Law and Gospel

Sunday May 24th, Psalm 1: Blessed is the one who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked or stand in the way of sinners or sit in the seat of mockers, but rather blessed is the one whose delight is in the law of the LORD. Lutherans tend to not talk much about delighting in the law of the Lord. We use the excuse of works righteousness, which is a caution well worth heeding, especially given the strangle hold works righteousness has on American civil religion. But the law is important, and rather than letting the works righteousness voice dominate and frame the discussion, perhaps being bold in our discussion of law is the better avenue. Luther in his small catechism changed the way we look at the law from a list of don’ts to a list of do’s, with its inherent vision of a vengeful god (lower case intended because the very act is to bring God down and put ourselves in charge, the original sin), to the gift of possibilities in living the life of a child of God. Instead of not “bearing false witness” we are asked to take it upon ourselves to speak well of others and interpret what they do in the best light. Instead of not committing adultery, we are asked to respect others sexuality in all that it means, up to and including rights of all, regardless of sexual orientation, to live in the blessed state of matrimony. Instead of not stealing, we are asked to help our neighbor take care of all they have, which might just include some serious consequences for those who had stolen our economy into its present crisis through the guise of deregulation. Delighting in the law is celebrating the gift of God in our lives and joyfully wanting to do what God wants us to be doing in this world. We only fear the law when we are trying to get away with something.


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