The Ritual of Christian Service

On January 20 an American ritual unfolded before the global congregation: People from around the world virtually gathered around the altar of the most powerful president on earth to witness to his swearing in ceremony. This time around, the moment was punctuated by even greater then usual enthusiasm: We have the first African American president of the USA, marking another step toward the realization that "We the People" constitutionally affirm that all divisions are humanly fictitious. It was undoubtedly a captivating moment filled with promises and expectations.

In the Augsburg Confession (1530) Martin Luther and others teach that "all governments of the world...were instituted and ordained by God for the sake of good order" and that "Christians are obliged to be subject to civil authority and obey its commands and laws in all that can be done without sin. But when commands of the civil authority cannot be obeyed without sin, we must obey God rather than man (Acts 5:29)."

What service can Christians best render to the nation and the world? We can practice the greatest commandment of all, "Love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your mind, and all your strength. The second is equally important: Love your neighbor as yourself." (Mark 12:30-31)

Love for God can be practiced in all honesty and virtue when we seek peace through justice for the neighbor. Those who are hungry, who have no land to call their home, who have no shelter to repair under, who have no champion to pick up their cause, who have no companion ready to dry their tears, indeed creation itself abused and violated by our greed and careless way of life wait for the revelation of the children of God. (see Romans 8:19)

The best service Christians can render to the world is their practice of compassion and generosity, authenticity and wisdom, humility and moral rectitude. That Love, that service is what Christians celebrate in their rituals. There are plenty of promises and expectations there. Is our practice of Love passionately captivating? Do people see us practicing what we preach? Do we embody Love and Hope and new Life?