Faithfulness in the Covenant
Tony E Dillon-Hansen
Sermon based upon Exodus 20: 1-17, Psalm 19, 1 Corinthians 1:18-25, and John 2: 13-22
Growing up, people would always ask what do you want to be when you grow up, and I would tell them something exciting like firefighter. (My how things evolve.) Today, I build software and I get the honor of preaching the Word. Oh but what they don’t tell you as that in each of these pursuits, we have a commonality: people.
From early in life to school, work and outside of work, people are everywhere! What do we do? How do we do we deal with all these people??
That is a great question because that is exactly what today’s scripture offers – a set of rules. God gave us a set of rules because God knows humanity, and God certainly knows how we foul things up.
These commandments are more than just a few suggestions, principles for success or good context for an hour on Sunday, but the commandments are a way of life. God gives us not just text in tablets, books or a reason for a sermon, but our Creator gave us a 24/7 way of life.
You, who have walked in pain, torment, and oppression as slaves; You, who have been persecuted and tired; and you, who have sinned and fallen - these are for you! These are not just for an hour every Sunday, but throughout our living and breathing days.
These are simple points that God deems for us (e.g. don’t kill, don’t steal, don’t commit adultery, don’t covet, don’t lie, and honor your parents.) Yet, we (people) want to put conditions on these.
When God says, “you shall no other gods before me” how many times do we find more time for money than God? How many times do we say it is just a little “white lie” and then realize how much damage one white lie can cause. How many times do we covet when we put our hunger and desires ahead of what is right and just?
Should be noted that Of these, there is no punishment listed because judgment and punishment is reserved for God. I know people like to twist that because our laws are so fallible, so political, and so human.
These rules, commandments are not just for me (and you) to find convenient in my day but for all to enjoy. God’s rules don’t distinguish because all God’s creation get the same rights to freedom, heritage, belief, property, and love as everyone else. Why? Because God deems it.
In fact, God says don’t make idols of me. God doesn’t want us to pray to images, but to God! God doesn’t need (or want) to be on a billboard selling the latest insurance policy because God is the insurance policy and the caretaker. God is for you and me, Beloved – just the way God wants!
In these commands, God gives us freedoms - freedom to love our God-given heritage. You are free to see God in the way that God comes to us. God says that you are free to bear my image inside you and as part of you. That is why God created you - so that God might be revealed through you, Beloved Child! You reveal the freedom of God through you and in your faith in God. Rest in the faith; rest in the covenant.
God gave us freedom to enjoy a day off because God knows the need for rest. You are not only free to rest but deserve to rest. We ought to recognize those that work when wages don’t support days off. We ought to acknowledge people at the restaurant or store working (when we enjoy our sabbath). They also deserve a day off with wages that allow it.
These freedoms are part of God’s covenant - not for us to hoard. How do we live and share this great covenant from God? Do we abide or are these moving sets of goal posts in our lives?
Psalm 19 applies here,
“Day to day pours forth speech, and night to night declares knowledge.
There is no speech, nor are there words; their voice is not heard;
Yet their voice goes out through all the earth, and their words to the end of the world.”
Sheer poetic magic ! God watches from many different angles, watching us, listening to us, and speaking with wisdom throughout all the earth. Do we listen - even when God writes it down?
God is here! Our faithfulness reveals the wisdom of God in us and through us because there are no words to truly express that wisdom. We follow the commandments because they are God’s reason not necessarily our convenience. So why “excuse ourselves” from these commandments when these are part of the gift of God’s covenant. When you do, you miss out. You might miss God’s gifts just waiting for you: grace, forgiveness, justice, peace and eternal life.
Again, these are not just for ourselves personally but for us as a community to build our community in the image of God because we have life and freedom through God. Let us reveal together this covenant. We don’t have to take more than what we have. We can live in peace with each other because we share these bountiful gifts from God.
For these reasons, (again Psalm 19) “the law of the Lord is perfect, reviving the soul.. rejoicing the heart, enlightening the eyes... enduring forever.”
John2 reminds us that Jesus is the temple - not our money, not our markets and not our wants. When we abide in Jesus and God’s covenant, we witness wisdom in our hearts and share that in our community.
So, Revive your soul, rejoice in your heart and enlighten your eyes! When we put our faith in the covenant, then we see others through God’s eyes, and “their beauty will take our breath away.”
Thanks be to God!