Good morning. How are you this morning? Are you a human being like me? I mean do you wake up some mornings and would like to stay in bed a little longer? Are there some mornings when you dread all the things you need to accomplish during the daylight hours? And then when bedtime comes, do you recall all the things that you needed to do but did not have the time? Where does all the time go anyway? As we grow older, how fast do not only the days fly by and also the years. Dale had a birthday this past week. She was this old? I’m not going to tell. And I have a birthday in November so I will add another year to my life as well.
When I needed to retire from full time ministry, I believed time would pass more slowly. There is only one problem – it takes more time as you become elderly to do the things that used to take you only a few moments – like buttoning a button, or even taking a shower. So, you accomplish much less than you once accomplished when you were younger. Did I ever really RUN up a staircase? Did I really load logs onto a truck for my sawmill? Did I really build a road with pick and shovel up the side of Greenhill? Yep! Now you have my excuse for being a week late for our walk. It takes me much longer to do just the things that once were simple tasks.
But let’s not talk about what we have not done over those years that have passed but discuss what we have accomplished. And let us not measure our lives in years but in the way we have lived, how we have helped others, or lived in a Christian way of life. I would like to offer a yardstick to our lives – that yardstick being the Ten Commandments and the way of Jesus Christ. Our birthdays do not matter – it is what we have done to make life better for others and ourselves over the years we have lived. How are we placed on that yardstick of life?
Some forty-five years ago, I was the pastor at South Congregational Church in Concord, New Hampshire. That is about seven miles from where Dale and I now live. One year, the sanctuary needed to be repainted when I was pastor. At the front of the sanctuary on the front wall, was printed the Ten Commandments. Back then, there was a debate whether or not they should be painted over. In those years, some felt that we needed positives in our lives and that the Ten Commandments were negatives. This pastor and others objected to that reasoning and voted to retain the words of Scripture on the front walls. They are still there to this day. However, I wonder if our decision was realistic. I will explain.
When I was growing up, the Ten Commandments were a part of our upbringing. These were not negatives, but the way to a happy and constructive life. If one lived by these commandments, God’s word would bless you with a meaningful, fruitful life. We heard those commandments explained at home and AT SCHOOL. Imagine that? We did not only repeat them at home, at church school, but also in public school. Have our present-day young people learned of this guide to a happy life? Do college students live by these rules? Who in our society lives by these rules today? Years ago at South Church, had we painted over those words we might have been prophetic for who pays attention to them today?
Being truthful and objective, there are not many, including me, who have not trespassed one or more of these commandments. But when we have done so, I believe in our hearts we know we have sinned. And that’s an antique word for what today is considered sinful? In seminary, the word sin was defined as going against God’s will. That is the definition I hold so when in my life I have broken one of the Ten Commandments, I know that I have sinned and that I need God’s forgiveness and pray God will still help me live in a better way.
Here they are again, just so we remember what God disclosed to Moses.
“You shall have no other Gods before Me.”
Does that also mean power, lifestyle, money can be what you worship rather than God?
“You shall not make for yourself any carved image – you shall not bow down to them or serve them.”
Do we still make golden images and think them worthy of worship in our greed?
“You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain.”
In my home growing up if you used God’s name in vain you were severely punished. Today it is heard on broadcasts and social media over and over again.
“Remember the sabbath day to keep it holy”. There was a day when commercial stores were not open on a Sunday. We can forget this one certainly.
“ Honor your mother and father.” I hope this commandment still is listened to but there are many children who separate themselves from loving parents. As a pastor and father I know this all too well.
“You shall not murder.” Even our nation openly asassinates those who oppose us. And in our society and cities the cases of murder has been growing in number.
“You shall not commit adultery.”
Today’s sexual conduct pretty much goes however you wish.
“You shall not steal.” Just watch the evening news to see this commandment shattered along with store windows.
“ You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.” What “reality show” do you watch? Let us not even approach the field of political advertising.
“You shall not covert your neighbor’s house, wife, servants nor ox or donkey
etc.” Ah we do not covert our neighbor’s donkey because most don’t have one – my farmer neighbors have one – but how about your neighbor’s automobile?
The Ten Commandments need, desperately need, to be taught again to bring our society out of sin (remember that is defined going against God’s will.) We need to return to the values that built a stable society – but even more than that, we need ourlives full of birthdays that find that we have striven to live by God’s will and have found, therefore, a life of happiness and fulfillment. Read them each day and see if your life does not have greater meaning and less strife and unhappiness.
The Ten Commandments let us seek to abide by them asking for God’s forgiveness for our human foolishness.
Until we walk again –
“May the Lord watch between me and thee while we are absent one from the other.”