I admit that the title for today’s sermon is, possibly, a little provocative, although it does set out an attitude that is quite prevalent in contemporary society: “Who cares about adultery”? I mean, even the word itself, adultery, has an old-fashioned, narrow-minded, puritanical, stink to it, doesn’t it. The word isn’t used very much outside of some churches. I certainly don’t use it much and I haven’t heard it used much here either.
In 1850 Nathaniel Hawthorne published his famous novel The Scarlet Letter. In the work contrasted the “scarlet letter” (an “A” for “adultery”) that Hester Prynne was made… Continue reading
The Bible’s story of the reception of the Ten Commandments, or, as we’ve called them “the ten commitments,” tells us that Moses received these “words” or “principles” on two stone tablets. With the sixth commitment (“You will not kill”), we move from what is called the “first table” to the “second,” assuming that five words were written on one stone tablet, and five on the other (as in the illustration in your bulletin). The first table deals with relations with God, and transitions into relations with neighbours, which forms the subject matter of the whole second table.
As we’ve gone… Continue reading
It’s been a couple of weeks since we’ve thought together about the Ten Commandments, which we’ve interpreted as ten commitments made by those who choose to enter into covenant with the Living God of the Bible. We’ve also suggested that these are ten outcomes of living normal life with God in Christ within such a covenant. Today, we deal with commitment # 5 about parents and children. Since it has been a while since we worked on these, let me take a few minutes to talk about this list as a whole. I suggest to my seminary students who are… Continue reading
It may seem that the so-called Sabbath Commandment is pretty low-level stuff. It doesn’t deal directly with God and how to worship as do the first three. It also doesn’t deal with those big ethical issues, as do the last five. It has to do with a specifically Jewish observance, the Sabbath. In the Christian North America of earlier days, these words were interpreted to mean, on one hand, that you had to go to church (for some Christians twice) on Sunday. On the other hand, you couldn’t play sports or games buy booze (if you ever could), or have… Continue reading
We are now in week three of our summer series on what we all grew up calling the Ten Commandments, but which we are reading as Ten Commitments by which covenant partners in relationship with God and one another agree to live. They’re parallel both to Jesus’ Beatitudes and Paul’s Fruit of the Spirit in that they describe normal life for those who are children of God in Christ. One of the things that has struck me as I have re-read these ten words slowly, closely, and carefully this summer, is that they are not ten discrete, unrelated sentences in… Continue reading
The text of what we call the Ten Commandments is found in the midst of the story of Israel’s liberation from Egypt by a mysterious God whose name sounded something like the Hebrew word “I Am,” or “I Cause to Be,” or even “I Am Present.” The story continues from Egypt, through a miraculous crossing of the Sea into the wilderness to Mount Sinai where “I Am” invited a mixed multitude of Hebrew folk to unify around a covenant. If this people chose to enter into this covenant there were ten commitments that God expected of them. These were also… Continue reading
Today we are beginning a series of sermons on what we call the Ten Commandments. In last week’s sermon, I held that it is well to begin thinking about these great words by thinking about the God who offers them up. I suggested that God is of higher and deeper mystery than any words of description we might use, even words of the Bible. Nonetheless, there is in such words, insight into the God we worship and serve.
These Ten Words (as Hebrew calls them) are first mentioned in Exodus 20. They begin: “And God spoke all these words: “I… Continue reading
Since November 30th of 2014 when we began Advent, we have been in the first part of the liturgical year, called Special Time and we have celebrated the special seasons centred in Advent, Christmas, Epiphany, Lent, Passion, Easter and Pentecost. All of these are centred in Jesus’ life. Today, we step from there into what is called Ordinary Time, the Gospel readings of which do not celebrate the special times in Jesus’ life so much as the life and teachings of Jesus. The Sundays are numbered (ordered), and so ordinary. They are, like our steps through life, one by one,… Continue reading
The title of today’s sermon, “This is that…,” comes from words attributed to Peter in the Acts Lesson, verse 16. Here’s a literal translation: “This is that which has been spoken through the prophet Joel.” The verb tenses here imply that what was spoken long ago is still being spoken today, and what is happening is the unfolding and development now of what was spoken and promised then. The Spirit’s new arrival on that Day of Pentecost (which was, itself, part of an ancient Jewish festival) was just one more demonstration of what the Spirit of God had been up… Continue reading
Fifty years ago, in 1965, the year I graduated from high school, a young professor at Harvard Divinity School named Harvey Cox published a volume called The Secular City which made a great impact on the religious world, including me. One point in it that I remember all these years later was that he argued that God was active and working in the secular world at least as much as in the church, perhaps more. In fact, the church was really a group of people in the world not an institution isolated from it. Like most revolutionary statements, it was,… Continue reading