Bishop Election Devotional for April 28, 2019
By Sarah Stenson, Luther House of Study
Today’s text from Luke is one of the most well known John the Baptist texts. “Prepare the way of the Lord, make his paths straight. Every valley shall be filled, and every mountain and hill shall be made low, and the crooked shall become straight, and the rough places shall become level ways, and all flesh shall see the salvation of God.” And of course we know this passage is quoting the prophet Isaiah, as he proclaims the coming of our Lord Jesus.
It’s tempting to hear this passage as our “to do” list; as a finger wagging by Isaiah and then John the Baptist – telling us we need to prepare the way of the Lord. It’s up to us! But read the text again. Isaiah is talking about John the Baptist. It is John the Baptist who will prepare the way of the Lord. Not us. And how did he do it? By preaching. By calling people a brood of vipers. By telling them not to hang their hats on the fact that Abraham was their father; because God could raise up from stones children of Abraham. Ouch. And then, of course, by baptizing our Lord Jesus.
The path has been made straight. God made it so. The valleys have been filled, mountains made low, the rough made level, and all flesh now sees the salvation of God. There are now no obstacles between God and his sinners. How so? Not by our worrying, manipulating, or angling for an advantage — but by God’s own choosing; his election of his own sinners through Baptism, the Lord’s Supper and the forgiveness of sin.
And it is here that the office of the preacher/Bishop comes in – those who are called to preach the Gospel purely and to administer the sacraments. Those who are called to call a thing what it is, a brood of vipers as John the Baptist put it. Those who are called to help remove obstacles so that the Gospel can be proclaimed and the sacraments rightly administered. And so now as we in the South Dakota Synod look to elect a new Bishop to follow in John the Baptist’s calling to remove obstructions in our hearing of the Gospel, and to place Christ firmly in our hearts, we recognize that God will use this opportunity to do his will — to send us preachers to name sin and finally end it in Christ’s own forgiveness.
LET US PRAY
Dear Lord, we thank you for sending us preachers who boldly name us vipers, sinners, and just as boldly forgive us in the name of Christ. We ask that you provide us now another bishop to continue to provide room for that proclamation; and the freedom and peace springing from that proclamation. Give us each lips to speak that promise and ears to hear it. Amen.
Comfort, Comfort, Ye My People
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