A Sermon on Dueteronomy 5.1-21, 6.4-9, and Mark 12.28-35
I'm hesitant because I'm worried about using the wrong words.
I'm hesitant because I don't want to cause any backlash because I don't know everything.
I'm hesitant because I don't want to offend anyone.
But here I am.
Because more than being hesitant, I believe in safe spaces.
Spaces where we can share what troubles us without being ripped apart.
Spaces where it's ok if you don't know all of the "right words."
And I believe that the church, both the building and the community within it,
needs to be that safe space.
Because the truth is...
We have a problem.
We have a big problem.
And when I say problem, I mean that yesterday when I looked through my Facebook feed, it took all of then minutes to be confronted with 12 different articles about mass shootings and gun control.
To be confronted with the number 145.
The number of mass shootings so far... this year.
And when I say big problem, I mean that we're destroying each other...
don't get my wrong, guns are an issue,
but guns are not the issue.
Guns are just the current vehicle driving a war that's been around since we discovered our differenced, and didn't know how to handle them.
And no matter what side of the issue you fall on,
I pray that you find this to be a safe space because...
The issue is that after all this time,
we still struggle being good neighbors.
We've stopped reaching outside of ourselves.
We've become so concerned with being self-sufficient, that we've stopped looking towards our neighbors.
We've cut ourselves off.
The Ten Commandments are located in the Bible twice.
The first time; the commandments are delivered to Moses at Mount Sinai.
The scene we read about today is the second time.
This is the end of the road trip for Moses and the Israelites.
They're just about to take the exit ramp into the Promised Land,
when Moses stops them to remind them of the covenant God made with them.
At this point, according to the story in Deuteronomy, it's beeb 40 years since the commandments were first spoken.
That means that along the way people have probably died,
and children have been born.
Adults have become older,
and children have become adults.
The main point being, the crowd probably looks a lot different now.
The reminder of the commandments is needed.
It's needed because Moses knows that this community of people is about to begin a brand new life together,
and Moses hopes that taking the commandments into mind,
there's a better chance of it being a peaceful life.
This scene reminds me of the first day of class,
whether first grade r grad school,
it always seems like the first thing that happens
is the teacher or professor would tell us the rules of the classroom.
In the case of kindergarten through high school,
we would be spending an entire year in this small community.
We create rules in these situations because then we know what to expect of each other.
There's this (often) unwritten contract that the teacher will be the teacher
and the students will be the students,
and that as long as everyone treats each other the way it's expected,
all would be in a healthy learning environment.
With the Ten Commandments here,
God and God's people are making the same kind of contract.
That what a covenant is.
It's a clause, a contract,
where God promises to be God,
and all we're required to do is be in relationship...
relationship with God,
and civil relationship with each other.
Well, more than that, actually.
In Mark, Jesus takes it one step further,
as Jesus often does,
more than civil relationship, we're called to love one another.
Loving one another is what creates these safe spaces.
Like, in our case here,
think about the person sitting the closest to you,
next to you, in front of you, or behind you.
There's a physical space between you,
but because we're called to love one another,
that space is actually filled with things like forgiveness, and acceptance, and grace, and peace, and the benefit of the doubt, and generosity, and, and, and...
all of those wonderful, sometimes difficult, beautiful things that comes with loving one another.
I'm up here with Pr. Sue, and between us, as called children of God,
there's respect, and humor, and encouragement, and collegiality, and understanding.
With each person it's different, but the common denominator,
the thing that exists above, and below, and within it all,
is the driving force to love one another.
This type of love,
this notion of love,
isn't created out of nothing.
I heard it first in Sunday School,
Because God first loved us.
What a wonderful thing to inherit!
Where best to learn it?
I can't think of a better example to learn love from
than the One who loves us so much
that the only thing required of us,
is to extend this love upward and outward.
I'm not here to fool you, though.
This isn't as easy as it sounds.
Some days the idea that loving one another means absolutely every other
makes it difficult.
I admit that some days are more difficult.
In fact, I would be so bold to say that some days are more difficult for you too.
It's in those moments that it's so important for us to remember that the forgiveness that exists between us here,
as well as between us out there,
existed first and exists perfectly between God and us.
So to safe spaces,
to reaching outside of ourselves to our neighbors,
to loving one another,
and above all, to loving God,