Ritual

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

Preparing for Action

It’s ritual. I hate ritual. I’m tempted to pass over the description of the Passover ritual in Exodus twelve. Repetitious religious acts are often used to reinforce institutional authority and corral us into compliance. Yet, what God commands Moses in Passover, and what we continue with frequent communion, is meant to free us for rebellion. Passover is like the church meetings held before the Montgomery Bus Boycott. When we remember, we remember that once we were slaves and now we are free.

 

The ritual begins with a sacrificial lamb. The Passover story really begins with innocent children being thrown into the Nile. We tell again how little baby Moses rode along in the wicker basket of God’s grace until the time was right for him to stand before Pharaoh’s court. We speak of people like Rosa Parks. We tell how a young minister, new to the Montgomery area, was called out to lead his people. We recall how Martin Luther King was slaughtered like an unblemished lamb.

 

Sunday, September 7, 2014
Pentecost 18
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