Worship with Us This Sunday - 10:15 a.m.
Anne Rice made quite a stir this year with her “renunciation” of Christianity. Posted on her Facebook page she opined about the uncharitable ways she witnessed her church tradition behave. She likely could have been talking about any number of churches of any of the various stripes. We must own the fact that we who follow him whose trademark is charity, love, have been often possessed of something other than the same.
After years of writing vampire chick, long before Vampire Diaries or the ever popular Twilight series, Rice emerged to open up about her faith in Jesus. One of her first books was, Christ the Lord: Out of Egypt. Pastor Todd has the book “to read.” But, as many of you know he has many “to read.” The connection to this week’s texts is the subtitle, “Out of Egypt.” We often tell our stories and retell our stories. The re-telling of our stories helps our conversation partners or audience connect with a current event, experience, or crisis. “Out of Egypt” references a big story.
We could say it references God’s big story in the telling of a localized event. Egypt plays an important role in the life of Israel. The story of the Exodus is legend. Think Charleton Heston portraying Moses in the classic re-telling. We could note the connected pieces of the story – Safety from Famine in Goshen, Growing Nation within a Nation, Regime Change and the Reign of Terror, Basket Baby, Prince, Fugitive, Shepherd, Confronting the Powers, Flight at Night, and on we could go with our creative segments. Taken together the story quickly recognizes liberty, captivity, and liberty. The imagery of leaving Egypt is that of leaving captivity. Moving through the “wilderness” is the journey of hope. Yes, there are pitfalls along the way, but by the time Moses leaves the scene the imperfect people are on the verge of the new land.
Matthew tells his Christmas story. It could be summed up as “out of Egypt.” All of the pieces of the story could well contain the ongoing imagery of human life the promise of a relationship with the Creator. Jesus’ family goes to Bethlehem to be counted an subsequently taxed by the occupying power. Jesus is born. Eastern mystic/astrologers/wise men travel great distance to worship. The safety of those early days gives way to the hostile power. Time to flee. Egypt. After some time it is clear to return – out of Egypt – the young family travels settling in the land long ago promised.
Out of Egypt. We call are looking for the way out of our own Egypt. Sometimes we prefer to stay as to follow. For us, Jesus emerged out of Egypt faithfully obedient he strips the powers bare of their power … for us. Now, we may consider what life should look like “out of Egypt.” Jeremiah paints a picture of the end of travails and the beginning of dancing. Looks like we Baptists need to learn to dance.