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There is a Way

There is a Way

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Published by David Driedger
A sermon on the Passover in relation to communion
A sermon on the Passover in relation to communion

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Published by: David Driedger on Oct 14, 2008
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06/16/2009

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1
There is a Way
(October 12, 2008; Exodus 12; Thanksgiving and Communion)Despite all the confusion we might feel about the upcoming federal election thereis a certain clarity and a simplicity in the method that politicians use. The method is to polarize the issues and the participants. Churches often get criticized for being to literalor naïve in its thinking but I suspect it is the politicians who create a much more distinctuniverse of black and white. For the conservatives the plan is simple. If you want shakyunstable leadership then vote for the Liberals. If you want calm steady leadership thenvote for the Conservatives. I was listening to a brief speech made by NDP leader Jack Layton and he told us that in this election we have two choices. Well actually we have aseries of choices with two options. He said that we can choose a prime minister whofavours the boardroom table or one who favours the kitchen table. You can choosewrong-headedness or progressive alternatives. In summing up the two options Laytonsays that you can choose policy or people. You can choose someone who is down toearth and connected to people. Or you can choose the power-hungry lackey of the UnitedSates administration. In the end I suspect this sort of rhetoric has left many of us feelingas though there really is no choice at all.It is these sorts of false choices that make up one significant part of the story of the Exodus. God established his call and promise through Abraham as we heard aboutlast week. Then as times became difficult for Abraham’s descendents, the children of hisgrandson Jacob, these people moved into Egypt where there was food and becauseJoseph, one of their own family members, lived there in a position of influence. Here theIsraelites were fruitful and multiplied.
 
2However, in time a new king came into power that did not know Joseph and he began to be concerned about these new people in his land. The people were not native to Egyptand became numerous to the point that the king of Egypt viewed them as a threat and putslave masters over them to oppress and control them. The people were enslaved in Egyptfor 350 years when a boy named Moses was born. The mother of Moses feared for hislife because the Egyptians were trying to kill all the new born boys. Moses was placed ina basket and set out on the Nile River. One of the Egyptian king’s daughters found Mosesand raised and cared for him.As an adult Moses became distressed by the way that his own people were beingtreated and even killed an Egyptian for harassing one of his fellow Hebrews. It seemedthat both the Egpytians and Hebrews seemed to turn on him after this and he fled toMidian. It was in that place that God spoke to Moses from the burning bush and calledhim to set the Israelites free from their slavery in Egypt. Moses returns to Egypt and asksPharaoh to release the Israelites to worship God at Mt. Sinai. Pharaoh rejects Mosesrequest and suffers under 9 plagues inflicted by God each one of them though result inPharaoh’s refusal to release the Israelites. Finally God tells Moses that there will be onemore plague after which Pharaoh will release them. God will pass through Egypt and killevery first-born son in the land.God tells the Israelites to prepare for this by slaughtering a lamb and preparing a particular meal. From the blood of the lamb each household is to smear some of itaround their doorframe. God told Moses that “The blood will be a sign for you on thehouses were you are; and when I see the blood, I will pass over you.”
 
3While it is still in the middle of the night after God’s angel brought death as it passedthrough Egypt until Pharaoh finally tells the people to leave and to take whatever theywant with them. The people appeared to be saved as God gave them safe passage outEgypt. Not wanting them to have to face the Philistines God led them through the desertuntil they were camped on the shore of the Red Sea. At this point we find that Pharaohhad already changed his mind and did not want to lose his free labour and so he went outwith his army to chase after them. Now it is important to remember that when we read the Bible it is like we aregetting God’s commentary on the situation. For us it is like seeing an instant replaywhere we have the experts explaining what happened after we already know the result.In this commentary in Exodus we read that God in fact prompted Pharaoh to again comeafter the Israelites. The Israelites themselves though don’t appear to have known this.They were likely still coming off the rush of being rescued and their hearts were juststarting to settle down as they camped at the edge of the Red Sea. As stories of the day’sevents were told around campfires and as expressions of thanksgiving were made therewas perhaps one or two who looked up and noticed something on the horizon. Beforetheir eyes even had a chance to properly focus they saw that it was the Egyptian army bearing down on them. The text in Exodus is straightforward it says, “As Pharaohapproached, the Israelites looked up, and they were terrified and cried out the Lord.” TheIsraelites were quickly sorry they ever left. They cursed their deliverance and wished for the predictability and provision of slavery rather than the vulnerability in which theyfound themselves in wilderness.

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