Joy and Sorrow

Sunday, Dec. 11:

AM Psalm 63:1-8(9-11), 98; PM Psalm 103;
Amos 9:11-15; 2 Thess. 2:1-3,13-17; John 5:30-47

St. Augustine
“Sermon,” 256, 1.2.3

“Let us sing Alleluia here below while we are still anxious, so that we may sing
it one day there above when we are freed from care. Why are we troubled here?
Do you not expect me to be troubled when I read: ‘Is not a man’s life upon
earth full of trial?’ Do you not expect me to be troubled when I hear the words:
‘Watch and pray that you enter not into temptation’? Do you not expect me to
be troubled when temptation and trial so abound that the Lord’s Prayer orders
us to say when we pray: ‘Forgive us our debts as we also forgive our debtors’? Every day we pray, every day we are debtors. Do you think I can be free from care when every day I seek pardon for my sins and help in peril?

When I have said for my past sins: ‘Forgive us our debts as we also forgive our
debtors,’ I go on at once to add, because of perils still to come: ‘Lead us not into temptation.’ But how can the congregation be in security when it cries with me: ‘Deliver us from evil.’ And yet, brethren, in this evil plight of ours here below we must sing Alleluia to the good God who delivers us from evil.

Here, too, amidst the dangers and the trials we and others must sing Alleluia,
‘for God is faithful and he will not let you be tempted beyond your strength,’ as
Paul says. So then we must also sing here Alleluia. Man is still a sinner, but God
is faithful. Scripture does not say, ‘He will not let you be tempted,’ but, ‘He will
not let you be tempted beyond your strength, but with the temptation will also
provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.

You have entered into temptation, but God will also provide a way of escape
that you may not perish in temptation. As the potter makes a vase, you are to
be molded by preaching; you are to be fired by tribulation. But when you enter
into temptation, think of the way of escape; for God is faithful: ‘The Lord will
keep your coming and your going out.’

And so it is too, when this body has been made immortal and incorruptible,
when every trial and temptation has passed away. For ‘the body indeed is
dead’—and why? ‘Because of sin. But the spirit is life’, as the apostle says. Why?
‘Because of righteousness.’ Is it a dead body we give up? Indeed no, for hear
what Paul says: ‘If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in
you, he who raised Christ from the dead will give life also to your mortal bodies.’ So now the body is of an animal nature, then it will be spiritual.

How happy will be our shout of Alleluia there, how carefree, how secure from
any adversary, where there is no enemy, where no friend perishes. There praise
is offered to God, and her, too, but here is by men who are anxious, there by
men who are free from care, here by men who must die, there by men who will
live for ever. Here praise is offered in hope, there by men who enjoy the reality,
here by men who are pilgrims on the way, there by men who have reached their
own country.

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