Pastor’s Corner – June 2020
I was looking at the Ten Commandments (not suggestions) the other day, and I always get stuck on the very first one. I went back to Luther’s Small Catechism to refresh my very old memory.
We are commanded, “You shall have no other Gods.” Should be easy right? Then why do I always have a pit in my stomach when I read that one in particular? What does this mean, Martin Luther?!?!
“We are to fear, love, and trust God above anything else.” Above anything else? Really?
No other Gods! Paul Tillich, a German/American theologian, one of the most (if not most) influential theologian of the 20th century, taught us that even in the 20 century (He would have said 21st if he lived that long) people attach themselves to something that gives their lives purpose and meaning.
What gives your life purpose? Is it family, work, possessions, political leanings, economic theories? Who and what are number one in your life? My body beautiful, or not so beautiful; my having a good time at all costs; buying new things; my health; my future security; my country; my church; my work; my good looks; my youth; my travel; my vacations; my children; my boat; my sound equipment; my car? All of these things invite us to have them at the center of our lives.
And yet we are to fear and love God above all things. Before we go further, I may need to explain that to fear God is to stand before the mystery and wonder of God. To fear God is to stand under the stars at night and consider the vastness of creation. To fear God is to stand by the power of the ocean waves and understand the power of water and of the God who stands over and above and for creation. To fear is to stand in wonder over the population of the world, with its millions and recognize that God knows and cares for each person in the same way that God cares for you.
To fear is to recognize that there is a difference between the creator and yourself and that you will not comprehend the mystery of God.
We should fear and love God above all things. We should love God when we see this mysterious God revealed in the history of Israel and in the person of Jesus Christ. We respond to God with love as we grow in understanding of God’s deep affection for us and for the world. This God, is the only One. All others are exposed to be false in the presence of this God. Other gods (like those mentioned earlier) have power to tempt, capture and control us.
In Baptism we renounce them:
Do you renounce the powers of evil and desire the freedom of new life in Christ?
Do you profess Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior?
Do you promise by the grace of God, to be Christ’s disciple, to follow in the way of our Savior, to resist oppression and evil, to show love and justice, and to witness to the work and word of Jesus Christ as best you are able?
I promise with the help of God.
Do you promise, according to the grace given you, to grow in the Christian faith and to be a faithful member of the church of Jesus Christ, celebrating Christ’s presence and furthering Christ’s mission in all the world?
I promise with the help of God.
My parents and God-parents made these promises on my behalf when I was an infant. I affirmed these promises before my God, my family, and my church family on the day of my
confirmation. No wonder I get a pit in my stomach as I reflect on the First Commandment. How I often fall short. But I keep trying.
I guess this is our lifelong journey.