United Lutheran Press, Philadelphia)
The Ancient Collect: Its history and form

Released by Primus Pilus
Legio Christi-Ecclesia Militans
"Let us therefore follow after the things which make for peace, and things wherewith one may edify another" [St. Paul's Epistle to the Romans 14:19]


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