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The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America

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July 15, 2005

Keeping the Ten Commandments

The question is: Where?

The Supreme Court late last month ruled in two 5-4 decisions that it was OK for Texas to keep its stone monument inscribed with the Ten Commandments on the grounds of the state capitol. But that the courthouses in two counties in Kentucky couldn’t keep framed copies on their walls.

But, of course, not even the Supreme Court can really decide where anyone “keeps” the Ten Commandments. We keep them—or don’t—in our memories, we who learned them by heart in our confirmation classes. And memorized their meanings, too, from Luther’s Small Catechism. We keep them—or don’t—in our daily lives. And mostly, we don’t.

Still I hear from people all month long, every month, who I believe keep the Fourth Commandment in a wonderful way. You know it: Honor your father and your mother. And you probably recall Luther’s explanation, too: “We are to fear and love God, so that we neither despise nor anger our parents and others in authority, but instead, honor, serve, obey, love and respect them.”

So how do these people keep this commandment: They send me the names of their parents and grandparents, their sisters and brothers, their aunts and uncles, their friends in their congregations...who are turning 100, or more. There’s a whole column of these names, and a few photos, too, on the Faces page in this month’s print issue. They send the names to honor these elders, yes. And they send the names with love.

Here’s just a few of the comments that come my way:

My grandmother just celebrated her 100th birthday, and a mention in your magazine would make her day!

From a church secretary: Please publish this 101st birthday. She’s one of our most active members.

She is a talented gardener with a beautiful yard that reflects her efforts. ...Thank you for making my grandmother’s 100th birthday so special.

From a retirement home: “He’s 102 years young next month. Never a car owner, he preferred riding his bicycle until age 89, when his doctor advised him to use a stationary bike instead.”

And, from a pastor: Thanks for including “Gertie” in the Lutheran. She is a special member of our family.

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