Wednesday, August 03, 2005

What's with this guy?

St. James of Jerusalem (not me!)

So…some of you may be asking, “What’s with this guy? Is he Lutheran or Catholic or Orthodox? Is he really ‘Daring to be Lutheran’ like he says? He prays these strange prayers, has a ‘prayer altar,’ and I bet he even uses prayer beads (yep I do), so, what’s his deal?”

I started working with an orthodox Jewish family after Christmas. You may want to see my earlier post on this. I had never known or encountered any kind of Jew, let alone orthodox Jews. The first thing I thought about this religion was that it was intimately tied with their god, that is the Law and man’s interpretation of the Law in the Talmud. Everything they did, from the way they prepared and ate, to the clothes they wore, to walking through their house, they were constantly reminded of that connection with the Law. I was intrigued by this and quite honestly a little envious of such an intimate relationship.

However, upon giving it greater thought, it made me very sad for these people and all others like them. There connection was indeed intimate and infused with every part of their lives, but it was a connection to something that they could never obtain; namely the perfect fulfillment of the Law. Sadly, it is not just Jews or Muslims that have this deadly intimacy, many Christians are also in this unhealthy and deadly relationship with the Law.

So, that still doesn’t answer your first question, what is up with me? Isn’t my prayer life dangerously close to the verge being Law-oriented? It could become that way, but the key is Christ. He has done all for me. He is the perfect fulfillment of the Law and the perfect sacrifice for my multitude of sin. I could never do enough to be righteous on my own in God’s eyes. That is the gift of the Law, it shows us that. The gift of the Gospel is that it frees us to respond to the love of God in Christ with thanksgiving.

Having a prayer altar in my home, praying certain liturgical prayers, and even using prayer beads are not necessary for my salvation, but they do increase my connectedness to my Creator, Redeemer and Sanctifier. I want the connectedness that those Jews have, but not to the Law and man’s crazy and sinful interpretation of them. I want to be hidden in the wounds of Christ, at the foot of the Cross, in the Glory of the Holy Triune God. I’m not going to let practices that make sense and have been historically beneficial to our Church Fathers and the saints scare me away because they seem too Catholic or Orthodox. I believe that the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod is the stronghold of orthodox and confessional Christianity and to deny historic practices out of fear and suspicion in not “Daring to be Lutheran.”


Caspar said...

Do you have the new "Brotherhood Prayer Book?"

Jim Roemke said...

I have seen it and would love to get it, but it will have to wait until I have $47 to spend. Right now I use "An Everyday Book of Hours" by William G. Storey, along with the prayers I posted on this site, and the Lutheran Book of Prayer.