Greetings from Faith Lutheran Church in Eldorado.
When I was a child it was common for kids to pledge oaths with each other, but if you didn't want to keep your oath you would secretly put your hand behind your back and cross your fingers to nullify your promise. If you caught the other kid crossing his or her fingers, then you started the negotiations over.
This of course is child's play. No adult would imagine that in any legal transaction that crossing one's fingers would nullify your contract or public oath.
When I have talked to some thinking about joining the Navy or Marine Corps I remind them that they would be taking an adult oath, a sacred promise to defend the constitution against all enemies foreign and domestic. The military takes those words seriously and to decide to walk away from your watch or post will not go in your favor. You cannot cross your fingers when taking that oath.
In the Lutheran church there is an expectation that a public confession of faith in Christ and His teachings is honorable and one is to be faithful to one's confession. Yet I find both inside and outside the Lutheran Church many Christians are not willing to take their confession of faith seriously or they betray it for a variety of reasons.
At one time the church had a more prominent place in our culture, today her importance has waned. The church has lost meaning for many and therefore any words spoken within the church do not have meaning. The fingers are always crossed.
Not all churches require a public statement confessing Christ for membership. Not all require adherence to a statement of faith to join in various religious activities such as the Lord's Supper. Some say, "It is what is in your heart that counts, therefore, don't judge."
I agree the heart does count and only God can see the heart. I can't. All I can do is go by what one confesses with their lips. So, if a person public declares one thing in one church and then publicly denies elsewhere which public statement do I believe? Or are they both meaningless?
I hope that we have not developed a sense of individuality that gives us permission to sacrifice our integrity. That is, "I'm so special I don't need to be accountable for my promises, oaths or what I confess."
Many think of martyrs as being in the past, but there are more Christians being killed, imprisoned and humiliated than ever before. Their confession of faith means something to them and to their persecutors.
Do you take seriously what you confess and proclaim in you house of worship? Do you keep spiritual fingers crossed? May God grant you the strength and integrity to stay faithful to your confession of faith in Christ Jesus.
He is risen! He is Risen indeed, Alleluia.
• David Otten is pastor of Faith Lutheran Church in Eldorado.