Sunday, October 2, 2016

Posted on Sep 30 2016


What’s happened since last week? We left the story of Joseph and his brothers and families all reunited down in Egypt. Joseph dies at a good old age. The Israelites grow to be a large population. The Book of Exodus begins with this foreboding note: “Now a new king arose over Egypt, who did not know Joseph.” This leads to the Hebrew refugees being enslaved and severely oppressed. God hears their cries! God calls Moses to confront Pharaoh. In a struggle to show that God is God and Pharaoh is not-there are 9 plagues that take place. Each time, Pharaoh’s heart hardens against God and the people. The 10th plague is the plague of death on the first born in every Egyptian household. It’s a wrenching story, where God turns the violence of Pharaoh back onto his own people. The night of “Passover” is the story of how God spared the Hebrew people from this plague of death (“passed-over” their houses). A ritual meal remembering what God has done to deliver them is to be observed every year!

 Digging Deeper: 1. The event of the Exodus (exit from Egypt and slavery) unfolds with this very symbolic meal: roasted lamb (the sacrifice for sin), bitter herbs (a reminder of the bitterness of slavery), and unleavened bread (a symbol of haste; it was time to get out of Egypt!)

  1. Notice that every Israelite and household is included. Neighbors were to share with those families too small or poor to have a lamb of their own. The blood from the lamb was to be used to mark the doorpost of each Israelite home, so that the plague of death would not come near that house.


  1. For our Jewish sisters and brothers, “Passover” is the equivalent of our Easter celebration. It is the defining act of what God has done to deliver the people from slavery and suffering (and death) in Egypt. (Passover normally falls in the week before Easter!)


  1. When Jesus began the sacrament of Holy Communion with his disciples, it appears they were in the midst of (or the day before-in John), a Passover meal celebration. Jesus takes this deeply-rooted Jewish tradition, and re-purposes it, calling the bread-his body; and calling the wine-his blood. This is where early Christians came to refer to Jesus as the “true passover Lamb, who takes away the sins of the world.” That image is very much tied into our service of Holy Communion. We sing “Lamb of God you take away the sin of the world….”