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Focus

Pay attention to the tension in your body. Let go of it and any expectations to do anything other than God’s will today. Prepare yourself to hear God’s word.


Read

Exodus 12:1-13, 21-28 (NRSV)

The LORD said to Moses and Aaron in the land of Egypt: This month shall mark for you the beginning of months; it shall be the first month of the year for you. Tell the whole congregation of Israel that on the tenth of this month they are to take a lamb for each family, a lamb for each household. If a household is too small for a whole lamb, it shall join its closest neighbor in obtaining one; the lamb shall be divided in proportion to the number of people who eat of it. Your lamb shall be without blemish, a year-old male; you may take it from the sheep or from the goats. You shall keep it until the fourteenth day of this month; then the whole assembled congregation of Israel shall slaughter it at twilight. They shall take some of the blood and put it on the two doorposts and the lintel of the houses in which they eat it. They shall eat the lamb that same night; they shall eat it roasted over the fire with unleavened bread and bitter herbs. Do not eat any of it raw or boiled in water, but roasted over the fire, with its head, legs, and inner organs. You shall let none of it remain until the morning; anything that remains until the morning you shall burn. This is how you shall eat it: your loins girded, your sandals on your feet, and your staff in your hand; and you shall eat it hurriedly. It is the passover of the LORD. For I will pass through the land of Egypt that night, and I will strike down every firstborn in the land of Egypt, both human beings and animals; on all the gods of Egypt I will execute judgments: I am the LORD. The blood shall be a sign for you on the houses where you live: when I see the blood, I will pass over you, and no plague shall destroy you when I strike the land of Egypt.

Then Moses called all the elders of Israel and said to them, “Go, select lambs for your families, and slaughter the passover lamb. Take a bunch of hyssop, dip it in the blood that is in the basin, and touch the lintel and the two doorposts with the blood in the basin. None of you shall go outside the door of your house until morning. For the LORD will pass through to strike down the Egyptians; when he sees the blood on the lintel and on the two doorposts, the LORD will pass over that door and will not allow the destroyer to enter your houses to strike you down. You shall observe this rite as a perpetual ordinance for you and your children. When you come to the land that the LORD will give you, as he has promised, you shall keep this observance. And when your children ask you, ‘What do you mean by this observance?’ you shall say, ‘It is the passover sacrifice to the LORD, for he passed over the houses of the Israelites in Egypt, when he struck down the Egyptians but spared our houses.’” And the people bowed down and worshiped.

The Israelites went and did just as the LORD had commanded Moses and Aaron.


Reflect

Time after time, Moses and Aaron had gone to Pharaoh with the Lord’s command: “Let my people go!” Every time Pharaoh refused. Nine times, the Lord sent plagues, but still Pharaoh said “No way!” Now the scene was set for the final disaster, the death of firstborn children and animals.

First, God gave instructions for the people of Israel to engage in the ceremonial slaughter of a lamb. They were to smear blood from the sacrifice on the doorposts of their houses and then to eat the sacrifice in its entirety. That night, while death struck all the Egyptians, God “passed over” the homes of the Israelites.

Thereby began the annual celebration of Passover, observed by faithful Jews to this day. And in that miracle of God’s grace we have the roots of Christian communion. Remember that Jesus went to Jerusalem to celebrate Passover just before he was crucified. Almost his last act with the disciples was the Passover meal.

The next time you gather with other believers to share the Lord’s Supper, remember the miracle of God’s grace in ancient Egypt. Then look for signs of God’s miraculous presence in your life and faith community.


Pray

God of ancient and modern miracles, we praise you for your grace made known to us. Help us to see signs of your presence among us and to share the wonder of your love and forgiveness this day. Amen.

Go with God.

Jim McGuire

Jim McGuire

James D. McGuire is mostly retired, a member of the Presbytery of East Tennessee. He and his wife, Maribeth, worship regularly with the Greeneville (Tennessee) Cumberland Presbyterian Church.
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