“On the tenth day of Christmas
my true love gave to me:
10 lords a leaping,
9 ladies dancing, 8 maids a milking, 7 Swans a Swimming, 6 Geese a Laying
5 Gold–en Rings
4 Calling Birds, 3 French Hens, 2 Turtle Doves
and a Partridge in a Pear Tree”
After the events at the USA capitol yesterday, it is hard to write about ten leaping lords that represent the Ten Commandments given on Mt. Sinai to Moses to guide and govern people’s lives. When we think about “law” our minds float to the “big ten,” but in-fact Luther talks of three types of law: “moral law” written on people’s hearts and applicable to all people, “ceremonial law” that governs our religious belief practices like whether or not to eat pork, and “political law” that regulates and protects how people live together in society. These three types of law do not always co-exist together in harmony as we saw yesterday and see worked out today. People with strong feelings about moral infractions confront people with strong feelings about political procedure and those of us watching TV wring our hands and cry to God for mercy for our country and its government and the people working this out. Lord, have mercy! Christ, have mercy! Lord, have mercy! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6teNwbdhTt4.
We sum up the role of law in our lives with Jesus’ interaction with the young lawyer who asked what was the greatest law. Jesus asked the young man what he thought. The response, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, mind, and strength and love your neighbor as yourself.” For many, that boils down to a mandate to “love.” But, sigh, we know the saying, “love is blind!” We tend to define what love looks like through our self-centered interests. Love is not something that is written in words but is lived out in actions. We see the riots in the name of justice, a form of love of neighbor, and wonder. We don’t feel like we are leaping but crawling.
So how do laws help us leap? “Leap for joy?” Leap over the river? Leap Year to make the calendar synch with nature? Laws set boundaries for our behavior and our hearts so that we know when we are in danger of hurting ourselves or hurting others.
-Yes, I am having a rough day with my spouse because of so much misinformation and misunderstanding but “law” calls me to stop and think before I “walk away” from commitment. God does not stop loving me and making the sun shine but people get hurt and a big price is paid.
-Yes, the other has deeply hurt me and “law” reminds me that I have choices, to seek revenge in my strength or to forgive. “Law” helps me clarify if I’m dealing with sin or selfishness and can offer alternatives.
-Yes, I’m tired and would love a little more sleep but “law” reminds me and helps me focus on doing things that feed my soul, like remembering to take a Sabbath from work and focus on the God who holds my life.
Right now is a hard time to leap for joy as we try to sort out the types of law that are arguing without and within. Today we are more likely to leap to prayer for our country and our leaders. As we struggle with how to frame the events in our lives, may we never forget that True Love, God, gave us “laws” that we might leap to him and over that which defeats us. Blessings.