My Saturday night was different ... the time would be changing long after I was in bed ... Monica and I were together at the home of our older son and his wife, watching our granddaughter ... Law and Order was on TV (after Basketball) ... Jimmy John's (#10 and #11) provided the meal ... and I had the opportunity to read a book entitled "Being Lutheran" (A. Trevor Sutton, Concordia Publishing House: 2016). Now we all know that the time changes twice each year (even though I think we should stay on daylight saving time year round). You also would be safe in assuming that Monica and I have watched our granddaughter before (and always with great delight), and that Law and Order, basketball and Jimmy John's were nothing new for us (even on a Saturday night). What made the night different was the book - "Being Lutheran".
You might say I have been Lutheran my entire life, though an argument could be made that the time lapse between February 16, 1953 and March 6 of that year found me outside looking in. And not just a little bit Lutheran. The fact is, it was not until I entered high school that my world expanded to knowing more than one family that was not Lutheran!
It was the back cover of the book that got my attention - after, that is, I heard that Pastor Rick's Sunday FHL group was going to be reading and discussing it. The back cover said, "Throw out all those notions you might have about what it means to be Lutheran. When it comes down to it, being Lutheran is really very simple. It's about following Jesus. We go where Jesus goes, we listen when Jesus speaks, we trust what Jesus promises. And we live because Jesus lives." And then in the introductory pages an old college friend of mine wrote, "(This book is) both a delightful and helpful look at the depth and the riches of the biblical faith." Wow - after that I had to read it.
And, though I will want to read it again (and take the time to highlight), I breezed through the 250 pages right while all those other things were going on! For today I plan to simply share with you a conclusion to one of the chapters, followed by some verses from Psalm 37. I hope these words give you something to think about today.
"Life is messy. God is not. Creatures have boundaries. God does not. Unresolved tension is simply part of being a creature living in a world messy with sin. Being Lutheran is admitting creaturely limitations and living with unresolved tensions.
"We proclaim paradoxes: sinner and saint, Law and Gospel, now and not yet. We tolerate tensions: Holy Communion is fully Christ's body and blood while also fully bread and wine. Scripture is fully the Word of God while also the work of fully human authors. Other traditions try to resolve these tensions with philosophical speculation, lofty reason, and historical proof. Lutherans tolerate the tension of God's revelation.
"Being Lutheran is not made for TV. We refuse to resolve every theological question, fit our faith into tidy doctrinal packages, or chase after philosophical symmetry. We refuse to treat the mysteries of our faith as if they are riddles to be solved. Instead, we live faithfully as creatures of God. We cling to God's revelation of love in the cross of Jesus Christ." (pp. 196-197)
Or, as the fully human, sinner-saint David writes, "Trust in the Lord, and do good; dwell in the land and befriend faithfulness. Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the Lord; trust in him, and he will act. He will bring forth your righteousness as the light, and your justice as the noonday. Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him; fret not yourself over the one who prospers in his way, over the man who carries out evil devices! ... Better is the little that the righteous has than the abundance of many wicked." (Psalm 37.3-7, 16)
I like this Word of the Lord given us through David ... as I also like how Paul says the same thing differently, "For you were called to freedom, brothers. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another." (Galatians 5.13) I believe this is what Sutton is talking about in "Being Lutheran." And why I feel so free and joyous in my life.