I want you to feel that music of that anthem the choir just sang, that gospel genre about "Go Down Moses". That music has stirred the souls of generations. Our choir did amazing and when their voices are joined with the voices of the likes of Louis Armstrong, I feel a shiver up the spine. I feel the verve, and the determination, and the life-full-ness with each repetition of that powerful refrain, let my people go.
This fall, we are reflecting on our spirit lives in concert with the Exodus Epic, and epic which begins with the Sacred One, with the Great Creator, with God hearing the suffering cries of a people. The story is about liberation. Now we are reading a particular story about a particular people who name their god in a particular way, Yahweh, but we also recognize that the liberating spirit alive in the story reverberates across time and culture allowing each of us to cry let my people go
In the time of Jesus, When children were being denied access, Jesus said no, Jesus said let the children be. The children were his people. Now Jesus was no child, but he became one with the suffering of their being denied access. In that moment, the children were his people and he was crying let my people go.
One of my favourite theological books is called Proverbs of Ashes. It is written collaboratively by Rita Nakashima Brock and Rebecca Ann Parker. In this book, these two women do theology by sharing their life experiences. By telling their stories, by revealing their struggles, they choose not to remain anonymous behind academic prose, but to wrestle with life and God in life in an open and transparent way.
Through two voices, through the telling to two tales, they articulate a theological vision for resisting violence and affirming life. They speak about their journeys of healing as both Rita and Rebecca Ann recount ashes in life, ashes created by violence and loss and also ashes left by life-denying theologies of self-sacrifice that diminished their persons. In their reflections as two individuals deeply committed to the Christian faith, they were puzzled that they were often left feeling diminished and imprisoned by theologies which shackled their passions rather than releasing a fiery passion for life and for God.
Exodus – Infant Beginnings
In a time where wars wage, we are ironically exposed in our Biblical readings with the Hebrew story of the Exodus. In these Biblical readings, we are invited to hear the story anew and perhaps hear the story differently even as we remember this story impinged deeply on the consciousness of Jesus and is constantly alluded to by the writers of the Christian gospel.
The early gospel writers utilize the Exodus story to articulate the story of salvation and wholeness as a story of liberation from oppression and as a journey home, the journey to the “soul home”. Over the next few weeks, as we reflect on our spirit lives, as we reflect on our own faith journeys, as we consider our own ongoing quest for freedom and liberation and wholeness, we will listen to the Hebrew story of Exodus. We will also listen for insight to respond to the challenges faced in our world.
Today, we begin by doing as our gospel reading heeds, welcoming Spirit as a child. We return to a childhood story, the birth of Moses. You may or may not know the story. The infant life of Moses was threatened by an evil monarch known as the Pharaoh. In the story, the mother of Moses floats him down the Nile River in a basket to save his life. The floating basket with the infant Moses is discovered by the Pharaoh’s daughter who not only rescues the child, but adopts the child as her own.