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Thursday, May 28, 2015

Living in the Law of God

They are like trees
    planted by streams of water,
which yield their fruit in its season,
    and their leaves do not wither.
In all that they do, they prosper.
- Psalm 1:3

The psalm singer is pointing out the rewards of the virtuous, those who follow the law. The law is the law of God and the Bible talks about the law of God in some distinct ways. 

There are the laws of myth, where trees, birds, night and day follow the word of God. Note that everything follows this kind of law, e.g., "Let there be light!" except for Adam and Eve who in choosing to do what they please have not considered how God will feel about it or the consequences.

There are the laws that aren't spelled out but were apparently obvious to God who in Genesis 6 is grieved "to his heart" at the wickedness of people. Later, some laws will be spelled out and the first ten are pretty memorable. Those commandments multiplied over time (613!) and it is likely that these are "the law" that the psalmist was thinking of. Then there is the distillation of all the law that I, probably like you, first encountered in a couple of public conversations Jesus had a few centuries afterwards.

Deuteronomy 6 - You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your might.

Leviticus 19 - Love your neighbor as yourself.

The variation of divine law that has been most powerful for me is found in John 15, "This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you." 

These words are spoken by Jesus and, so, in order to figure out what this kind of loving one another would look like, one has to study Jesus, imagine Jesus, use Jesus, invite Jesus, challenge Jesus, grieve Jesus, hope Jesus, and, as our communion liturgy sometimes says, "allow oneself to be loved by Jesus."

Another way to say this is that one has to live in the presence of that which transcends our lives, that which is divine.

I just want to emphasize that in all things that we do, I hope that you and I are operating in an ancient context of myth, story, commandments, arguments, song, prayer, praise, and lived experience of the holy. It is that sense of the virtuous life, that sense of following the law which I commend to you. It is in living that way that we become like the trees the psalmist held up, nourished by streams of living water, bearing fruit in our season. 

Peace and Blessing,