“On the tenth day of Christmas, my true love gave to me ten lords a leaping…”
Symbolism: The ten lords a leaping (which, if you think about this in the context of Parliamentary England is a pretty fantastic mental image) really stand for the Ten Commandments (something not nearly so humorous to envision leaping). I know we all learned these babies back in Sunday school, but here they are again, as listed in Exodus 20 (with a little updating by yours truly):
1. You shall have no other Gods before me. (In other words, don’t love anything–money, your boyfriend, your social status, Mars the Roman God of War–more than God)
2. You shall not worship idols. (Don’t fall down and worship a graven image, giving it all your time and money and devotion. Sounds pretty easy, huh? How much time do you spend in front of your TV again….?)
3. You shall not take the name of the Lord in vain. (Let’s try to avoid those “OMG” moments, shall we?)
4. Keep the Lord’s Sabbath holy. (Don’t do anything on Sundays except church and restorative rest…no putting off homework till then, no cleaning the house from top to bottom. Just enjoy your family and friends and dedicate that entire day to honoring and remembering God, not being a couch potato.)
5. Honor your father and mother. (Would they be proud if they saw what you were doing right now? Last night?)
6. You shall not murder. (Keep Matthew 5.21-24 in mind here. When’s the last time you were angry with someone?)
7. You shall not commit adultery. (Also check out Matthew 5.28, 32. Basically, if you’re not married and there’s lust involved–it’s adultery. Probably makes “50 Shades of Grey” or “Magic Mike” a bad idea, ladies. And gents, stay away from porn. Seriously.)
8. You shall not steal (…thy neighbor’s donkey, thy neighbor’s wife, or burn thy neighbor’s copy of the newest Mumford and Sons album, no matter how wonderful it is…).
9. You shall not give false testimony against your neighbor. (Enough with the “It wasn’t me, he did it!” game)
10. You shall not covet (…thy neighbor’s donkey, thy neighbor’s wife, thy neighbor’s copy of the newest Mumford and Sons alb—wait, wait, haven’t we heard this before? Interesting how the two are connected……..)
Now, all pithy parentheticals aside, we all fail at this. How many burned copies of CDs do I have in my car? How many times has a particularly handsome gentleman at the coffee shop caught my eye for a little too long? And I’m sure my husband can attest that I’ve murdered him in my heart many, many times in my anger through the years. If you’re like me, you love lists…except for when they point out all the ways you fail daily. But the good news is that, as Christians, there’s hope! And his name is Jesus. We just celebrated His birthday, the day when He came into the world so we wouldn’t have to suffer the punishment from breaking all these commandments. So that we could be free in Him.
Your Mission: Pick a Commandment that you think you can handle and make a plan as to how you’re going to honor that one. Try to master it, structure and restructure your life as necessary to make following that commandment natural–learn some anger management techniques if you’re prone to outbursts against your friends; erase those pictures from your laptop (you know, the ones that you’ve hidden so only you can find them when they’re “needed”?); evaluate how much time you spend with God versus on Facebook.
When I was in college, a group of friends and I dedicated ourselves to not working on the Sabbath, and it was transformative. We’d go to church together in the late morning, have brunch together afterwards at our favorite cafe, then putter around our apartments or take a walk or go have an adventure in Downtown Chicago. Sometimes we’d get together for “Sabbath Tea” in the afternoons or, once we were of drinking age, an adult beverage together at night. Just one, to celebrate the Sabbath. And you know what? Our lives–spiritual, social, academic–were made MUCH better for it.
Bonus Points: Do an examination of conscience according to the Ten Commandments and then go to Confession for some soul-cleansing!
…okay, I guess there is some humor to the Ten Commandments after all.