Bethlehem Lutheran Church

37000 Union Lake Rd, Harrison Twp., MI 48045
(586) 791-3030

Spiritual Matters

The Shema

Posted by bethlehemlutheran on February 28, 2012 at 10:20 PM

The Shema

Our church pauses each Wednesday evening in Lent for worship and reflection. This year we are looking at the Shema, the central prayer of Judaism, which is found in Deuteronomy 6:4-9 and quoted by Jesus in Mark 12:29-30.

“Shema” is the first word of the Hebrew text. In English, the prayer begins “Hear, O Israel . . .” However, the word “shema” means more than just “hear.” It also carries the sense of “pay attention” or “listen and do.” It introduces the call to worship one god and one god only, the Lord God Almighty.

The people of Israel were influenced by the cultures around them, just as we are influenced by what is happening around us in our society. Many times they found it hard to worship only God, when their friends, neighbors, and, perhaps, spouses, turned to a myriad of gods with their requests. Maybe they thought that the more gods they invoked, the more likely that life would be good. Or maybe they didn’t want to risk insulting a foreign, but perhaps powerful and vengeful, god. Reciting the Shema twice a day and touching the mezuzah (a small decorative box containing a scroll with these verses written on it) where it hung on the doorpost as they entered their homes, helped them stay focused on the one god able to save them, the God of Israel.

As Christians, we worship the same God as the Jewish people do. How do we keep our focus when our society would pull our attention (and us) away from the one God who saves us?

Blessings for your Lenten journey,

Categories: Mary's Musings

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