11This 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.
Walter Brueggemann calls this a ‘festival of urgent departure.’
The festival, of course, is the passover, in which Israel would yearly recall God’s decisive rescue of the people from the slavery in Egypt. Each year they were to remember, through the blood marking, that they were highly valued and powerfully protected by God. Each year they were to remember to be a restless people. (I’m still paraphrasing Brueggemann’s work here)
Why be a restless people?
William Loder, in his wedding prayer that I often use, includes this line for the couple being wed, that I think illustrates being a restless people; ‘Help us to not make peace with that which will not bring us peace.’ This is a challenging prayer for at least two reasons. First, it suggests that as a people, Christians will always live with a certain amount of discomfort in whatever cultural system they exist in. If we are focused on the coming Kingdom of God, as we pray each and every Sunday, ‘Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done,’ we will inevitably begin more and more to notice the times, places, and ways in which God’s Kingdom is absent and not present, God’s will thwarted or opposed and not honored. And that is discomforting.
This is Brueggemann’s point about restlessness. That Israel should remind itself regularly not to become ‘at home’ with systems, cultures and practices that seem safe, comfortable or convenient, but which subtly oppose the Kingdom of God. To be restless, to not make peace with that which is not ultimately peaceful, is painful. It leaves us at odds with friends and neighbors. It makes us sound like lunatics and malcontents. And who wants to be seen that way and thought of in those terms
Except that remember that we recall that Jesus was accused of madness and demonic possession for his restlessness. When Jesus commanded that his disciples take up a cross and then go into the world without extra clothes or money, he was commanding them to be restless as well. To see honestly the brokenness and pain which they had become numbed to for so long and to resist the urge to remain silent and still for feeling powerless to change or afraid of the consequence.