Standard Equipment -- An Observation, Rev Irvin Stapf, AALC

Posted by Wittenberg Project on Friday, April 26, 2024 with No comments

 (Words we can trust: Jeremiah 18:1-6; 29:11; 31:3,

                  & above all Romans 8:38-39)
Irvin F. Stapf, Jr.
Pastor Emeritus
Christ Lutheran Church, TAALC
Germantown, Md. 

An Observation: Comes as Standard Equipment

A few years ago our middle daughter had the opportunity to buy a seven passenger Honda SUV. This was

very helpful since she is a foster mom who now has five children between the ages of 3 and 9. Two of the

older ones take the third row. The middle row accommodates the child car seat and the booster. Everyone

is safe and belted in. The front passenger seat accommodated the her purse and whatever other items are

necessary at the time. ..... Stay with me all this does have an important point!

There is a fold down video screen for entertainment, and various books and games for longer journeys. All

very convenient and should be sufficiently useful for any journey, short or long. The one difficulty is the

children's tendency not to keep their hands to themselves. Whether initially accidental or intentional matters

little. What is heard is "She hit me." Which of course requires a response of equal or greater magnitude. But

that was intentional and cannot be ignored. The back and forth continues to greater or lesser degree until

there is some intervention.

All of this sounds familiar to every parent in one form and degree or another. It may be in the form of

expressions, "That isn't fair." "She did it to me first." "But you gave him...." "I want......" "But I'm old

enough....." "Billy's mom lets him....." ; or just the very standard and oft used, "Why?" You see, what is

happening in the back seats of a Honda SUV is the display of what people in our Lutheran Church worship

service confess every Sunday morning. “We confess that we are by nature sinful and unclean.”

Other Christian denominations acknowledge the same truth in one form or another. Our fallen human nature

is part of our standard equipment ever since our first rebellion from the will of our God in the Garden. There

must also be the acknowledgment that the solution is not within ourselves. It is not just a matter of trying


Bear with me further and consider the words in our Lutheran service:


In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

If we say we have no sin we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our

sins God who is faithful and just will forgive our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.


We confess that we are by nature sinful and unclean. We have sinned against you in

thought, word, and deed, by what we have done and by what we have left undone. We have not

loved you with our whole heart; we have not loved our neighbors as ourselves. We justly deserve

your present and eternal punishment. For the sake of your Son, Jesus Christ, have mercy on us.

Forgive us, renew us, and lead us, so that we may delight in your will and walk in your ways to

the glory of your holy name. Amen


Almighty God in his mercy has given his Son to die for you and for his sake forgives you

all your sins. As a called and ordained servant of Christ, and by His authority, I therefore declare

unto you the entire forgiveness of all your sins in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of

the Holy Spirit.


Amen. Thanks be to God.

One might ask why we feel is necessary to continue to do this each week when the Pastor has declare our

forgiveness in Jesus Christ our Lord? I believe we find that answer in the back seat of a Honda SUV! It is

also on the front page of every newspaper and evening newscast, headlined in everynational response of one

nation to another's aggressive affront. Of course there are many more complex factors involved but it still

comes down to standard equipment displayed in those sitting in the third row of a Honda SUV.

Dear friends, don't make light of that word sin. Don't treat the account of Creation and Fall recorded in

Genesis chapters one, two, and three as myths. It is what explains so much of what we see in our world and

in ourselves everyday.

The standard for what is good is God Himself, the perfection in which He created us and desired for us. But

our first parents yielded to the devil's temptation to want more, breaking the clear command of our God.

Ever since we have inherited the standard equipment of sin within our human nature. As our Lutheran liturgy

declares it is not a problem we are able to fix. All the expressions we like to use have no place. "It's really

not so bad." "Everybody does it." "We can work it out." or even the fear of each country having enough

bombs to destroy the world.

The solution is not within us. The Solution is only in the promise of Genesis 3:15, the promised Redeemer

who will ultimately crush the head of the Serpent, the devil, the fallen angel Lucifer. It is He, the Lord Jesus

Christ, crucified, died, and raised again from the dead, who lives forevermore. It is He who we have just

celebrated in this Easter Season. It is He, alone, who is able to change our nature, giving us life, hope, and


We will still have to deal from time to time with those sitting in the back seats of the Honda, but they too

can learn. They too can grow in the grace of our Lord Jesus, beginning to make some better choice about

how to respond to wayward hand, intentional or not. We are redeemed in Jesus and can mature in the only

life that truly has meaning and brings us into God's peace.

May you learn this a bit more each day dear friend.


 (Words we can trust: Jeremiah 18:1-6; 29:11; 31:3,

                  & above all Romans 8:38-39)
Irvin F. Stapf, Jr.
Pastor Emeritus
Christ Lutheran Church, TAALC
Germantown, Md.