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Good Morning Nanty Glo!

Advent - 17 days to Christmas

Wednesday, December 8 2004

Jon Kennedy, webmaster

The Commandments

There's been a lot of discussion about the Ten Commandments in the past year, topped mainly by a southern state supreme court judge's attempt to install an imposing monument in his courthouse to honor the tablets brought down from Mount Sinai by Moses. That effort thus far has resulted in the judge's removal from his post and the removal of the monument from the location he'd intended for it. I sympathize with Judge Roy Moore, but I'm not now going to go into the monument issue but rather some of the thoughts that that controversy and other mentions of the commandments have stirred up in my cranial pudding.

The most recent reference to "the Commandments" I saw was in a story about the United Church of Christ's wanting to run an ad on CBS and NBC-TV touting that denomination's tolerance of differences in pigmentation and sexual preferences. I have elsewhere defended the denomination's right to have the ad run. But I also agreed with a point made against the ad by Karl Maurer, vice president of Catholic Citizens of Illinois. He called the commercials "false advertising." "When the Roman soldiers in the Gospel came to Jesus and said, `How can I be saved?' Jesus did not respond, `Be inclusive.' Jesus responded, "Follow the commandments.'"

I think the disjuncture between what I said in defending the commercial and what he said in opposing it was a result of my looking at it as speaking only from one small liberal denomination and he looking at it as trying to speak on behalf of the church catholic. For truly, to be a follower of Christ rather than a follower of vain fashion, Christians must follow the commandments rather than the current standard of what's hip. And this brings me to a more sober thought than the rest of this relatively tongue-in-cheek excursion: Following Christ requires mortifying (literally/metaphorically, "putting to death") the flesh and the lusts of the flesh and everything that exalts the flesh over the spirit. Not that the flesh itself is unholy—it isn't—but that its lusts are clearly presented in the Book as distortions of their purposes. The lusts are fruits of the fall, works of disobedience to God.

The other place where this attention to the "commandments" came was in church last Sunday. Just before the beginning of the Divine Liturgy we pray in song, every week (but this time it struck me as never before), quoting Psalm 119: "Teach me thy statutes." Teach me, in other words, not to lean on my own understanding of life, the purpose of my life, my goals and definitions of "happiness," but teach me to lean on your commandments, to do them and be transformed by them. The same Psalm has much to say on this point, with these verses especially ringing the emphasis on what is necessary for true religion in the biblical sense:

4 You have commanded us To keep Your precepts diligently.
5 Oh, that my ways were directed To keep Your statutes!
6 Then I would not be ashamed, When I look into all Your commandments.
7 I will praise You with uprightness of heart, When I learn Your righteous judgments.
8 I will keep Your statutes; Oh, do not forsake me utterly!

The attack on "the commandments" is part of the world's attack on God through undermining our sense of godliness.

Webmaster Jon Kennedy 

Signs of our times

At a propane filling station, "Thank heaven for little grills."

Sent by Trudy Myers  

Advent thought for today

Christmas gift suggestions: To your enemy, forgiveness. To an opponent, tolerance. To a friend, your heart. To a customer, service. To all, charity. To every child, a good example. To yourself, respect.

Oren Arnold  

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