Anglican Lutheran Lenten Reflections

Anglican Lutheran Lenten Reflections

Service as Freedom (Romans 13:8)

Daily Lenten Reflection - Monday, 3 April 2017

Week 6: Freed to Serve—Diakonia 

Week 6, Day 2

Article VI, “The Augsburg Confession, 1530” 

Likewise, they teach that this faith is bound to yield good fruits and that it ought to do good works commanded by God on account of God’s will and not so that we may trust in these works to merit justification before God. For forgiveness of sins and justification are taken hold by faith, as the saying of Christ also testifies [Luke 17:10]: “When you have done all [things] …say, ‘We are worthless slaves.’” The authors of the ancient church teach the same. For Ambrose says: “It is established by God that whoever believes in Christ shall be saved without work, by faith alone, receiving the forgiveness of sins as a gift.”

Service as Freedom (Romans 13:8)

Tron Fagermoen, Lutheran, Norway

Owe no one anything, except to love one another; for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law. 

Lately I have been reading the books to my children that my parents used to read to me. Their definite favorite is When the Robbers Came to Cardamom Town by the Norwegian author Thorbjørn Egner. I can understand their fascination. The book tells a captivating story about how three robbers, by being met with forgiveness, love and recognition, give up their criminal activities to become highly respected citizens in the local community. Still, reading the book again as an adult, I have become increasingly uneasy with the moral vision of the book.

One of the many oddities of Cardamom town is that it is governed by one and only one law: one must not bother others, one must be nice and kind, otherwise one may do as one pleases. At first glance this may appear to be a good law. But on further reflection, I am not so convinced. For what is actually being said here? That the meaning of life is to do as one pleases? That freedom is to be free from the constraints of the community; from being bothered by others?

Parallel to reading When the Robbers Came to Cardamom Town for my children at night, I have, together with colleagues, been working on a collection of Luther’s texts. One of the texts we have prepared for printing is On the Freedom of a Christian. In this text, Luther says something that resembles the Cardamom law, namely that a Christian is free from the law and subject to none. However, he does not stop there. He goes on to say that at the same time a Christian is a perfectly dutiful servant of all, subject to all. Christian freedom is, in other words, not a freedom from, but a freedom to—a freedom to serve. And this, I believe, is also the message of Paul, when he says in his letter to the Romans, “owe no one anything, except to love one another; for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law.”

“On the occasion of the 500th anniversary of the Reformation, the Anglican-Lutheran International Coordinating Committee has compiled a collection of Lenten reflections to commemorate the anniversary. The text can be used by small groups or individual, as a Lenten reading or as a resource for the weeks between Easter and Trinity Sunday. We are sharing these reflections daily during Lent, hoping that our common experience of God’s grace may draw our two families of churches closer together in this extraordinary year, and be used beyond 2017 and actually at any time.”