Yesterday (10.10.13) I conducted the midweek Communion service at New College Edinburgh, and below is the reading and short reflection given during the service.
Reading: Exodus 12:1 – 11
12 The Lord said to Moses and Aaron in Egypt, 2 ‘This month is to be for you the first month, the first month of your year. 3 Tell the whole community of Israel that on the tenth day of this month each man is to take a lamb[a] for his family, one for each household. 4 If any household is too small for a whole lamb, they must share one with their nearest neighbour, having taken into account the number of people there are. You are to determine the amount of lamb needed in accordance with what each person will eat. 5 The animals you choose must be year-old males without defect, and you may take them from the sheep or the goats. 6 Take care of them until the fourteenth day of the month, when all the members of the community of Israel must slaughter them at twilight. 7 Then they are to take some of the blood and put it on the sides and tops of the door-frames of the houses where they eat the lambs. 8 That same night they are to eat the meat roasted over the fire, along with bitter herbs, and bread made without yeast. 9 Do not eat the meat raw or boiled in water, but roast it over a fire – with the head, legs and internal organs. 10 Do not leave any of it till morning; if some is left till morning, you must burn it. 11 This is how you are to eat it: with your cloak tucked into your belt, your sandals on your feet and your staff in your hand. Eat it in haste; it is the Lord’s Passover.
This is the Word of the Lord
Thanks be to God
Reflection: Being Ready
Prayer: Open our eyes O Lord, that we may see the wonderful truths contained in your Word, Amen.
Connections between the celebration of the Passover and the way in which Jesus and NT writers understood the death of Jesus are well known. To mention but two, John’s Gospel draws particular attention to the Lamb of God, none of whose bones were broken. Paul speaks of Christ our Passover slain for us. These reflections and others like them have fed into our liturgies shaping the way that Christians think of and practice our celebrations of the Lord’s Supper.
But today I want to draw attention to something that is rarely spoken of in the celebration of Passover, which may not connect much with the way that Jesus and his disciples celebrated it, but does resonate with the way that you celebrate the Lord’s Supper here in New College – that is when the bread and wine are being served we stand together around the table. In contemporary descriptive terms, the people of Israel were to eat the Passover meal, with their coats on, sensible shoes on their feet and their walking sticks in their hand – that is to say, they were to eat it ready for departure at any moment. The message was, be ready for the Lord’s deliverance. God is going to liberate you soon.
Through the way that Jesus speaks of his own exodus at Jerusalem, and the later development of the New Exodus theme, deliverance and liberation have played their part in understanding our salvation in Christ. Against our tendencies to spiritualise and individualise this liberation – I need to be delivered from my sinful habits – we are challenged by our sisters and brothers elsewhere to recognise the corporate and political elements to liberation through Christ. It is towards the fullness of His Kingdom that we are moving, not my personal heaven.
Drawing on these themes there are three questions I invite you to reflect on:
- From what do you need to be delivered? (That ‘you’ can be singular, or it can be the plural that applies to the New College community, or your congregation, or to whatever other groups you belong.)
- Are you ready for and are you looking for the Lord’s deliverance? – do you have your coat, shoes and walking stick? God has no wish to leave people in the suffering of slavery. Have you become content with and accustomed to the captivities of our age? Or are you longing for and ready for the liberation of the Kingdom?
- And a third question comes from left-field – for whom does God what you to be Moses? The Israelites needed someone to lead them into freedom. They needed a Moses. While it was the Lord who gave them freedom, Moses led them into that freedom. Paul writes, it is for freedom that Christ has set us free. But often we need someone beside us who will show us the way. As you think of the contexts of your life, for whom can you play the role of Moses?
As I ask these questions of you, so I ask them of myself.