Scripture: Exodus 20:1-17 (NRSV)
Lately I have found myself searching for a way to set the season of Lent apart: to make it significant, to honor the centuries-old tradition of this 40-day period of discipline. I must admit, sometimes it’s far too easy to let the days pass without giving a thought to any extra rituals. Sure, I have good intentions. Some years I come up with creative ideas for foods to give up, habits to change or daily spiritual practices to begin. But more often than not, when Ash Wednesday rolls around, I wrack my brain for ways to make Lent special – for a few minutes. Then, with a faint feeling of guilt, I think, “Ah, well, there’s always next year.”
How often does that apply to Christian faith in general? With the best of intentions, we try to observe traditions and follow the rules – but if we fall short, sometimes it seems easier to just give up. There are many reasons to become overwhelmed trying to live out our faith: Christianity has too much baggage, it’s too bureaucratic, too broken, too complicated. And on top of that, we’re supposed to take 40 whole days to contemplate our commitment to Christ?
In Goshen College’s Anabaptist-Mennonite History class with John Roth last semester, a word that came up over and over was renewal. Sometimes renewing our faith commitment means radical new ideas. But other times, it is in looking to more ancient traditions that we find our sense of identity and a refreshed energy. The Ten Commandments may seem like old news – but perhaps examining these verses with new eyes can bring the renewal we need. At its core, practicing faith means remembering our covenant with God: our mortal end of the deal is to keep these commandments. During this time of Lent, I invite us to return to this most ancient of disciplines – and God will show us steadfast love to the thousandth generation.
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.