Editor’s Note: Go and check out this new Lutheran site Driving on Sunday.
I hear it all the time. “The world is falling apart. Kyrie Eleison”
Our eyes are blasted with images we wish we could forget (a megachurch cult “pastor’s” blinding smile), sounds we wish we could drown out (emotion-centered worship music), and entire blocks of our lives we wish we could get back (did anyone watch the recent republican debate?) In fact, I think this current political season (both American and synod) I have heard those complaints even more. But I want to make the case to you, (and I know for culture warriors like ourselves this is a tough case to make) that life is more than ballot initiatives, convention overtures, sermon reviews, and public lamentations. When we forget that, we are forgetting the First Article of the Apostles Creed.
I hereby resolve that everyone should take the time to go on a Sunday Drive to enjoy God’s First Article blessings and get a break from worry that the world throws at us.
Now obviously, I’m not advocating actually skipping church (as tempting as it may be for some of you pastors who haven’t quite finished your sermon for Sunday morning) but I am advocating that you take time whether that is on Sunday or any day you have a few hours to hop in your car and drive. Or step out your door and walk. Although God’s greatest gift is His Word and Sacraments, it is not His only gift! He is so generous!
Martin Luther describes the First Article like this: “I believe that God has made me and all creatures; that he has given me my body and soul, eyes, ears, and all my members, my reason and all my senses, and still takes care of them.
He also gives me clothing and shoes, food and drink, house and home, wife and children, land, animals, and all I have. He richly and daily provides me with all that I need to support this body and life…”
I’m sure you know the rest. Sure, Luther never speaks about hopping in your carriage and going for a Sunday ride. But I’d argue that’s because he had far more important things to deal with (being a prolific writer, translating the bible, hiding from Papal authorities, being a pastor, teacher and father to his large and wonderful family… just to name a few). It also might be because the government hadn’t forced fuel efficiency standards yet and he was left with a 1-4 horse power engine (get it?) But had he lived in our modern era where leisurely travel is no longer a pleasure just for the rich I think that he would have told us to turn off the talk radio and look out the windows at all the beautiful things God has placed in front of our eyes. My wife and I were moved to do this after one particularly grueling Sunday service.
It wasn’t the actually the service that was grueling. The music was exemplary, the hymn choices were soundly Lutheran, and the sermon was solid Law & Gospel (shout out to Rev. Randy Asburry). The struggle was that our boys were letting their old Adam out more than usual and once they were safely behind five point harnesses…we didn’t feel like letting them loose on the world again. After sitting in the driveway for a few minutes we unanimously decided to ignore the boys and hit the road. We crossed the mighty Mississippi, picked a winding country road, rolled down the windows to feel that fresh spring πνευμα and we stumbled across a small country church… and they had a 10:30 service.
Normally when traveling, we check out LutheranLiturgy.org to tell us where there is a faithful congregation. This little flock was not one of the churches that we automatically think of when one think of St. Louis and the surrounding area. We had no idea what to expect.
We must have been demon possessed because some sort of other worldly force moved us to sneak into the back row of this church and attend a second service for the day. With two toddlers. Two previously unbearable and angry toddlers. But by the end of it, we had all been thoroughly exorcised. We heard the Gospel lesson (which ironically was the story where the demons were cast into the pigs and drowned), we attended worship with a congregation who loves the liturgy even though their organ was modest and didn’t rattle the rafters. We received Christ’s body and blood by the hands of a faithful retired pastor filling the vacancy at this church, and later we were warmly greeted by almost every member of this congregation (all thirty of them).
Visiting small little-known churches isn’t our only focus when Driving on Sunday. My wife, Kezia, and I have taken our boys to see national forests, historic land marks, and old dilapidated houses but the goal is always the same. To spend time as a family and enjoy God’s First Article gifts, and learn a new story that is so obscure that even CHI might not know about it. And the result is that we are learning to love the home God has given us, encourage a desire to reach out to our neighbors, and have a passion for digging up and preserving the history of these forgotten places.
We hope you’ll come driving with us!
Clarence and Anders