“Stir up Your Power…”
Grace to you and peace from God our Father, and from our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Amen.
Whenever we beg the Lord to stir up His power, we are begging Him to save and rescue and deliver us. He does this by holding back our enemies so that they cannot trouble us or threaten us. And then, in some wonderfully mysterious way, He somehow uses these enemies and their attacks for our good. But when Our Lord suppresses and subdues our enemies, He often doesn’t do it in the way we expect, especially when it comes to our greatest adversary, the prince of darkness. Then He comes to us—not with hailstones and coals of fire, not with a great show of force, but weak and vulnerable, ready to be beaten instead of lashing out; ready to be mocked instead of taunting; ready to be killed and not armed to kill. He does not come as a conquering hero, nor as a great general going to war, but as a suffering sacrifice.
And so, lowly, sitting on a donkey, here comes the One who is the answer to your prayers. Here is the mighty deliverance you asked for. Here is the protection from your threatening perils. And there, on the donkey, meek and mild—there is the great stirring up of the Lord’s power. It’s no wonder we’re disappointed when we pray. No wonder we feel so let down after we cry and plead and beg the Lord to smash our sinful urges, to quiet our fears, to heal us from our life-threatening diseases. We pray, demanding Alexander the Great on a mighty warhorse; instead we get a rabbi on a colt. We desire the obliteration of whatever troubles us; instead the scary thing still haunts us, and the addictive sin still must be resisted. And since we don’t feel better, since we don’t see a better life, since we are still afflicted, we falsely conclude that nothing has changed and our prayer has fallen on deaf ears.
These doubts, these fears, these false beliefs—these are the works of darkness that we must cast off. And the armor of light that we put on is the knowledge and belief that the Man on the colt is exactly who the prophet says He is. Jesus is your King; He is coming in power to save you. He is your salvation in the flesh. He calls you to believe. We so quickly judge by what we see and feel, and then we easily lose heart. Thanks be to God, for His Spirit raises up prophets and apostles, bishops and pastors, and they tell us these things so that we may hear and rejoice in hope.
By the power of the Spirit, we not only see that our prayer is answered. We also come to believe that the Man on the colt is our Lord and God who came in flesh to bear our sin and be our Savior. We believe that He safely leads us through the worst we’ve ever experienced or imagined by His suffering. We trust that, by His death and resurrection, every enemy, every fear—even the prince of darkness himself—is defeated because all things have been put under our Lord’s feet. And the Holy Spirit also leads us to believe that our prayer, while answered now, will also be fully answered when Christ comes again in glory to judge the living and the dead.
All this the Spirit of God helps us see and believe. But His greatest comfort is when He invites and draws us into the life of our God and King. The Spirit shows us that the bread we eat and the wine we drink is the power that our Lord has stirred up for us in His very flesh and blood to heal and deliver us, to protect and comfort us, to rescue and save us from every evil assault and every vicious doubt that assails us. And the Spirit helps us to see that what we hear and receive in the Holy Supper is precisely the help and aid that we need from our heavenly Father.
And so we pray, “Stir up Your power, O Lord.” But we also pray, “Show me Your way, O Lord; teach me Your paths.” For the Lord’s way and path is not to swoop down and conquer, but to lead and guide us through the valley of the shadow of death. The Lord’s way and path is not to magically make our problems disappear, but to use them for our good, so that we who are humbled would grow stronger and firmer in our life in Him. In the name of the Father and of the Son (†) and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
The peace of God which passes all understanding will keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus always. Amen.