Thursday of Pentecost 20 – II Timothy 4:6-8, 16-18 

For I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time of my departure has come. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Henceforth there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will award to me on that Day, and not only to me but also to all who have loved his appearing.

16 At my first defense no one came to stand by me, but all deserted me. May it not be charged against them! 17 But the Lord stood by me and strengthened me, so that through me the message might be fully proclaimed and all the Gentiles might hear it. So I was rescued from the lion’s mouth. 18 The Lord will rescue me from every evil deed and bring me safely into his heavenly kingdom. To him be the glory forever and ever. Amen.

The text reminds me of a hymn, but not the one you are probably thinking of. I am reminded of Erdmann Neumeister’s classic baptismal hymn “God’s Own Child, I Gladly Say It.” It is in LSB #594. Neumeister was a Lutheran pastor who studied theology and poetics, the study of literature’s structure and form, especially in poems. Most of all, however, he was a pastor, fiercely opposed to the pietism which was rampant in his own day. His final Call was as the pastor of St. James’ church, Hamburg, Germany where he was buried. 

I love this hymn because it goes through the various enemies of the Christian: our own self-interest, sin, Satan, and finally death. To each of them Neumeister has us sing, “I am baptized into Christ!” That means I need none of earth’s treasures, sin cannot disturb me, Satan must drop his ugly accusation. Baptism even has the power to make immortal life mine in Christ so I can laugh at death’s open-eyed grave.

The Apostle Paul was nearing the end of his life. He realized that. He would be poured out as a drink offering. That image was not just metaphorical. He would die by decapitation, literally pouring out his life blood.  He had fought the good fight (yes, that other hymn!) but he was not bowed or discouraged. The righteous judge would award him and all who believe the crown of life. The Lord would rescue him and bring him safely into his heavenly kingdom. Christ has made those promises to you too. With Paul we can face our foes in the sure and certain confidence that being baptized, we are always in Christ’s hand. If you want to sing this hymn with a lot of young people, consider this link:

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