Read Exodus 20:1-17.
The Ten Commandments are given to Moses on top of Mount Sinai. Preparations for the ascent have taken three days and we learn in Exodus 19 that the visibility is a bit like that experienced on the first ascent of the 70 Munros challenge – almost nil.
Although Moses's was a solitary trek, the summary of the Ten Commandments, given by Jesus, puts community at their heart. 'Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength, and with all your mind, and love your neighbour as yourself.' (Luke 10:27)
This neighbourliness is emphasised by Old Testament scholar Walter Brueggemann:
'The new commands at Sinai voiced YHWH's dream of a neighbourhood, YHWH's intention for the common good.
'They are not rules for deep moralism. They are not common sense rules designed to clobber and scold people. Rather, they are the most elemental statement of how to organise social power and social goods for the common benefit of the community.' (1)
Christian Aid holds a vision of the common good at its heart, a vision of righteous and joyful justice among humankind, a vision of a world where men and women may flourish and live in peace with one another. (2)
‘One in three women around the world experience sexual violence or violence perpetrated by a partner.'
We intend to walk the next two Munros on the day before International Women’s Day. We do this as an act of celebration of women around the world; we do this as an act of commitment to keep walking towards the common good of the entire global community.
We walk to bear witness to the women across the world who do not have to climb mountains to be taken out of their comfort zone.
Women who are vulnerable in the face of disasters and emergencies, as well as in the birthing of children, who are powerless to protect themselves against sickness, infection, injury and economic poverty and who are silently under-represented in politics and decision-making.
We walk to bear witness to the one in three women who will experience sexual violence or violence perpetrated by a partner. (3)
We walk, at this mid-point of Lent, inspired by Elema, Bokiya and Galgalo on our Count Your Blessings journey, women and men who are tackling issues of gender-based violence, female genital cutting and enforced marriage in Ethiopia.
We walk inspired by women walkers and climbers from across the world and through the ages. Women like Annie Smith Peck, who in 1911, at the age of 61, unfurled a 'Votes for Women' banner atop the summit of the 6,425m high Coropuna in Peru.
Women like Claude Kogan, who was determined 'to prove that women were every bit as determined and tough as male mountaineers'.
Women like Zoe Hart, who reminds us that 'a North Face doesn't care if I'm a man or a woman, it just asks me to be tough, to suffer with or without grace.'
The Ten Commandments were given to a newly liberated people and we read them today through the lens of grace.
From the mountaintop they give us a view of how things can be for the whole human community. They invite us on the 'journey to the common good, a trek that all serious human beings must make'. (4)
God of justice,
we pray for those who make the laws that govern all our lives,
and who shape the framework of our communities.
May they include women among them,
take into account the lives and needs of women,
and so create a world in which women and men
can live in peace and security,
rejoicing in our shared flourishing
and celebrating a common dignity.
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(1) Walter Brueggemann, Journey to the Common Good, Louisville, Kentucky: Westminster John Knox Press, 2010, p7.
(2) Susan Durber, Of the Same Flesh: exploring a theology of gender, p7.
(3) Susan Durber, Of the Same Flesh: exploring a theology of gender, p7.
(4) Walter Brueggemann, Journey to the Common Good, Louisville, Kentucky: Westminster John Knox Press, 2010, p2.