Saturday of the Week of Advent II
But the Lord of hosts, him shall you regard as holy; let him be your fear, and let him be your dread. And he will become a sanctuary, and a stone of offense, and a rock of stumbling to both houses of Israel, a trap and a snare to the inhabitants of Jerusalem. And many shall stumble thereon; they shall fall and be broken; they shall be snared and taken. — Isaiah 8:1-15
Those who know Martin Luther’s Small Catechism, know that each of the explanations of the Ten Commandments begin with the words, “We are to fear and love God so that…”
Some suggest it would be better to translate Luther’s word “fear” as we are to be in “awe” of God. But what’s wrong with loving God while also fearing Him? God is not, as I once heard, a white-haired old grandfatherly type who looks upon our sin and disobedience with a wink and a smile. God hates sin. God loves the sinner, but sin displeases God and alienates us from God and from one another. A healthy dose of fear reminds us that, while God surely loves and cares for us, He is still the almighty creator of the world and all that exists, who condemns sin and seeks the repentance of sinners.
Some may have heard me wonder whether the disrespect we see in our culture for parents, teachers, pastors and all in authority might have started with lack of fear and respect for God. As Lutherans, we have typically trained young persons to serve as acolytes, teaching them such reverent behavior as silence, bowing to the altar, being humble in the presence of God, because it teaches fear and love of God! Could it be that a faithful, well-heeled young acolyte corps might be the key to transforming our out-of-control culture—and bring children and youth back to worship? Hmmm… might be worth consideration!
Prayer: Lord God of hosts, you are holy and deserving of our fear and love! Amen.
Advent Action: Without making a show of it, find an additional posture or motion to show fear and love of God in worship. For example, bow your head when addressing God, make the sign of the cross, etc.
The 2016 Advent Devotional, based on Year I of the LBW and written by Pastor David Wendel, is available for download/printing in two formats and as a daily text/email message.