What do you have stuck to your refrigerator? Perhaps the front of your fridge is bare. But maybe it’s got quite the collection: pictures of family and friends, graduation or wedding announcements, a work-in-progress grocery list, and colorful magnets with phone numbers of local restaurants or businesses.
In February, Pastor Kendra Thompson and I taught the Ten Commandments to St. Paul second graders. We sent them home with a magnet that had each of the rules listed. That way the children could stick it to the fridge, read them often, and start to memorize them.
Memorization by itself is nothing remarkable. Countless things find their ways lost in the nooks and crannies of our brains: information from grade school like chemical equations and historical dates, phone numbers and addresses, lyrics to catchy songs. But sometimes we memorize parts of our faith because they can have an impact on our everyday life.
For example, the Ten Commandments are about relationships – a relationship with God and relationships with other people. With these words hovering subconsciously in the back of their minds, the second graders start to build healthy, meaningful relationships with one another. While they are learning by heart that the seventh commandment is, “Do not steal,” they are also developing generous hearts. Eventually, these commandments become more than just rules; they are a way of life.
This reminds me of a verse from the prophet Jeremiah, “I will put my law in their minds and write it on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be my people.” Certain parts of our faith are written on our hearts and stuck in our minds. There are prayers that we blurt out when we have nothing else to say to God. Hymns that we hum on our good days and our bad ones. Iconic Bible passages that inform the way we live.
Hopefully these bright, orange magnets stand out when they are stuck on refrigerators next to the rest of the clutter of people’s lives. And hopefully the commandments themselves get stuck in their second-grade minds as they are learning how to love God and love one another.
-Josh Kestner, pastor in residency