Jeremiah 2:4-13; John 7:14-31, 37-39; Psalm 81
Sometimes it is hard to discern what God is saying to us. We have to listen carefully – through prayer, through conversations with trusted family and friends, and through our experience in worship and in daily life. God is always beckoning us, nudging us, and inviting us. We’re usually the ones praying with a lot of words to God … but sometimes we need to silence ourselves and listen to what God is saying. This is what discernment is about, and it’s not easy … and it’s fraught with the tugs and pulls of our egos, which are not to be confused with God’s will or invitation. Discernment is a practice, it requires taking in the perspectives of others and reconnecting with Scripture to stay in touch with the character of God and the truth of God’s longing for us and the world. And yet … sometimes God is quite clear. The Ten Commandments are pretty straight forward. A confirmation teacher once said to my class, “What part of ‘thou shalt not’ don’t you understand!” In these passages we are reminded of the first commandment: Thou shalt have no other gods before me. It’s pretty easy to get this one.
And yet, it’s just as easy to fall away. We are often pressured and pulled by capitalism, success, money, status, “the way we do things,” and many other forces and temptations … to make decisions and live our lives with other ‘gods’ at the center. This commandment reminds us to come back, to recenter, and resist the pull of those things that can – if left unchallenged – lead us away from being fully alive and being part of a Beloved Community.
The moon pushes and pulls the tides. Its shape changes. It doesn’t seem to look at the Earth the same way twice. While the First Commandment is clear and constant as the sun, the way we encounter it and wrestle with it is more like the moon. It varies throughout our lives. Psalm 81 refers to the celebration of the full moon and the celebration of a new moon, when the moon is not visible. Perhaps in this season of Lent we can honor the challenge of living into the first commandment. Rather than be pulled and pushed by the other forces of our world we can let the moon – whatever its shape – be our guide, our reminder of God’s eternal invitation to love no matter where life takes us.