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Rules of the road

By Scott Baker

Throughout Lent Christians are reminded of the path/journey of faith we are all called to walk.

For many of us, we are seeking to do our best in walking in the footsteps of Jesus Christ. Or as it is written in the New Testament book of Hebrews, “Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight and the sin that clings so closely, and let us run with perseverance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus the pioneer and perfecter of our faith… (12:1-2).”

Lent is the time of the year that reminds us of the rules of the road. Regardless of what the liturgical year may be, at least one Sunday is dedicated to the Ten Commandments. This year, liturgical year B, we heard them from the book of Exodus on the third Sunday in Lent and the recitation of the Ten Commandments by God to the Israelites.

Then God spoke all these words: I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery; you shall have no other gods before me. You shall not make for yourself an idol, whether in the form of anything that is in heaven above, or that is on the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth.  You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I the Lord your God am a jealous God, punishing children for the iniquity of parents, to the third and the fourth generation of those who reject me, but showing steadfast love to the thousandth generation of those who love me and keep my commandments. You shall not make wrongful use of the name of the Lord your God, for the Lord will not acquit anyone who misuses his name. Remember the Sabbath day, and keep it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work. But the seventh day is a Sabbath to the Lord your God; you shall not do any work —you, your son or your daughter, your male or female slave, your livestock, or the alien resident in your towns. For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but rested the seventh day; therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and consecrated it. Honor your father and your mother, so that your days may be long in the land that the Lord your God is giving you. You shall not murder. You shall not commit adultery. You shall not steal. You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor. You shall not covet your neighbor’s house; you shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, or male or female slave, or ox, or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbor.”

As people of The Way (the early name for Christians), we walk our journeys of faith guided by these principles. They help to keep us between the lines and live in harmony with our God and our neighbor. They are not about a guilt trip but about a faith journey.

There has been much talk over the last couple of months about unity as a country (especially in wake of the insurrection on Jan. 6). I can think of no better way to make steps toward that than living as closely as we can to God’s rules of the road.

Failing that, perhaps living by the words of Jesus of Nazareth, who consolidated them to two sentences, is enough, “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto is: Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.”

 

FATHER SCOTT BAKER is the pastor of Emmanuel Episcopal Church in Franklin. Contact him at 757-562-4542.