Exodus 12:1-42. Jews all over the world celebrate Passover every year and Christians celebrate communion frequently. Both of these deeply symbolic rituals are grounded in the celebration at the end of the tenth plague. Moses has continually confronted Pharaoh of Egypt with God’s message, “Let my people go!” Pharaoh agrees and then relents nine times. Each time God is revealed more powerful than Pharaoh or his magicians or his officials. To prepare for the night of the tenth plague the Israelites are given extensive instructions about choosing, caring for, slaughtering, and eating a goat whose blood is to be smeared on their doorposts. The angel of death will pass over any home marked with the blood of the lamb. Hence this ceremony is called Passover. After the tenth plague, Pharaoh grants the Israelites their freedom. It marks the liberation of the Israelites from slavery in Egypt. This story is foundational to the identity of the Israelites and is remembered and retold throughout the Bible. What is the big deal?
Oppression of God’s creation and idolatry that denies God’s authority will not be tolerated forever. The Pharaoh thought he was god and the people worshipped idols. Control over life and death was the final word, settling where real power lies, who is the real God. Pharaoh finally submits and allows the people to go worship the real God. Secondly God has now created a ritual that reminds us who we are and what God wants from us. Christians believe the blood of the doorpost foreshadowed the blood of Jesus on the cross. We believe we may live under the penalty of death but death cannot cause us to perish. Communion is the ritual we celebrate that remembers Jesus, the lamb of God, being sacrificed for our sins so we will live eternally. Our epic hero, God, has a plan to create a nation to bless all nations and here at Passover those people are beginning to emerge. They still have a long journey ahead to be molded but so do we.
We would like to think we do not have idols today but there are many things that are so very important to us – health, wealth, and prestige. We will sacrifice to secure a future for ourselves and our children. Perhaps we need to ponder for a moment if there is anything we are holding on to too tightly. I think we call it, “Put first things first.” Do we need to get our priorities right? Secondly, rituals are things we do to enact our beliefs. Do you have rituals you do regularly that teach your family and remind them who they are and what God expects of them. Communion is one of them but family prayer is another. Bedtime prayers and songs settle us down and put us in a good frame of mind as we go to sleep. Some people have special “sacred” places where they go to sort out their thinking and pray and journal. Idolatry needs to be nipped in the bud and rituals need to be nourished. Blessings as you journey.