Scripture Reading: Exodus 12:1-14
The Lord said to Moses and Aaron in the land of Egypt: This month shall mark for you the beginning of months; it shall be the first month of the year for you. 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. 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. Your lamb shall be without blemish, a year-old male; you may take it from the sheep or from the goats. You shall keep it until the fourteenth day of this month; then the whole assembled congregation of Israel shall slaughter it at twilight. 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. They shall eat the lamb that same night; they shall eat it roasted over the fire with unleavened bread and bitter herbs. Do not eat any of it raw or boiled in water, but roasted over the fire, with its head, legs, and inner organs. You shall let none of it remain until the morning; anything that remains until the morning you shall burn. 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. –Exodus 12:1-11
Tradition, I love the song from Fiddler on the Roof; love the movie too. Traditions remind us from where we came, who we are, and whose we are. Such relationships and memories matter. I surprise myself how often I will respond to something saying, for example, “My Mom would say that is cutting off your nose to spite your face.” Many nights I went to sleep to my Dad singing and playing his guitar in the living room. I learned most of country-blues singer Jimmy Rogers’ songs and many World War II songs by osmosis. We draw from our pasts seeds of wisdom and culture that broaden our understanding of the world in which we live from the traditions that pass to us. Some are sage thoughts for the ages; others may be distorted or just wrong. We must filter through them to find what works for us today that we can pass to the next generation for tomorrow.
As I worked through my genealogy, I have stumbled on threads of faith that run through most of the lines I track. My heritage includes families that came early to the shores of what became America in search of religious freedom and families that took their faith across the nation to homestead on land previously seized from indigenous people. I found a record that one of those ancestors held the first worship service among white people at his new home. He was following in his father’s footsteps who working with others procured the land on which the first Methodist church his Pennsylvania community was built. I found Anglican baptismal records and Presbyterian roots and the man hosting that first worship service was called a Campbellite. I found where some of these good folks were slave owners.
We are not the first to deal with racism we need to work with all our hearts, minds, and strengths to be the last. I can envision my ancestor as a young man reading a flyer about free land in the west that said the land was yours for the taking if you work hard and build a home on the land and grow crops. I might have jumped at that enticement too. He may never have known the land first belonged to the Sauk and Fox or chosen to turn a blind eye to that fact or not cared. My ancestor who own slaves perhaps read the Bible interpreting it to sanction slavery or believed the views that black people were not fully human or just saw slavery as a way to enhance his own well-being.
Loving as Jesus loves invites us to envision whole pictures accepting all people as God’s children and thus our siblings. We are called to work to bring justice to all, a tradition upon which not only our faith but our country was founded.
Prayer: Lord, forgive us of our sins of commission and omission as they relate to our interrelations with the diversity of your children here and around the world. Give us the courage where needed to initiation new traditions of justice as Moses did at the first Passover. Amen.
All scriptures are quoted from the New Revised Standard Version Bible: Anglicized Edition, copyright 1989, 1995, Division of Christian Education of the National Council of Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights are reserved.