Our Internal Guidance System
(Above, "Moses with the Ten Commandments" by Philippe de Champaigne, from Wikimedia Commons.)
(Posted October 1, 2020)
“While you are proclaiming peace with your lips, be careful to have it even more fully in your heart.”
Francis of Assisi
As I sit here this morning, I have to admit it. They are gone. Those hummingbirds, that is, that give me peace and happiness for several months every year before they pull up stakes and head south. Two of them were here even last night. But now the feeder is quiet. Hummingbirds, you see, operate by their own set of “commandments” that dictate when they come and when they return. These rules protect them from harm. The time has come to say goodbye, until next year. Their guidance system is internal even for those hatchlings who have never made the trip before.
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After the week that we have had, many of us are approaching this Sunday and the weeks ahead battered by words, and left looking for someone to guide us “south,” to safety. That was what happened to the Israelites when they had fled Egypt with God’s help. They had been given Moses, who surely wasn’t anyone’s idea of a strong leader. In fact, when Moses disappeared up the mountain for 40 days, the people assumed he was gone for good, therefore despite everything he had taught them, especially that of faith in one god, all bets were off. They busily collected all the gold they had taken from the Egyptians and fashioned themselves a new god. When Moses descended from that mountain, he found his leaderless people breaking the most basic of laws. So he handed them the Ten Commandments seared into stone on the mountain to help them keep the peace of their newfound nation. And ever since then, humans have been coming up with innovative ways to put serious dents into every one of those laws. Oh, we talk a good game of keeping the commandments, of being peaceful people. But after this week, can anyone really say we’re succeeding?
The Ten Commandments
These days we modern folk are used to our independent thought, so the concept of commandments is a bit of a challenge. Most of the time I think that people prefer to think of that the Ten Commandments are really “The Ten Suggestions.” But here’s the thing. God really means all that stuff. It’s not a cafeteria menu to pick and choose from. These laws are meant to be more than something the politicians fight over when they are displayed in front of courthouse. They are meant to be OUR internal guidance system, the still small voice of God within us that tells us how to live in peace with one another. This Sunday we’ll pause and think about that. But in the meantime for the sake of healing our bruised spirits, I think we need the “commandments” of another man whose feast day is actually on Sunday: Francis of Assisi. His “laws” are all found in this famous prayer:
Lord, make me an instrument of your peace. Where there is hatred, let me sow love; where there is injury, pardon; where there is doubt, faith; where there is despair, hope; where there is darkness, light; And where there is sadness, joy. O Divine Master, grant that I may Not so much seek to be consoled as to console, to be understood, as to understand, to be loved, as to love. For it is in giving that we receive, and it's in pardoning that we are pardoned, and it's in dying that we are born to Eternal Life. Amen
See you on Sunday when we celebrate World Communion among all people.