Christ Lutheran Church - Marshfield, WI

1st Chief Part

“Was ist dass?”
“What is that?”  You might be asking as you read those first three words. 
And I would say back to you: “exactly!”

“Was ist dass?” is German for “What is that?”  Or as it is translated in the small catechism, “What does this mean?”

As the transition to summer approaches, we also transition here at Christ Lutheran.  Bible Classes and confirmation pause so we can pursue other valued avenues like Vacation Bible School, Youth Retreats, Synod Gatherings, Lifest, and perhaps even a vacation here and there.
But in the midst of that transition, we should never stop asking the question that our Spring Bible Class and our Confirmation classes have sought to answer concerning our faith.  “What does this mean?”

So as I looked on the Calendar this summer, I noted that I will write for this Newsletter 6 times May-August.  Guess what has 6 chief parts?  That’s right!  The Catechism!  So let’s not waste any more space, I only get ~500 words for these after all, and I always feel bad when I make Dana have to squish in my usual 600-700 word devotion.  Sigh… Never enough time or space…

The first chief part of the Catechism is the 10 commandments.

You shall have no other gods
You shall not misuse the name of the Lord your God.
Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy.  
Honor your Father and Mother.
You shall not murder.
You shall not commit adultery.
You shall not steal.
You shall not bear false testimony against your neighbor.
You shall not covet your neighbor’s house.
You shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, or his manservant or maidservant, his ox or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbor.

First, each of these could take up whole books worth of reflection, mediation and the like (and they have).  I can only give you the sparks notes version here, if you want more, let me know and let’s go out and get something to eat and talk it over.

Second, Luther notes that all commandments are also an expression of the first commandment.  If you could keep “no other gods” perfectly, you would be able to keep all the rest because the other 9 flow from the first.

Next, The Ten Commandments are an expression of how God has set up the universe.  Like God’s law of gravity that makes you come crashing down to earth if you ever get the delusion that you are a bird, God’s 10 commandments are the expression of how God has wired the universe.  God’s law is his perfect will, which he has written on every human heart.  To go against God’s law is like rejecting the law of gravity: You will get hurt.  Those who do not keep the law are in rebellion against God.

Also, the 10 commandments are the definition of love.  Love the Lord your God and your neighbor as yourself.  Which means going over the speed limit is unloving.  Sleeping outside of marriage?  Unloving.  Coveting something that you have not been given?  It means you hate God and your neighbor.  On Facebook or texting during the sermon?  You despise God’s Word and hate your neighbor!  Not a pretty picture, right?

This leads us to the next point.  How we use God’s law.  God uses his law in three ways:

1. As a curb. When you slow down in your car because you see the police officer, you have just encountered God. He has used his law to curb behavior and prevent rampant sin.

2. As a mirror.  This is the primary use.  Did you feel a twinge of guilt reading the paragraph above?  Same here.  You met God’s standard for love and perfection and the law condemned you that you have not lived up.  The law shows our sin and rebellion.

3.  As a guide.  As those who have God’s free forgiveness in Christ and see the Father’s love for us despite our sin for Christ’s sake, we ask ourselves: “What does this mean now?”  The law then becomes our guide for life.

At the end of the day, these uses of God’s good and holy law remind us to fall before our Savior Jesus Christ.  A Savior who has forgiven you and freed you from the curse of God’s law.  He has given you the Spirit, and has destroyed our pathetic rebellion, and is raising up a new humanity in Christ that lives according to God’s will because our will has been remade in the waters of baptism.   That’s a promise to take to the bank.

Sorry Dana, this was 777 words.  Peace to you all in Christ!

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