June 7, 2015: From Bondage to Bonding

Posted on : Jun 4th, 2015 | By | Category: This Sunday's Service

This Sunday we begin our summer worship series “A Faith Journey through the Book of Exodus.”

Last summer and fall we journeyed through the book of Genesis, which in Hebrew means, “Beginnings.” Genesis is the first book of the Jewish and Christian scriptures. It highlights the beginning of a relationship between God and a community.

Exodus, the second book of the Jewish and Christian scriptures is the story about how the faith of this community of believers is tested as they wrestle with “Who God is” (and isn’t), what belief in this God entails and all kinds of real-life drama!

Why Exodus? Anthony Robinson, one of our UCC Still Speaking writers, offers one of the best answers to that question. He says:

If we want to come to know God, the God of Abraham and Sarah, of Moses and Miriam, of Mary, and Paul, and of Jesus; and the God who is today still speaking, then diving deeply into the Book of Exodus is among the very best ways to do that. The God we encounter here takes risks, is both powerful and vulnerable, and works in surprising ways to fulfill God’s purposes.  We study Exodus, as we study all Scripture, to hear God, the still speaking God, speak to us in our own time and place.

The faith story in the Book of Exodus is our faith story today. Most of us know many of the main stories in the Book of Exodus, like the birth of Moses and his mother saving his life by giving him up to Pharaoh’s daughter, the ten plagues God sends upon the Egyptians, and Moses parting the waters of the red sea, allowing the Hebrew people to escape Pharaoh’s enslavement. Most of us know something of the people of God wandering in the wilderness for forty years, the giving of the ten commandments, the people’s infidelity as they turn on God and worship idols, and of course the “manna (bread) in the wilderness” story.

What we may not realize is that these stories about a people’s faith are not stories of long ago, but stories of our faith experience today. The context and details are a bit different, but they are about our faith story – our struggles, our joys, our attempts and failures in being faithful to and with God and each other, and our own journey from slavery to freedom, from idolatry to trust, and our own journey to enter “the promised land.”

Since the first half of the story of Exodus is centered on being set free from slavery – the things that enslave us and our lives – Some of the questions we need to ask are, “How did we get here?” “How did we get into this mess in the first place?” “What did we do to end up enslaved?” Ironically, this didn’t happen from the outside. It happened from within. Ever so innocently, the people of Israel “sold” themselves into slavery, and from there, things only got worse.

And that is still so true for us today. It’s not until we’re in over our heads that we notice we’ve sold ourselves into slavery. That is where we begin this Sunday in the first chapter of the Book of Exodus. Exodus 1 continues with the story that is found in the last chapters of the book of Genesis:

Then Joseph died (whom we heard about in Genesis), and all his brothers, and that whole generation. But the Israelites were fruitful and prolific; they multiplied and grew exceedingly strong, so that the land was filled with them.

Now a new king arose over Egypt, who did not know Joseph. He said to his people, ‘Look, the Israelite people are more numerous and more powerful than we. Come, let us deal shrewdly with them, or they will increase and, in the event of war, join our enemies and fight against us and escape from the land.’ Therefore they set taskmasters over them to oppress them with forced labor…But the more they were oppressed, the more they multiplied and spread, so that the Egyptians came to dread the Israelites. The Egyptians became ruthless in imposing tasks on the Israelites, and made their lives bitter with hard service in mortar and brick and in every kind of field labor. They were ruthless in all the tasks that they imposed on them.

How did we get into this mess? And how do we get out it?

Join me this Sunday as we begin our faith journey from bondage to Pharaoh to bonding with God.

Blessings,

Dan

 

 ~ This Sunday’s Scripture ~

How Did We Get Here?

Exodus 1: 1-14

These are the names of the sons of Israel who came to Egypt with Jacob, each with his household: Reuben, Simeon, Levi, and Judah, Issachar, Zebulun, and Benjamin, Dan and Naphtali, Gad and Asher. The total number of people born to Jacob was seventy. Joseph was already in Egypt. Then Joseph died, and all his brothers, and that whole generation. But the Israelites were fruitful and prolific; they multiplied and grew exceedingly strong, so that the land was filled with them.

Now a new king arose over Egypt, who did not know Joseph. He said to his people, ‘Look, the Israelite people are more numerous and more powerful than we. Come, let us deal shrewdly with them, or they will increase and, in the event of war, join our enemies and fight against us and escape from the land.’ Therefore they set taskmasters over them to oppress them with forced labor. They built supply cities, Pithom and Rameses, for Pharaoh. But the more they were oppressed, the more they multiplied and spread, so that the Egyptians came to dread the Israelites. The Egyptians became ruthless in imposing tasks on the Israelites, and made their lives bitter with hard service in mortar and brick and in every kind of field labor. They were ruthless in all the tasks that they imposed on them.

Leave a Reply