by Laurie Schaeffer
I was sitting in my favourite spot toward the end of the service—on the organ bench. We were using that new service that I really liked, “Prayer and Preaching.” We’d come to the part, before the sermon, where everyone recited the Ten Commandments, the Apostles’ Creed… I close my eyes to concentrate and start reciting from memory. “You shall have no other gods. You shall not misuse the name of the Lord your God. Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. Honour your father and mother. …”
I had no idea what came next.
How could this be happening to me? I was a fifty-something, well-educated adult. My parents had sacrificed to send me and my brothers and sisters to a Lutheran school when we were young. How could I not know the Ten Commandments?
Yes, I opened my eyes and read the rest of the commandments along with the congregation. But I was convicted. How embarrassing!
I started on a program to add the rest of the commandments to memory. I printed out the Catechism Review and put it on the wall above my desk, where I have my private, almost daily, devotions. I painstakingly added each commandment, one by one, to memory, just as I had done as a child.
What difference did it make? This was all happening in my mind. No one else knew about the struggle I was having.
I remembered reading someplace, in my public school days, that Martin Luther recited the Ten Commandments, the Apostles’ Creed and the Lord’s Prayer to himself many times as he was going through his day. I’m sure it kept him close to his Saviour, to his heavenly Father, as he worked to educate the common man in the pew, as he strove against leaders in the church who seemed more interested in raising money than teaching the lambs in their care, as he was denounced and excommunicated from the church he’d given his adult life to support. Surely knowing the Ten Commandments could help me, too!
It helps when I catch myself thinking unkind thoughts about the driver who cut me off, about the Christian sister who doesn’t agree with the way I would do things, with the child who wantonly goes her own way. It helps when I read the daily news, and am discouraged, appalled that people could treat each other so. It helps when I can’t go to sleep because something is on my mind, worrying me. (That’s an amazingly good use of knowing the Ten Commandments. I start reciting them in my head, followed by the Apostles’ Creed and the Lord’s Prayer, and rarely get to the end before I’m sleeping!) It helps when… (and you can fill in the blank)!
The Ten Commandments are unearthly. They are simple, easily memorized even by small children, but they bring to mind everything the Almighty Creator of the universe has made for His people to do. Try thinking about that for a lifetime.
Laurie Schaeffer is a member of St. Peter’s LWMLC, Simcoe, Ont.
and assistant editor for Tapestry.
This article is taken from Tapestry, publication of Lutheran Women’s Missionary League–Canada. If you enjoyed it, consider subscribing. An order form can be found at https://lutheranwomen.ca/publications-and-forms/tapestry. The magazine is published four times a year and is available in print, large print, audio and via download.