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Lenten Devotions from Fourth Presbyterian Church

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Today’s Scripture Reading | Exodus 12:1–14

The Lord said to Moses and Aaron in the land of Egypt: This month shall mark for you the beginning of months; it shall be the first month of the year for you. Tell the whole congregation of Israel that on the tenth of this month they are to take a lamb for each family, a lamb for each household. If a household is too small for a whole lamb, it shall join its closest neighbor in obtaining one; the lamb shall be divided in proportion to the number of people who eat of it. Your lamb shall be without blemish, a year-old male; you may take it from the sheep or from the goats. You shall keep it until the fourteenth day of this month; then the whole assembled congregation of Israel shall slaughter it at twilight. They shall take some of the blood and put it on the two doorposts and the lintel of the houses in which they eat it. They shall eat the lamb that same night; they shall eat it roasted over the fire with unleavened bread and bitter herbs. Do not eat any of it raw or boiled in water, but roasted over the fire, with its head, legs, and inner organs. You shall let none of it remain until the morning; anything that remains until the morning you shall burn. This is how you shall eat it: your loins girded, your sandals on your feet, and your staff in your hand; and you shall eat it hurriedly. It is the passover of the Lord. For I will pass through the land of Egypt that night, and I will strike down every firstborn in the land of Egypt, both human beings and animals; on all the gods of Egypt I will execute judgments: I am the Lord. The blood shall be a sign for you on the houses where you live: when I see the blood, I will pass over you, and no plague shall destroy you when I strike the land of Egypt. This day shall be a day of remembrance for you. You shall celebrate it as a festival to the Lord; throughout your generations you shall observe it as a perpetual ordinance. (NRSV)

This is foundational stuff, this institution of the Passover meal, both for the Jewish people and for us Christians. Three of the four Gospels describe Jesus’ last meal with his disciples as an enactment of the meal prescribed here (the fourth Gospel has John the Baptist call Jesus the “Lamb of God”). Both the epistle to the Corinthians and 1 Peter teach early churches that Jesus is the “paschal lamb,” the “lamb without blemish.”

Christians look to this meal to inform our sense of who we are and how we are to be in the world. Just as much as the Hebrew people on the verge of emancipation from the global empire of Egypt, we too are called by God to comport ourselves “hurriedly,” that is, never so attached to the present order of things that we can’t move out on an hour’s notice to follow where God is leading us. Jesus urged disciples to follow “immediately,” and they often left home and livelihood to do that.

This way of being in the world is counterintuitive, which, I think, is why it is ritualized in something as fundamental as a meal. Bodily action shapes thinking. Enacting this meal in this way over and over again impresses an identity upon a people. It’s why we celebrate the Lord’s Supper as the meal that equips us to go out and be God’s servant people in the world today.

Eat up.

Guiding God, lead us out into the world as your people, called, fed, and sent to share your good gifts with all your children. Amen.

Written by Rocky Supinger, Associate Pastor for Youth Ministry

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