Dialogue with Scripture: Contemporary Responses to the Ten Commandments and Psalm 23
Here is a fresh approach to the reading of the Ten Commandments and of Psalm 23. People tend to tune out when they hear an overly familiar passage of Scripture. Juxtaposing the way our society expresses its views on moral issues with the commandments gives the reading fresh meaning and would, I hoped, expose worldly thought.
Note that you could substitute Readers 1 and 2 in the first reading with leader and congregation.
Reader 1: Our society talks about personal autonomy. Newspapers and films are filled with the notion that we don’t need God to set us free—we are our own masters.
Reader 2: And God spoke all these words: I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery.
Reader 1: Always ask yourself, “What’s in it for me?” Remember, you’re number one.
Reader 2: You shall have no other gods before me.
Reader 1: Try to make as much money as you can and spend all of it on improving your standard of living.
Reader 2: You shall not make for yourself an idol in the form of anything. You shall not bow down to them or worship them, for I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God.
Reader 1: Don’t worry too much about swearing, because it’s just a habit. Swearing makes you look tough.
Reader 2: You shall not misuse the name of the Lord your God, for the Lord will not hold anyone guiltless who misuses his name.
Reader 1: Sunday is just another day in which you can do whatever you want to.
Reader 2: Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work.
Reader 1: Don’t pay any attention to your parents. They’re old-fashioned and they spoil your fun.
Reader 2: Honor your father and your mother, so that you may live long in the land the Lord your God is giving you.
Reader 1: You are entitled to hate people who are nasty or who in any way make life unpleasant for you.
Reader 2: You shall not murder.
Reader 1: When your marriage gets dull, it’s OK to have an affair or two. You’re only human.
Reader 2: You shall not commit adultery.
Reader 1: If you have to take what doesn’t belong to you, make sure you don’t get caught, because then you have to face the music.
Reader 2: You shall not steal.
Reader 1: Don’t miss out on any gossip about people. When you put other people down you feel
better about yourself.
Reader 2: You shall not give false testimony against your neighbor.
Reader 1: Try to keep up with the Joneses. Why should other people have more than you do?
Reader 2: You shall not covet your neighbor’s house. You shall not covet your neighbor’s spouse, or their hired help, their car or their farm equipment, or anything that belongs to your neighbor.
People: The fear of the Lord is pure, enduring forever. The ordinances of the Lord are sure and altogether righteous. They are more precious than gold, than much pure gold; they are sweeter than honey, then honey from the comb. By them is your servant warned; in keeping them there is great reward.
Note: For a version of the Ten Commandments for Kids, see RW 64, page 30. It’s also available in the NIV Adventure Bible (Zondervan).
Psalm 23 Litany
This has been another busy week. I don’t know whether I can focus on worship this morning. Something is nagging at my feelings.
The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not be in want.
Life is busy. There seems to be no end to work. I can’t relax.
He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters.
I have bad, painful memories. I am hurting inside.
He restores my soul.
I struggle with sin. The good I want to do I cannot do. The evil I do I do not want to do. Who will rescue me from this body of death?
He guides me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.
I am getting older and may soon die. Someone I love may soon die.
Even though I walk though the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.
My fellow workers look down on me. My boss gives me a hard time. I have few friends at school.
You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies.
Life is full of troubles. My health is not as it should be. Where can I find meaningful work?
You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows.
I am worried about the future. Will I meet a partner? Can I repay my debts? Is my business going to fail? Will my marriage last?
Surely goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life.
Lord, I believe. Help me in my unbelief.
And I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.