10 Commandments Sermon

“I’ll Be Your Mirror” is one of my favorite songs by the Velvet Underground. It’s a plaintive song of one singing to another that they will reflect the beauty of the other because they simply can’t see it themselves.  “Please put down your hands, cuz I see you,” she sings.  The song ends with the overlapping “Reflect what you are/I’ll be your mirror.”  What if we saw the 10 commandments as a mirror?  A mirror reflecting back on the world what it is we believe, who it is we are as children of God?  What if what is intended by these commands is not best represented by dense stone monuments but fragile, reflective glass? Which is ridiculous, right? That God would give us something so fragile to care for and to live by? We will break it – it’s only a matter of time. The Israelites are in the first blush of their freedom. We’re in the first 3 months or so after they crossed the Red Sea. They are new to not being slaves. They are used to being told who they are and what they do. They have been the stable work force, beaten into submission to keep the Egyptian economy moving, producing. They have been producers of an economy built on their backs, dependent upon their lives. And now? They are in the wilderness. They are out beyond their captor’s grasp. They are out where this system of consumerism and production, this system that depends on the anxiety of not having enough is simply not present. They are out beyond where the evidence of their being needed is obvious. And they are forgetting why that system of slavery was so bad anyway. They have lost their identity as slaves. Their purpose – to produce, to create – has been taken away and reimagined. But they can’t see it yet. They’re looking longingly back at what they knew, thinking, “it wasn’t so bad, right?” They had been living lives reflecting back to Pharaoh an image of abundance, of never-ending production. But Pharaoh could only see a future riddled with the anxiety of not having enough, a system of scarcity. And so their labors, their slavery, their production only was a reflection of unbridled anxiety and fear. So here they are, in the wilderness, a supposed Godless place, where they are faced with their own freedom. And God can clearly see they can’t handle it. So God gives them the 10 commandments as the way to remember who they are and to reflect that out to the world. It is because God loves us and trusts us that God gives us these ways to live with each other. The 10 commandments are about how to mirror back God’s love for the world. It is God’s way of letting us show God to others and to see God reflected back to us too. These are the way to life and life abundant that God desires for us! You shall have no other Gods before me is the basis of the mirror. The world will know you because you I am God and you are not. These 10 commandments are founded in relationship. Without God’s unending love for us, we would live into them out of fear and trembling of potential punishment. Fear of hellfire and damnation. Instead, these are given as a sign of God’s faithful love to us, with God knowing full well we will not always hold up our end of the agreement. Yet, God gives them still. For the relationships are not built on a scoreboard, but in the enduring work of love and forgiveness.Which brings me back to the Velvet Underground. What if we considered the 10 commandments as a call to embody the song. What if we invited others to put down your hands, cuz we see them for who God has called them to be? Beloved. What if we took the call to become the mirror to others to show them their loveliness that they cannot yet see? What if we lived into this gift God has given us called the 10 commandments and reflected God’s love into the world?

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