After the U.S. elections last fall, I heard many people saying things like, “How are we going to survive this?” and “It’s never been this bad before.” My response was, and continues to be, “The people of God have been here before. If we seek to serve God, we will find a way through.” This week’s texts provide excellent directions for “surviving this.”
In the Exodus passage we see resistance at its best. The midwives and mothers work together against Pharaoh’s decree to kill all the male children born to the Hebrew people, and their numbers grew. Moses’ own mother floated him down the Nile to ensure that he would live. What does this familiar story have to tell us about resistance today? Who are the midwives and mothers who take risks and make sacrifices to ensure that lives are saved? Where do we see God’s blessing strengthening those who resist today’s Pharaoh?
The Isaiah text is a call to listen to God. If the resistance is to succeed, then God must be the one who leads. It is God who will bring the comfort, justice, and light that the captive people so desperately need. What might God be asking us to “give heed to” in these times where there is more than one oppressor loose in the world? What voices or movements bring hope, light, and the possibility of joy to a people held captive by white supremacy and greedy power-seekers?
The words of Paul could not be more timely. “Present your bodies as a living sacrifice…Do not be conformed to this world…For as in one body, we have many members…” This is great reminder that our bodies are indeed temples of the Holy Spirit and we must take care of them if we are to have strength for the work God sets before us. So, too, we are not to fall into the ways of the world, but to seek God’s ways. Resistance of corrupt political powers is spiritual and we cannot forget that if we are to find the strength to keep at it. We must also remember that not everyone has the same gifts and God works differently in each of us. As individuals and congregations how do we care for ourselves and renew ourselves for the work that is before us? Is resistance part of our spiritual practice? What gifts do we bring to the on-going struggle for peace and freedom for all humanity?
All of these tips for living as God’s people in the world culminate in the Gospel text. We must be able to answer Jesus’ question: Who do you say that I am? Peter gave his answer, seemingly without hesitation. Can we do the same? Can we say that we agree with Peter even if we choose different language? Jesus is God Incarnate… Jesus is Divine Love Made Manifest… How do we answer the question in a way that matters for the church today? How does our answer inform the way we resist the Pharaohs we encounter? What does it mean to be a member of the Body of Christ, the church?
Clearly, for me, these texts raise many questions. Maybe you have other questions. Where is the Spirit leading you this week? As always, please join in the conversation that we may take this journey together.
Rev. Dr. Rachael Keefe is an author and the pastor of Living Table United Church of Christ in Minneapolis, MN. You can find links to her blog, video series, and books at Beachtheology.com.
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