Love: The Charioteer
Monday of Pentecost 5
20 June 2016
In the ancient church the reluctant and resistant were often called to the office of the ministry. Many of the great bishops of the ancient church were bodily taken from quiet service to the church as diaconal clergy or from reclusive communities and placed in the position of a bishop of the church. Instantly their much sought serenity or seclusion was destroyed and they were thrown into the daily preaching and teaching required of a Christian bishop.
 
Augustine of Hippo was one of those bishops press ganged into the office. He would have preferred to remain in retirement with the quiet community of learners he had gathered around him. Since, however, the Lord's ways are not our ways, Augustine was elected to be Bishop of Hippo in North Africa and then the twin duties of teaching and writing became his responsibility. He struggled mightily to respond to problems and false teaching for the sake of the catholic truth throughout his illustrious and productive career, laboring right up to the end (d. 430).
 
When my daughter was in high school, she played Leroy Anderson's "Bugler's Holiday" with her high school band. Playing the first trumpet part of this piece is no holiday at all. It isn't even a picnic. Like the "busman's holiday," it is a supreme irony that such challenging trumpet music should be called a "holiday." Augustine always confessed that he was learning most by writing for the church, even though he would have preferred to remain silent and to have committed himself exclusively to reading. Instead, as a bishop of the church, he gets a "writer's holiday." Both pen and tongue must drive on to serve the church, driven by the needs of love. Pen and tongue are the horses. Love the charioteer. He does not serve his desire for retirement, but he does what is best for his brethren in the church. The Lord has said that he who is put in the first place must be servant of all (Mk 9:35). We are greatly benefited by listening in to the teaching of Augustine, Bishop of Hippo, whose charioteer is love.

Rev. Dr. Scott R. Murray
Memorial Lutheran Church

Augustine of Hippo

"I would have those believe, who are willing to do so, that I would rather labor in reading, than in dictating what others may read. But let those who will not believe this, but are both able and willing to make the trial, grant me whatever answers may be gathered from reading, either to my own inquiries, or to the questions of others. I must bear with this burden, which for the character I bear in the service of Christ, and for the zeal with which I burn, that our faith may be fortified against the error of carnal and natural men, I must bear. Then let them see how easily I would refrain from this labor, and with how much joy I would give my pen a holiday....
 
"Yet I cannot resist my brethren when they make demands on me, by that law by which I am made their servant. I should serve above all their praiseworthy studies in Christ by my tongue and by my pen, of which two yoked together in me, Love is the charioteer. By writing I have learned many things which I did not know. If this is so, then my labor ought not to seem superfluous to any casual or even very learned reader. It is very useful to many who are busy, and to many who are unlearned, and among these last useful to myself. Supported very greatly and aided by the writings we have already read of others on this subject, I have undertaken to inquire into and to discuss, whatever it seems to my judgment can reverently be inquired into and discussed, concerning the Trinity, the one supreme and supremely good God. He Himself is exhorting me to the inquiry and helping me in the discussion of it; so that, if there are no other writings of the kind, there may be something for those to have and to read who are willing and capable. But if any such writings exist already, then it may be so much the easier to find some such writings, the more there are of the kind in existence."

Augustine, 
On the Trinity, 3.1
Psalm 119:121-128

I have done what is just and right; do not leave me to my oppressors. Give your servant a pledge of good; let not the insolent oppress me. My eyes long for your salvation and for the fulfillment of your righteous promise. Deal with your servant according to your steadfast love, and teach me your statutes. I am your servant; give me understanding, that I may know your testimonies! It is time for the LORD to act, for your law has been broken. Therefore I love your commandments above gold, above fine gold. Therefore I consider all your precepts to be right; I hate every false way.   (ESV)
Prayer
O Lord, bless those who read and those who write. You have commanded Your Word to be taught to all the world, give us faithful pastors who are apt to teach. Grant that they might offer Your Word after due deliberation and with winsomeness. Let them speak as those who have, through speaking and writing, first learned. Amen.
 
For the family of Gilbert Lamberson, whom the Lord called to Christ's eternal kingdom, that they would grieve with confidence in the Lord's promises to His flock
 
For the people serving at the Vacation Bible School of Memorial Lutheran Church, that those who learn and those who teach would grow in faith and confidence in Christ
 
For the editorial committee of LOGIA magazine, that God the Lord might show the editors the blessedness of their service to the church
 
For all those suffering from illness, including Michael Golchert, that God the Lord would grant strength and healing
 
For all families praying for the gift of a child, that they would be blessed by their heavenly Father with the gift of a child
Art: Durer, Albrecht   The Adoration of the Trinity (1515) 
Memorial Lutheran Church
smurray@mlchouston.org
http://www.mlchouston.org
©  Scott Murray 2016