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Lenten Devotions from Fourth Presbyterian Church

Monday, August 31, 2020  

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)

These days unity may feel like a nearly impossible achievement. Divisions in opinion, perspective, and circumstance seem plentiful. In the US we have disagreements over political candidates, foods we should eat, and even sports teams we should support. And yet, oddly enough, the threats to our public health have brought fresh awareness of what we share in common, for the sickness that affects one impacts us all.

One of the more interesting aspects of the classic telling of the Passover story, as the Israelites readied themselves to make a fast escape from Egypt, is the way in which it describes unity. For one, we find that this event gave all the Israelites a reordered sense of time. While we are not told on what day of the week the events of Passover took place, the text tells us that in the hearts of the people it was to be the first day of the year and of a new life. Then we are told that despite varying economic circumstances, unity was to be achieved when those whose households were too small to acquire a whole lamb were enjoined with those who were larger and had the economic capacity to do so. No one is to be shut out of the meal because of their condition. Eating together is about being rescued together. The fates of those who were comfortable and those who struggled were linked. As the Passover ritual takes shape you can sense, in a palpable way, a growing unity and recognition of shared identity.

How might such displays of unity shape our approach today? Consider the ways in which everyday rituals you and I partake in depend upon and link us to others. As you increase your awareness of those who prepare your meals, its journey to the table, and the inequities that make some go hungry while others eat their fill, seek God’s wisdom in prayer.

Gracious God, just as you provided the Passover Lamb thank you for giving me sustenance this day. Help me see how my nourishment depends upon others; then lead me to be an instrument of your abundance for all. Amen.

Written by Joseph L. Morrow, Minister for Evangelism

Reflection and prayer © Fourth Presbyterian Church

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