Galatians 6:7 - Do not be deceived: God is not mocked, for whatever one sows, that will he also reap.
For a pastor, invocations are a way of life. Invocations are the way Sunday worship begins. There are invocations at Baptisms, weddings, confirmations, and funerals. Invocations are expected at graduations and installations and meetings. Although these events differ, they all begin by asking for a blessing.
Now you don't have to take my word for it. Good, old Merriam Webster defines the word "invocation" this way: "the act or process of petitioning for help or support; specifically, often capitalized: a prayer of entreaty (as at the beginning of a service of worship)."
Now if you understand that definition, you will also understand why Florida's Brevard County Commissioner said no to David Williamson when he offered to give the invocation at their meeting. Understand, it wasn't that the commissioners didn't like Williamson; they just didn't understand why an atheist would want to give an invocation.
To Williamson's request the commissioners basically said we want our invocations given by folks who believe in God, and they passed a resolution to that effect.
It was a resolution which generated a lawsuit. And, now, the lawsuit has generated a decision. The U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Florida said it was unlawful for the board to limit who would give invocations at their meetings.
The official rendering was this: "the County is attempting to require that God be mentioned in invocations by limiting the sphere of invocation givers to those who believe -- or who the County thinks believe -- in one God. This practice cannot be squared with controlling precedent, and the County's invocation practice cannot be defended based on a 'religiosity' requirement."
So there you have it.
The County Commissioners have told Mr. Williamson he is free to give an invocation.
Now I don't know what Mr. Williamson's invocation will sound like. Even as it was difficult for me to imagine why an atheist would want to try and give an invocation in the first place, it is even more difficult for me to imagine what he might say.
It is my hope he is respectful of the occasion and our Lord.
That is my hope because the Lord does not appreciate anyone diminishing Him or the work which He has done to save us. To rescue us from sin, death, and Satan, the Lord sacrificed His only Son. It was an unprecedented act of grace and love, which cost Him dearly. For that reason, He does not take kindly to individuals or nations who try to lessen that act.
As our text for today warns: "Do not be deceived: God is not mocked, for whatever one sows, that will he also reap." And, just a thought, those aren't bad words to include as part of an invocation.
THE PRAYER: Dear Lord, how sad and foolish unbelievers must appear to You. You have done all which is necessary to rescue them, and still they try to convince themselves You don't exist and the Savior is a myth. Turn their hearts to the Redeemer and away from any desire to ignore and insult You. In Jesus' Name I ask it. Amen.
The above devotion was inspired by a number of sources, including one written by the Michael Gryboski for the Christian Post on October 2, 2017. Those who wish to reference that article may do so at the following link, which was fully functional at the time this devotion was written, click here.
In Christ I remain His servant and yours,
Pastor Ken Klaus
Speaker emeritus of The Lutheran Hour®
Lutheran Hour Ministries