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Losing Control: Identity

Sep 10, 2017 - Rev. Victoria Robb Powers

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Many of us have meals that we will never forget – perhaps a dinner to celebrate an engagement, the last meal with a loved one, or a certain dish the way your mother used to make it. For the Israelites, our Scripture today tells of the Passover meal that changed their identity in a way that would be remembered for thousands of years.

As we continue to consider how God is calling us to relinquish control to gain God’s new work, we consider giving up our identity to gain a new one.

After God sent Moses to Egypt and brought plagues on the land, our story this week picks up at the 10thand final plague. God is willing to use violence to save Israel in this story, and the Israelites put blood on their doors so that God’s violence will pass over them.

However, the narrative is really a celebration of God’s action to deliver Israel, not a story about the death of Egyptian children. In fact, there is a Passover liturgy in response to Miriam’s song after the Egyptians drown. In this liturgy, God silences the people and asks why they would sing as God’s Egyptian children are drowning.

The story of the Exodus is certainly a story about deliverance, but not the deliverance of one people over another. God does the work of liberating all people and setting free God’s children who are in bondage. The traditional Passover menu is not a particularly tasty meal that we would want to remember like grandma’s pecan pie, but it is a symbolic meal to remind the people that they are no longer enslaved and forgotten, but heard by God and set free.

The Passover festival is a remembrance that celebrates their new identity because of God’s faithful work – they are a people who God has set free. They are now a people who belong to God and who have a hopeful future because of God’s promises. As we receive communion in worship each week, we perform our own celebration ritual in which we remember that God has given us a new identity because we are now liberated and are God’s own hands and feet in the world.

Food for Thought:

  • We need to re-member each other by remembering that we are one with all other humans because we are made in God’s image and including others as members of God’s family. Is God inviting you to reconcile a relationship with someone else this week?
  • Our world is one that threatens to extinguish hope – especially as we read daily of hurricanes, floods, shootings, and nuclear weapons. Take a moment to meditate on God’s faithfulness in the Exodus story and surrender your anxieties to God.
  • Take a moment to write down some aspects of your identity. Is God inviting you to give up any of these things to be God’s hands and feet in the world, or is God trying to transform this part of you in some way?

May you find deep hope that the God who freed the Israelites from Egypt is the God who has set you free. Amen.

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