Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Wednesday in Lent 5: The fulcrum in all the relativities of history

Opening Sentence
I will arise and go to my father, and I will say to him, "Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you; I am no longer worthy to be called your son." Luke 15:18, 19

Commemoration: Hans Nielsen Hauge
Gracious Father, we praise you because, when the zeal and love of your Church has grown cold, you stir up the hearts of your people, by sending to them men and women of faith, as you sent your servant Hans Nielsen Hauge, to preach repentance and renewal; and we pray that your Church may never be destitute of such preaching, through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

Psalter: Psalm 119:145-176

Lessons: Exodus 7:8-24, 2 Corinthians 2:14-3:6, Mark 10:1-16

There is no better way, in contemporary thought, of approaching the meaning of commitment than by reference to [20th century French philosopher] Marcel's distinction between "believing that" and "believing in." To be committed is to believe in. Commitment, which includes belief but far transcends it, is determination of the total self to act upon conviction. Always and everywhere, as Blaise Pascal and many other thinkers have taught us, it includes an element of wager. This is why in great literature, including the New Testament, the best light that can be thrown upon commitment is that provided by marriage. For everyone recognizes the degree to which marriage is a bold venture, undertaken without benefit of escape clauses. The essence of all religious marriage vows is their unconditional quality. A man takes a woman not, as in a contract, under certain specified conditions, but "for better, for worse; for richer, for poorer; in sickness and in health." Always, the commitment is unconditional and for life. The fact that some persons fail in this regard does not change the meaning of that glorious undertaking.

. . . Belief in differs from believing that, in the way in which the entire self is involved. "If I believe in something," says Marcel, "it means that I pledge myself fundamentally, and this pledge affects not only what I have but also what I am."

. . . A Christian is a person who confesses that, amidst the manifold and confusing voices heard in the world, there is one Voice which supremely wins his full assent, uniting all his powers, intellectual and emotional into a single pattern of self-giving. That Voice is Jesus Christ. A Christian not only believes that He was; he believes in Him with all his heart and strength and mind. Christ appears to the Christian as the one stable point or fulcrum in all the relativities of history. Once the Christian has made this primary commitment he still has perplexities, but he begins to know the joy of being used for a mighty purpose, by which his little life is dignified.

D. Elton Trueblood
The Company of the Committed

Jesus Loves the Little Children