Homily on Psalm 133
Preached by Rev. Harold Senkbeil
Behold, how good and pleasant it is when brothers dwell in unity! 2 It is like the precious oil on the head, running down on the beard, on the beard of Aaron, running down on the collar of his robes! 3 It is like the dew of Hermon, which falls on the mountains of Zion! For there the LORD has commanded the blessing, life forevermore (Psalm 133).
When the Lord has His ministry, He has it in community. There is a corporate nature to the ministry, just as there is to our salvation.
Although our gracious God claims us each one by one He does not leave us to fend for ourselves. He places us into one spiritual communion and fellowship - we all have the very same mother: the Holy Christian church which conceives and nourishes every Christian through the Word of God. Thank God, though we may at times be alone, we are never lonely – we have countless brothers and sisters in this family for whom the Savior died.
The marvelous Psalm which we have sung this evening from the pen of the sweet singer of Israel points us to the corporate nature of the faith, to be sure, but I am convinced it applies specifically and especially to the corporate nature of the ministry.
Make no mistake: divide and conquer is the devil’s tactic. Just as wolves seek to separate animals from the herd to take them down, so our ancient enemy prowls about like a roaring lion seeking to devour his prey – and his first move is to isolate each man from the company of his brothers and fathers in office.
Within that company there is strength. Collectively we are stronger than the sum of each man’s personal ability. We serve, each man here, at the beck and call of the Good Shepherd who has commissioned us to feed, defend and tend His sheep and lambs in His name and stead. But he knows us all too well and loves us far too much to leave us alone to fend for ourselves.
Our God is superabundantly lavish in His grace. He promises His grace and goodness in more than one way: first, through the uttered word through which the forgiveness of sins is preached in all the world, second, through holy baptism, then also through the sacrament of the altar and the office of the keys, to be sure. But there’s more. He also pours out His grace and goodness through the “mutual conversation and consolation of brothers.”
My friends, if you’ve been neglecting your colleagues in ministry, you’ve been missing something. You will soon discover that the mutuality of the ministry, our fraternal conduct and conversation, is a main emphasis in DOXOLOGY. In this mutual conversation there is God-given consolation – not because misery loves company, mind you; but because God is so surpassingly rich in His grace that He comes to us undercover in the guise of a brother in office.
King David provides two vivid pictures of this mutual conversation and its attendant consolation: It is like the holy oil of ordination luxuriantly flowing down from Aaron’s head upon his beard, then rolling on down to the very collar of his vestments. It is like the dew of Hermon falling down on Zion. So the LORD takes care of His own: Holy Office, Holy Place. Holy Priesthood, Holy Temple. Whomever God has set apart for His service, through that man He does His work. Wherever God has placed His Name, there He dwells on earth among men. And where God is at work on earth and wherever on earth He dwells -- there is life in all its fullness, even in the very midst of death.
Dear brothers and sons, never fall prey to the devil’s tactic. Never believe for one moment that you’ve been left all alone to carry on the work you’ve been given to do. That’s a lie straight from hell and the father of lies. Remember instead the promises of the Lord who bought you with His blood -- that the Lord Jesus who has commissioned and sent you has also borne all your sins in His own body on the tree and that He carries all your sorrows too. Where the Lord has His ministry, He has it in community. So turn daily to Him in His Word and also do not neglect to seek His help through the mutuum colloquium et consolationem fratrum – the mutual conversation and consolation of brothers.
Then you will know how good and how pleasant it is not to struggle on alone as best you can, but to live together with brothers in holy unity. Then you will know once more the joy of holy office and holy place: the lavish anointing of Holy Spirit who was poured out upon you when you were set apart for ministry. Then even in those parched and dry spells in your work you will know the abundant dew of God’s blessing – life forevermore! God grant, then, that He preserve for His holy church a pious and faithful ministerium. That among us even in these grey and latter days there still may be those whose life is praise: each life a high DOXOLOGY unto the Holy Trinity.
+ in the Name of the FATHER and of the SON and of the HOLY SPIRIT +