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Friday, September 4, 2015

Today’s Reading | Exodus 13:3–10

Moses said to the people, “Remember this day on which you came out of Egypt, out of the house of slavery, because the Lord brought you out from there by strength of hand; no leavened bread shall be eaten. Today, in the month of Abib, you are going out. When the Lord brings you into the land of the Canaanites, the Hittites, the Amorites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites, which he swore to your ancestors to give you, a land flowing with milk and honey, you shall keep this observance in this month. Seven days you shall eat unleavened bread, and on the seventh day there shall be a festival to the Lord. Unleavened bread shall be eaten for seven days; no leavened bread shall be seen in your possession, and no leaven shall be seen among you in all your territory. You shall tell your child on that day, ‘It is because of what the Lord did for me when I came out of Egypt.’ It shall serve for you as a sign on your hand and as a reminder on your forehead, so that the teaching of the Lord may be on your lips; for with a strong hand the Lord brought you out of Egypt. You shall keep this ordinance at its proper time from year to year. (NRSV)

What do we hand down to those who will come after us? This is one of the driving questions throughout much of the text of Exodus, both in the desire to reach the Promised Land and in providing the Law, and it certainly is present in this passage about the institution of the Festival of Unleavened Bread, the festival meal that would become known as Passover. Putting the deliciousness of matzos aside, this festival was critical in continuing a sense of shared identity and history amongst the Jewish people and is still celebrated today.

Every organization, community, and family has their own unique traditions and stories that are handed down through the generations—things that create a sense of self-understanding and initiation into a community. But the arrival of each successive generation also carries with it the threat that pieces or the entirety of these traditions and stories will be lost if their lessons are not truly felt. It is not enough to merely tell the story, this passage says; it must be a sign on your hand and a reminder on your forehead. It must become a part of you.

We are often good at sharing the traditions and telling the stories of our communities and families while stopping just short of allowing them to shape us. One of my favorite stories in Fourth Church’s history is Harrison Ray Anderson standing in front of the steps of the church to allow a Japanese-American congregation to worship during the height of World War II-xenophobia . But have I lived my life in a way that so boldly proclaims God’s love and inclusiveness? May we take our lessons from Moses and the people: not just telling our story, but enacting it as well.

Dear God, help me to live my life in a way that models the deep love, hope, and caring that comes from you. Amen.

Written by Matt Helms, Associate Pastor for Children and Family Ministry

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