Editor’s (admin’s) note: Excerpts from emails sent to participants in a Sunday evening adult faith formation Zoom discussion that Debi and I are co-facilitating at our Lutheran church in Springfield, Illinois. It follows Words of Life: Jesus and the Promise of the Ten Commandments Today, a book with supplemental material by the Rev. Adam Hamilton (his one-minute trailer is embedded above). The first excerpt is from a Jan. 17 blast email announcing the class, and the second is from our introduction to the first session, covering the first commandment. Housekeeping details including Zoom connections, etc., have been omitted.

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[Jan. 17]: … We want the new classes to be as much like [an adult bible study session held in the church building after Sunday services before the pandemic] as possible. (Our philosophy is “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it,” and it wasn’t broke!) We have a good core of people helping us, and together with those who have already committed to participate, we have determined the new time and format will be most convenient — and safest for those of us who can’t safely take part in group activities due to the pandemic.

The curriculum is by Adam Hamilton, a United Methodist minister in the Kansas City area who created several curricula that were well received at Luther Memorial. It’s called “Words of Life: Jesus and the Promise of the Ten Commandments Today.” You can find more info, including a 1-minute trailer, on Hamilton’s website at 

https://www.adamhamilton.com/books/item/9781524760540/ [embedded above).

Here’s his description of the book and the curriculum: “In this book of scripture and inspiration, bestselling author Adam Hamilton brings modern eyes to the most famous set of rules in history, recovering the Ten Commandments as more than just a set of onerous prohibitions. He considers the commandments in their historical context, unpacking the meaning of each commandment in Hebrew, how Jesus reinterpreted them, and how Jews and Christians have understood them over the millennia. He also explores how the latest research in science and psychology illuminates these commandments, rightly understood as a way of ordering one’s life beautifully in the present day. In a culture marked by workaholism, materialism, and social media-driven envy, God has given us a time-tested path that leads to gratitude, confidence, and peace.”

We’re planning to supplement the book with Luther’s Small Catechism. If you don’t have a copy conveniently at hand, Christ the King Lutheran Church in Houston has the text as it appears in ELW — available online at:

http://ctkelc.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/01/Martin-Luthers-Small-Catechism.pdf

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[Jan. 25]: We’re reading Adam Hamilton’s ““Words of Life: Jesus and the Promise of the Ten Commandments Today.” If you haven’t picked up your free book yet, they’re available at the church office. For Sunday, we’ll discuss his preface and Chapter One. Hamilton also has 10 videos, one for each chapter, with discussion questions and a study guide for each chapter. They’re available online, and they’re an integral part of his curriculum. Here’s a link to the first one, titled “No Other Gods Before Me”:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R-yKuoEV9xo&list=PLFcbGPrXfjC0FA8pvDscNH6dnfNFbvXs3

(They’re posted to YouTube by the Blair Road United Methodist Church in North Carolina, and you can also find them with a keyword search on “Blair Road UMC.”)

In each of the videos, Hamilton interviews Rabbi Arthur Namitoff of Temple Congregation B’nai Yehudah of Kansas City to get a Jewish perspective; when you watch Sunday’s, you’ll notice that different faith traditions number the 10 Commandments differently. Hamilton, a United Methodist minister in the suburbs of Kansas City, follows the most common Protestant numbering. As Lutherans, we use an order that’s closer to the Jewish. We’ll follow Hamilton’s lesson plans, but we also want to compare it with Luther’s Small Catechism. 

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