It’s summer (at least according to the Narrative Lectionary)! We are now in the season after Pentecost and the main Narrative Lectionary (Year 4) is over. During the “summer,” some congregations follow the NL’s summer series and others do their own thing. In our Forming Faith blog, as publisher, I will be changing our format a bit. I will summarize each topic in the first week of that series and provide a free resource to use throughout the three- to four-week period. The rest of the time I’ll be addressing other topics near and dear to my heart under the umbrella of faith formation.
Ten Commandments on How to Love
The good folks at Working Preacher have selected Matthew 22:24-40 as the accompanying text for this entire series. When asked to choose the greatest commandment, Jesus cheats in his response and gives the top two greatest commandments. Really, you can’t separate the two; together they summarize the whole Torah. So, it follows that the Ten Commandments are also summarized by the two. Put another way, the commandments can be categorized under “Love God” or “Love Neighbor.” Some traditions talk about the “first tablet” being the commandments about God and the “second tablet” being the commandments about treating others, which basically means the same thing.
Since we human beings are concrete thinkers, God laid out in the Torah (exhaustively) how to act when you’re loving God and how to act when you’re loving your neighbor. In the Big Ten, you love God when you acknowledge and worship only the LORD, when you don’t make objects to worship (but, everyone else is doing it!), you treat God’s name with the utmost reverence, and you practice the Sabbath. You love your neighbor when you honor your parents, you don’t murder, you don’t cheat on your spouse, you don’t lie in court (or elsewhere), and you don’t spend your time envying people or things (which would lead to breaking the other commandments). This is basic stuff, people, but you have to start somewhere.
Ten Commandments for the Kingdom
My main hermeneutic for interpreting the Bible is the promise and fulfillment of the kingdom of God. The Ten Commandments, then, point toward how things are when God’s in charge. In God’s kingdom (the reality in which God’s way is everyone’s way), God’s relationship with people is based on freedom, deliverance, and love (Exodus 20:1-2). Our relationship with God is based on God being Number One in our lives and so we act accordingly (vv. 3-7). We honor the gift of rest that God gives us (vv. 8-11). We honor and love others as a part of God’s holy family (v. 12). We treat life as holy (v. 13). We honor our commitments and are loyal (v. 14). We are content with our lives (v. 15 and v. 17). We honor the truth and practice true justice (v. 16).
Making the Ten Commandments Our Own
Our free activity this week, “10 by 10” offers a fun way for all of us to dig into the commandments and make them ours, both as stated in Exodus 20, but also put as positive statements to live our lives by. You can use this activity at the beginning or end of the series to introduce or summarize all Ten Commandments, or you can break it up and use it each week for what’s covered then. This activity from our Living the Word: Kids (3rd-6th) product is designed for an elementary-aged classroom but can easily be used by different ages individually or together and even as an activity within your worship service.
-Gregory Rawn (Publisher)
2018-2019 (NL Year 1) faith formation materials are now available for purchase. Fall lessons can be downloaded right away! You can download the 2018-2019 Planning Tool and Scope & Sequence to start your planning for the next program year!
For more great ideas on how to engage participants of all ages in the story of God’s love, check out our Living the Word series for elementary students, youth, adults, and intergenerational settings!
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