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April 03, 2010

Easter Vigil Reflection

This is the written form of the reflection I gave at the Easter Vigil this evening

After Exodus 14:10-15:1

Upon hearing this lesson, the first thing that comes to my mind is the amazement that there are those folks who want to turn around and go back, simply because they have run into an obstacle. I’m of the mind that the Israelites should be glad that they have gotten out of slavery in Egypt and there is no reason to be whining right now. Then I started to look at their point of view, and I realize that despite the difficulties that they had faced being slaves, it was a sort of comfort zone for them, because for some, it is all they have ever known. Now Moses has come along and changed everything. Their worlds were turned upside down as they watched the plagues rain down on the Egyptians and as Moses insisted that they should be freed. To top it off, they had to leave at a moments notice, eating lamb and unleavened bread while their loins were girded. Now they have their freedom, and they’re completely out of their element. What’s probably going through their heads is “Now what?” For a few, they might be sick of what has been going on in recent memory and the cryptic instructions and they wanted to just say “Forget it! I’m done with this, I want some answers to what is going on!”

In any situation, when you leave something that has been familiar and go into unfamiliar territory, it can feel a bit scary. It could be that you’re changing jobs, moving to a new place, having a child, getting married, or even something as seemingly simple as trying a new recipe or cooking technique in the kitchen. You feel like you don’t know what you’re doing and you’re unsure this is the right way, you say to yourself “What the heck have I gotten myself into?!” So you start thinking about something familiar, the things that were comfortable for you in the past and you would love to go back to the way things were, to be safe inside that comfort zone where nothing bad can happen. Maybe you think about that beef roast recipe you’ve been making for years, or maybe your ex-boyfriend or girlfriend wasn’t that big of a jerk (you’ll remember later why they’re an ex), and you want them back, right now.

However, that’s just not how things work in any situation. Despite the fact that some of the Israelites want to go back, even if life wasn’t so great, they’re about to see that they cannot do so. God, through Moses, performs the miracle of parting the Red Sea in order to allow the Israelites to get across and out of the reach of the Egyptians. God and an angel of God put themselves between the Israelites and the Egyptians, and it’s almost like they put themselves there to give the Israelites a push forward into what would be the great unknown for them.

To further illustrate the idea of moving forward, and to prove the power of God, the Egyptians continue to chase the Israelites, never mind that they just witnessed the waters of the Red Sea get pushed back by God, and maybe that should be a hint. They don’t turn around and go back, though it eventually leads them to their doom. The Israelites witness all of this, and now they know not only that God is all-powerful, but that things will never be the same for them, and it’s time to move onward and see just what is down the road. It took a great sign and a lot of work, but it got them to finally believe, and move forward. Ultimately this leads me to think that God wants us to always move forward in our life, never backward, and in order to do that, we have to stretch our personal boundaries, step out of our comfort zone, and go into the unfamiliar. Even in that unfamiliar, God will be there to see us through and to guide and protect us.

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