(This post was written for the Faith Church newsletter; March 2009)
A couple of weeks ago, I attended a conference with Ray Vanderlaan, a teacher who brings wonderful insight into the Scriptures by highlighting the Jewish and historical/geographical background behind the stories of the Bible. Ray loves to incorporate meaningful Jewish traditions into Christian settings and so we started each session by reciting the words of the Shema, the words of Deuteronomy 6:
Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength.
Scot McKnight, a writer I appreciate, has written a book based on the Shema, but uses the version that Jesus teaches in Mark 12. He calls this “The Jesus Creed.” This Lent, I am following the 40 day devotional he has written based on these words of Jesus.
Lent is a time of spiritual reflection. This involves repentance, as well as engaging in practices that draw us closer to God, such as fasting, praying, serving, worshiping and reading Scripture. Using the Jesus Creed as a daily focus for our lives is a great place to start. I invite you to join me and post these words somewhere visible in your home or office, and recite them throughout your day.
Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.” –Mark 12:29-31