Sunday, February 22, 2015

TheTen Words fromGod pt 9, :Enough is Never Enough", based on Exodus 20:17, by Steven R Mitchell

The Ten Words from God pt 9

“Enough is Never Enough”

By Rev Steven R Mitchell

Mountain View United Church, Aurora, CO 2/22/2015

Based on Exodus 20:17


        This past Tuesday Salem UCC hosted the annual Shrove Tuesday celebration.  One of the games that we played was “Name that tune.”  So I thought in the spirit of Mardi Gras I would read some lyrics from a song and see if you can name that tune.  Some boys try and some boys lie, but I don’t let them play, no way, no way.  Only boys that save their pennies make my rainy day.  Cause we are living in a material world and I am a material girl.  You know that we are living in a material world and I am a material girl.” (the song is Material Girl by Madonna)  One more song and the hint is it comes from a Broadway Musical.  Never thought that I’d ever live this life.  Money stacked in rolls, honeys on each side.  Anything I want, I can say it’s mine.  No more worries about how can I provide.”  Need another hint?  Money makes the world go round.  Hey, makes the world go round.  Money makes the world go round.” (title is Money Makes the World go round)

        I would like to share an ancient monastic folklore.  Once upon a time, a disciple traveled for miles to sit at the feet of an old nun who had acquired an unusual reputation for holiness.  People came from far and wide simply to watch her work, to listen to her chant, to hear her comment on the scriptures.  What the seeker found when he finally reached the site of her hermitage, however, was only a tiny little woman sitting on the floor of a bare room plaiting straw baskets alone.  Shocked, the seeker said, “Old woman, where are your books?  Where are your chair and footstool?  Where are your bed and mattress?”

        And the old woman answered him back, “And where are yours?” “But I’m only passing through,” the seeker said.  “And so am I,” said the old woman knowingly. Pg 122, The Ten Commandments, by Joan Chittister   As we begin the first week of Lent, we come to the last of God’s ten words to us, “You shall not covet your neighbor’s house, wife, or anything that belongs to your neighbor.”  This commandment addresses the deepest issue of human kind – that of emptiness.  I think it most appropriate as we enter the season dedicated to reflection upon our lives that we start off by looking at the deepest affliction that affects us all – the sense that we are not fulfilled in some way. 

In the late 1970’s, President Jimmy Carter was quoted in Playboy magazine saying that “He had committed lust in his heart”.  One of Americas most morally revered President’s admitted that at least once in his life, he had “coveted” a woman.   To some this admission was highly scandalous.  I think this is an amazing show of moral character for a leader to share that he has issues of the heart.  What bothered me with the reactions across our nation was the majority sense of “what’s wrong with that?  He didn’t act upon it,” to the out and out “who cares” attitude.  The idea of “covet” is wanting something that you don’t possess, going beyond that of a desire into obsession.

The deeper question is, “what creates that desire to ‘covet’?”  The act of coveting is rooted in “lust.”  Jesus said it this way, “You have heard it said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lust has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” (Matt 5:27-28)  Jesus here combines the seventh commandment with the tenth, suggesting that even thinking about killing, or adultery, or theft, or lying, constitutes the act 128 The Ten Commandments, John Holbert   this makes use all guilty at this level of activity!

        I don’t know if you have noticed but as a scripture reference for the last few commandments I have added these two verses, “I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of slavery.  You shall have no other gods before me.” Exodus 20:2-3 For when we truly begin to believe in these two verses, we start to realize that there is only one thing in life that truly matters.  Every major religion teaches this truth in one form or another.  To the Hindu, the process is made plain in the sanyasi, the seeker who leaves all things – life, career, family – to seek the God within.  In Buddhism, the purpose of life is to achieve nirvana, the state of desirelessness in which all suffering disappears and the seeker sinks into the flow of the universe without expectations, without demands.  In Islam, it is the witness of the Sufi, who remind us that there is a life above what we call life in which creature and creator come to one heart, one mind, even now, even here.  In Hebrew, it is in the culmination that comes from the realization that the mystical awareness of the One God to which the first commandment leads us, is everything, is enough, is all there is, is what life is really about. Pg124, The Ten Commandments, by Joan Chittister

        There is a story about an exhausted American businessman who traveled to a faraway island for a vacation.  Every day he went to the beach to swim, and every day he found a native there slowly cleaning fish in his boat.  “Do you catch fish every day?” the visitor asked.  “Oh, yes,” the native said.  “Plenty fish here.” “Well, the visitor asked. “how often do you fish?” “I fish every morning,” the native said.  “But what do you do then?” the businessman asked.  “Well, “ the native said, “first I clean the fish for supper, then I take a little siesta, then I build a bit on my house, then I eat with my family, and then, for the rest of the night, I play my guitar, visit with my friends, and drink my homemade wine.”

        “But don’t you see?” the visitor asked, “If you fished all day, you could sell your fish, buy a bigger boat, hire helpers, can, pack, and sell your fish all over the world, and make a lot of money.”  “But what would I do with it?” the native replied.  “Why, you could buy a house, quit working, enjoy your family, take big vacations, and party with your friends for the rest of your life!”  “Mister,” the native said to the businessman, “that’s what I’m doing now and I only have to catch one fish a day to do it.” Pg127, The Ten Commandments, by Joan Chittister  Of course this story talks about the gnawing hunger that lust can have on our soul.

        There is a healthy need to work to provide those things that we need in life”, a roof over our heads, food to eat, clothes to keep us warm and hide our modesty, and enough for diversion through play.  But when we fail to fill our hearts with God then we move toward the unhealthy desire of lust, which is excess.  Every week we pray, “give us this day our daily bread.”  The belief in this phrase is that God will provide us with what we need: enough food, enough shelter, enough friends, enough love.  It is in the disbelief of this that things like “covet” start to root it’s self into our heart.  The sin of lust isn’t in the desire of having, as much as it is in the lack of trust we have in God.

        As start our journey into Lent this year, let us truly dwell on the word from God, “I am the Lord your God.”  I can think of no greater joy that will comfort our hearts than to truly understand the power in that one statement, for it is the assurance that we are in community with the One who dreams only the best for us.  Amen

Thursday, February 19, 2015

The Ten Words from God pt 8, "Liar, Liar, Pants on Fire", based on Exodus 20: 16 and James 3::2-6, 9-10

The Ten Words from God p8

Liar, Liar, Pants on Fire

By Rev Steven R Mitchell

Mountain View United, Aurora, CO 2/15/2015

Based on Exodus 20:1-2,16 & James 3:2-6, 9-10

        As I continue to study each of these ten words from God individually, one of the most compelling themes that I see within each commandment is not just the negative effect on the person who is violated by the violation of anyone of these commandments, but more importantly the effect that the violation has on the one how breaks the commandment.  Remember that early on in this study I suggested that we do not look at each of these commandments as “rules”, but rather as guidelines to live by.  Guidelines give us direction, where “rules” give the allure to be broken just because they are rules, and of course, with breaking a rule comes consequences.  The reality is there are also consequences when we deviate from a guideline.

For example, when you go out hiking in the mountains, there are trails that we are asked to follow – the guideline.  We don’t have to following that trail, we can stray off and make our own path.  By going off the marked path doesn’t mean that anything bad will happen to us, but what it does mean is we are walking in unknown territory.  We do not know what lies ahead of us, it could be something beautiful or it could be filled with lots of danger.  Sometimes we can unknowingly do harm when we deviate from the guideline – such as destroying a part of the eco-system by stepping on plants that might not recover from the damage done by of our feet.

        This week we are looking at the Ninth Commandment, “You shall not bear false witness.”  As I contemplated during week about what I was going to say about this commandment, I found no shortage of personal stories of how I was affected when “bearing false witness” was involved.  In fact I could hundreds of examples about the follies and destruction that takes place when we do not tell the truth.  What I realized is that this is possibly the most “personal” of any of the Ten Commandments.  Personal because each of us has participated in both telling lies and being lied to.  And because of this so personal of commandments, I think we need less examples, because we already have our own, but could use another way of seeing this commandment.

        We know that lying breaks trust.  When we steal from somebody, we are stealing things, things that can be replaced.  Much of the time, these things are insured so we might not even have to put out much money in order to replace it.  But when we lie to someone, we are breaking the bond of trust, and trust is something that often can never be recovered.  I love watching the Vampire Diaries.  One of the re-occurring activities brought out in this T.V. series, is the disasters that happen when people are either directly lied too or intentionally kept out of the loop of information, on the theory that keeping the secret or lying outright will keep that person safe, which it doesn’t.  Every soap opera, every opera, every novel tells of the same story – lying doesn’t do anything but destroy trust.  And what do you have in a relationship once “trust” is gone?

        This year some of us are studying the book The First Christmas, which might seem strange studying the birth narratives when generally one focuses on something that leads to the Easter story.  In reality, this book does lead to the Easter story, by taking an in-depth look at why in the four Gospels only two, Matthew and Luke, share the story of Jesus’ birth.  One of the most important questions asked in that study by one who is attending this Lenten study was, “if we start to dismantle a part of the scripture from the way that we have historically been taught to look at it and are told that this is the more factual way to understand it, then does that mean that other parts of the scripture are not factual and by not being factual does this mean it isn’t telling us the truth?  If any part of the scripture isn’t telling us the truth, then is our faith just a lie?  Truth is the most foundational principle that we need in order to build a relationship.  Our faith is God, comes with believing a truth, if that truth is violated, then the relationship with God becomes violated.  So in our study of this book, we are wrestling with trying to understand what Matthew and Luke were trying to tell us, when most of the story involves acts that go against what we know about physics and natural law.

        Words are an amazing thing.  How many of us think about the words that we speak as being sacred?  Why are our words sacred, Pastor?  I’m glad you asked.  Speech is sacred because it is godlike.  It creates our world!  How we speak to an infant will either help that child grow in a positive view of themselves or it can destroy the beautiful creation that they are. 

Sister Joan Chittister puts it this way: To speak is to make a reality.  To speak a falsehood about anyone or anything is to profane the self.  But it also violates creation as God has made it by naming it something other than it is.  It undermines the kind of trust the human community needs to function together as one family of God.  It erodes personal relationships.  It countermines the credibility of the self.  But more than this, lying obscures the real self- even from the self.  In lying, we begin to lose touch with what we really think, really feel, who we really are.  When we speak with half-truths, those lies reduce us to a false self, because it violates the image of God in us. Pg 101-102, The Ten Commandments by Joan Chittister

The really interesting thing is that it takes from the one who lies as well as from the one who is lied about.  Lies go on in a way that stealing never does.  People can recover with restitution.  But lies blanket both the lied-about and the liars in suspicion, mistrust, and dishonor forever.” Pg 106, The Ten Commandments by Joan Chittister

As Joan Chittister notes about the Ninth Commandment, “You shall not lie” is the spiritual mandate that is meant to save a great deal more than our reputations.  It is a commandment meant to preserve an entire people from the cancer of mistrust, the individual from the pitfalls of pride, and the society from living with the corrosive effects of a culture of deceit.” Pg 106, The Ten Commandments by Joan Chittister    As we leave here this morning, let us remember that even the littlest of lies, those that we call “white lies” are the seeds that will corrupt any relationship, but more pointedly, will be the seeds that start to eat away at our very humanity.  “You shall not bear false witness” goes so much deeper than just lying, it affects who we are as a person.  Amen

The Ten Words from God pt 7: The River of My Desires, based on Exodus 20:15 and Acts 4:32-35 & 5:1-4, by Rev Steven R Mitchell

The Ten Words from God pt 7

“The River of My Desires”

By Rev Steven R Mitchell

Mountain View United, Aurora, CO 2/01/2015

Based on Exodus 20:15 and Acts 4:32-35 & 5:1-4


        This morning I wish to start off by asking two questions.  First question: How many of you think that you have stolen this week? The second question is: What does the eighth commandment mean to you (You shall not steal)?  [read Acts 5:1-4]  I suppose the question for this morning’s discussion is how we define the act “to steal.”  The majority of the answers giving point toward “personal”, generally about personal property.

        When I was in First grade, there was a classmate of mine, named Vina Mae.  Vina Mae was not like the rest of us physically or mentally.  Because of these differences Vina Mae often was teased in very unkind ways.  When I talked to my mother about this, my mother explained to me that Vina Mae had had an illness that created these differences and that it was not nice to make fun of her because it wasn’t her fault for being the way that she was.  My mother thought she was teaching me a lesson about social behavior, of social graces, and treating people with courtesy, but she was also teaching me “not to steal!”  If I had joined in with the larger group of children in making fun of Vina Mae, I would have been guilty of stealing a part of Vina Mae’s dignity as a human being, as a child of God.

        Let me share another example that is more obvious.  In the corporate world the typical CEO’s salary is directly tied to the profitability of the company.  That seems to make sense to most people, at least to the stock holders of these companies because they continue to support this philosophy.  In Germany, the COE on the average earns 21 times as much as the average worker; in Japan, 16 times as much as the average worker.  In 1980, the CEO’s of U.S. corporations received 42 times the wage of the average worker.  By 1990, the ratio had risen to 85 times the pay of the average worker.  In 2000, it was 531 times greater than the workers whose labor made their profits possible.  It is a sad fact that lobbyists for these Corporations continue to insist that tax breaks are needed to secure the profit margins of these wealthiest companies, while working toward cutting Government spending on welfare programs. Pg 87, The Ten Commandments, Laws of the Heart, by Sister Joan Chittister

        I chose the reading in Acts as an example of how “you shall not steal” was understood in the Hebrew mind.  In the act of Ananias secretly withholding, he was not only lying to the community and to God, but more importantly, in this lie he was stealing from the community.  Why was it stealing?  Had Ananias said to the community that when he sold his property that he was going to keep some of it for himself, he would not have been stealing.  But he had pledged to give all of the proceeds from the sale to the community.  When he secretly kept for himself some of the proceeds, he broke his commitment to the community and stole from the community that which was rightfully theirs. (There’s a strong message in stewardship in that story.) 

It seems to be human nature to be greedy and possessive.  Out of this reality, the Israelites wrote laws, not to protect the rich from the poor but to protect the poor from being exploited by the rich; Laws that required the outer portions of a field of grain to be left for the poor to come and glean.  There were laws that forbid the harvesters from picking up any of the grain that fell from the cart on the way the store houses, so those who had no access to food would have some way of finding food to eat.  Giving money to beggars was required, even for the poor, there were requirements to give a few pennies to the general community once a year so that those worse off than the poor would have resources to meet basic human needs such as food. 

The Hebrew mindset understood this law as being given to protect the larger community from the greed of the individual.  … this commandment was to protect the common property of the clan: the water well, the grazing land, the sheep, from being expropriated by the individual for the sake of personal profit. It is very much like the understanding of the American Indians having about the ownership of land and goods.  Both the ancient Hebrew and the American Indian, understood that God was the owner of the earth and all that comes from the earth and that they were only stewards, caretakers of God’s property and resources.  Pg 87, The Ten Commandments, Laws of the Heart, by Sister Joan Chittister.  Sounds a bit communal or even communistic doesn’t it.  In fact this understanding flies in the face of consumerism. 

In today’s world, we understand this commandment (do not steal) to be the function of criminal law that protects the property of the rich from the greed of the poor, where as the understanding of the early listeners was that this commandment was to protect the poor from the greed of the rich.  To the Israelite, God owned the land; it had been “loaned” to them for the welfare of all.  To deprive any member of the community of their share, to deprive them of their needs, was to sin against God. 87, The Ten Commandments, Laws of the Heart, by Sister Joan Chittister 

There were no provisions in the laws about cutting off resources of the poor in order for the rich to become richer.   Yet today, our politicians each fiscal year are looking for ways to trim social service programs in order to increase our defense budgets and increase their salaries and health benefits at a time when much of the country is in economic crisis.  What is wrong with this picture?  Who is stealing from who. 

Stealing in the biblical sense, is not so much a private or personal sin as it is a social sin.  To take what we do not need, to destroy what is useful to another, to deprive those in the community of their basic needs is stealing.  As stock holders in a corporation we should be outraged at golden parachute scenarios that come at the expense of giving it’s laborers adequate shares in the profits, yet we do nothing. 

If we dare say publically that we want to live a biblical life, then we need to seriously examine what we do with this commandment of “you shall not steal.”  As a culture, we are given time and time again examples of stealing, some acceptable and some when caught are criminalized.  Corporations have skimmed off the top of employee’s pension funds, sometimes to the point of bankrupting those funds, leaving the employee without retirement income – stealing.  Presidents do it by siphoning off money from one project to another without submitting the transaction for the Congressional approval that is required – stealing.  Manufacturers do it by inflating the size of the product box without increasing the product and then charging more for it – stealing.  Vendors do it by charging what the traffic will bear rather than what the item is worth – stealing.  Now we are plagued with elections being stolen by banning voters, losing ballot boxes, and programming computer voting machines – stealing.  Any law written and put into practice that is for the benefit of the few at the expense of the majority is stealing from the community.

I asked you at the beginning of this reflection of how many of you stole this week?  I ask you to go home and go over your expenses and ask yourself once again in private if you have been stealing this week.  Take a look at what it is that you have been spending your money on, what you buy?  To whom do you give? What don’t you buy? To whom do you not give?  By looking at your financial report, you will know your theology of life.  Did you forgo giving something for personal benefit that would have benefited the larger community?  Did you keep back monies you promised God so that you could gain some personal item or pleasure?  Do you forgo pledging a biblical understanding of giving a tithe because it means you will not be able to take one of the four vacations you wish to take? 

Stealing comes in many forms and at many levels.  Ananias, didn’t have to give everything to the community, but he broke his commitment to the community.  Possessing goods and money is not the sin in “you shall not steal”, but taking advantage of those who have less, supporting systems that deny people the basic necessities of life, that is stealing.  It’s stealing from them and it is stealing away our personal humanity a little bit at a time.  As citizens in this country, we all fall subject to the eighth commandment in the most obscene way, the fact that we rarely think about or recognize how we are stealing.  Amen

The Ten Words from God pt 6: Sex and the Married Person, based on Exodus 20:14 and Proverbs 6:20-35, by Rev Steven R Mitchell

The Ten Words from God pt 6:

Sex and the Married Person

By Rev Steven R Mitchell

Mountain View United Church, Aurora, CO 1/25/2015

Based on Exodus 20:14 and Proverbs 6:20-35

“you shall not commit Adultery”


(standing in pulpit with a paper grocery bag over my head with cut-outs for my eyes and mouth – the likeness of the Unknown Comic of the 1970’s)

        Does anyone know who I am representing?  Yes that is correct, the unknown comic.  For those of you who are not familiar with him, he would come out on stage and deliver a great monologue of jokes wearing a paper sack over his head so no one knew what he looked like.  I often wondered if this was just a gimmick or did it allow the anonymity he needed in order to have the freedom to tell his jokes? 

        While studying Wisdom Literature in Seminary, I was required to give a report on the Song of Solomon, chosen by the professor, who also happened to be the Dean of Students.  Just before my presentation one of my fellow students handed me a cartoon that showed a picture of a husband and wife sitting out in the congregation.  The pastor was in the pulpit wearing a paper sack over his head.  The caption had the wife saying to the husband, “The sermon must be on the Song of Solomon.”  There were six of us students giving reports on this particular book.  The other five students gave a summation of this book of poetry being a metaphor about the relationship between Christ and the Church.  A widely held stance back in the 1980’s by traditional theologians.  I summarized this beautiful writing as being pornographic writing about a man and his beloved, hence the cartoon of the minister wearing a paper bag over his head.  Even though I seemed out of step with my fellow students, the Dean was totally supportive of my conclusions.  The fact of the matter being, discussions around sexuality is not just very uncomfortable in our society, but is almost a forbidden topic from the pulpit

A few weeks ago, I received a letter from a man who lives down in Parker, CO.  In this letter, I as the pastor and you as the congregation were being chastised not only for our open stance on “homosexuality”, but also for the fact that in our website we do not speak specifically about the need to repent from sinful acts.  By his estimation we basically ignore the warnings that God has given us through the scriptures.    What he was pointing out is most certainly true from his point of view and understanding.  Even though as a formal stance of not taking the scripture literally, we do however, take the scriptures seriously – so seriously do I take the scriptures that I tend to tread in areas that are spoken and addressed in scripture but often are not spoken in public from the pulpit, such as “sexuality.”  So this morning, I once again find myself speaking about a topic that definitely is uncomfortable for me in a public forum, but done so because I do take scripture seriously.

You shall not commit Adultery”, so what is adultery?  How we generally understand adultery is not how it was understood when this document in Exodus was written.  Let me ask those of you who are married [For those of us who are in same-sex marriages, don’t get upset, because 3,000 years ago, marriage was pretty much only between a man and a woman.], “How many of you were pronounced: man and wife?  How many of you were pronounced: husband and wife?  Does anyone know what the difference might be between these two pronouncements?  Also, can anyone tell me why the minister used to ask the question: Is there anyone who knows why these two shall not be married? If so speak now or forever hold their peace? 

In the pronouncing of “man and wife” it is supporting the understanding that the woman once married, belonged to whomever she was marrying off to.  She was nothing more than property.  The reason why the minister asked the question about anyone knowing any reason that the bride should not be given to the groom was a legal question, dealing about proper ownership.  In other words, was this piece of property legally available to be owned by the groom?  We as a society have moved beyond this concept of marriage.  In general, two people do not marry out of family arrangements, for political alliance, or protection of property, or inheritance, but we marry out of love.  No longer do we view the woman as a man’s property, although many men may feel that once married, they own their spouse.  This is the reason why most wedding ceremony pronounce the married couple as “husband and wife” and few ministers asks the question “for reasons not to be married.”

Coming back to the original question about how is adultery defined – up until the change of the reason for married, when women were viewed as property, the definition of adultery, was a man having sexual relations with a married woman who was not his wife.  A man could have sexual relationships with an unmarried woman and that would not be considered “adultery”.  In fact, from a historical stance, men were allowed to have sexual relationships with any unmarried woman.  Fornication is sexual relationships outside of the marriage bond, between a man and a woman, the man did not have to be single, but the woman could not be married, for if she was, that constituted adultery.  Adultery then, was a violation against a man’s property; a taking of another man’s property – punishable by death.

Well that was then and this is now.  Now we understand adultery in a much broader way.  I remember my mother telling me that from a biblical stance, she was an adulterer, because she had been married, divorced and then married to a second man.  My son does not allow his mother and her husband to stay overnight in his home because of his definition of adultery.  So, if we don’t take the bible literally but do take it seriously, how are we to understand and define adultery? 

It definitely focuses around sexual relationships, but I think it goes much deep and involves the concept of commitment, not just to the one that we have pledged our life to, but to the larger community.  This commitment might include children born in a marriage, there are the extended family members, even others outside of family, such as a church community if that couple belong to a faith community, it even affects the social fabric of the community in which we live, even if we do not know these people directly.

I remember a conversation I had with a man that I dated many years ago, who was a former Top Gun pilot in the Navy.  He was at that time in the reserves and had been on training in Japan.  Up to that point he had never been inclined to see marriage or a formalized commitment in any form as anything but restrictive.  He told me that while coming home, for the first time, knowing that there was someone waiting at the airport for his return that he could understand the excitement that those married men had and that he finally realized an actual freedom that comes in a committed relationship. 

        That is the foundation for any relationship – the freedom to grow.  Marriage is a relationship that goes beyond sex into the realm of intimacy.  Intimacy is that state of being vulnerable enough that allows you to grow.  This vulnerability can only be cultivated in the safety of commitment.  When we think in terms of what adultery does to a relationship – adultery is seldom what really destroys a relationship, but rather signals that the relationship has already deteriorated. 

What does intimacy in a relationship take?  It takes time, patience, trust, honesty, forgiveness, and emotional stability.  All of this takes surrender to the process of growth – individually and as a couple.  I think this is why our hearts are warmed whenever we see a couple who are in their 70’s or 80’s walking together down a street holding hands.  It reminds us of the beauty that commitment to one another brings.  Not just companionship, but of true intimacy.

        And here is the kicker - Sister Joan Chittister says: Love that lasts, that invests itself in the welfare of another, is the only human proof we have of the nature of the God who is “with us all days,” who is constant and whose constancy we can count on.  “You shall not commit adultery” is the word that calls us to truly care about the people we say we love.  Not to use them.  Not to exploit them.  Not to ignore them.  Not to patronize them.  Not to manipulate them for the sake of our own satisfaction.  People are not toys or trophies to be collected and abandoned.  The people we love are those to whom we commit our lives, entrust our futures, and share ourselves so that both we and they – they and we – can grow into fully loving people.  In this relationship, two equals are meant to become more together than they ever could be alone.  That is the intimacy that cannot be compromised – that cannot be abused – if we ourselves are, as the Hebrews knew in their eternal contract with one another, ever really to become whole. Pg 78-80, The Ten Commandments: Laws of the Heart, Sister Joan Chittister   I also believe it to translate into our spiritual lives with God.  Do we look at God as owning us, or do we look at God as being a partner?  When we see God as our partner in life, the intimacy that can develop as two equals means becoming more together than we could ever by alone.  Amen