Originally I read the prompt as mountain! That would be apt for our host Kate's words about her struggles with pain management and medication-related weight gain. It's not unusual for meds to affect a person's weight, plus it takes relatively few extra calories to cause natural weight gain and what is more, even when a person does well shedding pounds and changing their overall eating patterns, the final ten often is tough to budge because you've reached what someone called the "set point" your body wants to maintain because otherwise you might starve yourself (according to your body's logical rationale).
As it turned out, when I went back to copy the link and get the picture, I discovered maintain is this week's actual prompt. Over on my scripture blog I often write about freedom, obedience, community, and common-wealth.
On the third new moon after the Israelites had gone out of the land of Egypt, on that very day, they came into the wilderness of Sinai. They had journeyed from Rephidim, entered the wilderness of Sinai, and camped in the wilderness; Israel camped there in front of the mountain.
Then Moses went up to God; the Lord called to him from the mountain, saying, "Thus you shall say to the house of Jacob, and tell the Israelites:
You have seen what I did to the Egyptians, and how I bore you on eagles' wings and brought you to myself. Now therefore, if you obey my voice and keep my covenant, you shall be my treasured possession out of all the peoples. Indeed, the whole earth is mine, but you shall be for me a priestly kingdom and a holy nation. These are the words that you shall speak to the Israelites."
So Moses came, summoned the elders of the people, and set before them all these words that the Lord had commanded him. The people all answered as one: "Everything that the Lord has spoken we will do." Moses reported the words of the people to the Lord.
You know the story! Out of Egypt, still far from promise landed liberty in the place God first promised Abraham, technically Israel was free, yet after God quenched their thirst and filled their hunger in surprising ways, Israel received the Sinai Covenant with guidelines and boundaries as gifts that would help them stay free.
Scholars consider both the nomadic desert lifestyle and the commandments constitutive events for God's people Israel, similar to how the constitution of an organization or a country defines its heart and substance.
God gifted Israel with the ten Words or Commandments after they'd been liberated from slavery, been freed from production quotas. Out of imperial Egypt, into the exodus desert, on their way but not yet at the promised land, they'd learn to maintain that freedom by keeping covenant. Slavery to empire no long would be their frame of reference; instead they would reverence God by serving the neighbor.
Just as for Israel, especially heeding the sabbath command helps us remember bondage, helps us appreciate freedom and maintain resolve to stay free. In a world of political and commercial empires, Sabbath reminds us to make life as gift a possibility for others.
"This is freedom. This is a weapon greater than any force you can name. Once you know this, and know it with all your being, you will move and act with a determination and power that the federal government cannot ignore, that the school boards cannot overlook, and that the housing authority cannot dismiss." Martin Luther King, Jr., Chicago, 1966
In the chapter after today's we find the Ten Words or Decalogue that outline how the people can maintain their freedom—what Hebrew Bible scholar Walter Brueggemann calls God's Working Papers for living together in community—for Israel's, and for ours, as well. God's people whose bounded freedom helps maintain life and avert death.
You also can find the Ten Commandments of the Sinai Covenant in Deuteronomy 5:5-21.