Grace and peace to you, from God our Father, and our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Amen.
This morning, we hear one of the most familiar stories in the Old Testament. Last week, we remembered how Jacob’s son, Joseph, was sold into slavery by his brothers. We have skipped the part where Joseph becomes second in command to Pharaoh, and brings his family to live in Egypt to save them from a famine. But when a new Pharaoh comes to power, he enslaves the descendants of Joseph. This week, we catch up with his descendants, as they are finally freed from 400 years of slavery.
The Israelites have finally been freed from slavery, but just as they get to the Red Sea, the Egyptians come after them. Pharaoh leads his army to reclaim the Israelites and return them to slavery, saying
“What have we done, letting Israel leave our service?” So he had his chariot made ready, and took his army with him; he took six hundred picked chariots and all the other chariots of Egypt with officers over all of them. When the Israelites see the army approaching, they turn on Moses—complaining that Moses has brought them out of Egypt only to die in the desert.
But God comes to their rescue, parting the Red Sea so they can cross, and drowning the Egyptian army. The Israelites are safe, but they are also in the wilderness and they cannot return to Egypt. As the Israelites travel through the wilderness, there will be many times that they are scared and want to go back to Egypt.
In a way, we too are in the wilderness. We have come through a pandemic, and—just like the Israelites—while there seems to be a lessening of COVID, our world has changed so much that as we go forward, we might feel like we want to return to “the way things were” before COVID. But—just like the Israelites—we cannot go back to the way things were. Too much has changed. We, too, are in a strange new reality. And many things we were able to do before, we are not able to do now.
We are also like the Israelites because we are not alone. Just as God remained with the Israelites through the difficulties of traveling to their new reality, God is with us as we move forward into a new way of living and working in our post COVID world.
We gather here each week, in-person and online to be in the presence of God. And we are reminded that God’s love for all humanity is so strong that Jesus came to live among us. Not as God in disguise, not as a super hero come to save us from all our difficulties, but as one of us, fully human, reminding us that God’s love for us knows no bounds.
Through Jesus, we learn to live lives connected to God and connected to each other through worship and prayer and hearing God’s Word for us. We are reminded to love each other as God loves us. We live out God’s love when we love and care for our neighbors, when we lift up those who are in need of our help and care. We also live out God’s love for us when we love those, who disagree with us—really love them. That means being able to disagree without being disagreeable.
As we move forward in our new world, we will still gather for worship and prayer and fellowship, just in new ways that fit where we are, not forgetting who we are, or who we belong to. Amen.