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.
This is critical. The key word of the Passover/Communion ritual is ‘remember.’ If you say, the Exodus story isn’t your story, but instead, happened to other people back then, then you are not a member of the people of Israel. Communion becomes a meaningless ritual when it is disconnected from our personal experience of the passion story. The new Pharaoh forgets that the arrival Joseph’s people saved his nation.
So, we see the US Congress fearing to enact new immigration policy. Why? Is it that we have forgotten our personal history as an immigrant people?
The current movie, The Giver, highlights a people’s need for remembrance. Segregating history to the purview of a few academics, or to one “Giver,” always leads to loss of spirituality. Color drains away from a people focuses on avoiding reality. We should welcome conflict, diversity, and connection with the outside world.
The story of Moses in the bullrushes follows the four part rule for a good plot-line. The characters of a forgetful Pharaoh, a resourceful people, and prophetic hero (Moses) are introduced. The conflict is presented, involving a government which does foolish things out of fear. It is developed through women who rebel and take risks for the life of their people. It is resolved with the prophetic hero being lifted from the water and taken into the heart of the Pharaoh’s family. When you tell this story, say, “This is my story. I am Pharaoh, Miriam, and Moses.”