It took a year to read the Bible, then almost 9 months to read the Apocrypha. Now, I'm going to try to offer reflections on the Narrative Lectionary. But, I won't be posting daily--at least, for a while.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

More than Piety is Required, a Reflection on Exodus 20:7-11

You shall not make wrongful use of the name of the Lord your God. It seems to me that I was taught not to use certain curse words because they would have been a violation of this command. Later, I was taught that this command deals with more than cussing. We are making a wrongful use of the name of the Lord our God whenever we invoke that name to get our own way. Allen & Williamson, in Preaching the Old Testament, interpret this commandment, "Empty talk, cheap grace, easy religion, self-interest parading as piety: the church should speak against all wrongful use of the name of God."

Remember the Sabbath day,  and keep it holy.  I remember the blue laws, the prohibitions against stores being open on Sunday or, in Mississippi at least, not being able to buy beer or liquor, even in a restaurant. Walter Brueggemann, in Texts for Preaching B, takes a wider view of this command. He reminds us that the original audience for these commands was a group of escaped slaves who had been made quite familiar with forced work. What the emperor wanted was what was important to their overseers. We may not be in slave gangs with an emperor's employee telling us what to do and to keep doing it. But, we still need to consider whose will is directing our actions. As Brueggemann puts it:
In a consumer economy with the vicious cycles of consumption as well as of production. In this "rest," which is ordained into the very fabric of creation, we recover our sense of creatureliness and resist the pressure to be frantic consumers who find our joy and destiny in commodities.

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