On the last two Sundays of Epiphanyâ€”the last two Sundays before Lent beginsâ€”the Sunday Readings feature the Ten Commandments: the giving of them to Moses and Jesus expounding a few of them. This unfolded at the same time I was pondering a theme for our midweek Services of Lent, so I decided to make those Commandments the theme.
Doing so means that this year our theme will emphasize the original focus of the Season of Lent, as Lent began in the Early Christian Church as a time of instruction for those who were preparing for Baptism at Easter. The instruction of those â€œcatechumensâ€ focused more on Christian living than the Passion of Jesus. That will be our emphasis this year.
The wisdom of the Commandmentsâ€”while Divineâ€”can be known in part by simple human reason and should be heeded by any community, society or civilization that wishes to survive and flourish. But we see the Commandments also in the context of Godâ€™s grace in Christ, finding newer and richer meaning in them when viewed that way.
Thanks to Martin Luther and his Explanation of the Commandments in his Small Catechism, we see in the Commandments not just negative prohibitionsâ€”things weâ€™re supposed to keep from doingâ€”but works of love urged upon us. We can even see in the Commandments gifts God gives, wrapped in commands for their protection.
That will be my approach to the Ten Commandments on the Wednesday evenings of Lent: the gifts God gives, complete with instructions for their proper use. And the gifts are these: Family, Marriage, Life, Property, Speech and God Himself.
Please plan to gather with your Immanuel Family each of the Wednesdays in Lentâ€”beginning Ash Wednesday, February 26â€”as we unwrap these good gifts God has given us and talk about their place in the Christian life. Meals will be served each Wednesday at 6:00 PM, followed by a Service at 7:00 PM.