Friday, 3 January 2014

The Tenth Day of Christmas - The Decalogue

Yep - no prizes for guessing what comes in tens in the Bible today is there?

The Ten Commandments - now modified by many as the ten (or fewer) suggestions, good ideas or restrictions.

The BCP (Book of Common Prayer) Communion service starts of with the recitation of these (followed by a request that God writes them on our hearts but since BCP is a fading feast for some the nearest most Christians come to them is a joke, which goes like this:

A dogcollar, standing at a Zebra crossing, was greeted by a colleague. 'Where's your bike?' they asked, only to be met by the sad response, 'You know, I don't have a clue. I think someone might have pinched it!'

'There's a simple solution to that,' said his friend, 'Next Sunday preach on the Ten Commandments and when you get to the "'Thou shalt not steal' bit - have a look round at the congregation and see who looks away, you've found your bike!'

The following Monday the two passed each other, on their bikes. 'I see the sermon worked,' Cried one. 'Indeed it did,' responded the other, 'I got to the adultery bit and I remembered where I'd left it!'

I wonder when the last time was that you heard a sermon (or series) on the Ten Commandments or (other than BCP) had all ten before you in service. I asked about twenty  people and their response was, 'errrr - don't think I have!' So let's at least attempt to redress that situation a little with a visit to Exodus 20:

'Then God spoke all these words:

  1. I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery; you shall have no other gods before me.
  2. You 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. You 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, but showing steadfast love to the thousandth generation of those who love me and keep my commandments.
  3. You shall not make wrongful use of the name of the Lord your God, for the Lord will not acquit anyone who misuses his name.
  4. Remember the sabbath day, and keep it holy. For six days you shall labour and do all your work. But the seventh day is a sabbath to the Lord your God; you shall not do any work—you, your son or your daughter, your male or female slave, your livestock, or the alien resident in your towns. For 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.
  5. Honour your father and your mother, so that your days may be long in the land that the Lord your God is giving you.
  6. You shall not murder.
  7. You shall not commit adultery.
  8. You shall not steal.
  9. You shall not bear false witness against your neighbour.
  10. You shall not covet your neighbour’s house; you shall not covet your neighbour’s wife, or male or female slave, or ox, or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbour.'
There you are - what needs to be said other than these are the basic building blocks of our society, smooth coexistence with out neighbours and the path for concord and peace if kept.

The comment that there 'is no love' in the Commandment has been made. It is surely love that causes them to be given, for surely it is a parent's desire that their children live well and are happy and at peace will all.

The place where love is not found is in the way we apply them to others (whilst usually excusing ourselves) and as a remedy to this I offer Galatians chapter six:

'Brothers and sisters, if someone is caught in a sin, you who live by the Spirit should restore that person gently. But watch yourselves, or you also may be tempted. Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfil the law of Christ. If anyone thinks they are something when they are not, they deceive themselves. Each one should test their own actions. Then they can take pride in themselves alone, without comparing themselves to someone else, for each one should carry their own load. Nevertheless, the one who receives instruction in the word should share all good things with their instructor.

Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows. Whoever sows to please their flesh, from the flesh will reap destruction; whoever sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life. Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers.'

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