This meditation of Peace Corner reflects on readings appointed for the third Sunday in Lent, March 4, 2018.
Exodus 20: 1-7 Giving of the 10 Commandments
Psalm 19: 7-9
7 The law of the LORD is perfect, ------------- reviving the soul;
the testimony of the LORD is sure, ------------ making wise the simple;
8 the precepts of the LORD are right, --------- rejoicing the heart;
the commandment of the LORD is pure, ----- enlightening the eyes;
9 the fear of the LORD is clean, --------------- enduring forever;
the rules of the LORD are true, ---------------- and righteous altogether.
1 Cor. 1
18 For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.
19 Jesus answered them, “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.”
The Law. The Gospel. It is the Lutheran mindset. It is how we are taught to consider Scripture.
In today’s readings we are reminded of the giving of the Law. The Law, those Words which, from my catechism days Show Our Sins (SOS). And yet the Law was written for our protection, to keep us from seeking after false gods; the idols we make of things, of our job, of others, mostly of ourselves. I say “we” but it is really the unholy trinity of ME, MYSELF & I. Maybe “we” can relate though. It is not too long into my day, after daily dying to sin and rising in newness of life, that I at least break one of the last 9 commandments – therefore breaking the 1st commandment also. What a wretch I am.
In today’s Psalm though we see that the Law was given for our good. It revives the soul, makes wise the simple, rejoices the heart, enlightens the eye – all Gospel things! A gift of God - what God did, does and will continue to do for me – “us”. By the way, in case you forgot, the SOS for the Gospel is Shows Our Savior. What a mess we – I – make of things though.
My boss, Reverend Brian Noble at Peacemaker Ministries, is working on wording for children’s material that I have found is a level more appropriate for me at 64. Up, In, Out™. Like Jesus’ parable of The Prodigal Son, I have a story. And like the prodigal my story includes my sin. The prodigal finally realizes he is as low as he can go, finally goes Up, then In, then Out. He drops to his knees and looks UP to God for aid and assurance. He then looks IN at his sin, examining what he has done to his Heavenly Father, to his earthly father, to others, to himself. Being convicted he finally goes OUT to confess his sin to God and to his father, begging mercy and forgiveness.
We are reminded by Paul in his letter to the Corinthians that “the cross is folly to the perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the Power of God”. The season of Lent is especially set aside as the church’s time of reflection on that which the Christ was sent to do – fulfill all righteousness – to suffer, to die, to be resurrected in 3 days, and ascend to Heaven, all this witnessed by many --- for me --- “us”. To make the corrupt incorruptible. To cover my sins with His blood that I may be made white as snow to live with Him in His kingdom - ETERNALLY.
In this gift He gave, gives, and will continue to give. I (we) am not to be selfish with this gift. It is mine (ours) to share. I am empowered by Christ’s sacrifice and the working of the Holy Spirit in me to forgive those who sin against me and to share the Gospel of the Christ with them. What greater gift can we receive or share than forgiveness and the Gospel? Believe, Belong and Bear fruit in Jesus.
Prayer: Lord, help me in my daily battle. I wake in the morning acknowledging the gift of your Son, encouraged and indwelt with Your Spirit to strive to do Your will this day. Give me grace to come before You to confess those sins I know, and the many I do not realize, ever dependent on Your forgiveness won for us. May You be glorified in our service to You. Amen.
Application UP, IN, OUT™
The prodigal son fed pigs better food than he himself ate. He found himself as low as he could go. He looked UP to God to confess his sin and seek help. Have you ever found yourself at the bottom of a situation you caused by sinning? What was your first reaction?
Once he realized where he was, he looked IN to the depth of his sin, putting the blame where it belonged, on himself. If, rather, when you have wronged someone, have you looked into yourself to try to see what they are feeling, how you have hurt them? How hard is it to confess, when you do not know what you are confessing?
I know that going OUT, confessing, is hard. I am not sure that it is any harder though than the self-examination process. However, in confession I need to eat my pride, one bite at a time, no gravy. Sin is not pleasant in God’s senses either, but Scripture says in John 1:9 “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness”. Do you believe that statement? What reaction should we have as a result of that pronouncement?
The following Hymns are often sung in unison with one another, half the church singing one hymn and the other half the other hymn or divided by congregation and choir. They are among my favorites over the years.
The Law of God Is Good and Wise
By: Matthias Loy
1. The Law of God is good and wise
And sets his will before our eyes,
Shows us the way of righteousness,
And dooms to death when we transgress.
2. Its light of holiness imparts
The knowledge of our sinful hearts
That we may see our lost estate
And seek escape before too late.
3. To those who help in Christ have found
And would in works of love abound
It shows what deeds are his delight
And should be done as good and right.
4. When men the offered help disdain
And willfully in sin remain,
Its terror in their ear resounds
And keeps their wickedness in bounds.
5. The Law is good; but since the fall
Its holiness condemns us all;
It dooms us for our sin to die
And has no power to justify.
6. To Jesus we for refuge flee,
Who from the curse has set us free
And humbly worship at his throne,
Saved by his grace through faith alone.
"The Gospel Shows the Father's Grace"
by Matthias Loy, 1828-1915
1. The Gospel shows the Father's grace,
Who sent His Son to save our race,
Proclaims how Jesus lived and died
That man might thus be justified.
2. It sets the Lamb before our eyes,
Who made the atoning sacrifice,
And call the souls with guilt opprest
To come and find eternal rest.
3. It brings the Savior's righteousness
Our souls to robe in royal dress;
From all our guilt it brings release
And gives the troubled conscience peace.
4. It is the power of God to save
From sin and Satan and the grave;
It works the faith, which firmly clings
To all the treasures which it brings.
5. It bears to all the tidings glad
And bids their hearts no more be sad;
The heavy-laden souls it cheers
And banishes their guilty fears.
6. May we in faith its tidings learn
Nor thanklessly its blessings spurn;
May we in faith its truth confess
And praise the Lord our Righteousness!