For most of the next month our worship services will be centered on bible passages from the book of Exodus. This book tells the story of the Israelites and their escaping from slavery in Egypt and attempt to reach the land of freedom that God has promised them. At its heart, the book discusses the themes of covenant and community.
On the theme of covenant, the people frequently ask questions about how faithful God will be to them – just how much can they trust God’s covenant? Likewise what is God’s expectation in return – do the people have to do anything to earn God’s favor? What should their religious practices look like – are they like Egypt’s, or Canaan’s or are they something unique?
On the theme of community, the people are trying to find an identity, to understand what it means to be a nation of their own, and to create the rules and responsibilities that should organize them. What does a community under God look like? How can they ensure justice will reign? Who takes leadership and how are they selected?
The book of Exodus is still an important book for us today as Christians. Although we have not recently escaped from Egypt and are not in the birthing stages of our own nation, many of the questions and issues are still ours.
Covenantal relationship with God remains difficult. We still wonder if we can trust God, and we complain when it feels like God isn’t doing what we want. We still ask what we must do in response to God’s love and grace, and sometimes believe we have to earn them. We still debate what religious practices are acceptable, and what we can use from other religions and what must be uniquely Christian.
Likewise, community is still a struggle for us. Look at our nation. We are deeply divided, and we still have no idea what it means to be “one nation under God, indivisible with liberty and justice for all”. We lose track of that ideal so easily and become racist, individualist and elitist. We are still trying to find our way to build a community of deep and meaningful relationships that feels like the Promised Land.
So the book of Exodus has a lot to offer us as we read about the ancient Israelites and reflect upon our contemporary situation. I invite you to read the book throughout the month as we study it in worship. Use it for reflection upon our own covenantal relationship with God and the ways that we can build better and stronger community with each other. Perhaps we will find answers, or at the very least we will discover that our search is not new, nor are we alone in the journey because God is with us.