Do not murder -

This is a sermon by Malcolm Peters from the Riverside Church service on 7th June 2009.

Click here to read the bible passage. Click here to use larger text.

 [Daisy appears during song]   

Me:     O Hello Daisy.  Did you have a good half term? 

Daisy:    Steam-tastic!

Me:   Steam-tastic?   So did you go to the Manchester Science museum or something?

Daisy:    Nop.  We stayed on a campsite near Whitby and went on the North Yorkshire Moors railway. 

 

Me:    And it was steam-tastic was it?
 

Daisy:    Certainly was. 

Me:      Excellent.  And what else did you do?

Daisy:    We did loads of walking in the Moors. 

Me:   And..

Daisy:    And we went into Whitby.   

Me:    Do you do the Abbey?

Daisy:  Boring - dad wanted to keep stopping to read all these notice boards.

Me:    Yeees…  Anything else? 

Daisy:    Yeah, on the last day, we went to Flamingo Land.   

Me:    And did you enjoy that?

Daisy:     Well I lost my sun glasses on one of the rides.   

Me:       And you weren’t v happy about that?

Daisy:   Neither was mum!

Me:    But apart from that it was good was it?   

Daisy:   Well everything apart from the journey home.   

Me:     What you got stuck in a traffic jam or something? 

Daisy:      Well we weren’t going that slowly, but we kept on being overtaken by all these other cars and motorbikes.     And one car was packed with older boys and girls who were making funny hand signals as they went past!

Me:    I see.

Daisy:   Mum said they were probably a bit frustrated being stuck behind a caravan. 

Me:    Right!

Daisy:    But dad said they were a bunch of bird-brains who should never have been let loose on the road. 

Me:     Yesssss.   Well that’s the kind of thing this month’s Commandment is all about. 

Daisy:      I thought we were up to Commandment No 6:  No murder. 

Me:    We are.

Daisy:    So what’s that got to do with caravans and boring car journeys?   

Me:     Well actually, quite a lot!

Daisy:    I’ve never murdered anyone and I don’t know any murders.  [Looking at the audience doing some pretend shooting]  Any of you lot shot anyone recently.    [pause]  Good, didn’t think so.  No murderers in church today!

Me:    No you’re probably right. 

Daisy:   So that’s easy then.  Commandment No 6:  No murder.  Time for the last song and then some yummy special cakes. 

Me:       How did you know about the special cakes afterwards? 

Daisy:      had a peak in the kitchen before the service didn’t I!

Me:     Right;  but coming back to Commandant No 6: 

Daisy:      No murder.    

Me:     Right!

Daisy:   And that’s easy compared with all that stuff we did last month about the Sabbath.

Me:    Well maybe, but maybe not.   

Daisy:   What do you mean, maybe not?

Me:    Well in that passage we read earlier, J mentioned Commandment No 6:

Daisy:    Yep – you have heard that it was said long ago, ‘Do not murder’;

Me:   That’s right Daisy.  And like the other months, we’ve got Commandment No 6 in picture form coming up on the screen.  And in His Sermon on the Mount, J was reminding the people of Commandment No 6 when He said:    “You have heard that it was said to the people long ago, 'Do not murder, and anyone who murders will be subject to judgment.'

But what did he say next?

Daisy:   Urmmmm. ..  Something about being angry with your brother.

Me:    Well remembered Daisy.  Let me read v22 again [v 22 on screen]

“But I tell you that anyone who is angry with his brother will be subject to judgment. Again, anyone who says to his brother, 'Raca,' is answerable to the Sanhedrin. But anyone who says, 'You fool!' will be in danger of the fire of hell.

Daisy:    Oh [twitchy and increasingly uncomfortable];  not sure I get it. [mini- pause]  I mean, what’s Raca all about and what’s the Sanhedrim?   

Me:    Well the Sanhedrim was the Jewish court at the time, so they could decide whether you were guilty of a crime or not.   And Raca; well Raca was a term of abuse;  the underlying word means empty.  And so calling someone Raca in those days was a way of saying that someone wasn’t very bright.   So for us, instead of saying Raca, people today might call someone an airhead. 

Daisy:     Or a bird-brain. 

 

Me:    Or a bird-brain, yep.  

Daisy:    So what you’re saying is my dad’s broken Commandment No 6 because he called someone a bird-brain. 

Me:  It’s not what I’m saying that matters it what J says that counts:     

You have heard that it was said 'Do not murder, and anyone who murders will be subject to judgment.'  “But I tell you”, J went on, “that anyone who [calls someone Raca or bird-brain] is in danger of the fire of hell.

Daisy:    But I don’t get it?  How can calling someone a birdbrain be as bad as killing them?

Me:    Well let’s have a think shall we.  What’s Commandment No 6;  what this month’s banner all about?

Daisy:  Not shooting or killing anyone.

Me:      No quite;  it’s No murder.   

Daisy:      What’s the difference.  How can you kill someone without murdering them?

Me:    Well actually there is a difference.  Our laws, which are based on the Bible, make a distinction between murder and manslaughter. 

Daisy:    Manslaughter.

Me:     Yes, manslaughter.    Manslaughter is when you kill someone by accident. 

Daisy:    How can you kill someone by accident. 

Me:  Well lots of ways;  people die in accidents all the time.  Every day in our country, people die in road accidents.    Can you remember last year a teenager being killed when he was knocked over by a bus in Ferensway?

Daisy:    Oh, yeah, we had an assembly about road safety after that.

Me:    So did that bus driver commit murder? 

Daisy:     Will I think the teenagers were playing chicken and so it wasn’t the bus driver’s fault. 

Me:   It wasn’t murder then?   

Daisy:    Of course not.   

Me:   But someone still got killed.   

Daisy:   Yes.   

Me:    So what’s the difference between murder and manslaughter?

Daisy:      Urmmmmm.   One’s an accident and the other isn’t?

Me:    Yes sort of.  Both lead to someone being killed, but murder is when you do something with the intention of killing someone.  That’s the difference. 

Daisy:   And Commandment No 6 is only about Murder and not accidents or manslaughter.

Me:   Well the Bible does have things to say about manslaughter and accidents;  we love our neighbours as ourselves by trying to avoid accidents and keeping safe, like when we cross the road.  But yes, Commandment No 6 is talking about murder.

Daisy:    About deliberately killing someone?

Me:   That’s right.   Murder doesn’t just happen;  it begins in the mind.  Murder means you’ve thought about it;  you’ve worked out how you’re going to kill someone;  you’ve got hold of a gun and the bullets;  murder means you’ve planned a way of doing the dirty deed and then gone ahead and actually done it. 

Daisy:    That’s bad. 

Me:    It is.  So if murder means the person has thought about it and planned it, how do you think the murderer must feel about the person they’ve killed. 

Daisy:     They must really hate them. 

Me:  That’s right.  They must be really angry with them.    And that’s the point.  Murder doesn’t begin with the gun.  No murder begins in the mind.  It begins with feeling cross about someone.  Murders happen when people allow feelings of anger to grow and get out of control.  Murder happens when you end up so angry and cross with someone that you hate them;  you hate them so much you want them dead;  and you don’t just want them dead, but you’re prepared to make your wish come true.  Most murders aren’t random.  Most murders are the result of a relationship gone badly wrong.  [pause]
So who do you think’s the most likely person to murder your dad?

Daisy:    Those boys that he called bird-brain. 

Me:    Nop;  that kind of thing does happen, it’s called road rage.  But apparently the most likely person to murder you dad is your mum. 

Daisy:   Nooooo. 

Me:  Now I don’t want you to be frightened and go home saying to your dad:  dad,  the vicar’s says mum’s going to murder you.    No, the point’s this:  murder starts in the mind:  murder’s usually the result of a relationship gone wrong.  And so we’re on the road to murder when we get angry with people;  and we’re on the road to murder,  even when we’re calling people names like Raca or bird-brain;  because name-calling and anger can lead to hatred, which can lead to murder.    And so J says:  Commandment No 6 isn’t just about pulling the trigger:  No Commandment No 6 is all about not even having bad thoughts about anyone.   [Memory verse on screen]
And that’s what the memory verse and strap line are all about this month:   “Commandment No 6;  No murder:  don’t even think about it.”     [repeat]      Excellent.

Daisy:   Sop my dad did break Commandment No 6?   

Me:  Well if he was angry with those boys, then yes, he broke Commandment No 6. 

Daisy:  [hesitantly]   Right.  [Pause]    So what about other names? 

Me:  What kind of other names. 

Daisy:    Thicko!

Me:    Thicko!  Does someone call you thicko at school?

Daisy:  No.   

Me:  Do you call someone else Thicko?

Daisy:  No.

Me:   So where did you get that name from then.

Daisy:    Well there’s this girl at school called Thea, and she has a special teacher come in to help her do her reading because she can’t read properly even thought we’re in Year 4.  And she’s always getting her spellings wrong.    And so all the girls in the playground call her thicko:  you know to a tune that goes:  thicko thicko, Thea is a thicko. 

Me:  So you do call her thicko then.

Daisy:  No not me;    

Me:    You just said all the girls.   

Daisy:  Not all the girls, just some of them, and especially Emily. 

Me:   And is Emily your friend. 

Daisy:   No really.   

Me:   Why not?

Daisy:    Well I wanted to be her friend, and she lets me join in her games sometimes..,

Me:     She lets you join in her games….. 

Daisy:  Yeah, at lunchtime, Emily decides which of the girls are allowed in her gang as she puts it. 

Me:  And you’re not in her gang.    

Daisy:   Well I have joined in a couple of times and I wanted to be her friend, but…….

Me:   But then what????

Daisy:  Well last Monday when I was telling them all about Flamingo Land, Emily told me that I was too sad to be in her gang;  and then she told all the other girls in the gang that they weren’t allowed to talk to me any more.   

Me:    Oh Daisy.  So how did that make you feel?

Daisy:     I cried. 

Me:    So did any of your teachers help. 

Daisy:   No I didn’t cry at school.   Anyone who cries at school gets called a cry baby.   

Me:    What, by Emily?

Daisy:  No by the boys. 

Me:   Right.  So when did you start crying then?   

Daisy:  [looking sheepish] When I’d gone to bed.  I put my head under the pillow so no-one would hear me. 

Me:   What you didn’t even tell your mum? 

Daisy:   No. 

Me:  And then what? 

Daisy:   Well I had this dream. 

Me:   So did that make you feel better?

Daisy:   Not really!

Me:  So what was the dream then?

Daisy:   Well I dreamt that we were all back in Reception and that I’d buried Emily in the sand pit and then me and all the girls in her gang were patting her with our spades until she started crying. 

Me:   Oh Daisy!

Daisy:  It was only in a dream.

Me:  But you’ve been thinking about it all week haven’t you.

Daisy:    Yes.

Me:    And what have you been thinking?   

 

Daisy:  That I hate her and that I want to stamp on her foot. 

Me:    And what do you think J thinks about those kinds of thoughts. 

Daisy:    [looks away sheepishly;  slowly says:]   don’t know

Me:   I think you do Daisy because that’s exactly what we’ve been talking about this morning.   What did J think about your dad calling those boys bird-brains.

Daisy:   Wasn’t happy, was he.   

Me:    That’s right, your dad broke Commandment No 6.  He didn’t murder anyone.  But J tells us that breaking Commandment No 6 starts with having bad thoughts about them;  which can lead on to calling them names;  which can lead on to wanting to hurt them;  which could lead on to wanting them dead.   Bad thoughts about people are the first step to murder.    So let me ask you again:  what do you think J makes of your thoughts about Emily?

Daisy:     Not happy I suppose. 

Me:   Not happy at all.  Just like your dad, you’ve broken Commandment No 6.  You’ve not murdered anyone, but J says, you’ve taken the first steps. 

Daisy:    So does that mean I’m not a Christian any more?

Me:    Well do you still believe that J was God and that he died to take the punishment for all your sins.   

Daisy:    Yes, of course.

Me:      Well you’re still a Christian then.

Daisy:    But what about sins that we keep on committing even after we’ve become Christians.

Me:  What you mean like breaking the 10 commandments. 

Daisy:   Yes.   

Me:  And especially Commandment No 6. 

Daisy:   Yes.  It’s really hard to stop thinking bad things about someone who’s been so mean to you. 

Me:   I know Daisy. I know exactly how you feel.  But that’s the whole point about being a Christian.  None of us are perfect, that’s why we need J's forgiveness in the first place.  That’s what becoming a Christian was all about remember?   

Daisy:    I do.

Me:    And even in today’s passage we’ve had another reminder that when we break the commandments we face God’s judgment as a consequence.    That’s the bad news;  we’re all guilty of breaking Commandment No 6;  and so, without J, we’d all be facing God’s judgment.  But the heart of the Christian faith is that forgiveness is possible because of  J;  because J died on the cross taking the punishment for all our sins.  And because of that, we can be forgiven. 

Daisy:  If we believe and trust in J. 

Me:    That’s right.  Just as you did a couple of years ago  [and just as Mike and Leanne have professed earlier in the service as well]

Daisy:    So I’m still forgiven then?

Me:    Well even as Christians, we still sin.   It’s not that we say, Oh well it doesn’t matter, we can do what we like and God will forgives us.  No as Christian, the HS lives within us and shows us lots of things He wants to change.  So yes there’s ongoing forgiveness, but He also wants to help us live more obediently. 

Daisy:   I see.

Me:   Excellent.  Well we’ll have going to have a prayer of confession in a few moment that would be OK for people who are already Christians and who want to confess their ongoing sins to God;  but it’s a prayer that would also be good for anyone who wants to confess their sins to God for the first time. 

Daisy:   Can’t wait.   ]pause]  

Me:     But before we do that’s let’s go back to Emily.   

Daisy:   Do we have to?

Me:   Yes, it’s important.  And yes you broke the 6th commandment in your thoughts about her.  So yes it’s right to seek J’s forgiveness for that.   But Emily was being mean by treating you like that;  and as Christians, it’s right to try and stop her, just like grown-up Christians would want to stop other bad things in our world.  But we need to try and stop bad things in the right way.  So, why don’t you tell your mum about Emily this afternoon and then, maybe, your mum might want to go and have a chat with your Teacher. 

Daisy:    [tentatively]   Ok, I’ll talk to mum. 

Me:  Good.    So what’s commandment No 6:  [commandment No 6 on screen]
No Murder;  don’t even think about it.    [repeat?]

Still me:  OK, let’s turn to that confession coming up on the screen;  I’ll read it through once, and then we’ll go back to the beginning and all join.  OK.  

Lord God, we have ignored you;

                        we have lived as if you were not there;

                        we have broken your rules.

                        We are sorry and repent.
                        Forgive us according to the good news of your gospel.
                        And help us to follow Jesus as our King

                        for the whole of our lives, being ready to obey.  Amen.

 

[Daisy Joins in]

Absolution

[Daisy exit during Song 5]

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