Illustrated wood relief, Catholic Church, Paszyn, Poland
Vanderbilt Divinity Library: Art in the Christian Tradition
Exodus 20:1-4, 7-9, 12-20
Ten Little Words
These words, so old, are easy to ignore
Because we think they bear the force of Law,
(As thought by people such as Judge Roy Moore
Suspended - twice - because his thinking's flawed!)
While we, the church, are people who think grace
Implies God does not tell us what to do.
And yet these words are one more classic case
Revealing One whose passion still breaks through.
For these "commandments" simply say what's true
About a way of life that's good for all;
It's mostly common sense that's so construed
By holy writ, in hopes it might forestall
Our self-destructive acts which jeopardize
Community! Because deep down, God yearns
Such rules might save this human enterprise,
'Till love for all, from God, we might discern.
Scott L. Barton
Then God spoke all these words:
I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery; you shall have no other gods before me.
You shall not make for yourself an idol, whether in the form of anything that is in heaven above, or that is on the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth.
You shall not make wrongful use of the name of the Lord your God, for the Lord will not acquit anyone who misuses his name.
Remember the sabbath day, and keep it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work.
Honor your father and your mother, so that your days may be long in the land that the Lord your God is giving you.
You shall not murder.
You shall not commit adultery.
You shall not steal.
You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.
You shall not covet your neighbor’s house; you shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, or male or female slave, or ox, or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbor.
When all the people witnessed the thunder and lightning, the sound of the trumpet, and the mountain smoking, they were afraid and trembled and stood at a distance, and said to Moses, “You speak to us, and we will listen; but do not let God speak to us, or we will die.” Moses said to the people, “Do not be afraid; for God has come only to test you and to put the fear of him upon you so that you do not sin.”
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Van Gogh: The Red Vineyard at Arles (c. 1888)
Our view of God's so saccharine
We shrink from such a God where sin
Results in consequence! So hence,
We think this tale's about the Jews
Who, like those tenants, didn't choose
To follow Jesus, but instead
Made sure that he'd be silenced - dead!
But what if all this violence
Is in itself the great offense,
Where not just Jews, but those in pews
And pulpit, too, can be ensnared,
If ever, all our wealth we dare
To think is ours! And we refuse
To think that God is owed God's dues?
God's mercy is forever sure,
Not just for those who think they're pure,
And God can offer all God owns
To all who thought they were disowned.
Scott L. Barton
“Listen to another parable. There was a landowner who planted a vineyard, put a fence around it, dug a wine press in it, and built a watchtower. Then he leased it to tenants and went to another country. When the harvest time had come, he sent his slaves to the tenants to collect his produce. But the tenants seized his slaves and beat one, killed another, and stoned another. Again he sent other slaves, more than the first; and they treated them in the same way. Finally he sent his son to them, saying, ‘They will respect my son.’ But when the tenants saw the son, they said to themselves, ‘This is the heir; come, let us kill him and get his inheritance.” So they seized him, threw him out of the vineyard, and killed him. Now when the owner of the vineyard comes, what will he do to those tenants?” They said to him, “He will put those wretches to a miserable death, and lease the vineyard to other tenants who will give him the produce at the harvest time.” Jesus said to them, “Have you never read in the scriptures: ‘The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone; this was the Lord’s doing, and it is amazing in our eyes’? Therefore I tell you, the kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a people that produces the fruits of the kingdom. The one who falls on this stone will be broken to pieces; and it will crush anyone on whom it falls.” When the chief priests and the Pharisees heard his parables, they realized that he was speaking about them. They wanted to arrest him, but they feared the crowds, because they regarded him as a prophet.