The text is really long this week. I mean really long. It’s hard to know where to go, what to include, or maybe just do the whole thing and see where it gets ya! (Will they fall asleep?!) What’s a preacher to do?
I’m thinking of a different approach this week. The Exodus story is one that many in the pews, even the least biblically familiar, will know. They’ve seen the 10 Commandments, Prince of Egypt, or the horrible Exodus:Gods and Kings movie with Christian Bale (Apparently Moses talks like Batman?!. But do they know the Exodus story – the forgotten one?
There’s something interesting happening in this first chapter of Exodus. It’s a forgotten story, or perhaps one that’s not told frequently. What does it mean to have no memory of “better times?” This goes beyond wishful, nostalgic thinking, but rather is a reach into a history where a life of freedom, mutuality, and respect was present – true community.
But now has come the time where in Egypt there is no memory; “a king arose in Egypt who did not know Joseph.” The result: people are in slavery, in bondage. They longed for better times.
However, there are signs of blessing. “The more they were oppressed, the more they multiplied.” And that brings us to this little known story about two Hebrew midwives, whose seemingly small (and pretty clever and bold) action becomes the catalyst for a greater story: the Exodus story of liberation we have all come to know and to love.
Where I am going with this? How are things with your people, your congregation this week? Does it feel like there’s no memory of a “better time?” Are they held captive in the present by struggle? Conflict? Loss? Wishful thinking? I wonder if these things and many more cloud us from seeing the blessings of God at work in our lives and communities of faith.
Now, how we recover that memory of a better time is a mystery to me. I’m not even sure in my own context, much less feeling confident to suggest anything for yours. That is your task, preacher, and I know you will preach it well.
But Shiphrah and Puah’s story asks an important question: “Who are the catalysts in God’s kingdom, doing God’s work in seemingly small ways that serve as the start of something greater?” Do people see themselves as catalysts, God working through their small actions? What might that look or feel like?
I wonder if this little known story, brought back into our memory, helps us recover a sense of our own memory of those “better times” when we could say with certainty and joy “Thanks be to God!” I wonder if these little known midwives, might help us imagine ourselves as catalysts in these times where we’re held captive by our memory loss. As the familiar campfire song goes, “It only takes a spark to get a fire going…..”
Blessings to you as you preach the old, old story….remembering God’s promises and re-membering people into a sense of belonging and mission as God’s chosen, the Body of Christ.