Scripture and Meditation September 6, 2020

Sweeter than Honey

Exodus 20:1-4, 7-9, 12-20

Rev. Debra Jene Collum

Chatfield UMC

September 6, 2020

It has been 3 months. 3 months since the Hebrew people ran from Egypt, crossed the Red Sea. They have arrived at Sinai. They are almost to the promised land.

It has been an eventful 3 months, mana came from heaven, water out of a rock. A pillar of fire led the Hebrew people through the desert by night and a cloud in the sky by day. There have even been minor skirmishes with some of the desert dwellers.

Through it all God has faithfully walked with the Hebrew people and the Hebrew people have walked with God.

Now they are at the cusp of a new life.

God is ready to call them “my treasured possession out of all the people of the earth.”

I want you to hear the words God said to Moses about the Hebrew people because they are so tender and beautiful:

“You saw what I did to the Egyptians, and how I lifted you up on eagles’ wings and brought you to me. So now, if you faithfully obey me and stay true to my covenant, you will be my most precious possession out of all the peoples, since the whole earth belongs to me. You will be a kingdom of priests for me and a holy nation. These are the words you should say to the Israelites.”

God is ready to call them “my treasured possession out of all the people of the earth.”

And so now God is going to give them words to live by. Words to help the people live abundantly. Words to help them shape a belove-ed and beloved community.

We typically call these words the ten commandments. And through the eons since Moses received these words on Mount Sinai, they have taken on negative connotations. Untold jokes have been made about them. And they have become like yokes that hang around our necks rather than words of liberation, freedom and love.

Yet, these so called Ten Commandments summarize God’s rules for living. Living abundantly.

In the first commandment, we are told to acknowledge God as God alone and are called to honor our relationship with God. In the commandment regarding Sabbath, we are told to match the rhythm of our lives with God’s rhythm. In the remaining commandments, God’s loving words lay out how to live so that our relationships with other people reflect God’s relationship with us.

So that our relationship with others reflect God’s relationship with us.

Each year I pray for the students entering school that they will understand and believe how very precious they are to the heart of God. I pray this because when people know how precious they are to God, they are less likely to harm others and more likely to be able to shrug off the harm others want to impose on them. In other words kids won’t grow into bullies and bullies will not intimidate kids. Or at least kids will be able to see bullies for who they are. People who don’t know that they are loved.

I also believe this is the essence of these ten commandments. That when we know that we are precious to God we can more fully see others as precious to God. Then we will want to make sure that we treat others as God treats us. We will want to treat others as precious human beings.

I know this sounds naïve. But let’s stop and think about this for a minute:

Think of the recent headlines. Think of how they would be different if people had thought before they acted: this person in front of me is a child of God. A beloved child of God…

I’m going to give you a moment to think about that.

How much different our world would be, the state of our nation would be if…

Jesus said that all of the commandments can be summarized in these two: Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul and mind…love your neighbor as yourself.

Do not kill.

Do not commit adultery.

Do not steal.

Do not testify falsely against your neighbor.

Do 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.

Love your neighbor as yourself

In the Psalms there is a gorgeous poem written to extol the beauty of the Law of God.

Yes I said: The beauty of the law of God.

Listen to these words and see if they speak of a law of burden or a law of liberation: from Psalm 19

The LORD’s Instruction is perfect, reviving one’s very being.

The LORD’s laws are faithful, making naive people wise.

The LORD’s regulations are right, gladdening the heart.

The LORD’s commands are pure, giving light to the eyes.

They are more desirable than gold—than tons of pure gold!

They are sweeter than honey—even dripping off the honeycomb!

I remember the first time I tasted honey. We made butter in school. I think I was in early elementary school. We were learning about Laura Ingalls Wilder and we made butter in a churn, each taking turns at the crank.

The treat of the day was supposed to be the freshly made butter but I remember the honey. I remember asking for seconds, which, because I was a very shy little girl, wasn’t typical of me. 

In my family, honey wasn’t a staple. It don’t think it was in many families in the 60’s.

To this day, butter and honey on a saltine is still a favorite.

Maybe that is why I resonate so much with this verse in Psalm 19. But I still wonder:

How is that we have made God’s laws into burdens? Into yokes? Into jokes?

When the Psalmist calls them sweeter than honey…something yummy and good and pleasant.

I think we need to change our mindset.

When we wonder if we should love our neighbor as ourselves, I think we should see it as a treat. Like butter and honey on a saltine cracker to a little naïve girl.

Like something we desire to do.

Today along with the communion elements you are each going to receive a small stick of honey. Take it home with you. Taste it, enjoy it.

If you are listening or reading this at your home, find some honey, taste it, see how sweet God’s laws are.

Meditate on God’s laws and how changing our mindset about God’s laws can bring about different ways of being in this world. Will bring about the beloved community, the kindom of God.