A bit of history and opening Luther's argument about the total depravity of humanity (but only for the semicontinuous). Not too many insights here this week.
Semicontinuous First Reading - Exodus 33:12-23
"But,” [God] said, “you cannot see my face; for no one shall see me and live.”
-- Exodus 33:20
Verse 20 is cited, along with several other scriptural passages, in Smalcald Articles, Part 3, Article 1: Concerning Sin (SA 3.1.3) as evidence from the Bible that inherited sin (the first desire of Adam and Eve to be like God) corrupts all of humanity to such an extreme "that reason does not comprehend it." Instead, the truth of our sinfulness--even down to our very desires and thoughts--as shown in the Bible "must be believed" rather than proven.
[Jesus] said to them, “Give therefore to the emperor the things that are the emperor’s, and to God the things that are God’s.”
Verse 21 is cited in a footnote to The Small Catechism, Household Carts (SC 7.4, n. 115) that informs us of a section of the charts not included in The Book of Concord called "What subjects ought to do for the governing authority." There's a more than reasonable chance this was not Luther's addition, as it only appears in one version. For more info, check the footnote.
That being said, it is always worth remind people of the Lutheran take on the two kingdoms. If you have access to it, check Luther's On Temporal Authority and Whether Soldiers, Too, Can Be Saved. It's probably also worth rereading The Augsburg Confession, Article 16: Concerning Public Order and Secular Government (German Title)/Concerning Civic Affairs (Latin Title) and Apology of the Augsburg Confession, Article 16: Political Order. The entire topic gets more complicated with a democratic form government, but I think the principles still hold, especially the clear distinction between the authority of the government and the authority of the church. The concern regarding the misuse of authority when these two mingle is still a real concern.
- How do we equip people to discern between what is Caesar's and what is God's?
- How do you reflect on God's action in the midst of political upheaval and turmoil?