Wednesday, July 8, 2020

July 8 – Wednesday prior to Proper 10

Romans 8:12-17 – It is easier for a child to use a two-syllable word ending in a vowel than to use a single syllable word ending with a consonant. Every parent and grandparent knows this! At ten months, a toddler can say, "Momma," "Dadda," and "Egg!"

Daddy” is easier to say than “Dad,” “Mommy” is easier than “Mom.”

But “Abba” is the word used by Jesus in the crucifixion scene in the Gospel of Mark. Jesus prayed, “Abba, Father, for you all things are possible… ” – Mark 14:36

The use of “Abba” must also have been characteristic of Jesus’ prayers, as in the use of “Father” in the Lord’s Prayer.[1]   God would by these words tenderly invite us to believe that He is our true Father, and that we are His true children, so that with all boldness and confidence we may ask Him as dear children ask their dear father. [2] 

This term was familiar to the Christians at Rome. The audience to whom Paul is writing. 
Being a son makes you an heir and a member of the family. Being a citizen gives you rights, privileged, responsibilities. The Inheritance is yours because you belong to Christ.

Thus being “led by the Spirit of God,” we are not afraid, but we cry out in faith to our Father in heaven. (See Romans 8:14–15)

Fear leads to isolation. This, leads to withdrawal. This, leads to depression. This, leads to alienation. Which, leads to death. Notice the downward spiral.

Such was Luther's journey. His quest: finding an answer to the question, “how can I find a loving God? One who is not angry.” Luther finally understood what Paul wanted: to preach a righteousness that was a gift—a gift by which God mercifully justifies us through faith in His Son. Paul was not describing a cold-hearted standard that could only lead to our condemnation. That would hardly be Gospel or “good news!”

Paul is speaking of the righteousness of God that was revealed at the cross—God’s great love for us. When Luther realized this, his whole world turned upside down, the bitter became sweet, and the locked door sprang open:

I extolled my sweetest word with a love as great as the hatred with which I had before hated the word ‘righteousness of God.’ Thus that place in Paul was for me truly the gate to paradise.”[3]  While wrestling with Paul, Luther found himself also wrestling with God, and like Jacob of old, Luther would never be the same.

Each morning is the dawn of a new day, it’s an opportunity to love God and serve your neighbor as a redeemed child of God.  As soon as your feet hit the floor thank God as the devil says to himself, “Oh, no! She’s up!  Each day is an opportunity to praise God as you serve your neighbor.  So, stop your griping. It won’t help anybody.  Instead…Pick up a shovel and go merrily about your business with a grateful heart.

Lord God, You promise to help and comfort those who call upon You in the day of trouble. Grant Your deliverance in Christ Jesus that by the power of the Holy Spirit we may not be overcome in adversity but be strengthened to live confidently in Your love and peace. Make us to know that in all things You work for good of those who love You and that nothing can separate us from Your love which is in Christ Jesus our Savior.  

Luther’s Seal copyright © Ed Riojas, Higher Things
Lutheran Service Book © 2006 Concordia Publishing House, St. Louis

[1] In Matthew 6:9; the Greek “pater” of the prayer is probably a translation of the Aramaic Abba
[2] Explanation to the Introduction to the Lord’s Prayer Luther’s Small Catechism.
[3] Luther’s Works 34:37 Saint Louis: Concordia Publishing House, © 1972

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