Tuesday, March 17, 2020

Year A 3rd Lent WED 2020 Faith & Law

Year A 3rd Sunday of Lent WEDNESDAY, 18 March 2020
St. James the Less Episcopal, Ashland, VA
(Online Morning Prayer)
“Faith and Law”

Collect: Give ear to our prayers, O Lord, and direct the way of your servants in safety under your protection, that, amid all the changes of our earthly pilgrimage, we may be guarded by your mighty aid; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Deuteronomy 4:1–2,5–9
Moses said: So now, Israel, give heed to the statutes and ordinances that I am teaching you to observe, so that you may live to enter and occupy the land that the Lord, the God of your ancestors, is giving you. You must neither add anything to what I command you nor take away anything from it, but keep the commandments of the Lord your God with which I am charging you.

See, just as the Lord my God has charged me, I now teach you statutes and ordinances for you to observe in the land that you are about to enter and occupy. You must observe them diligently, for this will show your wisdom and discernment to the peoples, who, when they hear all these statutes, will say, "Surely this great nation is a wise and discerning people!" For what other great nation has a god so near to it as the Lord our God is whenever we call to him? And what other great nation has statutes and ordinances as just as this entire law that I am setting before you today?

But take care and watch yourselves closely, so as neither to forget the things that your eyes have seen nor to let them slip from your mind all the days of your life; make them known to your children and your children's children.

Matthew 5:17–19
Jesus said, “Do not think that I have come to abolish the law or the prophets; I have come not to abolish but to fulfill. For truly I tell you, until heaven and earth pass away, not one letter, not one stroke of a letter, will pass from the law until all is accomplished. Therefore, whoever breaks one of the least of these commandments, and teaches others to do the same, will be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever does them and teaches them will be called great in the kingdom of heaven."

Today’s lessons are on keeping the Law, obeying the rules, doing what we are supposed to do. When we do that, things will go well, it says to us. When we teach others to obey, it will go well for us. We live in a nation built not on blood, but on concepts and principles, we live in a nation founded on the idea that there are unwritten but unarguable laws of the universe that were granted unto us by God. From those inalienable rights that our founders agreed to be the case, we based our constitution and all the laws derived therefrom. We have faith in that. We have faith in our laws as a country.

The other HUGE part of that is that we have to have faith that EVERYBODY will also follow the laws along with us. Think of it as people driving down the highway at breakneck speeds. We trust everyone to stay in their lane, driving to care for themselves and everybody else. When people do not do that, it creates havoc and is dangerous.

Many of us were raised to respect and honor the 10 Commandments, believing that those laws also came from God. And from that our ethics and morality stem. We have faith in those religious laws, too.

Faith in the Rule of Law is one of the cornerstones of our culture. And slowly over the almost 250 years since our declaring our independence we have continued to work to establish the “more perfect Union” that we dreamt of at our founding. It has never been perfect, not yet, but I trust that with each new generation that we can get closer and closer to that bright shining city on a hill dreamt of so long ago.

Now what they were working for and toward was unseen, untested, and unknown to the founders (or anyone else in history), and yet they risked fighting and dying for it. They had faith in it.

Right now, I hope you are maintaining your diligence in social distancing. Once again, we are facing something unseen, untested, and unknown. Most of us are upturning our lives in response to these ideas that we have to take on faith. At the end of all this, many people will say we took these drastic measures, and for what? Friends, that is where our faith comes into play. I have faith from my friends overseas that things are very bad there. I have faith in the reports coming out that the virus is already here, and we are attempting to flatten the curve and drastically reduce the outcomes that could have been. As of this morning there are over 6,000 KNOWN cases, and it is in all 50 states. The trendlines are disturbing, and we are all working together to accomplish something that we have to take on faith. And in so doing, I trust that the reward is a big, fat nothing. No more cases in Hanover, no funerals that I will have to do, no friends or loved ones with diminished breathing capacity. The hope for a total non-event has already passed, so we can only continue and pray that there is more nothing than something. I pray that that Nothing is our reward for doing Something. If we keep the Law of “Social Distancing” it can be. But it will take us all. And from it we will all be rewarded. Please Lord, may it be so.

Friends, we are on the front end of this, wherever it may go. Unprecedented times, uncharted waters. But you are not alone. In the coming days we will be able to set up places for us to have interactive, virtual coffee hours and other ways for us to communicate and connect. We are social creatures. God designed us that way. You cannot tickle yourself. Let me hear from you. What are your needs or wants during this time? Should we do noon prayers or compline daily? Those things can happen. We are already planning and shaping the services for the days to come, however long this needs to last. We are praying for you. Pray for all of us during this season. Obey the Law. Keep the Faith. And Wash your Hands! Amen

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Blessings, Rock