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July 4, 2013

Honor your father and your mother, so that your days may be long in the land that the Lord your God is giving you. (Exodus 20:12) 

Aside from the kind of sentimentality we see plastered on the front of Hallmark cards at the commercially manufactured holidays of Mother’s and Father’s Days, the commandment to love our parents is rooted in something deep within our faith tradition: the relationship that God has to creation and the relationship that Jesus has to God the Father.

It is common to think of God as our Father. We follow Jesus’ lead in that regard (Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name…). We also find maternal language for God. Our own “Brief Statement of Faith” borrows maternal language for God found in Isaiah when it reads: Like a mother who will not forsake her nursing child…God is faithful still. Put simply, to honor our parents is a way to honor our God.

So what does honor mean? Before entering the stage of life to which Mark Twain refers in his quote, most of us tend to look up to our parents. We may even put them on a pedestal. To be certain, honoring our parents is different than worshipping our parents. 

Best understood, honoring our parents leads us to an unyielding respect and appreciation.

Yet beyond the “what?” of this Commandment, there is the “why?” This is the only Commandment where God gives us a reason for following his law. We are to honor our parents “so that [our] days may be long in the land that the Lord [our] God is giving [us].” 

June 26, 2013

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.

 

The Israelites weren’t to rest because they were tired. They were to rest because they were human – humans who get distracted by busyness and forget that we are all children of God, created to delight in the presence of God. There is an old saying that, “Just as much as the Jews kept the Sabbath, the Sabbath kept the Jews.”

In the midst of a world that refuses to slow down, Noah benShea, a contemporary Jewish writer, compares our life of work to weaving a tapestry. Like a tapestry weaver, “we are working at it from the back, ‘in a blind.’” He says that the Sabbath allows us to step back and to
turn the tapestry over so we can see “the larger pattern of who we are, and [through that] the implication of our relationship to the world in which we do our work.”
June 20, 2013

“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.”

Rabbi Joseph Telushkin, in his book Biblical Literacy, highlights an important textual matter in the third commandment.  While we are used to the commandment being translated, “you shall not take the Lord’s name in vain,” Telushkin points out that the literal Hebrew translation is, “you shall not carry the Lord’s name in vain.”

Though take and carry are relatively small words, the difference between them is significant.  If we think in terms of how we take the Lord’s name, then it can be easy to rationalize our way out of its inappropriate use.  But if we truly consider how it is that we carry the name of God, then suddenly we are dealing with something weightier, and more significant.
To carry God’s name means that we understand that it is not just our words that reflect our belief, but our actions do so as well.

How do you carry God’s name?

June 17, 2013

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.
Exodus 20:7

At a church I served previously, the Children’s Sermon was a part of every Sunday morning worship service. One year, on Memorial Day weekend, I opened the Children’s Sermon time with a question. “Who can tell me what is special about this weekend?” I asked. (I was hoping, of course, for a comment about Memorial Day.)

Without hesitation, a little boy in front of me said in a confident voice, “GOD!”

Yes.

No matter where we find ourselves, or what we are doing, what is special about every moment is God. This is an important thing to consider when we come to the Third Commandment. Though most of us see it simply as a prohibition against cursing in God’s name, the truth is that this commandment means much more than that, because our lives mean much more than just what we say or don’t say.

How do you carry God’s name in your life?

Katherine

June 14, 2013

They are easy to worship.

They stay put.They obey and affirm.

They tell us what we want to hear.

They ask of us only what we want to give.

They are safe.

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.
        Exodus 20:4-6

This particular commandment doesn’t keep us from ourselves as much as it opens us to experience where and how this mysterious, unpredictable God is breaking in, revealing something new. It invites us to imagine not only what it means to love God but what it means to truly love one another: to offer ourselves beyond our selves, to give up control for the sake of giving into relationship, to remember who we are and whose we are.    

 

 

June 12, 2013

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.
Exodus 20:4-6

While Moses was receiving the Law, a guide to what it meant to be God’s people, those very people had turned to another god.

This almost ended the deal, Scripture tells us.

To become free took God’s eyes to be fixed on the people. To remain free took the people’s eyes to be fixed on God.

June 2, 2013

Dear Wired Word Faithfuls, 

Starting this Sunday at First Presbyterian Church, we will gather for one service (11:00) while we walk through a special summer series on the Ten Commandments. Each week, our worship will center on a particular commandment as we work our way through the “Decalogue” (“ten words”). The pastors have also written a weekly devotional to help you explore this rich and often overlooked text. You can find this devotional on our web site or in hard copy around the church.

During the Sunday Class time (9:45-10:45) we are offering two classes. The first is entitled, “With Our Whole Heart,” (in the Chapel) and will unpack that Sunday’s respective commandment to deepen your worship experience. The second is a class entitled “Being the Body of Christ,” (in the Pattie Cole Room) which will focus on the ever-changing missional nature of the church. We encourage you to join these classes through the summer.

We will continue to send the Wired Word topic for your own reflection and look forward to open discussions at the church in the fall.

Also, if you are looking for summer reading, check out our 2013 Willard Speaker’s work. You can find them all here. I would recommend that, by the September 29th event, you pick up a copy of “Generation Freedom.” Great read.

We’ll see you this Sunday at 9:45 in the Chapel (the Mission class will start meeting next week, 6/9) for Pen’s overview of the 10 Commandments!

Peace

Kirk 

April 10, 2013

On the day of the resurrection, the disciples remained hidden in fear. When Jesus appeared to them, he offered more than the proof found in his hands and side. He offered them forgiveness.

As people of the resurrection, we too have the power of forgiveness. So why are we so reluctant to live out this calling? What is forgiveness and what gifts does it offer?

December 4, 2012

Youth Ministry Architects

The Youth Ministry Architects visited us recently and spent a lot of good, quality time talking with us about our activities and how to make the First Presbyterian youth ministry more sustainable and fruitful. This is what they said …

 

http://www.firstpres-charlotte.org/pdfs/FPC_Charlotte_Assessment.pdf

October 19, 2012

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