due for revision

Every once in a while, I get an urge to re-write the ten commandments. Last night was such a night — after a morning of Prayer Book, and an evensong full of tricky bits of Paul, which ended with ‘God is not yes, no, but yes, yes.’

So here, hastily done, is the latest gloss…

The Divine Word

Imagine a God who says yes.
Whose word is yes, yes. Not no.
Yes, you are my beloved.
Yes, you are my child.

And imagine we taught our children
generation after generation
to listen for God’s yes —
for God’s glorious liberating word

and we greeted them
not with Thou Shalt Not,
but with God’s deeper call,
God’s eager yes.

On our walls we might still paint the words our ancestors taught us:
Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul,

with all your mind and with all your strength.
Love, others too — not just the ones you like,
or the ones who are like you —
but love them all, for I, the Lord your God, am a loving God:
all creation is mine.

Imagine we taught our children the great commandments:
Rest is Holy. Rest is sacred. Remember that you need rest.
And help others to stop their busyness too —
children and parents, strangers and friends
all must be given time
to be free
to set aside the tasks of the day
to delight in love and beauty and wonder.

When there is time, we can learn to value each other:
so, honour your parents, listen and learn from them;
honour your children too: for they know the ways of God.

Imagine that we taught our children
God’s way is not of death.
Give life to others, and help them live.
God’s love for us is precious and kind.
Be kind to others, and be faithful.

Our Great God gives us all we need
so give freely, share what you have.  There is enough.
here is no need to fear or to lie.  You are loved —
so you are free — to speak truth, to speak kindness,
to sing God’s word and dance God’s joy.

Delight in other people’s gifts, rejoice in their riches, 
find joy in one another’s peculiar ways,
for I, your God, am a curious God —
I love to laugh and catch you off guard.
Laugh with me.

And what if we invited God to write these words on our hearts?
If we taught our children to do the same?
Then would we be miserable?
Then would we offend?

Or might we believe
that we are worthy
that we are blessed
that we are beloved?

Imagine that this is our God
who longs to give us love.

For God it is
who says Yes
who delights in our being
and longs for our joy.

imagining otherwise

So, I seem to have gotten away with re-writing the 10 commandments.  The faithful at Tighnabruaich were a bit alarmed, but Dunoon didn’t bat an eye.

The question on the floor was how can we help the text be heard by a generation that can’t bear with Thou Shalt Not long enough to find any good in law.

The tentative answer was that we play with it, and invert speech.  So, I ended up with this:

10 Offerings (an inversion of Exodus 20.1-17)

Then we said to God:

  1. You are our God, who brought us into freedom:
    we shall have no other gods before you.
  2. We shall not make idols, or try to contain you
    in the things of this world;
    we shall not worship the work of our own hands,
    for if we turn from you we will be miserable.
    We know that we and our children
    will be miserable without you.
  3. We shall not abuse your name,
    or use it to gain our own ends.
  4. We shall remember the Sabbath, the day of rest.
    We shall remember that our worth comes from you,
    and not the things we do.
    We shall honour that worth in others,
    and let strangers and all your creatures
    be blessed by your Sabbath.
  5. We shall give honour to those who nurture us,
    to all who give us life;
    so that we learn to live long and live well.
  6. We shall respect life, and help it flourish.
  7. We shall honour the commitments of love,
    and walk carefully with one another.
  8. We shall share our wealth freely,
    so that no one is left desperate.
  9. We shall speak what is true, and what is kind and good.
  10. We shall rejoice in our neighbours’ wealth and good fortune. We shall rejoice when they love and are loved.

I realised after the fact that I began with ‘nots’, but by the end was looking for affirmations only.  I’ve left the descrepancy in hope that maybe you will have a go at editing.