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This week is the 11th week after Trinity, when God teaches us through the parable of the Pharisee and the tax collector that we are justified, that is, declared righteous and completely forgiven, not by our obedience but only by Jesus’ atonement on the cross for our sins – by grace (God’s undeserved love), for Jesus’ sake, by faith alone. He loves to hear us speak the truth about ourselves, “God, be merciful to me, a sinner!” – and then He loves to speak the truth about Himself to us: “I forgive you all your sins.”
This week we hear God say:
Moreover brethren, I declare to you the gospel which I preached to you, which also you received and in which you stand, by which also you are saved, if you hold fast that word which I preached to you – unless you believed in vain. For I delivered to you first of all that which I also received: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures, and that He was seen by Cephas, then by the twelve. After that He was seen by over five hundred brethren at once, of whom the greater part remain to the present, but some have fallen asleep. After that He was seen by James, then by all the apostles. Then last of all He was seen by me also, as by one born out of due time. For I am the least of the apostles, who am not worthy to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. But by the grace of God I am what I am, and His grace toward me was not in vain; but I labored more abundantly than they all, yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me. (The Holy Epistle for this week, 1 Corinthians 15:1-10, NKJV)
[Jesus] spoke this parable to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and despised others: “Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, ‘God, I thank You that I am not like other men – extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this tax collector. I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I possess.’ And the tax collector, standing afar off, would not so much as raise his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, ‘God be merciful to me, a sinner!’ I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other; for everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.” (The Holy Gospel for this week, St. Luke 18:9-14, NKJV)
This week we pray: Almighty and everlasting God, You are always more ready to hear than we are to pray, and to give more than we either desire or deserve: Pour down upon us the abundance of Your mercy, forgiving us those things of which our conscience is afraid, and giving us those good things which we are not worthy to ask, but through the merits and mediation of Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one true God, now and forever. Amen. (Collect for this Sunday)
This week we sing:
With broken heart and contrite sigh,
A trembling sinner, Lord, I cry.
Thy pard’ning grace is rich and free –
O God, be merciful to me!
I smite upon my troubled breast,
With deep and conscious guilt oppressed;
Christ and His cross my only plea —
O God, be merciful to me!
(ELH #455 v. 1-2)