Saturday, April 7, 2012

The Light of Christ: An Exodus

As Holy Saturdays go, this was a most unusual one for me.  For the first time in my experience, Passover and Good Friday collided on the same night.  And because I was serving at St. John’s, and because it was a Friday, and because my partner and I were just too worn out, we decided to forego the Seder on Friday night… and instead celebrated it this afternoon, a few hours ahead of the Great Vigil of Easter.
I’m glad we made that decision.   Because it helped to give even greater meaning for me as I made my transition from our Seder plate at home to the gathering at the table at St. John’s. 
This period of Lent has certainly been intense for me… especially the last week.  The Jewish tradition of dipping bitter herbs into salt water to remember the tears and turmoil of the Israelites in Egypt felt real to me.  I have shed so many tears in the past ten days, I’m not sure I have any left.  I have felt very close to Christ, too.   I have experienced the pain of living in Love and truth, and finding that I am scorned and rejected by some of the very people who should know better.   Christ’s journey and his mission to bring freedom to the oppressed are as ancient as his ancestor Moses leading the Israelites through the waters of the Sea of Reeds to escape slavery.  In the same way that Moses was delivering his people from the oppression of the Egyptians, Christ’s mission was to bring all people out of their prisons of fear, prejudice, and hatred and deliver them to Love.  What makes Christ’s story the amazing, remarkable and incredible moment that it is comes with the arrival of Easter and the realization that the brutal death he endured on the cross was not the last word.  Christ beat death, too.  And that takes my breath away.
As I read the Exodus portion assigned at the Great Vigil of Easter this evening, I was drawn to the statement of Moses to the Israelites, who were scared and complaining about this seemingly fool-hearty idea of escaping from Egypt.  Moses tells them not to be afraid, stand firm and keep their eyes on God:
“…for the Egyptians whom you see today you shall never see again.  The Lord will fight for you, and you have only to keep still.”
In my recent experience, I have felt myself stuck in Egypt.  And like the Israelites, I have been feeling scared.  I have not known what is next for me in my journey with God, but I know that I have had a stumbling block put in my path that is seemingly impossible to get around.  And it is impossible, if I believe that I am the one who will remove that stumbling block. 

"The Lord will fight for you, and you have only to keep still."

As I think about my own journey, it is in those moments when I try to break up the stumbling block before me that I find myself thrashing and becoming embittered.  This is part of what led to my self-imposed exile from the Episcopal Church in the early 1990s.  The stumbling block became the "thing" that I paid attention to, and not God.  It was when God became the center and focus and reason for my being... in church and in the world... that my journey could begin in earnest.

I was reminded of that again this evening with the reciting of our Baptismal Covenant.  Nothing we do in service of Christ and for the sake of sharing the Good News can be done without God's help.   This includes warding off the Tempter's desire to pull us away from God.   The only way to move out of darkness is to follow the light.

Christ is providing that exodus out of pain, suffering, oppression and degradation.  When we trust in that, then his mission will be complete.


(The Rev.) Galen A. Mirate said...

Yes! What a superb post!

SCG said...

Thank you, Galen+! And a glorious and happy Easter to you.

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