Bread – Commandments

April 30, 2012


Readings for Monday, April 30, designated by the 1979 Book of Common Prayer: Exod. 32:1-20; Col. 3:18-4:18; Matt. 5:1-10; Psalms 41, 44, 52

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We are commanded to love God first. In our reading today from Exodus, while Moses is receiving the Testimony (Commandments) written by God, the people in the valley have gone to the priests (represented by Aaron) and together they have corrupted the commandment before it has even been delivered, building for themselves their own god, fashioned from their own wealth, a golden calf. Moses, seeing the rank disobedience, casts down the tablets, destroying them.

We are commanded to love our neighbors. In Colossians, Paul teaches us to honor our relationships and to build them up, for wives, husbands, and children to act properly within their roles. For slaves and masters, to treat each other as is befitting their position in the world and in Christ. For everyone to work as if for the Lord and not for themselves or to simply please others. For us to walk in wisdom toward all, being gracious and truthful (salty).

We are commanded to take on the attitudes of the Kingdom to which we declare membership. In our reading from Matthew, Jesus tells us that we are blessed who have certain attitudes – poor in spirit, hungry and thirsty for righteousness, pure in heart, makes of peace, suffering for being Christ’s witnesses in the world.

What is the common element of all of these commandments? We don’t do them. And our disobedience begins in the most obvious place possible, in our construction of our own idols to replace God, our construction of our own golden calves. And our disobedience flows through our relationships by disturbing them, by destroying families, by turning upside down our job of doing everything as if for Christ and instead doing everything as if for ourselves. And our disobedience ends in the most subtle ways possible, by corrupting our attitudes so that we are rich in our spirit, avoiding righteousness, warmongers, benefitting ourselves from the world’s table.

There is part of the general confession from the 1928 Prayer Book which says “and there is no health in us.” Reading these passages today and understanding how far apart we are from the standards described in these readings, even though we are Christians, reminds us clearly the truth of this statement.

There is no health in us but there is health in God. “The steadfast love of God endures all the day.” Psalm 51:1b

God stayed His hand against Israel and the church represented by Aaron. God stayed His hand against the Colossians, even though their behaviors prompted Paul’s lessons on relationships and obedience. God stayed His hand against those people who do not act with the right attitude in the Kingdom, who do not take on the whole blessings promised.

Why? Because we are obedient to God’s commandments? No. Because God has chosen us to be His people, because He has chosen us to be in relationship with Him.

What have we done this week to keep the relationship going, to make the relationship stronger, to build the relationship, to strengthen the relationship? Have we listened? Have we talked together? Have we walked together? Have we recognized that there is “no health in us.” Have we recognized that God knows that there is no health in us, no innate ability to obey the commandments in us, no nothing in us which deserves God’s attention, His love, and His mercy? Have we recognized that God’s love toward us has not been earned by us, but is there anyway? Have we rested in Him?

The commandments are not things to be grasped by us and obeyed in fear; they are descriptions of the way we will be when we are in relationship to God, when we have given up our right to call the shots, when we have accepted God’s gift, and when we abide in Him. They are not standards to be met; they are who we are with God’s grace in God’s power by God’s intent in God’s purpose in God’s time and place. Thanks be to God.

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