31 Maple Street
Bristol, Connecticut USA
October 7, 2018
World Communion Sunday
Exodus 19:3-8, 20:1-17
Rev. Kristen J. Kleiman
Over the past couple of weeks, I have been speaking about the journey. I have been encouraging you to ‘Take the journey’; have ‘Trust for the journey’. But not once have I mentioned the destination for the journey. Abraham and Sarah, Moses and the Israelites, they knew where they were going – to the Promised Land, to a land of milk and honey, to a land of blessing and peace.
This journey of faith God calls us on is not to a physical place. It’s an emotional and spiritual place. Like the Israelites, we are called to be, we shall be God’s treasured possession, God’s priestly kingdom and holy nation. We shall be set apart. We shall be consecrated – not because we are better than others, not so we can lord it over others. Quite the opposite. We are consecrated, blessed, set apart and made holy – to do God’s work. We are called to be a community of shalom.
Our United Church of Christ President and General Minister, Rev. John Dorhauer uses this word a lot “shalom”. I always thought the word meant peace in Hebrew. Turns out it means so much more. It also means harmony, wholeness, prosperity, and completeness.
God is calling us to go and the destination is shalom: communities of harmony, wholeness, prosperity, and peace like God created the world to be when God made Eden. God is telling us, just as God told the Israelites on Mount Sinai “You shall be set apart, tasked with the calling – to create communities of shalom.” Then God says, “and this is how you shall do it.”
Put God first. Refrain from worshipping objects or things. It makes God feel bad. It makes God jealous, angry. Put God first in your worship. And don’t misuse God’s name to trick your neighbors. God doesn’t like to be used. Who does?!
And take some time to be with God. God wants to be with us. Show God that God is important in your life by doing the same.
How do we create a community of shalom? A community of peace, harmony, and wholeness? We love God. We be in relationship with God. We consider God’s feelings and treat God with respect, honor, and love.
How do we create a community of shalom? We love our neighbor. We honor our parents, the adults in our lives who have nurtured and loved us. We even honor those parents who couldn’t find a way to nurture anyone else and thank them for the gift of life.
We honor all lives as sacred and belonging to God. We honor our relationships and others’ relationships and we refrain from behaving in ways that might break those ties. We do not take or even desire what others’ have because we don’t want to hurt them or hurt ourselves by continuously wanting what they have.
And we do not hurt others by telling untruths about them. Words have power. God created the world through words. Jesus is God’s word in human form. Words have power so if we want to create a community of wholeness, peace, and love, we tell the truth when talking about others.
The Ten Commandments have been called different names: the Ten Best Ways to Live (Godly Play), the Ten Channel Markers. In the end though, these “rules” are really help in how to be in relationship with God, how to be in relationship with others; how to love God and love our neighbor.
They aren’t exhaustive and neither are they rocket science. How do we create a community of shalom? A community of peace, harmony, and wholeness? We think about how we want to be treated, and we treat God and others that way. We consider their feelings; we treat their emotions, their bodies, and their possessions with respect; we behave in ways that build up the community, that heal relationships, and create wholeness and peace.
God is calling us on a journey. God is calling us to a place of shalom, to create communities of shalom, to be in communion and relationship with God and with one another.
We aren’t there yet; however we shall commit, we shall work; we shall someday be a community where all are welcome, just as they are, to be in authentic, real relationship with the God who created them and with others; to have their gifts affirmed as gifts, to have their gifts used in service to a greater good, to know that they are loved unconditionally in all of their uniqueness and imperfection. A community where we love God and love our neighbors with all of our hearts.
This is our calling; this is our journey; to create wholeness, community, and peace. To be wholeness, community, and peace. And we shall be.