by David Rufner
Hubris. Pride. Arrogance. Vanity. Conceit. Yes, since soon after “the very beginning,” these have been hallmarks of our fallen human flesh. The recent string of Planned Parenthood videos, for instance, show us the true gory nature of fallen man’s hubris.
Thank God for Sundays. On the first day of the week, the new day of the resurrection, the crucified and risen Lord stands with His people and does a new work. “He turns the desert into pools of water, and parched land into springs of water” (Ps. 107:35). And He takes out our hearts of stone and replaces them with hearts of flesh (Ezekiel 36).
On these Sundays we begin always “In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit,” for in that name that bears the living Word and gifts that follow, we are brought down from the sinful heights of hubris that we have attempted to ascend, and we are washed over by Christ Jesus, the living Water.
This Christian life is not only the gift we receive afresh each Sunday, but it is also true that these gifts shape our daily lives in both humility and in humble earthly pursuits. Author Anna Mathie explores this reality by pointing our attention to the Hobbits of J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings saga. The dwarves, elves and even the humans all flounder in their hubris, seeking the airy heights of immortality and glorious monuments to themselves, but in the end find barrenness all around – affecting morality land and families. The Hobbits, on the other hand, “have no illusions that they can in any sense live forever.” Rather, “the Hobbits are firmly enfleshed. They love gardening, visiting, eating and drinking.” And they love children. The Shire is full of them! “This willingness to pass life on to a new generation rather than grasping for ‘endless life unchanging’ is the Hobbits’ greatest strength.” This lived-out humility is both the Hobbits’ great strength and their blessing to the world.
This is precisely the proper strength of Jesus’ Church. We are humbled, made alive and filled with hope by Jesus, who gave Himself for us and the world. Freed from grasping for life and made alive by Jesus (John 4:14), we are freed to pass life on to our siblings, parents, spouses, children and neighbors.
As the Augsburg Confession reminds us, the Gospel moves us “in these walks of life, [to] Christian love and true good works according to each person’s calling.” In Christ, God has and is making it so.
The Rev. David Rufner is pastor of New Hope Lutheran Church, Hudsonville, Mich.
 Anna Mathie, “Tolkien and the Gift of Mortality,” First Things, November 2003, http://www.firstthings.com/article/2003/11/tolkien-and-the-gift-of-mortality
 Kolb/Wengert, “The Book of Concord,” Fortress, AC XVI (p50), 2000.