Date: 26 Sep 2002
Time: 13:21:30


Who wants to go first?

It is a tradition, tracing back to John Wesley, that Methodists read the Ten Commandments on a communion Sunday. Given that this is World Communion Sunday, the Ten Commandments, which tie us to our Jewish and Muslim sisters and brothers, is a good thing. We, in the USA, are threatening war with a Middle Eastern neighbor, we have been hurt in America by Muslim fundamentalists.... well, the wealth of sermon material is legion.

For me, I am going to preach on the blessing and curse of tradition. This moment of Biblical history, when Moses recieves the Law, establishes a time when God speaks clearly and humanity listens. Has this ever happened since?

Tradition is a grace when it inspires us to move into the future. Tradition is a curse when it holds us back and forces us never to change. These words today call us to be a people who follow the Word of God and it warns us that we may think we know God's Word but, then again, we might be wrong.

Just a thought,

TB in MN

Date: 29 Sep 2002
Time: 13:59:55


Thanks TB...

I doubt I'll use the ten commandments...even thought I'm a UMC too... too many bad memories from past churches... 10 commandments on the wall... and a member saying I should recite these EVERY week. He wasn't being fed enough with "tradition" on Sunday morning. I wanted to tell him to bring a sandwhich... but... didn't. ;?)

Still, I saw the 10 Commandments... Charleton Heston style... Moses. It makes for a good movie... but I like Jesus TWO commandments. IF we followed those we would cover the other ten some say. We certainly would NOT go to war.

Imagine all the good we could do with the money we'll spend if we DO go to war. Did I hear, it will be 1 Billion Dollars a day for the cost of the bombs, fuel, man/woman power. Not to mention the lives we'll lose. What would happen if we spent ALL THAT MONEY ON FOOD, or SHELTER, or holding dialogue between nation and religious understandings? What would the world look like on this Communion Sunday if we tried that for a month or even a week first! I'd rather waste money on preserving life than sacrificing innocent Children, Men and Women.

Rodney King, (that famous "THEOLOGIAN") said it... "Can't we all just get along?" I shared this story at the end of last week, and wanted others to see it - posted it in the Gospel for this week... Here it is again,

"My wife and I have some good friends, they have three boys... 7, 5 and 6 mos. We went to supper with them last night at Culvers... hamburger shop.... the 5 year old, out of the blue, punched his brother in the stomach... when his dad said, "Son, why did you do that?" He responded... "Well, he was going to HIT ME!"... I walked away from that thinking... "Isn't that what our President has been telling us about Sadam? Only he couches it with "ADULT" words like Pre-emptive strike! It sounds so childish when you hear it from a child. I wonder if he's been listening to too much CNN.

pulpitt in ND

Date: 30 Sep 2002
Time: 21:00:39


The pruning of this passage bothers me ... anyone else? Especially the truncating of the fourth commandment, as if the lectionary bunch decided the meat was in the two verses they chose and not in the rest of it. kbc in sc

Date: 01 Oct 2002
Time: 09:37:54


Well, World Communion Sunday will be different and special for my Charge...meeting altogether, a great experiment, Vision seekers are meeting now to look at possible "shared Ministry" Since these Churches on the charge realy have different worship styles, they get to experience the differences and similiarities. I like the John Wesley comment I will read the OT Lesson, but not preach on it. Great Theologian Rodney KIng...why cn't we just all get along... By the way, have you read Cone's book Black Theology... Rodney King's statement would not agree with Cone... Cone is militant in his stand on Black Theology, Liberation theology...Because Whites cannot understand the black agreement...not to be white and black in a church together... Cone is like the Louis Ferricon for Black Christians... Cone doesnt like Feminist Theology either... Read Rosemary's Reuther's comments in his book... Womanist Theology is for black woman and it disassociates from both of the above... So reccomended reading CONE and Rosemary Reuther and Mary Daly Pastor Mary in OH

Date: 01 Oct 2002
Time: 19:08:09


Many disconnected thoughts and maybe this posting will help me get them together - or perhaps some of you good people can help!

Holy God is pure, can't look on sin, has laws. Gives laws to Moses to pass to us. We can't keep the laws - don't even try most times. The Mosaic Law points us to realizing our need of Jesus Christ.

God sends more prophets to help us know we need Jesus Christ. People don't listen - don't even try most times. Transition to Gospel text.

God sends Jesus, people don't listen - don't even try most times. People kill Jesus. God's mercy and grace so great...

The basic stuff of communion, for all the world. And still we fight!

I have no idea what is going to wind up coming out on Sunday, but after a couple of hours with two brand new believers tonight I'm wound for sound with the beautiful, simple basics of our amazing, mercy-filled God.


Date: 02 Oct 2002
Time: 10:17:35


An article I read talks about the Ten Commandments as a gift to those who have been set free. Freedom is a gift from God, pure grace. Israel was set free from bondage to Egypt purely out of God's grace. We are set free from our bondage to sin purely out of God's grace. The Commandments are another gift, another grace, to show us how to live in the freedom that we have been given. The Commandments keep us holy and keep us free.

Shalom: Tom in Ontario

Date: 03 Oct 2002
Time: 01:17:44


I think of the Ten Commandments as it relates to the curriculum on boundaries by Townsend and Cloud. Without boundaries, there is no freedom- at least as long as we have to live with others. Within these boundaries, there is great freedom. I will probably focus on the freedom these boundaries give each and every one of us.

Date: 03 Oct 2002
Time: 08:35:38


The whole trouble with the Ten Commandments is what human beings have done with them. When we look at them as hard and fast, word-literal Rules, they are instantly open to endless interpretation and/or resistance. When we think of them as an attempt to put into words a way to love God,neighbor, and the creation so that we live as godly people, they guide our thinking and behavior more subtly, yet more forcefully. Taking them apart destroys the beauty of what God was trying to get across to the ancient Hebrew peoples. CE in CO

Date: 03 Oct 2002
Time: 11:01:49


Willimon and Hauerwas have written a wonderful but troublesome little volume on the Decalogue, called "The Truth About God." They begin the book by describing why it is inappropriate to hang the 10 Commandments on the classroom or courtroom walls. Their reasoning has to do with two things: first, to pull the 10 Commandments themselves out of scripture and leave them alone is to uproot them from the story; the whole of Torah, for that matter, makes no sense outside the story of God's work in and through Israel--choosing and delivering and leading the people. The second part of W&H's reasoning has to do with pulling the 10 Commandments away from the people who read and heed them; far from the Decalogue containing timeless moral principles accessible to all, they are not truly understood outside the worshipping community, those who learn together what it means "not to steal" after they have learned what is "theirs." So it boils down to keeping the Decalogue in CONTEXT and in COMMUNITY.

As for their deliverance, the people are set free, not merely for freedom's sake, but IN ORDER TO WORSHIP GOD FULLY AND FREELY. They leave Egypt and go into the wilderness to encounter God and learn how to worship God. W&H make the point that the whole of the Law is mostly about worship--the God of Israel has peculiar notions of what worship looks like: it looks like putting God first in all things, keeping Sabbath, refusal to steal or even to covet what belongs to others, etc.

My thought is that, rather than seeing to 10 Commandments as a list of rules, we should see them as a litany of life--as much as possible, in preaching the Decalogue, we should try to look at them in total, and work out of that composite picture that emerges. Such questions as these might help: What sort of character does God have to issue such guidance? What does this passage tell us about God and people and their interrelationships? What is the significance of the people's reaction at the end of the account? What do we make of the placement of this law-giving, i.e., in the wilderness sojourn, between Egypt and Canaan, at Mt. Sinai, etc.

Hope some of this helps...

TK in OK

Date: 03 Oct 2002
Time: 11:50:31


TK in OK - thanks; I've been churning just those thoughts around myself but haven't read the Willimon/Hauerwas book. Put in the context of how to worship God adds depth to the "ten rules" and is exactly, I think, what Paul is trying to address in the Epistle lesson.

I'm having a bit of difficulty getting this to "preach," however. I plan to use a nice litany that is based on the 10 commandments I found for an act of confession in the service , but to actually preach the epistle with references to the OT lesson. What is it to commune with Christ in worship - worldwide? In this global table.

More than "getting along," it's about acknowledging and embracing that all are included in the body/Body of worshipers. Maybe it's about confession - not just of sin and our shortcomings, but a confession that we cannot attain any righteousness, that it's all up to God.

Sally in GA

Date: 03 Oct 2002
Time: 15:39:51


I'm going to tie the old covenant, the Ten Words (aka the Ten Commandments) with the New Covenant, the one Word, in a sermon about the celebration of Worldwide Communion Sunday.

Pastor Janel in ND

Date: 05 Oct 2002
Time: 06:38:01


Perhaps the best resource I have found on the Ten Commandments is J. Elsworth Kalas' book, "The Ten Commandments from the Backside." In his book he takes the Ten Commandments anc comes at them from the "backside." They become not rules/commandments which restrict us but which instead give life by sending us forth to live life fully. If you haven't read this book I highly recommend it.

Peace, Mark in WI

Date: 05 Oct 2002
Time: 12:41:55


I'm a frequent visitor to Desperate Preacher and frequently do so on Saturday evenings. I have resisted impulses to contribute either because it's pointless at the end of the week to post sermon thoughts or because other's have already made similar points with great ability than mine.

pulpitt in ND asks a number of questions, including "Theologian" Rodney King's, "Can't we all just get along?" before making a political judgment loosely based on a story he shared about children misbehaving in public.

He certainly provoked my thinking: Reinhold Niebuhr observed that Jesus never assumed responsibility for maintaining the social order. Despite whatever political misgivings and suspicions one has regarding our current president, our constitution squarely places such maintenance of order and stability on the shoulders of the president as commander in chief.

If pulpitt in ND is a pacifist, fine. I'm thrilled he benefits from living in a democracy that affords a level of security that allows us both the freedom of speech and religion, a security achieved in no small part by having a well trained and highly effective military.

But pulpitt in ND betrays the spirit (and theology?)of Rodney King demonstrating one cause of why we can't all get along--a highly idealized sense of righteousness that insults, mocks, and pre-judges one's opponent. Jesus was content to allow Caesar maintain the social order while he was on earth and used his "pulpit" for far greater purposes than political invectives.

pundit in Ohio