S (Scripture): Matthew 22:35 One of the Pharisees, a legal expert, tested Jesus. 36 “Teacher, what is the greatest commandment in the Law?”
37 He replied, “You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your being, and with all your mind. 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 And the second is like it: You must love your neighbor as you love yourself. 40 All the Law and the Prophets depend on these two commands.”
O (Observation): Jesus emphasizes Old Testament scriptures that point out the call to love God and neighbor. The Pharisees – legal experts in the law – placed later upon layer of teachings and regulations concerning how to keep the law. Once that is decided, one could figure out how to use those laws to decipher who is “in” and who is “out.
Jesus comes along and turns that whole system on its ear.
And just to refresh their memories of the Law from God (and not just the laws and interpretations of laws of the Pharisees), Jesus pulls out Deuteronomy and Leviticus. The Gospel was always there. They just piled their own junk on top of it, obscuring the Gospel from shining forth.
A (Application): How can we keep the main thing the main thing? How do we keep from covering up the Gospel?
Quite often in our own desire to be clear about faith and belief, we tell folks what they need to believe. As ELCA Lutherans we share in a Creed and basic beliefs around the sacraments of Holy Baptism and Holy Communion. Those are powerful symbols (pointers) for Christ.
As we share these symbols, who do we let in to that circle? Does it behoove us to expand that circle? Do we cheapen God’s grace when ask folks to come into those circles? Do we teach and preach about the symbols first before we let them in?
I leave these questions here today for you to struggle with. I have opinions, but I’m looking for the collective thought process, and just my own understanding.
May you keep in prayer all of those who are fearful this day from the potential of the coronavirus spreading and for those recovering in Middle Tennessee.
If you want some guidance on resources for worship, or how to respond to the tornado relief effort, please visit the ELCA-Southeastern Synod website (ELCA-ses.org).
P (Prayer): Lord, helps us to see beneath the stuff we place on top of the Gospel. What is helpful for teaching the Gospel, help us to embrace. Help us to find the cure for the coronavirus, that all may be made well. Also, we give thanks for the thousands of volunteers and dollars being dedicated to tornado relief in middle TN. Amen.