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Sermon October 8: Rule of Life

Posted by on Oct 11, 2017 in Sunday Message | 0 comments

http://faithsbvt.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/10/Rule-of-Life_E.mp3 Faith United Methodist Church October 8, 2017 Eighteenth Sunday after Pentecost Rev. Kristabeth Atwood Scripture: Exodus 20:1-4, 7-9, 12-20 Prayer of Illumination: The weight of your words, your laws, your commandments and decrees can become an impossible burden, Lord, if we allow them to overwhelm and crush us.  Yet they were meant to be life-giving, vital and alive – the foundation for our lives, the chief cornerstone of your church, the living temple of God.  As we reflect upon your laws, guide our words and our thoughts.  Amen. Sermon:  Rule of Life Sometimes it feels good to break the rules, doesn’t it?  Swimming next to the “No Swimming” sign.  Speeding down the highway when no other cars are around.  Eating that candy bar after the sell-by date.  As Katharine Hepburn is thought to have said, “If you obey all the rules, you miss all the fun.” In our Confirmation class last summer, we talked a lot about rules.  We set up Ground Rules at our first class.  Things like be respectful; give everyone a chance to talk; don’t use your phone during class.   We studied John Wesley’s General Rules.  And we even tried to create a game where the only rule was that you could have no rules.  In the end, we decided that a game with no rules was really no fun. The purpose of our no rule-rule game, though, was to demonstrate that rules ~ guidelines, laws ~ are important for living a meaningful life.  Rules provide a framework in which to enact our faith and live out our days.  Without rules, it’s just chaos.  For example, John Wesley’s general rules are:  Do no Harm, Do Good, and Stay in Love with God.  Those are rules that I can get behind, rules that can shape a faithful life.  The truth is, though, that we sometimes chafe at rules.  We like to leave our phones on in the movie theater and chew gum in class.  It was probably this kind of human rebelliousness that drove Moses crazy as he led the Israelites through the wilderness.  God told them not to collect more manna than they needed for the day, but you’ve got to know there was that guy with the stash in his tent.  God told them not to worship any other Gods, but we know what happened with the golden calf.  In today’s Scripture God, through Moses, tried to lay down the law, set the boundaries, establish the ground rules for these people who God decided to save and make his very own.    Some have described the Ten Commandments as God’s gift of law.  We often think of rules as burdens but what if we, instead, think of rules as blessings?   The Ten Commandments present the kind of life God wants for us, a life of honoring God and honoring each other.  The Ten Commandments lay out the boundaries for healthy relationships. And the Ten Commandments are very ~ how do we say it ~ down to earth.  They speak of jealousy, revenge and adultery, lying, swearing and obsession. Things that make a good plot for a soap opera and, if we are honest with ourselves, things with which we struggle throughout our lives.  As preacher Dianne Bergant affirms, “Reverence for the law seems to promise...

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