3rd Monday of Lent
Thus far we have heard the first part of the Christian teaching, and in it we have seen all that God wishes us to do and not to do. The Creed properly follows, which sets forth all that we must expect and receive from God, in short, it teaches us to know him perfectly. It is given in order to help us do what the Ten Commandments require of us. For, as we said above, they are set so high that all human ability is far too puny and weak to keep them. Therefore it is just as necessary to learn this part as it is the other so that we may know where and how to obtain the power to do this. If we were able by our own strength to keep the Ten Commandments as they ought to be kept, we would need nothing else, neither the Creed nor the Lord’s Prayer.
And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”–Matthew 28:18-20
SILENCE FOR MEDITATION
The adage goes, “Rules are made to be broken.” God put forth the Commandments, knowing God’s beloved people would never live up to them. By our simply being human and having free will, we stray from the perfect idea of compliance to those ten rules set out for us. But they stand as a goal, as a way to show other people how much we love them, as a way to show God how much we appreciate God’s love.
The Creed serves on a more practical level. “Well, I couldn’t possibly live up to these ten rules every day of my life, so how DO I live? If I break a Commandment, is my connection to God broken, too? Will God be disappointed in me? Will he forsake me, give me up as a lost cause?”
Matthew says NO! He relates Jesus telling his disciples, “I am with you always, to the end of the age.” As in, “I know you won’t measure up. I’m okay with that. No one will. But I will help you, I will guide you, and I won’t leave you alone.” The Creed helps us to translate the Commandments into more human terms. It is written not as an order from God, but as a declaration of what we believe about God. Nowhere in the Creed does it mention the Commandments or what we believe will happen when we break one (or ten) other than to say “I believe in…the forgiveness of sins…” We don’t need to worry about the consequences of being imperfect because of Jesus’ promise that he will be with us “always, to the end of the age.” Not “if you’re good girls and boys, women and men.” Not “if” anything. He’ll be with us. Period. Commandment keeping or Commandment breaking.
So first in the Small Catechism comes the rules. Then the understanding that no human can keep all the rules every day of their lives. The Creed stands firm as a list of our beliefs, with the freedom to make choices and make mistakes and be human, but also with the solid understanding that God will never forsake us.
Dear God, we are imperfect beings. But you knew that when you created us. You set forth rules; we break them. But instead of giving up on us, you stand next to us and quietly say, “Get a good night’s sleep, and when the sun rises in the East, a new day begins and you get a chance to do better tomorrow.” Your unending and unwavering faith in us brings the dawn to our souls in rough times, in times when we lose ourselves or can’t find you. Your perfect love inspires us to love you and each other in ways we couldn’t without your grace. Thank you for never giving up on us, never leaving us. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.
Hand wash your dishes today. Donate the money you save – electricity and water – to your ELCA World Hunger bank.