Jason C. Stanley

ponderings of a dad walking humbly & seeking justice

Category: The Ten (page 1 of 2)

YouTubevotional: Box of Lies

YouTubevotionals are designed to be used in personal devotion time, with small groups, youth groups, or Sunday school classes. To see other YouTubevotionals, click here

Introduction

One of the best things about The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon are the games. The kind of games that would be great youth group/small groups games.  “Box of Lies” is such a game.

The players choose a numbered box, look inside and have to decide if they are going to describe the item inside or make something up. The other player then has to discern if they are being told the truth or a lie.

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The Ten: Be Truthful

“Do not testify falsely against your neighbor.” (Exodus 20:16, Common English Bible)

tablets_9750cIn an episode titled “Greater Good,” from the first season of the drama-comedy Boston Legal, Alan Shore (James Spader) and Denny Crane (William Shatner) represent a large, drug company in a civil suit. The two lawyers disagree on a key ethical issue surrounding the lies about a clinical trial for a new drug.

The doctor who participated in the clinical trial is conflicted. Shore wants her to be truthful about the potential harm the new drug may have caused its patients. Crane, on the other hand, wants her to be quiet about it. Shore reminds the doctor that when she testifies in court, she will be under oath. Mr. Shore’s intention, of course, is to persuade the doctor to speak truth.

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The Ten: Honor Your Parents

Honor your father and your mother so that your life will be long on the fertile land that the Lord your God is giving you. (Exodus 20:12, Common English Bible)

The Ten - jasoncstanley.comEvery Sunday my mom goes to a local nursing home to visit with her mother. Some days she knows who Mom is, some days, she’s not so sure. Some days she is warm and comforting. Other days, she is cold and violent. My grandmother suffers, as so many older adults do, from dementia. More than 5 million Americans live with the disease, in its various expressions. It is the sixth leading cause of death, and affects one in three senior citizens. (For more about dementia, visit alz.org.)

Honor as a verb means to “regard with great respect.” It is a wide range of a definition, leaving it quite open for children to find ways to honor their parents. Scholar Terence E. Fretheim suggests, as others have, that the commandment is intended for adult children. In a time and age when care for the elderly has become a major focus for some many families. Nursing homes. Social security income. Health care.

We are called to honor our aging parents.

Mission KidsIn the Jewish tradition, age was something to respect. We too often choose to neglect those who are older than us. Like a child who thinks his parents don’t know anything, we treat older adults more like a burden than the treasures they are. This past Sunday we took a group of third through fifth graders to a local retirement home for women. We did not have the children sing and do all the traditional things children do when they visit such homes. Instead, they went around the room asked the women questions like, “What’s the coolest thing you’ve ever done?” The kids got some really awesome answers. One woman shared how she jumped out of a plane when she turned 70. Another shared about growing up in England. The women then asked the children the same question. Everyone enjoyed themselves – both children and older adults – because someone took the time to ask them about their lives and listen.

This is why Mom goes every Sunday to see her mother. Even though their relationship has not been the best, Mom has forgiven and forgives. Even though she doesn’t always know who Mom is, Mom still goes and listens. She tells her about life and bears through her mother questioning where Dad is, even though Dad has been gone now for 14 years.

To honor our parents is to care for our parents through all the stages of life.

Maya Angelou penned some amazing words around this in her poem “On Aging.”

On Aging by Maya Angelou

When you see me sitting quietly,
Like a sack left on the shelf,
Don’t think I need your chattering.
I’m listening to myself.
Hold! Stop! Don’t pity me!
Hold! Stop your sympathy!
Understanding if you got it,
Otherwise I’ll do without it!

When my bones are still and aching,
And my feet won’t climb the stair,
I will only ask one favor:
Don’t bring me no rocking chair.

When you see me walking, stumbling,
Don’t study and get it wrong.
‘Cause tirer don’t mean lazy
And every goodbye ain’t gone.
I’m the same person I was back then,
A little less hair, a little less chin,
A lot less lungs and much less wind.
But ain’t I lucky I can still breathe in.

The Ten: Don’t Hurt People

Do not kill. (Exodus 20:13, Common English Bible)

There is a story in Genesis of two brothers, the world’s first two brothers: Cain and Abel. They both brought sacrifices to God. Able brought the first and best of his sheep, while Cain brought scraps from his harvest. Their tithing was their worship. God looked favorably on Abel’s offering, and not so favorably on Cain’s offering.

In a fit of jealousy and anger, Cain kills his brother Abel.

The world’s first murder.

Perhaps this story from the Hebrew tradition is what came to mind for the Hebrews when Moses announced this commandment. Life is a precious gift given by God. The responsibility for giving and taking life belonged to God. But the commandment to not kill may have a broader stroke.

Terence Fretheim writes about this commandment:

….any act of violence against an individual out of hatred, anger, malice, deceit, or for personal gain, in whatever circumstances and by whatever method, that might result in death.

“Any act of violence” with the intention of death.

Recently our community had bomb threats at a number of area schools, elementary through high school. A fire drill blared, and the students, in orderly lines, went outside. Some of the students were funneled into school buses. The next day there were children who did not want to go to school. They were filled with anxiety and fear. And I can’t blame them. If I was in the first grade and had that experience, I most likely would fight my parents to not go to school.

The person or persons who called in these bomb threats are attempting to act in God’s stead. This act of violence goes against God’s loving creation. The effects of this act will last longer than that moment, which can be wildly dangerous. God beckons us to place value on the lives of others.

Jesus, in his Sermon on the Mount, goes a bit farther. Jesus, always one to turn the world upside down, tells the crowd that the commandment goes beyond physical violence. Verbal abuse and other expressions of anger, hatred, malice, and so on. Jesus extends the commandment to include anything that we might do to hurt others. Name-calling, gossiping, back-stabbing, (all the stuff you see happening on House of Cards), is damaging to the person you do that to. It kills a part of them. And frankly, it kills a part of us as well.

When we hurt others – in physical, emotional, or verbal ways – we are hurting God’s plans for a safe and loving world. When we call in bomb threats that leave first graders huddled on a cold school bus, we are disrupting God’s plan for a safe and loving world. When we choose vile and selfish ways to keep people out (even in the name of God), we rattle God’s plan for a safe and loving world.

In the beginning, God created and it was good. When we hurt others, we disturb the goodness of God’s creation. And that is not good.

The Ten: Remember the Sabbath

Remember the Sabbath day and treat it as holy. Six days you may work and do all your tasks, but 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.Because 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. (Exodus 20:8-11, Common English Bible)

The Ten - jasoncstanley.comWe are taught that after God created, God rested. As such, we should do the same. But this command goes beyond what we have been taught in Sunday School. The Christian tradition of Sabbath included closed businesses and attending worship. Many of the people in our pews remember the days when Sabbath was more than just a “church” thing. It was the cultural norm.

However, today, it is not. In our age, it seems that it is more difficult to carve out Sabbath. While it is difficult, it is necessary. To “remember,” as the commandment says, is more than a Lumosity exercise. To remember the Sabbath requires action. The observation of the Sabbath is an active one. It is something we do for our health as well as to honor our God.

Built into creation is sabbath. Just like the air we breathe, sabbath is apart of God’s creation. The level of which we keep sabbath will not determine the level of salvation we receive. No, sabbath is apart of creation. Scholar Terence Fretheim writes that “the divine rest ‘finished’ the creation,” and as such, “Only when that rhythm is honored by all is the creation what God intended it to be.”

On the seventh day, God rested. On the seventh day (which ever day that is for you), we rest to admire God’s creation. We rest in honor of God’s creation. We rest in respect of God’s creation.

Sabbath – holy rest – is as one scholar has written, “a sanctuary of time.” The Gospel of Mark gives something to ponder when it comes to Sabbath:

The sabbath was made for human beings, not human beings for the sabbath. (Mark 2:27)

The context of this statement by Jesus is when Jesus picks grain on the sabbath and he is called to task for it. This isn’t the first, nor will it be the last time Jesus is called out for doing something on the sabbath. Jesus places the emphasis on human need. If there was a person dying from hunger on the sabbath, you wouldn’t ignore them, would you? John Wesley, in his Notes on the New Testament, wrote that sabbath law “must give way to man’s necessity” because the sabbath was created for humanity in the first place.

A strict following of the sabbath is not rest either. The Pharisees who call Jesus out for working on the sabbath, are themselves working on the sabbath. They are the keepers of the law – it is their vocation and occupation – it is their job to uphold the law. And like so many of us today, they added more work to their plate by interpreting the law with “If . . .then . . .” situations. We could dare say that they missed the point.

But it is something we have to be intentional about. Sabbath may have been made for humanity, but it is a gift that has to be opened.

How do you remember the Sabbath?

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