Scripture: Exodus 20:1-17 (NRSV)
In 2007-08, I spent a little over a year journeying the Exodus with my husband Wes and our own adopted hija (daughter). Older than both of us combined, Eliana had spent 40 years and more in her own “Egypts,” and bore the scars (visible and invisible) of a lifetime of slavery, prostitution and addiction. My husband’s and my Egypts were far less literal and far more of our own making, but still … we all needed this Exodus.
Every Tuesday morning we would huddle over coffee and Bibles, around the little table in our cold, high-altitude kitchen in El Alto, Bolivia. We were each other’s Moses, Miriams and midwives, in turn. We suffered our way through, prayed for the plagues to Passover, and attempted faith in a God who hears. We held our breath and danced with joy and relief. In the days in between, we whined and complained and threatened to go back. We witnessed miracles and promptly forgot them. We disregarded Jethro’s warnings and wore ourselves out. We lingered at the foothills of the mountain and waited for a Holy Word. And here, at chapter 20, we found ourselves, along with Israel, an amnesic, bi-polar, attachment-disordered, PTSD-ridden, Stockholm-Syndrome-soaked bunch, whom God was offering a new order.
Remember … but don’t turn back.
Some of us who’ve only ever known the framed, calligraphied, proof-texted “Thou-Shalt-Nots,” shrink from this law. But for those who have known the weight of their own slavery, the blood and mortar of Egypt, this new order is a welcome word – its own overturned table – an anti-Egypt; a new rule of identity, freedom, memory, rest and peace. In it, we are protected and named people of honor and nonviolence, truth, fidelity and contentment.
Hear, O Israel …
Scripture: Exodus 20:1-17 (NRSV)
Then God spoke all these words: 2I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery; 3you shall have no other gods before me. 4You shall not make for yourself an idol, whether in the form of anything that is in heaven above, or that is on the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth. 5You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I the Lord your God am a jealous God, punishing children for the iniquity of parents, to the third and the fourth generation of those who reject me, 6but showing steadfast love to the thousandth generation of those who love me and keep my commandments. 7You shall not make wrongful use of the name of the Lord your God, for the Lord will not acquit anyone who misuses his name. 8Remember the sabbath day, and keep it holy. 9Six days you shall labor and do all your work. 10But the seventh day is a sabbath to the Lord your God; you shall not do any workyou, your son or your daughter, your male or female slave, your livestock, or the alien resident in your towns. 11For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but rested the seventh day; therefore the Lord blessed the sabbath day and consecrated it.
12Honor your father and your mother, so that your days may be long in the land that the Lord your God is giving you. 13You shall not murder. 14You shall not commit adultery. 15You shall not steal. 16You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor. 17You shall not covet your neighbors house; you shall not covet your neighbors wife, or male or female slave, or ox, or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbor.