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The Rev. Frederick Buechner The Rev. Frederick Buechner
The Rev. Frederick Buechner is an ordained Presbyterian minister and author of numerous bestselling books and novels. Visit www.FrederickBuechner.com

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Presbyterian Church (USA)

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Frederick Buechner Center


Frederick Buechner Sermon Illustration: Law

May 08, 2018

In our blog post every Monday we select a reading from the Revised Common Lectionary for the upcoming Sunday, and pair it with a Frederick Buechner reading on the same topic. 

Next Sunday we will celebrate the Seventh Sunday of Easter.  Here is this week’s reading from the book of Psalms: 

Psalm 1

Happy are those who do not follow the advice of the wicked, or take the path that sinners tread, or sit in the seat of scoffers; but their delight is in the law of the LORD, and on his law they meditate day and night. They are like trees planted by streams of water, which yield their fruit in its season, and their leaves do not wither. In all that they do, they prosper. The wicked are not so, but are like chaff that the wind drives away. Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous; for the LORD watches over the way of the righteous, but the way of the wicked will perish. 

In the following passage, Buechner describes God’s Law.  It was first published in Wishful Thinking and again in Beyond Words

THERE ARE BASICALLY TWO KINDS OF LAW: (1) law as the way things ought to be, and (2) law as the way things are. An example of the first is "No Trespassing." An example of the second is the law of gravity. 

God's law has traditionally been spelled out in terms of category no. 1, a compendium of dos and don'ts. These dos and don'ts are the work of moralists and, when obeyed, serve the useful purpose of keeping us from each other's throats. They can't make us human, but they can help keep us honest. 

God's law in itself, however, comes under category no. 2 and is the work of God. It has been stated in seven words: "Whoever does not love abides in death" (1 John 3:14). Like it or not, that's how it is. If you don't believe it, you can always put it to the test just the way if you don't believe the law of gravity, you can always step out a tenth-story window. 


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