August 25 Reflections

As a child growing up, we often used the 10 Commandments in worship as a responsive reading. The pastor would read a phrase and then the congregation would read a phrase. I know as I got older it would seem a little funny when we got to commandments 6-10. The pastor would say to the congregation, “You shall not kill.” The congregation would respond, “You shall not commit adultery.” Pastor: “You shall not steal.” Congregation: “You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.” And the pastor would get the last word, “You shall not covet.” Actually, Jesus did because we always ended with his summary of the Law. It was funny because it looked as if the pastor was pointing his finger at the congregation and saying, “You shall not kill.” And the congregation was, “Oh yeah, and you shall not commit adultery.” Pastor, “okay then, you shall not steal.” I know it was not intended to be that way, but it was what I experienced as a little boy. We had to pay attention to 6, 8, and 10. The pastor had to pay attention to 7 and 9.
 
All the commandments are for all of us, not as a way to get out of the prison of guilt and sin, but as a guide to live a life of love when God has set us free in his love. The writers of the Heidelberg Catechism understood this. It is one of the features that sets the catechism uniquely apart from all other confessions of faith. Most confessions would place the commandments under the categories of sin/guilt. The commandments are given so we can see our sin. While the Heidelberg Catechism is very clear on our sin and guilt, it does not put the commandments there, it places them under gratitude. In gratitude for God’s love and grace we seek to live in love with God and others. They don’t free us from the prison of guilt, they are our response to being freed to love.
 
This week we will think/reflect together on the 3rd Commandment, “You shall not misuse the name of the LORD your God.”  Have you ever noticed in yourself or in others that when a person falls in love with someone their language changes, especially toward the one loved? Love changes our language…our speech…our tongue. Even poems and love letters are written. God’s love for us is beyond comprehension. It is deep. It is eternal. When you fall in love with God, which I hope we all do, our language changes. We speak of God differently than if we did not know his love at all. To me that is what this commandment is all about: when you fall in love with God your language changes concerning him. That is what we are going to think about on Sunday. Some possible passages to read and reflect on before Sunday: Exodus 20:1-7; Isaiah 6:1-7; Matthew 12:33-37; Deuteronomy 6:4-9
 
.Grace upon Grace,
 
Pastor Verlyn