Exodus 2.23-3.20 (http://bible.oremus.org/?ql=452037928)
From the unseen place, Yahweh is concerned for his people. He sees and hears their cries. They are his people, yet many had turned from him to the Egyptian gods and I wonder, too, if some had dared to believe there was no god. Gods had a fearful reputation. They were capricious, mean-spirited, egotistical. They did not understand the world as ‘good’. Their jurisdiction was ‘parochial’ and rituals were cultural. The temptation to turn to local gods would have been immense. When God refers to ‘His’ people, I wonder if the people knew they were God’s people? Did they know God? Did they know God’s promises? Some people clearly did know Him and others had to be brought into the knowing. I wonder how those who didn’t know Him were coaxed into trusting the leadership and in the God who had no golden statue, no priests and a strange name.
For those who dared to trust and enter into new possibilities their journey would bring them into a new place and a covenantal relationship by which God would be their god and he would be a bridegroom to them and they would be the bride. Nowhere else in the history of humankind, has a god established this intimate relationship with the people.
We are all now in lock-down and this will look different for each of us. Still, time moves on. As Christian leaders we are so shaped by the liturgical year and many of us wonder if our liturgical formation has equipped us for this particular season. I believe we shall learn that it has! Today’s Bible reading reminds us that to make sense of Holy Week, the Passion and Cross of Christ and His resurrection, we need to come back to the Moses story, the journey of the people, their apostacy and the prophecies in which God says, He will bring them to repentance, He will atone for their sins and He will establish an everlasting covenant.
In these times of distancing and isolation, I am re-reading the prophets – I’m presently on the Book of Ezekiel. I’m particularly drawn to a key sentence in chapter 16.60, I will remember my covenant with you in the days of your youth, and I will establish with you an everlasting covenant … . As we journey together to Passion Sunday, Palm Sunday, Lent, Holy Week and Easter, we shall be reminded that the Everlasting Covenant is established through the blood of Jesus, the incarnate God, who sees us, who hears us and who knows us. There is no other covenant.
For many of us, as we enter this time of unknowing and heightened anxiety, we are being blessed with the gift of time. Friends, I would like to encourage you all to use this time to immerse yourself in the Bible. People are looking for answers to why a good and all-powerful God would permit this virus and the suffering it brings, and why are good people suffering. How will you respond to these questions in ways that are faithful to God? What is it that enrages God’s wrath in the Old Testament? Why is apostacy so problematic for God? Why is repentance so important? What are the seen and unseen consequences of all this? What bearing might this have on us today?
Dear friends, may this time of confinement be a time of prayerful reading and learning as we lean into Christ. And as we look beyond the confinement may we have stirred up in us such a desire for open churches, corporate worship and return of the people of God. May this imposed Eucharistic fast cause within the Church, a renewed hunger and thirst and deepest desire for the mystical union with Jesus our God and Groom and the foretaste of the heavenly banquet.
God keep you and those you love safe and forever blessed.