One of the greatest joys of ministry is the knowledge that the Lord Jesus Christ is near. He is with us and in us. By his word and Spirit, he provides us with the strength to keep on keeping on. His word is effective, working powerfully in the hearts of those who hear it and those who proclaim it.
The readings appointed for Proper 15 (August 20, 2023) demonstrate the power and effectiveness of God’s word. The word creates faith in unexpected places, even great faith. The word builds people into God’s spiritual temple. The word gifts people with access to the Father, through the Son, by the Spirit—people near and people far away.
Psalm 67 is a prayer that the harvest of souls around the world would be plentiful. Listen to Psalm 67 here and let’s ponder and pray it.
Psalm 67 has three parts: vv. 1-2, vv. 3-5, and vv. 6-7. Each part is in the form of a prayer. Each part is proclamation from God. Each part gives us something to talk and pray about.
For the director of music. With stringed instruments. A psalm. A song.
1 May God be gracious to us and bless us and make his face shine on us—
2 so that your ways may be known on earth, your salvation among all nations.
These words allude to the blessing which the Lord put into the mouths of his priests in Numbers 6. But this blessing was not only for the physical children of Abraham. It is God’s mission to proclaim his truth and his salvation around the world, to put his name and his blessings on people from all nations. God’s kingdom comes even without our asking, but we pray in this psalm (and the Lord’s prayer) that his kingdom would come to us and to many others. God is present with us. His presence with us is not diminished when he is present with believers in many places.
3 May the peoples praise you, God; may all the peoples praise you.
4 May the nations be glad and sing for joy, for you rule the peoples with equity and guide the nations of the earth.
5 May the peoples praise you, God; may all the peoples praise you.
The middle section begins and ends with a prayer-refrain. Between the refrains, like an important message inserted into an envelope, is a prayer that people from around the world will rejoice in the blessings of God as he rules and guides them as their king and shepherd.
This central part of the Psalm reminds us of Jesus. When Jesus came into the world, the kingdom of God was near. Jesus was among us as king and as shepherd. He demonstrated his power by his miracles. He demonstrated his love by his life and speech and by laying down his life for sinners. Because Jesus has risen from the dead and ascended to fill the universe, Jesus is with his people always, ruling and guiding them. Jesus makes us glad. Jesus makes us sing for joy.
6 The land yields its harvest; God, our God, blesses us.
7 May God bless us still, so that all the ends of the earth will fear him.
Whenever we see or receive a harvest of any kind, let us thank and praise the Lord who provided it. Let every physical harvest be a reminder that the Lord of the harvest is doing something greater, something more meaningful, something eternal. Praise God for all his gracious gifts, including the privilege of working in his harvest fields. Jesus is with us always.