Saint Paul, along with all other apostles, was expressly and uniquely set apart by Christ for the mission of the Gospel. In his day, many would question his qualifications, especially since Paul was a chief persecutor of early Christians. Yet, this is precisely the point Paul makes as he begins his letter to the Galatians. The gravity of sin is only overcome by God’s grace that comes at the cost of his Son. It is by this grace that Paul is redeemed, sanctified and called to be an apostle.
God continues to call the unlikely, and he sets apart the unexpected for the sake of his mission. The Gospel received through Christ is the good news of salvation. No, not every pastor has walked a path toward holiness all his or her life. No priest has lived a life without sin. These are impossible goals for any man or woman. Yet, even as today’s clergy bear the scars of their sin, God’s grace is stronger. God sanctifies and sets apart those whom he calls to preach the Gospel of Christ for the sake of all people, and then sends them to his people as bearers of the good news.
Today, the Church gathers to hear the Word of God and receive his supper. We gather to confess our sin and hear the words of absolution. Today, in pulpits throughout the world, sinners who have been redeemed by Christ, crucified and risen, will step into pulpits and preach the Gospel that saves. They, more than most, know the power of God’s saving grace, for they, like Paul, have been redeemed and set apart, uniquely and expressly for the sake of God’s mission.
We thank you Lord for those whom you have called to preach your Word. Give them strength, perseverance, and the assurance of your redeeming grace. Amen.