Monday scripture: Exodus 12: 14 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.
On Sunday we heard a story. It was not the story we are perhaps more accustomed to hearing about God's seemingly impossible interruption of status quo enslavement to create justice, freedom, and future for the Hebrews. Instead, we read a story about God teaching them how to remember this moment. There are many amazing moments. A bush burns without being reduced to ash. A voice echoes from the bush and calls to Moses. He is invited to accept a new trajectory for his life, to leave behind the comforting certainty of his own survival and enter the risky enterprise of God's plan to free the Hebrews from slavery. Many impossibilities continue upon this one. Moses staff turns into a snake and back, plagues are visited upon the Egyptians at Moses command. And although it has not yet taken place in the story we read, God will make a way for the Hebrews to escape the Egyptians, making the Red Sea into dry land. Another impossibility which interrupts the everyday to lead the Hebrews to life. They are urged not only to call these moments to mind but to re-enact God's rescue every year at the same time. These moments, in which the Hebrews are claimed as God's own and given identity and purpose apart from their labor and slavery, is rehearsed symbolically so as to remind Israel where they have come from and where they are going. The slaughter of the lamb and sprinkling of its blood a remind that once they were enthralled by the powers of death and destruction in the guise of Pharaoh the manifestation of human mastery over human. The sharing of the lamb, large family, and small, wealthy and poor a sign of Israel's destination. We are going away from mastery and usury and toward community, generosity and dignified humanity.
Why remember? why re-enact?
Let us be honest, these moments when the call from beyond is so clear and strong and obvious as to be unavoidable is incredibly rare. Ours is a life of faith, not certainty. So these moments when we have an experience, where there is event of love, justice, forgiveness, mercy, welcome, unexpectedly, impossibly, surprisingly, must be savored. Savored so we don't forget to listen to the quieter calls the subtle signals. These rare events are savored so that they sink deep into the marrow of our being, of who we are and still might be, so that this amazing experience, no past, lives on in and through us. So that the rare moment when the impossible is made possible continues to compel us and shape us and open our hearts and propel our lives towards life and guard us against apathy and despair. The word, the message may grow faint, but we can still sense its reverberations and perhaps even amplify them for the world watching and waiting and listening for a word from beyond.
We all remember and rehearse the past and it shapes our present and future. An unfaithful lover can make us afraid to risk intimacy again. An abusive parent can create a sense within us of worthlessness and timidity. Failure can make averse to test the new and unknown. Are we not then always and forever remember and rehearsing? The gift of Passover is meant to free the Hebrews from remembering and recreating the worst of their past. It is a balm, a healing, an encouraging action meant to inspire hope and courage in a people abused for centuries. Instead of remaining enslaved to recreating the worst of humanity, Passover was meant to empower them to recall their abuse and then choose a new way, a better way, a wholesome way into the future. Passover, in this instance, continues to shape us and heal us and empower us when and if we chose to regularly, intentionally remember and recreate in some symbolic way, the moment or moments in which we experienced the love of God and of human companionship. How can you create a time, space and action in which to start and end your day by remembering and recreating a moment in which you experienced the gift of God's loved, God's voice calling you Beloved.