“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.”–Deuteronomy 6:4-9
This verse in Jewish culture is at the heart of Jewish faith and is known as the great Shema. Like the Lord’s Prayer is familiar to Christians, the shema is just as familiar to Jews. A Jewish custom is to take this passage, write it on parchment paper and encase it in the mezuzot; the small boxes on the doorposts of Jewish homes and tefillin: the small boxes worn on the forehead and arms of Jewish people during Jewish morning prayer services. In Jewish culture, this verse is literally being written on the doorposts of their houses and on their gates as well as on their foreheads and their arms.
We don’t walk around with this passage written on our foreheads and our arms. Yet I wonder what the world would look like; what faith would look like if we did. Yesterday one of my colleagues preached his Confirmation sermon about faith and how we aren’t afraid to share our opinions about politics, etc on our Facebook pages. But when it comes to faith, we have a harder time sharing that on our Facebook pages. Why is that anyways?
I have been thinking a lot about the language of faith and today’s youth/young adults. These words from the great Shema are words that I pray more of us live out in our daily lives. They are words that I pray more families and homes will cling to and realize how true they are. The front doors of the church aren’t the actual front doors we walk in and out of to go to church, but are the doors of our homes. Faith begins in the home. Think about the people who have passed on faith and values to you. Who are they? They are, more than likely, parents, family members, and other caring adults who have been there with and for you as you walk and continue to walk along this lifelong journey of faith.
Too often (or rather more often than we care to admit) it seems that we forget the words that we hear in the great Shema. I will be honest. In the congregations I have served, it has been so very hard to watch youth affirm their Baptismal promises, but then to never see them again. (And I am pretty sure this isn’t uncommon; that many of us have experienced this in one way or another) What are we missing? How can we set the bar higher for families? It is my prayer that together we can be allies. We cannot do the job for each other BUT we can support each other and be each other’s cheerleaders.
I don’t claim to have any of the answers, but I have seen the power of the great Shema lived out in congregations and families. I have seen divorced families sit together and learn together. I have seen lively inter-generational conversations take place. I have seen families carry out the baptismal promises they made for their child/children. And in return, I have seen children fully embrace those promises and affirm those promises for themselves at their own Confirmation.
I pray that these words from the Great Shema become our battle cry, our rallying cry for all the generations here and all the generations yet to come. “Write it on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.” We might look rather silly walking around with those words encased on our foreheads. But in today’s technological age, there are many places for us to share our faith. Facebook is one of the virtual doorposts for us to share our faith. It seems to me that when faith becomes our everyday language and we aren’t afraid to share our faith, this world and the generations to come will be a much better place.
I don’t know about you but I want better for our youth and young adults. I want them to know what it means to live out the Great Shema in their daily lives and in their homes.
Will you join me in this rallying cry for all of us and for the generations to come?
Linking up with these lovely writers: Anita and Inspire Me Monday; Holly and Testimony Tuesday and Kelly and the RaRa Linkup.
Disclaimer: These are my thoughts and opinions. And are not necessarily the thoughts and opinions of the congregation and community of faith that I serve.
I love the shema. Thanks for the encouraging post.
The Shema really is wise words. I am so glad my post encouraged you!
Robyn' s post was so similar!
Susan, Robyn and I really were on the same wavelength! 🙂
These verses are truly ones we all should know and wear. You have reminded me of the beauty of them as well as how important they are for our growth as a Christian. Yes, that families would take seriously the raising up of those next generations.
Thankful you are my neighbor at Inspire Me Monday. You have!
Caring through Christ, ~ linda
Yes indeed they are verses that we all should known and wear. I am so glad my post reminded you of the beauty of them. I am so glad I inspired you! 🙂
I love these verses. It's so important for us to remind ourselves of God's truth and to teach those truths to our children.
Amen. Let us guard His words in our hearts and make them sacred in our homes so that in times of stress, His words come to our minds to help us through the difficult situations.
I still remember a lot of the verses and songs I memorized as a kid, and I have been trying to be more intentional about exposing my daughter to those familiar verses!
Melissa, that is so awesome! "Teach them to your children and write about them when you are at home and when you are away, when you lie down and when you rise up." 🙂
Amen, Tara. The Lord has really been impressing on my heart the need to be intentional in opening God's words with my son – more than devotions or prayers – but ensuring that His promises are written on His heart. It's kingdom work to bring our youth into that saving relationship with Christ and be sure that they know that they are His!
Thanks Tiffany! It truly is kingdom work to bring our youth into that saving relationship with Christ and to know that they are His.
I love this, friend – and I love your heart for the next generation! I often think of this portion of Scripture and while we do not literally walk around with the Word attached to our foreheads – I wonder how our Countenance may carry Him with us and how our expressions and compassions hold the opportunities to carry the Word with us for all to see!
Thank You friend!