The Lenten season brings a new sermon series that will guide us through this introspective time through the lens of Rehab. Following scriptures from the Revised Common Lectionary, each week will bring us into explorations of: wilderness, intervention, program, recovery, and promise.
Note: This week’s preview is adapted from the Discipleship Ministries website from which this entire series is offered to United Methodist congregations.
In recovery support groups, the phrase “working the steps” or “working the program” is used to describe how a participant goes through a process of recovery under the direct supervision of a sponsor. In medical or physical-therapy rehabilitation programs, there’s a set of exercises and activities that the person goes through, a program a person “works,” also under the supervision of a trained specialist. So a fundamental component of rehab is a program. And a critical component is people who support and encourage you as you follow the program.
This week we explore the idea that the Ten Commandments form the basis of our “program” of Christian living. Jesus himself taught that those who love him keep his commandments. We study Scripture, pray, take Communion, worship, and engage with those in need, not as an end in themselves. We do so because they are means of grace—our actions transform us and draw us closer to God and one another.
Exodus 20:1-17 (CEB)
1Then God spoke all these words:
2I am the Lord your God who brought you out of Egypt, out of the house of slavery.
3You must have no other gods before me.
4Do not make an idol for yourself—no form whatsoever—of anything in the sky above or on the earth below or in the waters under the earth. 5Do not bow down to them or worship them, because I, the Lord your God, am a passionate God. I punish children for their parents’ sins even to the third and fourth generations of those who hate me. 6But I am loyal and gracious to the thousandth generation of those who love me and keep my commandments.
7Do not use the Lord your God’s name as if it were of no significance; the Lord won’t forgive anyone who uses his name that way.
8Remember the Sabbath day and treat it as holy. 9Six days you may work and do all your tasks, 10but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the Lord your God. Do not do any work on it—not you, your sons or daughters, your male or female servants, your animals, or the immigrant who is living with you. 11Because the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and everything that is in them in six days, but rested on the seventh day. That is why the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy.
12Honor your father and your mother so that your life will be long on the fertile land that the Lord your God is giving you.
13Do not kill.
14Do not commit adultery.
15Do not steal.
16Do not testify falsely against your neighbor.
17Do not desire your neighbor’s house. Do not desire and try to take your neighbor’s wife, male or female servant, ox, donkey, or anything else that belongs to your neighbor.
Consider these questions:
- In what ways are the Ten Commandments foundational for Christians?
- How does following these commandments help you to grow in your faith?
Post-Sermon Follow UP on 3/6
Audio from the sermon can be heard below, and video can be found at this link (will open in a new tab).
Sunday’s message reminded us of the importance of having a plan. Many have heard this quote:
If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail.
A program – whether a 12-step program to recover from addition or addictive behaviors, or a therapy plan to recovery from illness or injury – is a way to plan a path forward, a path leading out of the wilderness.
But a plan isn’t the only thing. There must also be a guide, a companion, a mentor, someone who helps in identifying and clarifying the plan and who helps us to remain accountable. As people of faith, we might look to God as our guide and mentor, Christ as our companion, and the Holy Spirit as the strengthening presence that helps us through.
Consider these questions:
- Similar to a rehab plan, the Ten Commandments were designed to strengthen the character of the Israelites. How do the practices of spiritual disciplines (prayer, worship, reading the Bible, acts of mercy, and so on) become a spiritual formation plan for allowing God to work in us and through us?
- Oftentimes, the results of a diet or rehab plan seem so slow that we fail to notice them (even though others might). Might this also be the case when it comes to growth in maturity as a Christian? What role do instructions and commandments play for Christians today?
- How does being part of a community of faith help along this spiritual journey?
Why in the world is keeping the Sabbath the commandment we ignore in the most literal sense? Nobody gets a true day of rest anymore, other than perhaps Orthodox Jews, yet what a good idea it would be. Restorative. It’s hard to keep the Sabbath in a society that ignores it, yet it would be so natural if we all could agree on it. When I was a child stores were closed on Sunday (never mind that it’s the wrong day of the week) but as I grew up I watched the blue laws fall, then more and more stores opened on Sunday. Now perfectly ordinary stores are open even on holidays. We worship the god of commerce.