Sunday, May 01, 2011

So celebrate this festival

Exodus 13-14

"So celebrate this festival at the appointed time each year... And in the future, your children will ask you, 'What does all this mean?' Then you will tell them, 'With the power of his mighty hand, the Lord brought us out of Egypt, the place of our slavery'... This ceremony will be like a mark branded on your hand or your forehead. It is a reminder that the power of the Lord’s mighty hand brought us out of Egypt."

When I returned to the place of study I was at when I started the gospel of Mark during lent, I find myself at the first Passover, and these verses. Because I worked in the church, I know that pastors often struggle with Easter services, as they try to keep it fresh every year, not only for the congregation, but for themselves. Sometime, they drift away from the traditional stories because, they figure, we have heard it so many times before.

Perhaps they do a us all a disservice. Easter, like Passover, is a celebration of deliverance, something to remember, something to perpetually celebrate because we forget, it can become common place. Immediately following in the text of Exodus, the Israelites find themselves between the powerful armies of Egypt and the Red Sea, but that was exactly where God had led them. We hear the plans of God in the text:

"And once again I will harden Pharaoh’s heart, and he will chase after you. I have planned this in order to display My glory through Pharaoh and his whole army. After this the Egyptians will know that I am the Lord!"

When the Israelites realize where they are in the natural, they react in terror. I should not blame them, I would too! Actually, I have too. But it was God's plan and His plan was for their freedom and His glory!! Isn't that what our pain, our trials, are about too?

See how soon the Israelites forgot God's love and His power! We too forget.

So, as God commanded the Israelites to celebrate the Passover annually, we too must celebrate with routine, with passion, without apology, the resurrection of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. He had risen from the dead and He lives. And because He lives, we are all victors with Him.

It is not only a blind tradition of our fathers. It is wisdom to look back every year at this season and remember the life of Jesus. To read of His great and passionate compassion. To remember His humility and service. To be awed again of His miraculous powers. To weep with Him over those who would not believe. To be ashamed at those who abandoned Him and killed Him. To delight again with Him in His victory over death.

Let us remember and celebrate over and over again. Let our children learn and carry on the traditions that strengthen our faith as we remember.

Remember. And celebrate.

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