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Series: The Ten Commandments
The Sixth Commandment:
Sacred Life, Sacred Love

Exodus 20:13, NRSV
Matthew 5:21-24, NRSV
Romans 13:8-10, NRSV

Reflections

An ambassador is the official representative of her government; in a sense she bears the image of her nation. Now imagine that a foreign government seizes the ambassador and kills her. That wouldn’t simply be murder of a single human being; it would also be an act of war against the government the ambassador represents. In a similar way, one person’s murdering another person is an act of war against God. It is an attempt to murder God by killing one who bears his image.

– Timothy Peck

  • SF City Hall Wednesdays 9:30pm Violence Prevention

  • “Life after Murder” by Nancy Mullane at City Arts & Lectures
  • Murderers at the lecture
    • learn to dignify their victims
    • remorseful, repentant
    • their lives with victims are interlocked forever

  • Grace and redemption for Moses, and to have him to deliver the commandments

  • David Brooks’ NYT article: When the Good do Bad
  • Students at University of Texas writing essays about their murder fantasy
  • We are have rage/anger with murderous thoughts
  • We dehumanize others, as is the case in WWII calling Jews rats, in Rwandan Genocide Tutsi cockroaches
  • We kill one another with hatred

  • You know are you in faith community when we hurt each other, knowingly or not, but we also reconcile with each other


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Series: The Ten Commandments
The Fourth Commandment: Rest for the Restless

Hebrews 4:1-11, NRSV
Exodus 20:8-11, NRSV

Reflections

Sabbath is the cornerstone of faithful freedom. Such faithful practice of work stoppage is an act of resistance. It declares in bodily ways that we will not participate in the anxiety system that pervades our social environment. We will not be defined by busyness and by acquisitiveness and by pursuit of more, in either our economics or our personal relations or anywhere in our lives. Because our life does not consist in commodity.

– Walter Brueggermann

  • Breath-taking speed/pace in the cities, in technology
  • People likes to talk about how busy the are
  • Anxiety-driven society

  • Our relationship with work and rest
    • need for rest
    • picture of rest
    • invitation to live in rest
  • We believe everything is up to us
  • We harm ourselves, do violence to ourselves when we don’t rest; just as bad as harming others
  • God rest because He is satisfied, not because He is tired
  • Not working does not mean rest
  • Where do you find rest? Find God’s delight, picture of rest


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Series: The Ten Commandments
The Third Commandment: Entrusted with God’s Name

Exodus 3:11-17, NRSV
Exodus 20:2, 7, NRSV

Reflections

If it doesn’t look like love, if it’s not beautiful, if it doesn’t promote peace, let it go, it doesn’t flow from God.

– Brian Zahnd

  • Commandments are like Israelites’ constitutions
  • Don’t misused God’s name, not to take it in vain, to make something sacred to be voided
  • Names in ancient times are closely guarded, names of persons, cities
  • It is significant when God’s name is given to Moses
  • Our strategy to our lives in this world, our view of the world, usually that’s how we see God
  • God that would be name of our God, God of Peace, God of Justice, God of the wise, God of Perfection. We usually identify with one name of God more than others
  • Essentially God’s name is Love


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Series: The Ten Commandments
The Second Commandment: God is Revealed, Not Created

Exodus 20:4, NRSV
Colossians 1:15-23, NRSV

Reflections

God says to us in the 2nd Commandment, “If you stop trying to make me into your likeness, I can start making you into my likeness. If you only will let me stretch your imagination instead of you confining me to your imagination, I can make you into something beyond your wildest imagination.”

– Tim Keller

  • Often times we have low expectation with God
  • One way to get to know God is by looking at Jesus
  • Second commandment is a little more specific than other commandments
  • With idolatry, we won’t get ourselves right, we won’t get God right, we won’t get others/love right
  • With idolatry, we try to get the god we prefer, rather than the God that’s been revealed, through Jesus Christ

  • Getting ourselves right
  • John Calvin – Knowledge of God and knowledge of self is interconnected
  • We construct our own image of self as we grow up; we all have our own strategy to cope with the world without God
  • Some of the life strategies we come up with: isolation, perfection, fact-finding, fear
  • But none of them can deal with the fullness and completeness of ourselves
  • None of them has to do with the love of God

  • Getting God right
  • The god we prefer is a distorted image of God
  • God could seem too harsh or too soft when the image doesn’t match our distortion
  • Mystery of nailing on a cross: there is a difference between thinking it as a problem being solved by God, and thinking it as God’s revelation of His character

  • Getting others (or love for others) right
  • “The beginning of love is the will to let those we love be perfectly themselves, the resolution not to twist them to fit our own image.” — from the book “The Way of Chuang Tzu” (莊子), by Thomas Merton, American Catholic writer, a keen proponent of interfaith understanding
  • From marriage counseling: What you hope is you are marrying a good block of marble, not a statue. Not so you can create the kind of person you want, but rather because you see what kind of person Jesus is making.
  • Demanding others to fit into our ideal, can only lead to anger, disappointment, cynicism
  • All of us were made in God’s image, with just as much complexity
  • Love others in a different way; not trying to control and fit into our idea


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Series: The Ten Commandments
The First Commandment: No Other Gods

Exodus 20:1-3, NRSV
Matthew 22:34-40, NRSV

Reflections

Anything can serve as a counterfeit god, especially the very best things in life… A counterfeit god is anything so central and essential to your life that, should you lose it, your life would feel hardly worth living. [It] has such a controlling position in your heart that you can spend most of your passion and energy, your emotional and financial resources, on it without a second thought… [It] is whatever you look at and say, in your heart of hearts, “If I have that, then I’ll feel my life has meaning, then I’ll know I have value, then I’ll feel significant and secure.” There are many ways to describe that kind of relationship to something, but perhaps the best one is worship.

– Tim Keller
Counterfeit Gods

  • We have so many gods to please, to serve, in our lives
  • The more we try to please, to serve, we get so little back in return
  • How the Israelites tried to please and serve the Pharaoh in Egypt during the time of famine, and ended up being slaves in Egypt
  • The First Commandment is to establish God’s identity, identity of God’s people

  • Sometimes we think the misery we know is better than the mystery we don’t know
  • Sometimes we stop short of exploring and knowing more about God, once we hear something we like or not like about God

  • God exposes other counterfeit gods, that they are needy, that it is a dead god until you start serving it
  • “If I give you this, I’ll get what I need from you”


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Series: The Ten Commandments
Introduction: Pathway to Freedom

Exodus 19:1-6, 20:1-17, NRSV

Reflections

The truth is that life simply works better when we live in tune with the designs of its Creator. God’s commands are not hammers over our heads to get us to shape up. Rather, they are his loving instructions for how to do what is right and good.

– Marva Dawn
Is It a Lost Cause?

  • One of best lessons a child could learn, is that he/she has been so loved
  • Torah, the commandments, as loving instructions from God, although few think of them that way

  • Laws guide us to freedom
  • v3: God has already rescued the Israelites, they were then asked to obey His commandments
  • Common misconception is that if we obey the laws, we are blessed
  • Commandments is not the way to make right with God; God has made it right already

  • Losing Moses on the Freeway: The 10 Commandments in America by Chris Hedges
  • Purpose of commandments is to check our impulses, our dark intention that leads to terrible consequences
  • The commandments prevent us from being a slave
  • Our success in certain area in life might lead us to think we are wise in all things, doing things our way
  • We enjoy this city as our playground, we change our lifestyle to fit into the city, to enterain ourselves, with our money, our resources, our body
  • Our laws ask us to turn around, so that we wouldn’t be lost, we wouldn’t forget who we are
  • This is how we live free, even though misconception is that freedom is without constraints, doing whatever we want
  • Constraints that lead to ultimate freedom

  • v6: We shall live a Holy nation, within current condition on earth
  • An alternate society that would go into the world, being a kingdom of priests, being transformative agents, to bring people into presence of God, convince people God’s love
  • Roman’s empire was transformed this way

  • Trying to follow the commandments without the Gospel or without Grace, you will be either crushed, or be convinced you are so good at it, you become judgmental and smugged
  • Exodus 24: Moses took the blood and dashed it on the people, and said, ‘See the blood of the covenant that the Lord has made with you in accordance with all these words.’
  • Blood covenant that ends up being repaid by Jesus much later


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Promised Power

Acts 2:1-21, NRSV

Reflections

A
new
kind of
fire, and
new speech
brought to voice:
words that are flames
through walls that divide;
language that’s praise sung
in harmonies of the Spirit;
inclusive vocabulary of love.
Drink deep the new wine of
freedom, all slaves. Dream
as equals, world’s sons and
daughters. See the visions
of the kingdom of peace.
Wherever wind blows
the Spirit will flow:
the fire that
quenches
our
thirst
for
God’s love.

– Andrew King
Pentecost Fire (Acts 2: 1-21)

  • Sermon Note: this is the end of story that started 9 months ago, a journey through the biblical story that moves from Creation through the early Christian church

  • But the end is really the beginning
  • Committed followers at crossroad, after the end of time for Jesus on earth
  • Then the start of God working in them

  • Beginning of our lives with Christ in us
  • We receive power of God, only when we admit our weakness
  • We may face the strugle of control, to allow God and the Holy Spirit to work in us


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The God You Already Know

Acts 17:16-31, NRSV

Reflections

God is no fonder of intellectual slackers than of any other slackers. If you are thinking of becoming a Christian, I warn you you are embarking on something which is going to take the whole of you, brains and all.

– C.S. Lewis
Mere Christianity

  • Paul’s distress
  • Friends around us might be deeply distressed for us, just like Paul being distressed for the city of Athens

  • Paul’s Argument
  • Paul doesn’t force his belief onto anyone; he listens
  • God is not far away, a lot closer than you think (v27)
  • Paul’s main argument: God has come as flesh and blood (v31)

  • Scoffing to the idea of resurrection is a good first step, much better than ignoring the message


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Freedom in Chains

Acts 16:11-34, NRSV

Reflections

Those people who pray know what most around them either don’t know or choose to ignore: centering life in the insatiable demands of the ego is the sure path to doom…. They know that life confined to the self is a prison, a joy-killing, neurosis-producing, disease-fomenting prison.

– Eugene H. Peterson
Where Your Treasure Is

  • v11-15: Lydia’s Conversion
  • Successful business owner, probably driven by all sorts of outside influences, a need to prove herself
  • But also eager to hear about God
  • “If you have judged me to be faithful to the Lord” (v15) Not entirely sure if she is doing it right (She gets it, but she is still getting it)

  • v16-18: Slave Girl
  • Supernatural power in the world could very well be evil
  • Power encounter with Paul, while being in spiritual turmoil
  • Social Evil, systematic Evil (v19) – they are not about to let Paul and Silas to get away from freeing the slave girl

  • v25-34: Jailer
  • Unlike Lydia and the slave girl, he is not seeking, not in struggle, not interested in Paul’s mission at first
  • Gospel was preached to him in crisis, not in words, but by actions being shown
  • Paul and Silas have shown how they handled during crisis, that they were still praising God
  • Jailer being part of the systematic evil was repaid by good, by the Grace of God


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Jesus Appears to Thomas

John 20:19-31, NRSV

Reflections

It is not as a boy that I believe in Christ and confess him, but my hosanna has passed through a great furnace of doubts.

– Fyodor Dostoevsky
from an entry in his personal notebook

  • Competing realities:
  • Our own introspection vs outside world
  • New reality for disciples after Lent and Easter, but not snapping back on like a switch
  • But Mary was becoming student of Rabbi, after seeing Jesus suffer
  • When we see others suffering, it haunts us, stays with us in memory

  • Jesus’ resurrected body still has the scars, still has the mark of pain and torture
  • Peter, after denying Jesus three times, filled with guilt, but received Jesus’ first word “Peace be with you”

  • Holy Spirit – Jesus’ gift to the disciples
  • Doubting Thomas missing out the first time
  • Our spiritual experience might not be helpful to others, might even guilt others who have not had the similar experience yet
  • Can we be vulnerable and willing to show our wounds, like Jesus did?
  • Even though he missed out the first time, Thomas sticks around, with this resurrecting community, with an open mind, giving time and space

  • Radiolab episode “Are You Sure?” segment “Rocked by Doubt”, Jeff is not so sure about faith, not as much as his fiance Megan’s faith
  • Jeff might still not be a Christian without a doubt, but he has experienced God in one small way in the end of story
  • Our “diversity” of spiritual experience in Christ


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