I was asked to teach the next Sunday School lesson, Beware Lest Thou Forget , since our regular teacher has been called to be a councilor in the Bishopric and would be unavailable. My preparation started with a review of the suggested material earlier in the week, a chance to let the Spirit work and figure out how to present it.
Immediately I thought of the song Tradition from The Fiddler on the Roof; the explanation of how a small community is able to survive in a hostile environment.
“…And how do we keep our balance?
That I can tell you in one word!
Because of our traditions,
we've kept our balance for many, many years.
Here in Anatevka,
we have traditions for everything.
How to sleep.
How to eat.
How to work.
How to wear clothes.
we always keep our heads covered,
and always wear a little prayer shawl.
This shows our constant devotion to God.
You may ask,
how did this tradition get started?
I'll tell you.
I don't know.
But it's a tradition.
And because of our traditions,
every one of us knows who he is
and what God expects him to do.”
The lesson plan focused on the book of Deuteronomy, warnings to follow God’s commandments and avoid the stranger’s way with strong reminders of the Israelite’s bondage and exodus from Egypt.
Why is it important to remember the lessons taught so many years ago and to teach these lessons to each successive generation? That is our challenge today as it was then. As you read Deuteronomy 6:1-9 consider the similarities between ancient Israel and America today. You really should have Charlton Heston read these verses aloud; but if he’s not available find someone who isn’t afraid to let the words thunder from his throat.
“NOW these are the commandments, the statutes, and the judgments, which the LORD your God commanded to teach you, that ye might do them in the land whither ye go to possess it:
2 That thou mightest fear the LORD thy God, to keep all his statutes and his commandments, which I command thee, thou, and thy son, and thy son's son, all the days of thy life; and that thy days may be prolonged.
3 ¶ Hear therefore, O Israel, and observe to do it; that it may be well with thee, and that ye may increase mightily, as the LORD God of thy fathers hath promised thee, in the land that floweth with milk and honey.
4 Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God is one LORD:
5 And thou shalt love the LORD thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might.
6 And these words, which I command thee this day, shall be in thine heart:
7 And thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up.
8 And thou shalt bind them for a sign upon thine hand, and they shall be as frontlets between thine eyes.
9 And thou shalt write them upon the posts of thy house, and on thy gates.”
The Israelites were slow to learn, much as we are today; but they had been given a way of life to live, forty years of doing things in a regimented way, everything from how they got up in the morning, put on clothes, what they ate; everything according to the will of the Lord, “Tradition!”
“…And because of our traditions,
every one of us knows who he is
and what God expects him to do.”
Jewish men are required to place Tefillin (frontlets), two small black boxes with black straps attached to them; one box on their head and tie the other one on their arm each weekday morning. Tefillin are biblical in origin, and are commanded within the context of several laws outlining a Jew's relationship to God. Inside each box is a hand written scroll with, of all things, Deuteronomy 6:1-9. Why do you suppose this is important?
There is a tradition, more law than tradition, which requires affixing the mezuzah on the door post of each Jewish dwelling. Each contains a piece of parchment with a hand written prayer tucked into a hollow on the back. A prayer must be recited as the mezuzah is placed on the right door frame. Then the Shema is inserted inside the hollow, yet another scripture to remind the inhabitants of the house and all who enter the dwelling of their relationship with God. It starts out, “Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God is one LORD”; sound familiar? (Deuteronomy 6:4)
I read an article in Meridian Magazine this past week by Orson Scott Card, The Dismantling of America . It struck me; his message and the Sunday School lesson, Beware Lest Thou Forget, had much in common.
“A Strong Culture must have powerful stories explaining why it is a Good Culture — or it will die. Even the best culture can destroy itself if those who hate the culture are successful in getting its members to believe stories that discourage them from having enough allegiance to make sacrifices for it, like…”
“… when the deviancy from the norms becomes the norm, and the people who keep to the rules of stability, decency, fairness, fidelity, loyalty, faith, honor, generosity, courage, respect, conformity, and consistency are depicted as deviant in the replacement stories, then you’re looking at a society that has decided to die.”
We live in perilous times; the very foundations of our society are under attack. If we are to survive as “One nation under God”, much less prosper, we need to adhere to those principles which were taught from our inception, principles which included humility before God, prayer in private and publicly to acknowledge the Lord as our head, moral values which provide the lawful marriage of a husband to a wife in order to raise a family and keeping the commandments.
It is no accident that atop the Washington Monument the capstone was inscribed with the Latin phrase, “LAUS DEO”, or “Praise be to God”. It was placed on the side facing eastward to greet the morning sun each day, a reminder that we are to start each day as “One nation under God”.
“In this way we are reaffirming the transcendence of religious faith in America’s heritage and future; in this way we shall constantly strengthen those spiritual weapons which forever will be our country’s most powerful resource in peace and war.”
President Dwight D. Eisenhower approved adding the words “One nation under God” to The Pledge of Allegiance in 1954. There is a legal battle to have those words removed, to keep from offending non-believers; yet another attack at our foundation by the Godless among us. Haven’t you noticed a steady removal all symbols which tie us to God and those traditions which make us the greatest nation to ever stand? This is the plan of the Adversary and it is being carried out by those who have thrown in with him?
One way to remain safe from the storms which howl incessantly is to wake each day with a prayer of thanksgiving and humility to that God which has brought us from bondage and blessed us with prosperity beyond measure, keep the commandments and teach these principles to our children that they may have them written in their hearts. This is accomplished one person at a time until right prevails and America has been restored.
While passing along time honored traditions, include stories of our Founding Fathers, men who risked their fortunes and lives in order to secure the liberties and freedoms we now enjoy. Our children must feel attached to history; teach them about all that is good in America, a history of the American spirit.
“Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction. We didn’t pass it to our children in the bloodstream. It must be fought for, protected, and handed on for them to do the same.” Ronald Reagan.
This article has been cross posted to The Moral Liberal , a publication whose banner reads, “Defending The Judeo-Christian Ethic, Limited Government, & The American Constitution”.