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Tuesday Tidings June 27, 2023

Dearest Members of Bethlehem,

“When he laid his hands on her , immediately she stood up straight and began praising God. But the leader of the synagogue indignant because Jesus had cured on the Sabbath, kept saying to the crowd, ‘There are six days on which work ought to be done; come on those days and be cured, and not on the sabbath day.” -Luke 13:13-14

It would be so easy to make a villain of the leader of the synagogue in this story, but I do have some empathy for him. There was a law. That law had come down from Mount Sinai with Moses. The people of God were expected to follow that law. They had interpreted it to the best of their ability. That meant… no healing on the Sabbath. It had been that way, and that’s the way it was going to be.

Until… an upstart rabbi from Galilee began to interpret that law differently. Did the leader of the synagogue realize that Jesus was fully human and fully divine? Did the leader of the synagogue understand, “For in him the whole fullness of deity dwells bodily,” as the writer of Colossians later shared? It seems to me the leader of the synagogue needs a little grace. The truth is, that leader may have been learning just as we are learning.

What did we learn in that moment when Jesus reached out on the sabbath so long ago? The sabbath is for rest and for worship. And… worship can include tending to the needs of the neighbor. And in those moments, by the grace of God, long-awaited healing can come.

What else do we learn? Being a faithful servant of God in any era requires a little humility. As soon as we begin to believe that we know the mind of God entirely, that we have accessed the key to the depths of divine truth… it’s likely time to press pause and reassess. We are reminded in Isaiah, “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways my ways, says the Lord.”

Should such a reality stifle our passionate witness or our enthusiastic service to the Gospel? Nope, not at all… our faith isn’t about our ability to be “right” in every circumstance and situation. Our faith is in God’s ongoing forgiveness, that we have been “made right,” even after those moments when we have fallen short. It’s God’s grace that gives us the confidence we need to risk faithfully, not our own sense of religious expertise.

Question for reflection: For a long time, just about 500 years or so, Lutherans have seen “law” and “Gospel” as going hand in hand. How have you seen that reality at work in your life of faith?

Yours in Christ,

Pastor Dan

Gracious Lord, of the many blessings for which we give thanks, we are so deeply grateful for our freedom in Christ. Your forgiveness is not only a release from past guilt, it serves an empowerment for future ministry. Without the confidence you provide we could risk nothing. Because of your abiding love we can serve boldly and with great joy. We pray this all in Jesus’ name, Amen.

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