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"I am the Lord Your God Who...."?

They say most preachers only have one or two sermons in them, and all the rest are just variations or a running commentary on those one or two sermon themes.

Not very flattering. But guilty as charged.

I think I have two sermons: the first is,

"There's a God-shaped hole inside each of us that only God can fill, and 99% of human misery comes from our trying to fill our God-shaped hole with someone or something other than God -- or failing that, from trying to numb or busy ourselves away from the discomfort caused by not being filled with God."

My "other sermon" is one you'll hear a variation on again this Sunday, because it comes from the Old Testament lesson that's appointed for Sunday.

And that's this: "If we can follow the First Commandment, the other nine come easily -- and the first commandment starts out not with a prohibition, but a reminder: that the Lord God is a god of freedom.

Quick: What is the first commandment? Do you know it, can you name it?

Most who do know it would say something like, "Thou shall have no other gods but me."

But that is the conclusion of the First Commandment. The first commandment is, "I am the Lord your God who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage. You shall have no other gods but me."

The first commandment first reminds us who God is. "I am the Lord your God who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage."

That's me, God says, I'm the God who, when seeing people imprisoned, enslaved - literally or figuratively - acts to deliver them.

Free them.

From whatever it is that enslaves them.

The first commandment doesn't start out as a commandment at all, but with a reminder: a reminder that it is God's inclination -- God's character, God's very essence, God's hard-wired-ness -- to free people.

And so -- as we'll explore further on Sunday -- the other nine commandments can therefore be seen as a gift from our Liberator for the free life we're meant to live.

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