March 8, 2015
John 2:13-22
1 Corinthians 1:18-25
Exodus 20:1-17


New Creations
Lent 3

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Cathy Venkatesh
In each of our lessons today, we encounter God’s people starting over and finding their way into new communities of faith and life. Whether it is the Hebrew people receiving the Law in the wilderness after their escape from Egypt, the church in Corinth discovering what it means to live by Christ’s example rather than the wisdom of the surrounding culture, or Johannine Christians seeking reassurance and reorientation after being expelled from the synagogue, each of our lessons touches on stories of God’s people starting over again in new circumstances with new understandings of God at work in their lives.

Exodus 20:1-17

The Ten Commandments, as we most often call them, hold a unique place in Christian life. While Christian theology generally holds that we have been released from following Jewish religious law (see, for example, chapters 21-30 of Exodus immediately following today’s reading), no Christian theologian of note has mounted an argument against these pronouncements on life with God and in community. We hold fast, as best we can, to these foundational principles. Certainly some, like keeping sabbath, honoring marriage, and not taking God’s name in vain, can be strained at times by modern life. But faithful people still do their best to live in accord with these ways.

The Ten Commandments loom large in Christian life, and for some they contribute to a sense of personal failure, guilt, or fear of a harsh and judgmental God. Certainly the text of Exodus 20:5 about God being a jealous God can inspire fear, not love. But it is worth recalling the context in which these commandments were given. God has led the people out of slavery in Egypt into the wilderness, where God is preparing them to enter the Promised Land. Slaves are not encouraged to think for themselves; God is working to build a new community of free and responsible people and offers foundational principles for how to conduct themselves so that they may live well together. All good, loving parents give rules to their children, to help keep them safe and to help them grow into strong and responsible adults. All human societies have rules at their foundation that order the lives of their members. In the wilderness, with these former slaves, God is making a new creation. Rules help tremendously; they are not given so that we or others can break them and be punished, but so that we can all live peaceably together. The fruit of following the commandments is joyful and holy life in community....

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Commentary
Writers



David Kalas


Wayne Brouwer


Sandra Herrmann


David Coffin


Mark Molldrem


Catherine Venkatesh


Illustration
Writers



Mark Ellingsen


Mark Molldrem


Ron Love


Bob Ove


Scott Bryte


Derl Keefer