Silken Ricker Playing the church organ
While we may look upon this story of the birth and rescue of Moses with wonder, if we are truly honest it is horrifying story.
As I have reflected on this story from scripture my heart breaks for the mother of Moses. My heart is shredded for the nameless and faceless mothers and fathers who we are led to assume had their children taken from them and killed. This is a story of the cruelty of fear and hatred run amok and attached to power.
Scripture tells us Pharaoh becomes convinced the Hebrews are growing in numbers and power and are now a threat to the safety and security of the Egyptians. They are seen as outsiders. Strange and clearly breed much faster than good and proper Egyptians. Ridiculous and fanciful opinions with no basis in fact. But perhaps we recognize how such assumptions still hold strength a few thousand years later.
The writers of Exodus, certainly offer the warning that such fear of the outsider; the immigrant; the foreigner; can lead to the horror of dehumanizing attitudes and policies that point to terror and death. It’s not that we should need further warning. Our world is filled with examples. There are far too many vivid examples of how this happens over and over again. And yet, we seem to need repeated warnings and clear illustration of where we should stand if we claim to worship the God of love, freedom and life.
No, this is hideous story; but one that brings with it the promise and the vision of hope. God does not abandon us even in these heart rending and terrifying times. But also; God works through the people around us. God works through us. God finds people, sometimes unexpected and overlooked people to be the heroes of this story.
Two midwives, who dare to stand up to Pharaoh and resist his orders while using his bigoted assumptions against him to get away with their resistance.
Moses’ mother and Pharaoh’s daughter are next. Moses is cast into the Nile, but in such a way to preserve his life and offer him a new future.
The salvation of God’s people is set in pace, in a time of terror and heartbreak. A time of death and hatred.
This is not uncommon in scripture. We are constantly treated to stories of heartbreak, of pain and death; stories of betrayal and oppression. But it is also in those deep valleys of death and grief, that God is shown to be at work, sewing the seeds of hope and new life.
Even as Joseph is betrayed and sold as a slave, his father left to believe him dead, the eventual salvation of the people of Israel is put in motion.
Even as Jeremiah warns the people of Jerusalem of the conquest of their beloved city, he buys a piece of land, telling them the hope of return is still alive.
Even as Jesus makes his way to Jerusalem and his execution he promises his followers something new; although warning them they too must be prepared to suffer persecution and death.
Following God does not grant us a pass on grief and death. God does not shield us from the realities of this world. We are not protected from the terror and the brutality of empires that use the tools of fear and death to hold on to power and the status quo. That is reinforced over and over in scripture.
But we are assured God hears our cries and God works through us and others to offer a path to something new and a guide to a new and promised land of freedom and peace.
God does not take away our reasons for weeping. God does not stop the march of time. But God hears our cries. God wipes away our tears and God points us towards something new. God offers new life, new opportunities. A new way of living that focuses on love, on a celebration of life and freedom. God answers the call of those who are despised and feared. God comes to rescue those who are oppressed. In doing so God rejects the call of fear and hatred and mistrust. God calls us to be better than that.
Let us put our trust in a God of love; a God who calls us to resist a call to live in fear of those who are different from us. The God who calls us to reject the temptation to look down on those who we don’t know and to push back against the messages that encourage us to blame outsiders for the apparent troubles we might face. In other words let us reject the evil of racism, of white supremacy, of misogyny and homophobia. Let us reject hatred and authoritarianism and embrace the love and courage offered by God and work to create something new and truly alive.
We are called to put our trust in God, to live with the hope God is working in and through us and our neighbours to show us the way to the freedom and peace we desire. It may not be easy. It most definitely requires work, but we can do it. God has faith in us. Let us put our faith in God.
Permission to podcast /stream the music in this service obtained from CCL I
streaming license number 20369698, Size A.