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Monday, September 16, 2013

09082013 15th Sunday After Trinity

May the words of my mouth and the meditations of our hearts be pleasing in Your sight, O Lord, our Rock and our Redeemer.  AMEN.

“Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.”  All of us remember this saying that we were taught by our parents when kids would say those words that ‘hurt’ either our pride, our ego or even our self-image.  Whether it was ‘four eyes’, skinny, fatty, ‘slow poke’, pudgy, or about the clothes that we wore, because they were hand me downs, they weren’t clean and pressed or not the latest fashion trend of Ocean Pacific, Alligator, Hollister or Old Navy.  Other things we might have heard included about what we said, ‘that is stupid’, ‘you are dumb’ or ‘you are weird’.  But the fact still remains we return to the phrase, ‘sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.’  Is the phrase true or did the words of our friends, classmates and even our family have more power than we give them credit for?  This morning we continue in our series of the Ten Commandments with the Second Commandment and hear how God’s name is to be used and understood.  Let us pray for God to speak to us through His Word.

Heavenly Father, the words that we use sometimes do more harm than sticks and stones.  Enable us to understand it is not only with our friends and neighbors, but also our brothers and sisters in Christ here in the church and with You that we need to see and use our Words, not as weapons that destroy, but means of building us up in Your image.  For that perfect image was of Jesus Christ made Flesh Who dwelt among us and came in order that we might be saved through Him and His death on Calvary for all of us saints gathered here at Emmanuel.  AMEN.

So this morning we follow up the beginning of our series of the Commandments where we talked about towers in our lives, with the Second Commandment.  I began with the phrase, sticks and stones, so to remind us, see what we have gathered here in the chancel, sticks and stones.  Let’s follow along as I read from the insert the Second Commandment and its meaning, “You shall not misuse the name of the Lord Your God.  What does this mean?  We should fear and love God so that we do not curse, swear, use satanic arts, lie or deceive by His name, but call upon it in every trouble, pray, praise, and give thanks.”

There are a lot of imperatives, or things said here of what we should not do with God’s name.  All of us are known by names or nicknames, some repeatable in church, others best left used by friends outside of church.  We also sometimes use slogans just as well as names that are ‘badges of honor’, like “Black and Gold”, “Rock, Chalk, Jayhawk”, “Purple Pride”, “IN-COM-PLETE!” or “Tulo” that all have an image that is evoked in our minds of something we have experienced or been a part of at some point in our lives or introduced to by someone we trust.  For some it is pride, some derision or distaste and some even take it personally if we do not ‘like the same team, the same college or our players’ that we follow more closely than sometimes even our relatives.

Pride in and of itself is not a bad thing, but when our pride separates us from reality and we use it as a means of escape or excuses, this is where the problem in lies.  Take for example the people of Israel while Moses was up on the mountain getting the 10 Commandments, they made an image of a cow to ‘replace God’.  Their pride in knowing they ‘knew better’, caused the first set of stones with the commandments from God to be dropped and broken.  The pride they exhibited separated them from the promise that was fully theirs and changed the trajectory of their lives and their ancestors for years to come.  Yet the reality is this was a part of their sinful human nature that was not only inherent in their nature, but a part of even our nature, it is our sinful nature that we have been conceived in and which still surrounds us today.  Hence, we easily use words that are destructive of not only a persons self-worth, but also their inherent ability to see themselves as special.  Hence we have before us today ‘sticks and stones’ to remind us of our destructive behavior towards each other even here in the church.

Yet, the reality is, these sticks and stones are just objects that can be used for destruction, but can also be used with power for instruction and creation.  Consider if you will, in Genesis when God created the heavens and the earth they were formed at the command of God, by His Word.  In a moment there was a difference between darkenss and light, between water and dry land, between heaven and the earth.  By God’s divine Word the World was created.  This power still exists today, but it is with the proper use of God’s name.  This is why the Second Commandment is to remind us of the power of God’s name and how we are to keep it holy.

Now all of us, easily say, well I don’t cuss, I don’t misuse God’s name, I simply don’t swear.  But it is not just the ‘swearing’, it is any useless or careless using of God’s name.  God’s name is Holy.  Matter of fact in Hebrew which the Old Testament is written, some scholars refuse to say the name of God  אֱלֹהִים  ‘elohim’ as it is written, instead they substitute another name אֲדֹנָי ‘adonai’ and even for the יַהְוֶה  ‘Yahweh’ which is another name for God they use adonai.  This is how special God’s name is and how we today misuse it and carelessly break the second commandment.

But of what consequence is this for us today.  God is calling us to a clearer and more profound relationship with Him.  In the movie “Fireproof”, it is clear from the beginning that the relationship between Caleb and Catherine as husband and wife was at its breaking point.  They were ready for divorce.  From yelling and cursing each other for not ‘giving’ what they both so desperately wanted, desired and felt they deserved.  But it was not until each of their hearts had been broken and their desires and wants were no longer important or the driving force in their relationship, did they realize that their relationship with God first would work its way into their relationship with each other and truly unite them as husband and wife.  Not until they made God and the relationship with God a priority would or could they begin to transform their relationship with each other into a God pleasing, but also a blessing from God to and for them and their marriage.

In the personal relationship with God where Caleb and Catherine called upon God to change them they found the deepest love that could possibly be given.  But it was only found in the sacrifice that Jesus Christ offered them and each of us on the Cross of Calvary.  It is only through God’s Son, Jesus Christ at whose Name every knee will bow that we understand God and the importance of His name in our lives.  This is what is offered to all of mankind through the Cross of Calvary, not sticks and stones to break us, but to build us up in the most holy faith found in His Name, Jesus Christ our Lord.  AMEN.  May God’s Name be Holy as we sing in honor and praise of God and the Second Commandment “At the Name of Jesus”.
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