Sunday 11th March (Lent 3B)

There’s been a theme of ‘covenant’ running through the the Old Testament Lectionary texts in recent weeks. God’s covenant with Noah and ‘all living flesh’; with Abraham, Sarah and their descendants: covenants with individuals.

This week’s reading from Exodus 20 continues that theme with probably the best-known of several versions of ‘the Ten Commandments’. (e.g. Exodus 34, Deuteronomy 27) No, it’s not explicitly a covenant but it does have a covenantal nature. Perhaps surprisingly, although given to a community, these commands are addressed to individuals. They’re about the welfare of the community but addressed to the individual, whose contribution to that welfare is important.

‘The Ten Commandments’, or any one of them, have often been regarded in a negative light, as limiting or putting a fence around us: “You shall not…” But consider the context in which they were given to Moses: “I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery…” God brought this people out of Egypt, out of slavery, oppression, exploitation; free to relate to one another and to God with love and care and respect. With this freedom comes the obligation to ensure that my freedom doesn’t encroach on, or limit, some one else’s.

These commandments call for two basic responses: the worship of God (1-4) i.e. love God, and a right relationship with God’s creation (5-10) i.e. love your neighbour.

John 2:13-22
Like a well-barnacled ship,
the gospel lumbers through time
with layered domestication.
We find it difficult
to think of Jesus
Love God.
love you neighbour.
love your enemy.
But anger?
Jesus’ anger disturbs
yet reveals
there’s a time for anger.

When we focus on places in which to worship
rather than people to serve
there’s a time for anger.
When we focus on self
and ignore the extreme need of many
there’s a time for anger.
When we accept poverty, injustice, war
as part of the natural order
there’s a time for anger.

There’s a time for anger
that results in action
heals the hurting
supports the suffering
relieves the exploited
frees the enslaved
brings God’s love to bear.

There’s a time when it’s wrong
not to be angry.
        © Jeff Shrowder, 2012.  More for Lent 3B…