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There lives within me, a hidden, inner “Luther” that occasionally screams to get out. He is the “Luther” that is convinced that speed limits are at worst, a plot of the authorities in charge to make life joyless, or at best, a challenge that begs to be overcome. My classical interpretation of the prevalent speed limits...based on forty five years of experience and experimentation...is that if I travel 9-10 mph over the speed limit, most officers won’t waste their time to cite me. To date, and to the extent I’ve been careful to maintain my interpretative limit, I have been 100% successful in avoiding tickets. In brief, my re-interpretation of the law is a pretty overt liberation of the law for my own purposes. Inappropriate, strictly speaking? Maybe. Appropriately liberating the law? No idea. Pragmatic and realistic for Luther? Definitely!
As soothing and brilliant that this interpretative limit is, to the inner Luther, it really isn’t quite enough. There is a yearning, a craving to go faster. The outer Luther knows its probably irrational, and the outer Luther has a companion who is relentless in vociferously reminding him that “speed limits are there for a reason! Slow down!” So the inner Luther remains restless...
This past week, I had an experience that, at least partially, let the inner Luther go free! Early Saturday morning, Maria and I left to take her to grad school. On our journey we drove through parts of California, Nevada, Arizona, Utah and Colorado. But for me, the highlight was Utah! “Why?,” you might ask... Quite simply, it is because over the vast majority of the roads we drove in Utah, there was an 80 mph speed limit! Applying the aforementioned “soothing and brilliant interpretative limit,” meant that the inner Luther was at least partially liberated! For several hours I was able to drive at speeds Maria’s C-Max have never seen before, and with minimal guilt, minimal fear of apprehension (although I made the mistake of sharing my glee with mama, who was monitoring our progress...) and great joy!
In this week’s gospel lesson, Jesus re-interprets the law. He performs the work of healing this woman on the Sabbath, and as we all know, “work” is absolutely not permitted on the Sabbath. This woman had been in bondage to suffering for eighteen years, so bent over that she was unable to look up. Jesus released her, and argued that the sabbath law should liberate and free people from suffering and disorder rather than bind them to conformity for the sake of conformity. God’s law should always set God’s people free, not constrain them!