The Ninth Commandment
" You shall not covet your neighbor’s house;"~ Exodus 20:17
"We should so fear and love God so as not to desire to trick our neighbor to gain possession of their inheritance or home, or to obtain it under the pretext of a legal right, but be ready to assist and serve them in preserving what is theirs. ~ Martin Luther
If you look up the Ten Commandments, you'll notice that not everyone numbers them the same way. For many denominations, these last two commandments are put under one umbrella - do not covet. So, covers all the bases.
But for Lutherans and Catholics, these two commandments on coveting are separated.
They are serious enough to look at apart from each other.
And as I've said already several times during this series, Luther's words here give us much to chew on.
It's one thing to drive around the neighborhood dreaming of other peoples' mansions.
It's another thing to make sure people keep their own homes.
We are in the midst of a housing crisis in this country There aren't enough affordable homes to go around. In Montgomery County, PA where Grace Lutheran Church sits, there are nearly 600 homeless people. In Chester County, where I live, there are around 400.
Bucks County also has almost 400, and Delaware County a little over 1000. Philadelphia has 5700, including about 1000 who are unsheltered.
That's around 8000 people without a place to call home just Southeastern PA, some of them without any place to go even. Homeless shelters are overcrowded and underfunded, and at least in the case of Montgomery Country, being closed.
But we are called to assist and preserve the homes of our neighbors. To help make sure they can stay where they are. To make sure there are options for them.
To not walk by and ignore them when we pass them by in the street.
At Grace, we are preparing an apartment space we own to be an affordable living space for a family who needs it. We are looking for volunteers to help us on this journey: volunteers who will help with preparing the home and furnishing it. Volunteers who will pray for them and be available to help when needed.
Volunteers who will serve and assist them in preserving the roof they finally have over their head.
A Prayer by Martin Luther: Dearest God and Lord, strengthen and uphold us in your pure, precious Word through Jesus Christ our Lord, and help us to show and live our thanks with our fruits of faith to your praise and thanks forever. Amen.