20. Prayer on Mission Festival.

Almighty God, Thou who created the world and all that is therein, and hast made of one blood all nations of men for to dwell on the face of the earth: Thou [161]who art not far from every one of us; for in Thee we live and move and have our being: Thou, who in times past didst suffer the gentiles to walk in their own ways, but now commandest all men everywhere to repent and with Thy grace doest visit their hearts.

Lift up the light of Thy countenance upon us, that Thy salvation may everywhere abound, and the glory of Thy name extend itself unto the ends of the earth. Look down from Thy height upon the misery of so many nations, who yet sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, who are ignorant of their divine origin, and lie under the cruel tyranny of satan. The Light, which lighteth every man that cometh into the world, hath not yet risen upon them. They walk in the vanity of their minds. Their reason is clouded because of great darkness. They are estranged from the life that is of God, through the ignorance that is in them and through the blindness of their heart. The god of this world hath blinded their understanding, and the common enemy of souls has taken them captive according to his will.

Grant, merciful God, that by the misfortune of others we may realize our own blessedness, and bewail the lamentable state of blindness, with which Thou hast smitten the gentiles, and worthily apply the greater light so graciously presented unto us to so much the greater holiness. O do Thou finally suffer the light of the Gospel to rise unto those, who are yet far from Christ, the true Sun, and who have hitherto altogether groped in thick darkness of idolatry. Through the loving voice of the Gospel, bring back these scattered sheep into Thy spiritual fold. Grant such shepherds, who will not rule vigorously and harshly over the sheep, nor devour their substance and clothe themselves with their wool; but who, in the spirit of love and gentleness will wait upon the weak, heal the sick, bind up the wounded, bring back the erring, seek the lost, and in walk and life present themselves a living example to the gentiles. And inasmuch as the word of the Gospel, concerning the love of God as revealed in Christ, is the only means to reconcile man with God, and to gather the [163]erring sheep into the fold of Christ, do Thou grant, that all who go forth to proclaim the Gospel unto the heathen, may, with divine wisdom, make known the word of reconciliation, with boldness overcome all hindrances, and disregarding all selfish motives in the discharge of so holy an office, may seek nought but the glory of Thy name, and the extension of the kingdom of heaven. Grant, that they themselves may plainly know and acknowledge the mystery of the cross, as the central point of Evangelical doctrine, may not pretend to know anything among the gentiles, save Christ Jesus and Him crucified, and worthily extol Him to others as the only hope of glory and fountain of salvation, through our Lord Jesus Christ, the great Shepherd and Bishop of our souls. Amen.

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