Writing the sermon (on the Ten Commandments)

“Then God spoke all these words …”
a long, long, long time ago,

loud, and it was probably windy
and there was thunder
and those listeners were frightened
or awed, because
there would be consequences,
and also because
they had responsibilities.

I am thinking
that my listeners know all these
from childhood or movies
or controversies
about whether to post them
on court houses or school walls,
so, maybe, if I want to keep them awake,
I should get creative
and maybe re-cast the stone-bytes
into more positive language,
or delve into Sabbath,
because contemporary society
doesn’t understand it at all.

And so I’ve sermon-planned
carefully all the way to verse thirteen,
when I’m interrupted
by loud, windy and thundering –

Thou shalt not kill Kelly Dissendaner
with your death penalty,
while she sings “Amazing Grace”…

Thou shalt not kill my migrant children
with deadly Mediterranean
and Mexican border crossings,
when they just want to play soccer …

Thou shalt not kill
my students at Umpqua Community College
by the guns you scatter
like party-favors
to those ill of mind and spirit.

I straighten my hair, take
that interpretation under consideration.

Living in a nation
so divided between rich and poor
where the rich always
serve a gold-calf brunch
to their friends
with someone else’s ewe lamb,

I’m investing
in those little pink earplugs
before verse seventeen —

Thou shalt not covet.


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