Sermons

Summary: Passover: the blood of the lamb and unleavened bread signify God's sacrifice of the lamb and God's deliverance.

Life and Death”

INTRODUCTION

Three weeks ago we commemorated the fifteenth anniversary of 9/11. Our activities were not confined to memorializing those who lost their lives on that tragic day. We also acknowledged the profound effect that 9/11 has had on us as individuals and our country as a whole. For those of us who lived through 9/11 there is a distinct line of demarcation between before and after. Our present and future are shaped, in part, by our past.

That night so many thousands of years ago, when the angel of the Lord passed over the homes of the Israelites and slew the first born of the Egyptians was a defining event for God’s People. It has shaped them through these scores of centuries.

GOD MOVES

For four hundred years the cries of the Israelites had ascended to the Lord. They lived in extreme servitude. The writer of the book of Exodus describes their plight as the antithesis of God’s creation. Where God gave, the Pharaoh took away. Instead of being lords of creation, they were the slaves of the Egyptians. God gave life, but we read that Pharaoh sought to take away the lives of all male children.

In the text today, the Lord is moving. God instructs the Israelites to celebrate the Passover meal with girded loins and sandaled feet. As a result of the ten plagues and with the leadership of Moses, God delivered the Israelites from the hands of Pharaoh and began to lead them through the wilderness into the Promised Land. The Exodus is the central event in the Jewish faith. It is similar to our understanding of the crucifixion of Jesus.

A life of faith is one that is lived in relationship with God. We both sense God’s movement in our lives and understand that our purpose in life is to serve God. In a recent episode of the television series, “Blackish” the teenage daughter confesses that she no longer believes in God. Her parents and grandparents are upset. When they reflect on their lives, though, they see that they lived selfishly and that their prayers were limited to “give me” prayers. It was only in a health emergency that they saw God and began to understand what a life of faith involves.

God has moved in our lives. God has walked with some of us through health crises. God has been with us through bruised and broken relationships, losses of loved ones, disappointments, failures, depression and despair. We have seen God with the eyes of faith. As a result our faith has broken out of the religion of singing hymns, religious rituals, and pot-luck meals and has become a relationship.

REMEMBER

The Lord instructed the Israelites to remember God’s actions, specifically the night of the Passover, by designating a specific time and manner to celebrate God’s past movement in their lives. Memories are important in lives of faith.

Memories help us face the challenges of life today.

• Some of us are looking for new jobs, for a variety of reasons. As we face an uncertain future, we remember how God has previously moved in our lives.

• When we face serious health issues, we remember how God has walked with us through some of the darkest hours of our lives.

• There are those times when we fall into the pit of depression and despair. We are so deep that we cannot extricate ourselves. We remember, though, how the Holy Spirit has moved in our lives at these times and given us a glimmer of hope and the helping hand to pull us out of the pit.

We remember how God has been present not only the tough times of life, but also in the good and great times of life. Practicing the words of the old hymn, “Count your many blessings and see what the Lord has done,” we are inspired and motivated to live courageously in the present and look to the future with hope.

TELL

At the end of God’s instructions concerning the Passover, God tells the Israelites that they must tell their children why they are celebrating the Passover meal and what God has done in the past. It is important for us to live lives of integrity and to practice what we preach. To share God's love and grace with the people around us is vital for us as God’s children. More is needed, however. When need to vocalize our faith.

This is difficult for us as Christians, especially as Lutheran Christians, to do. We say that we do not want to wear our religion on our sleeve. Some of us believe that our faith is between us and God and should not be the concern of anyone else. Several people have experienced pushy Christians who jam their faith down the throats of the people they meet, and we do not want to be like them.

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