So That . . .
Sunday, August 16, 2020
Pastor Mark Aune
Dear friends in Christ, grace and peace. Amen
What you and I do regarding our relationship with God matters. It matters to God and just as importantly it matters to you and me.
As Lutheran Christians we talk a lot about what God does; God’s action and direction in our lives. When it comes to matters of faith and life, we say that God is the primary actor, and this is important.
God sent Jesus to save us. God sends the Holy Spirit to comfort us and to teach us. God sends people and experiences into our lives that change us and challenge us and form us.
But we are part of the equation too. We get to share and participate in this grand relationship that God is always initiating with you and me so that you and I can be the kind of people God desires us to be.
Today’s reading from Deuteronomy is one of the foundational building blocks of this grand relationship we have been given with God. Like a lot of foundational parts of scripture this reading takes place in a time of transition and change. Which means it is timely for us.
God’s people are about to cross over into the land God promised them. They have been set free from slavery in Egypt. They had wandered in the wilderness for 40 years. They had received God’s law, the commandments on Mt. Sinai. Moses faithfully led them, and his time was coming to an end.
Like words of wisdom from a departing loved one Moses reminds the people of God of what is most important, most critical so that they will keep on being God’s people.
Now this is the commandment—that the Lord your God charged me to teach you to observe in the land that you are about to cross into and occupy, 2 so that you and your children and your children’s children may fear the Lord your God all the days of your life, so that your days may be long. 3 , so that it may go well with you, and so that you may multiply greatly.
Like a good teacher Moses explains the reasons for obedience to this commandment. Four times in two verses he uses the phrase so that.
So that you will fear the Lord.
So that your days will be long.
So that it may go well with you.
So that you may multiply greatly.
Our response to God matters.
Our obedience to God’s commandment makes a difference.
What is the commandment Moses is referring to here?
Hear, O Israel: The Lord is our God, the Lord alone. 5 You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your might.
This is called the Shema. Shema is the Hebrew word for hear.
We might say listen up. Pay attention. This is very important.
Jesus, as a good and faithful Jewish man quotes the Shema.
We are told to keep it in our hearts, tell it to our children and talk about it when you are at home and when you are away, when you lie down and when you rise. 8 Bind it as a sign on your hand, as an emblem on your forehead, 9 and write it on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.
Obedience to this commandment should be as natural and consistent as breathing in and breathing out.
- It shapes our life,
- it directs our path,
- it is literally dwelling in God’s grace.
- So that it may go well with you.
So that it may go well with you doesn’t mean a life free from trouble or challenges, but it does mean it will go well with you as you experience troubles and challenges.
This commandment to love God with heart, soul and might is to stand on a foundation of faith that doesn’t shift, crumble or change and it is what enables life to go well no matter what.
I’ve witnessed what this means. Many times, and in many places. When I sit beside a dying saint who doesn’t seem to be aware of anyone or anything and I pray the Lord’s Prayer and the lips of the dying saint move in synchrony to my words as I pray out loud, I am literally witnessing what it means to love God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your might. It becomes so deeply imbedded in us that we always trust it is there, even if we aren’t aware of it.
We know people are struggling right now. There is a weariness that is beyond words that weighs on us all. As a staff we are aware and as we keep working to encourage you and keep you connected to your church and to God we know and trust our foundation is firm.
If you feel like your legs cannot carry you and the fear and loneliness are getting heavier and heavier then hear the Word once again. Hear the commandment. Listen!
Remember that you have bound it to your heart. You carry it in your hands and on your head.
You have placed it on the door post of your homes. It is with you when you rise up in the morning and when you close your eyes in the evening.
This Word, this command to hear, to listen, to love the Lord your God so that it will go well with you;
- so that you will have the strength to stand
- so that you will be ale to do what God wants you to do
- so that you will withstand the attacks of the evil one
- so that you will not fear the arrow that flies by day and the pestilence that stalks in the darkness
- so that your heart will know the peace of God which passes human understanding
- so that you will not fear death, sin or the power of the devil
- so that you will trust God, know the love of Jesus and experience the power of the Holy Spirit at work in your life – and not be afraid.
Now more than ever, as we all try and move forward into a future that is unclear, uncertain and with no end in sight, now more than ever must we hear this commandment, listen to this commandment, live in this commandment.
To love God with heart, soul and strength.
To trust that we are in relationship with God because God has sought us out.
And to know God’s strength, God’s power and God’s peace.
So that it will go well. No matter what.
Thanks be to God. Amen