We have chosen LSB 587, I Know My Faith Is Founded, as our AD 2022 Michaeltide seasonal hymn. Michaetide, the penultimate cycle in the long Trinity season, begins on the Feast of St. Michael and All Angels (September 29), and ends on All Saints Day (November 1). The overall theme of Michaeltide is endurance. The word for, “endurance,” in the Koine Greek of the New Testament, literally means, “remaining under”1 in the midst of the struggles in this vale of tears.2
In Scripture, we read of our Christian life likened to running a very long race, which requires endurance to complete. God has given us the tools to complete this race! He sent His Son to die on the Cross to atone for our sins, to rise again to declare us right with Him,3 and to ascend in human flesh to His right hand, placing us right there with Him.4 He has defeated sin, death and Satan, our accuser, and written our names in heaven.5 Yet, Satan continues to make war on us as God’s people, throwing obstacles along the path.6 Furthermore, the old Adam continues to lurk in each of us, and we remain sinners.7 Thus, we struggle as we race. God, though, does not let us off the hook, and exhorts us to discipline and keep our bodies under control, and to “lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely” and run the race with endurance.8 To enable us to endure, He gifts us with His faith, that we may at all times remain laser-focused on Christ-crucified, risen and ascended.9 Confident in the imperishable prize that awaits us at the Last Day,10 we are free to, “lift (our) drooping hands and strengthen (our) weak knees, and make straight paths for (our) feet, so that what is lame may not be out of joint but rather be healed.”11
Our hymn provides us a wonderful tool with which to meditate on God’s great gift of His faith. In the first stanza, we confess that our faith is based solely on Jesus Christ and His Word.12 We further confess that this faith is wholly God’s work within us; human reason alone cannot grasp God’s truth. It is only in His “all-sufficient” Word that we can rest unmoved and secure. In the second stanza, we join with the apostles in petitioning Jesus to increase our faith, to equip us to resist the attacks of the evil one, which constantly threaten “to rob (us) of this treasure.”13 In the third and final stanza, we further petition Him for trust in Him so steadfast as to allow us to endure in our service to Him in the face of the “persecution, grief and pain” which are inevitable in this life, until at the end, by His mercy, we attain the “riches” of eternal life with Him.14
Erdmann Neumeister (1671-1756), who authored the text of this hymn, was a vocal critic of Pietism, which falsely taught to place one’s confidence in his inward piety rather than in God’s external Word and Means of Grace. Neumeister’s corrective is front and center in all three of his hymns which are included in our hymnal: our Michaeltide hymn, LSB 587 (“Who trusts in human wisdom relies on shifting ground. God’s Word is all sufficient, it makes divinely sure”); LSB 594 (“God’s own child, I gladly say it: I am baptized into Christ!”); and LSB 609 (“Here is hope for all who grieve: Jesus sinners doth receive.”). It is God alone Who equips us to run the race with endurance!
Of note, today we celebrate the 80th anniversary of the Lutheran Women’s Missionary League (LWML), as we observe this year’s LWML Sunday. We thank God for His gift of faith to the women of the LWML, who through the past 8 decades have, “served with strength and gladness in tasks (His) wisdom gave,” and continue to do so, bearing witness to Jesus and proclaiming His power to save (c.f. LSB 855.1). Our sisters in Christ are wonderful examples of endurance for us all, and we are grateful for the privilege of supporting them in their work.
We are thankful to God for your presence at CLC today, to receive His gifts in our midst. We pray His richest blessings on you, that He continue to equip you to run with endurance and in the end receive the imperishable prize of eternal life in His presence.
- ὑπομονή (hupomone)
- The expression, “vale of tears” is derived from, “Valley of Baca” in Psalm 84:6, where baca may be translated, “tears.”
- Romans 4:25
- Mark 16:19; Acts 7:55-56; Romans 8:34 and others
- Luke 10:17-20; Revelation 12:7-12, 21:27 and others
- Revelation 12:17
- Romans 7:15-20
- 1 Corinthians 9:24-27; Hebrews 12:1
- Ephesians 2:8-9; Hebrews 12:2
- 1 Corinthians 9:25
- Hebrews 12:12-13, the text in Hebrews reads, “your”
- 2 Timothy 1:12; John 17:8
- Luke 17:5
- 2 Corinthians 1:7; 2 Timothy 2:12; 1 Peter 1:3-9