Thursday, January 21, 2010

Teaching & Learning Commandments

Last night our Youth Discipleship Training teaching time almost didn't happen because I've misplaced the books I normally use to teach.  So I ended up teaching on the commandments straight out of the catechism book.

We opened up the first and second commandments last week.  Yesterday we talked through commandments 3, 4, 5 and 6.  (This, of course, in the way Lutherans usually number them.  See this link for an explanation.)

Here's the way our youth have learned the first six commandments:
  1. You shall have no other gods before me.
  2. You shall not misuse the name of the Lord your God, for the Lord will not hold anyone guiltless who misuses his name.
  3. Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy.
  4. Honor your father and your mother, so that you may live long in the land the Lrod your God is giving you.
  5. You shall not murder.
  6. You shall not commit adultery.
Last night we talked about how God wants us to honor the Sabbath.  For Christians the Sabbath is celebrated on Sunday.  Sunday is the day when God begins his new creation in the resurrection of Jesus and the gift of the Holy Spirit.  We honor the Sabbath by taking time to hear and learn God's Word and the preaching of it.

Commandments four through six honor God's gift of life.  We talked about how God gives the gift of life though the joining of a man and a woman.  Human life is sacred -- all people are created "in God's image" -- each individual of whatever age is a gift of God.  We are commanded to do our neighbor no bodily harm nor cause any suffering, but help and befriend our neighbor in every bodily need.*  When we think of sex, we should always think of family.  Sex is God's gift and is intended to bring a man and woman together for the good of the next generation.

In front of the room last night I placed a mirror and a cross.  The commandments are intended to help me honestly look at myself.  When I honestly look at my life as reflected in the commandments, I see how desperately I need of God's grace and mercy.  I am a sinful human being, bound for well-deserved death and hell.  But Jesus gave his life for my sin.  He rescued me from the consequences of my evil actions by dying for me on the cross.  Now that I know I am forgiven, I can live to reflect Jesus' self-giving love to the world.

How are the commandments of God at work in your life today?

* Italics are from Martin Luther's explanations to the commandments, based, in turn, on Jesus' teachings and Jesus' amazing and sacrificial love for us sinners shown especially on the cross.

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