You shall observe this as an institution for all time, for you and for your descendants. And when you enter the land that the Lord will give you, as He has promised, you shall observe this rite. And when your children ask you, ‘What do you mean by this rite? you shall say, ‘It is the passover sacrifice to the Lord, because He passed over the houses of the Israelites in Egypt when He smote the Egyptians, but saved our houses.’
Why do we gather on Sunday to worship? Why do we sing songs and hear scripture? Why do we have a bath and eat at a table? Why bread and wine? Why help the poor? Why welcome the marginalized?
These are only some of the questions that come to mind as I think about our Christian faith. There are many others . . .
The passover was a world changing moment for the Hebrew people. It marked a new beginning, a change of direction, a turning of fortunes. The ones that were slaved now found themselves freed to go home, to build a nation, to self-determine their future. They could not forget this turning of events, so the repetition of the ritual acts served as a perpetual remembrance of their identity as God’s people.
We have those moments in our Christian faith. We talk about repentance, conversion, regeneration. We talk about professions of faith & its renewal. This coming Sunday we celebrate Baptism of the Lord, where we remember Jesus’ baptism and ours. These ritual acts should help us to bring back into being, to re-member, our identity as God’s people through the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus.
Maybe we, like the Hebrews, should make it a point to have our children ask us, Why do we do what we do? Why do we gather, why do we eat and drink in Jesus’ name? Why do we call ourselves Christian?
In my Christmas Eve post I talked about why that night was different than any other night. I wrote about the importance of passing on the faith through the signs, symbols, and seasons of our Christian tradition. Reading this portion of Exodus this morning reminded me again of the power of story to help us remember, live, and proclaim.
May our bath, word, meal, & life become rites of identity for us and for our children, for the life of the world!