Exodus

Passover in September?

Because it follows the Exodus story, the Lectionary tells us about Passover just after Labor Day. This seems strange, because this Jewish feast always falls in early spring, often near our Easter. What God tells Moses to do here is a ritual. Many of us flee from ritual. When people do a passover meal, they sometimes call it a “Seder,” which means an order of service or a ritual. God speaks through Moses, saying, do this and you shall live. God is serious about this and Moses must have been persuasive. How else would he get people to splash blood upon the door posts of their house? In some ways, doing ritual is our downpayment on spiritual change. We pray to be made different people. But nothing changes until we make some outward sign of commitment. So a couple wants to change and become more serious about their relationship. He buys her an engagement ring. They set a date. These are ritual things. Let’s sat you want to lose weight. You can wish and hope. Most people find that going down and actually plunking money down as a deposit on having a coach or a weight loss program and clearing your calendar so that you actually are committed to go running at 6am… I’m not endorsing any of this, I’m just saying that these are the kind of things one does. In the Bible, ritual is tied to real sacrifice. This is something you commit yourself to doing, even when it is easier to stay in bed. This is something you do even when it is expensive (Passover lamb wasn’t cheap for the people in Egypt).
Sunday, September 10, 2017
Pentecost 18

Exodus and Church Change

From time to time, churches go through transition. It may be a change of pastors, made more traumatic by the length of the exiting pastor’s term (more than 8 years), an over or under-functioning leadership style, or the presence of parish conflict. It may be that the church is changing locations or involved in a merger or parish realignment. It may be a transition to a different form or category of clergy leadership. These major changes require theological understanding and prayer. They are best undergirded by congregational study and a renewed emphasis upon the importance of worship and the sacraments.

Love the One You’re With — NOT!

A Crosby, Stills, and Nash song used to advise that when you’re down and confused because the one that you belong to with is far away, you ought to just, “Love the one you’re with.” In Exodus (32:1-14), God’s people get discombobulated because Moses is up the mountain and God seems far away.  There are times in our lives when we find our primary relationships thinned out and fuzzy. It may be that our spouse is traveling or working a different shift. Face time disappears. Every word between us is miscommunicated. In these situations, there is always someone who says, “If you can’t be with the one you love…” What follows may be an affair, a prodigal use of credit cards, or a spiteful revenge act. Exodus shows us both the danger inherent and the grace available for those traveling through this wilderness.

 

There are two parts to this story. The first is the making of convenient gods. Aaron says, “the people you love, will always leave you.” Pastor Moses gets called to another church. The God that he was an ambassador for, begins to feel very distant. It is always better to have a god at hand. One should choose ones religion, a la carte. It’s easier that way. Less rules, less stress. The same is true of relationships like marriage and child rearing. It’s only understandable that concentration slips away, because your baby is so far away.

Sunday, October 12, 2014
Pentecost 23

Hanging Ten

I have a solution to the controversy about displaying the Ten Commandment in public places, particularly courthouses. Put up only the second tablet. Traditionally the Ten Commandment (Exodus 20:1-17) have been divided, with commandment one through four on the left (or right if you are speaking Hebrew). These are the “crimes against the Lord God.” In a pluralistic society, such as ours, we have no right to expect everyone to call the same god, Holy. The second tablet of commandments deal with our crimes against each other. These six seem appropriate for the walls of our courthouses, as well as, the schools were we teach our children about civic responsibility. At first glance, the second tablet looks universal and appropriate for a diverse society such as ours.. 

 

Sunday, October 5, 2014
Pentecost 22

Returning to Exodus

If your life or your congregation is in transition, you would do well to study the Exodus cycle that runs through the fall season of the Common Lectionary. As a story teller, I’m mindful of the four parts of a good plot-line: 1) Character introduction, 2) Conflict, 3) Development, and 4) Resolution. At the end of Genesis, we are introduced to Joseph and Jacob/Israel. We are also given insights into the motivations and Character of God’s people (through Joseph’s brothers) and of their Egyptian hosts. Exodus throws us into the conflict between an immigrant people and their fearful neighbors. A break occurs. The answer God provides is a transitional process where Israel recovers identity and acquires the tools they need to overcome life’s adversities, while in the wilderness. The Thanksgiving Celebration of Deuteronomy 26 (the Lectionary misses this by a few chapters) and the entry into the promised land concludes the cycle. 

 

Exodus begins with a Pharaoh who forgets. Santayana had only half the story when he said that a people who forget their history are doomed to repeat it. The truth is, a people cannot progress spiritually until the come to grips with their history. Both slave and master are subject to irresolvable conflict and internal loss of soul, until they remember who they are and how life has brought them to this place. Transitional process always begins with a look in the rearview mirror.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014
Pentecost 16
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