The What and Who of Meandering About

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Speaking of Faith

One of the most important passages found in the Hebrew Scriptures (also called First or Old Testament) is a passage that is often referred to as the "shema".   It is called the "shema" because the first word of the passage in Hebrew is the word "shema". This word can be and is often translated "hear". 

This passage captures the heart of the Jewish faith, and it shapes much of their life together. 

In the New Revised Standard Version, Deuteronomy 6:4-9, a portion of the shema, reads,

"Hear, O Israel: The Lord is our God, the Lord alone. You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your might. Keep these words that I am commanding you today in your heart. Recite them to your children and talk about them when you are at home and when you are away, when you lie down and when you rise. Bind them as a sign on your hand, fix them as an emblem on your forehead, and write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates."

We hear these words echoed in Jesus' response to the question "What is the greatest commandment?"  He replied, "'You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.' This is the greatest and first commandment. And a second is like it: 'You shall love your neighbor as yourself.' On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets" (Matthew 22:37-40).

The shema was to shape how a family lived and how they spoke of the faith of their mothers and fathers: a faith that was to become their own.

Our Jewish brothers and sisters have always known something incredibly important. A faith that is to be passed on from one generation to the next is a faith that must be discussed.  It is a faith that must be lived together.  It is a faith that must be linked to the stories of the past so that it can be seen as a vital faith into the future.  It is a faith that must be not only the threshold of the house but also the hearth of the home.  

Take time to have faith conversations in your home. There is nothing more formative for the faith of our children than conversations and living examples of a vital faith.  Don' be afraid to speak of the things that are important to you. 
Why do you go to worship each week? 
Why do you give money to the church and other charitable organizations? 
Why are you committed to working with Christmas Benevolence every year? 
Why do you believe in God? 

Speaking of faith is one of the best ways to pass faith along.

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