Reflections on Exodus 12:1-13, 13:1-8 & Luke 22: 14 -20 (for October 4, 2020)
Two words tie our texts for this week together: covenant and exodus.
In the Older Testament, God is promising a covenant of protection to the people of Israel, on the eve of their exodus out of slavery and into the wilderness journey. And in the Newer Testament, Jesus – who is about to have his exodus from the earthly realm — is promising a new covenant to his followers.
It seems striking to me, to juxtapose the ideas of exodus and covenant, especially in 2020. Globally, we are looking for a way out of an unprecedented pandemic and economic collapse. What will be our exodus, and does it feel like we have started a wilderness journey? Trusting in science and not-yet-to-be vaccines certainly means putting faith in an unknown future. Here is America, we are looking toward a November election, wondering what (if any) exodus is in store, and how that will challenge our commitments to our faith communities, our global neighbors, and our hurting planet.
And in the midst of all of it, we are still fighting systemic exploitation, oppression, and racism that holds us accountable to consider how our covenant with “good trouble” have been kept and have been broken. It is enough to weigh a pastor’s heart down, and the news is even speculating that the task is enough to send pastors on their own spiritual exodus. (you can read more on that here.
I have wondered out loud during this turbulent year of 2020: is God calling us into a “new” covenant once again – one where the very definition of love is being transformed? What does covenant look like in these strange and uncertain times – covenant both with God and with each other?
To preach a message of hope during these increasingly fear-filled days is the challenging task at hand. I am considering these avenues of hope in the exodus/covenant theme:
• Maybe we can find hope in honoring the Israelites at the beginning of their journey into exile, with a reminder that they wandered forty years in faithfulness. In their times of faith and in their times of doubt, God sent manna for their journey. What is the manna that we are experiencing, as we look at forty years of Civil Rights troublemaking?
• Maybe we can find hope in God’s faithfulness to covenant. Even when we do not understand what the future holds (this is true both for the Israelites and for the followers of Jesus), we can look to these scriptures to remind us that God’s covenant holds us throughout wilderness, crucifixion, and pandemic.
• Maybe we find hope in the idea that crucifixion is not the final word – that resurrection will come, and with it a deeper covenant. That whether it is an election cycle, a pandemic, or ongoing injustice, that God can work for good through all situations and our covenant to that should never falter. (a wonderful theme to incorporate into a World Communion Sunday). What do you think a new covenant looks like for an earth in pandemic? For nations divided within and among? For your community of faith looking for new ways to worship?
There is a good present day exodus story in the new show TRANSPLANT, if you need sermon illustration LOOK HERE
For World Communion Sunday liturgy: LOOK HERE
Rev. Cathy M. Kolwey is a writer, artist, pastor, and chaplain who lives and works in rural Minnesota. She has worked at the intersection of theology and the arts since 2001, and currently blogs at http://www.cmkolwey.com
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2 thoughts on “NARRATIVE LECTIONARY: Looking for a Way Out?”
I really appreciated the BibleWorm podcast this week and how they talked about the urgency in this story — and that people who have become used to the situation (which is not as it should be), or for whom the current reality actually kind of works, need to participate in these rituals that create a sense of urgency that prepares us for God to change the world so much that it will literally re-set the calendar.
I also appreciated another conversation somewhere about the whole business of households sharing a lamb, and that built in to this new covenant is an expectation that the community will care for each other and ensure that everyone is able to participate.
I’m trying to figure out how many strands I can tie together (restarting time! community inclusion! the importance of how ritual forms us! the need for some of us to wake up to the urgency of the situation! the fact that this is the story God uses to define Godself–“I am the Lord, who brought you out of Egypt” and what that means for how we define ourselves as covenant partners who have been freed…) in one sermon. hahahahah.