Why is tonight different to all other nights?
Exodus 12: 1-14 (NRSV)
12 The Lord said to Moses and Aaron in the land of Egypt: 2 This month shall mark for you the beginning of months; it shall be the first month of the year for you. 3 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. 4 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. 5 Your lamb shall be without blemish, a year-old male; you may take it from the sheep or from the goats. 6 You shall keep it until the fourteenth day of this month; then the whole assembled congregation of Israel shall slaughter it at twilight. 7 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. 8 They shall eat the lamb that same night; they shall eat it roasted over the fire with unleavened bread and bitter herbs. 9 Do not eat any of it raw or boiled in water, but roasted over the fire, with its head, legs, and inner organs. 10 You shall let none of it remain until the morning; anything that remains until the morning you shall burn. 11 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. 12 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. 13 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.
14 This day shall be a day of remembrance for you. You shall celebrate it as a festival to the Lord; throughout your generations you shall observe it as a perpetual ordinance.
Have you ever picked up a book to discover it’s the sequel to the sequel? It drives me mad. It’s sometimes impossible to pick up the threads. How often do you find yourself asking “Who’s that?” or “What on earth’s going on?”
Our lives connect to God’s story pretty far into the plot so it’s not surprising we find as many questions as answers as we journey. The Bible can sometimes feel intimidating and alien — after all, its literature is thousands of years old and the world it speaks about can be unfamiliar. Take today’s passage for example - what has an ancient story about an exiled people going home got to tell us about how our God relates to us in a time of pandemic and fear?
The Passover story is one of continuity and covenant — a story of how God’s love and care for his people is unbreakable. It’s a story, too, of how our salvation is found in God.
The Passover really shouldn’t be that alien to us. Innocent blood being shed to save many. It’s no coincidence that the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus happened at the time of Passover. It’s no accident that our Communion services use the symbols of bread and wine to help us focus on what Jesus did for us.
This maybe has a particular resonance for us at the moment — where we haven’t met physically as a church for half a year and where the public taking of Communion is, itself, sacrificed for the health of the people.
Our story — as individual pilgrims in the Covid-raddled 21st century — is part of the same story as that of the Hebrews. God has made us. God loves us. God wants us to know Him. God has saved us through His Son, Jesus. Part of our response to that is to share that news with our communities and children for the generations to come.
Almighty God, we thank you for saving us. Help us share your Good News of Jesus across all generations. Amen.