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We’re talking about legacy in this post-Easter and pre-return-to-what-used-to-be-called-normal time. It’s amazing and exhausting that we made it through this year. How will it change us, for it’s both inadvisable and impossible for us to just go back to the way things were. What will we hold on to?; let go of?
Today’s text is what transpires immediately after Moses receives the 10 Commandments in Deuteronomy chapter 5. They’re afraid of God, asking Moses to be a go-between from them to God. He returns, but dif-ferent. He tells the people that they are different now too – transformed by the experience of God’s word. They have to pivot, to re-organize their life around what they have heard – what they’ve been invited to pay attention to, organize their life around, and live into – the Shema of God. Shema is the Hebrew word mean-ing to listen, to hear, to pay attention or heed to, to obey. The Israelites are to restart and continue their journey of faith and life rooted in the life-changing Word that The Lord God is one. This God who brought them to freedom from slavery in Egypt; who is providing them with a home when they haven’t had one; who is leading to them life when they were as good as dead. This God is named YAHWEH – a Hebrew name that is impossible to interpret with only one meaning. It means something along the lines of I am who I was, or I was who I will be, or I will be who I will be – I AM – the one you can’t put in a box.
Having experienced this freedom-giving, home-creating, life-brining God as with and for them, the people cannot simply return to what-used-to-be. They are to remember. To speak of what has happened. To retell what they have experienced. To pay forward what they have received. Teaching their children. Focusing their life around this memory. Recognizing that knowing this transformative God means they can’t remain the same.
Moses tells them to wear Teffilin on their arms and foreheads, to place mezuzahs on their doorposts. These “containers” hold the memory and invitation of the SHEMA. They are to be the center around which the people build their life. Their legacy future is rooted in their past – how God has acted with and for them.
QUESTIONS FOR REFLECTION & EXAMEN: