These are the "shall nots." And if nothing else, they are good reminders.
They seem like easy yeses, especially the commandments' dealing with other people. "Well, of course, I wouldn't do that."
But delve deeper, and the commandments' hold might emerge. Read the text six times, and the "shall nots" start to sound like pointed questions:
1. What other god could I be worshipping? That is, where am I sinking my time and hope?
2. Have I made any images lately? What idols sit on my shelf?
3. How many times did I hear people say, "Oh my god" or "omg" today? And "why is that bad?" asks my son.
4. How do I continually justify avoiding Sabbath? Didn't Jesus say the Sabbath is made for us and not us for the Sabbath?
These four are just the commandments dealing with God. All around the commandments, smoke billows from Mt. Sinai, darkening the sky, and thunder rumbles, making the land tremble. The people fear for their lives. Perhaps it has always been and is still scary to ask the questions that arise from this reading.
If not now, during Lent, then when?
Prayer: God help us this day to see that the commandments are not meant to shame us into obedience, but to usher us into holiness. Amen.
First United Church of Christ
34 West Main Street
Milford, CT 06460
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