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November’s Letter from the Pastor

Greetings to you all in the name of the One who redeems us from all our sins, Jesus Christ!

When taking a closer look at the Ten Commandments we find that they tell us something very specific about our relationship with God and our relationships with other people. While I could write at length on each and every one of these commandments, for now I will try and keep it brief.

In the first three commandments we are told that we fall short to living up to God’s expectations for us in our relationship with God. The first commandment frames them all, “You shall have no other gods.” This means that we do have other gods in our lives that we tend to put ahead of the One True God, the triune God: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. What are these other gods in our lives? Luther explains that “Idolatry does not consist merely of erecting an image and praying to it, but it is primarily a matter of the heart, which fixes its gaze upon other things and seeks help and consolation from creatures, saints, or devils.” Anything that our hearts are set on more than God becomes an idol god. The most important thing to know about this commandment is that we cannot on our own power keep this commandment; it is only through the faith that comes to us from God that we can fear, love, and trust in the One Triune God.

In the second commandment, God strictly forbids us from misusing the name of God. This means that we are not to curse, swear, use satanic arts, lie, or deceive by using God’s name to do so. One of the ways we break this commandment is using the name of God to justify hurting other people. In Luke 9:51-55 Jesus’ disciples are guilty of this when they ask Jesus if they should ask God to destroy a Samaritan village just because they were not welcomed in that village. We see here that God’s name is only to be used in a way in which we call upon it when we are in trouble, when we pray, when we give our praises, and when we give thanks.

The final commandment that shapes our relationship with God is the third commandment which exhorts us to remember the Sabbath Day by keeping it holy. In the creation story in Genesis we are told that on the seventh day of creation God rested; God took a Sabbath. This is a day that God set aside for humankind so that we can also find rest, a true rest in God, from our daily labors. It is a day for us to remember how awesome God is that God created us and continually sustains us. The point of this day is not for God’s sake, however, but for ours.  Jesus reminds the religious leaders of his day of this very thing when he says in Mark 2:27 “The sabbath was made for humankind, and not humankind for the sabbath” (NRSV). God wants us to rest on the Sabbath so that we can truly rest; to find peace in God in order that our actions may glorify God the rest of the week, whether that is on a Sunday morning or any other day of the week.

When we take these three commandments together we find that God wants to be in relationship with us. These commandments are there for us to understand what a proper relationship with God looks like; a way for us to get all that God intended us to out of this relationship. Once we understand a proper relationship with God we are then able to understand a proper relationship with those around us, our neighbors. This is what the next seven commandments will focus on, but that will have to wait till next month.

In Christ,

Pastor Ryan

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