Now that we're in the season after Pentecost, we're making Sunday worship a little shorter and easier for folks participating at home. And to do my part, I'm going to preach a little shorter too. For the next several weeks we'll be spending some time on the Ten Commandments. Until fairly recently, the Ten Commandments were a regular part of Lutheran worship. They were recited as part of Confession services, set to hymns in the Sunday liturgy, and frequently preached on.
In the Small Catechism we get brief, simple, and sometimes quite profound explanations of their meaning. "You shall not make wrongful use of the name of the Lord your God," goes the Second. What does this mean? Luther answers, "We are to fear and love God, so that we do not curse, swear, practice magic, lie, or deceive using God's name, but instead use that very name in every time of need to call on, pray to, praise, and give thanks to God." I have always loved that duality Luther finds in the commandments: fear and love; do not do this, but instead do that.
This week I'm going to talk about the first two commandments. It's important to recognize that the Commandments are not the Gospel. They do not reveal the grace and mercy of God to us, at least not directly. But we learn them and treasure them to understand who we are, what God requires of us, and how our actions can build up or damage the world around us.
God's Work. Our hands.