The Shema

July 12th, 2007 • Category: My Favorite Scripture
by Pam Beutler

Today’s scripture: Deuteronomy 6:4-9 (NRSV) (The Message)

As you read, consider these questions: What might God be saying to me in this passage? What jumps out at me? At the end of the reading, try to summarize your thoughts in a sentence or two before reading on.

My thoughts on this passage (Pam Beutler):

I was introduced to the Shema at Vacation Bible School last year. Our church staged a replica of a town in Israel, and I led the tribe of Judah. One of the songs we learned and sang at the closing of each day as we gathered in a circle at dusk, was the shema. The words became part of me, echoing within me from that point on. I have since read these verses in all the Bible translations I could find.

“Hear oh Israel, the LORD our GOD, the LORD is one!”

It is a wake up for this century — not just centuries past. Nothing is more important than God — no ruler, no country.

“You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might!”

This kind of love overwhelms you, it captures your present state of being and elevates it higher — a God who carries you in the palm of His Hand, who shadows you as you move about your daily work — who loves you unconditionally and asks the same of you. This is a wonderful consuming love!

“You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when your rise.”

What do we have to do to instill this today in our children? Each day they are cauterized against feeling through violent video games that dehumanize pain and suffering. We are captivated by unreality on television, playing the lottery hoping to bypass the day to day struggle, self medicating ourselves with drugs or alcohol to dull the pain of making ends meet or over reaching personal commitments. We make excuses why we aren’t involved in a ministry at church or even go to church regularly. I hear too often, “I don’t need a church to pray to God.”

I think God gets the short end of the stick too much of the time! I remember family prayers at dinner, a family rosary for peace on Saturdays and mass each Sunday. There was May Crowning, first communions, confirmations, special masses for the saints, blessing of our throats (against colds) and confessions — ritualistic Catholic practice to bring God into our life — each day. In school, we even made a place for our Guardian Angel to sit. An angel was a special emissary from God to protect us here on Earth ’til we were once again joined with Him. God instilled in us — morning, noon and night; heart, body and soul.

“You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gate.”

Many of us wear a cross or religious medal around our necks. We may have pictures in our homes depicting God’s walk with us on earth. We have family Bibles that are accessible on our coffee table, bed stand or book cases. Some of us carry prayer cards in our wallets with pictures of a saint, the Holy Family or Jesus. Some of us have holy water near our front door to bless ourselves as we enter and leave. Others have a mezuzah on their door frame that contains a scroll to touch as they enter and exit. Reminders, all, that we serve one LORD our God.

Read it again…slowly. How does the Shema guide you in your walk on earth with God?

Thought for the day: What habits can I establish to remind myself to remember God each day?

We encourage you to include a time of prayer with this reading. If you need a place to start, consider the guidelines on the How to Pray page.

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