By Jenny Hoskins
Lectionary reading for 4/2/2022: Psalm 126; Exodus 12:21-27; John 11:45-57
Selected passage for reflection: Exodus 12:21-27
21 Then Moses called all the elders of Israel and said to them, “Go, select lambs for your families, and slaughter the passover lamb. 22 Take a bunch of hyssop, dip it in the blood that is in the basin, and touch the lintel and the two doorposts with the blood in the basin. None of you shall go outside the door of your house until morning. 23 For the Lord will pass through to strike down the Egyptians; when he sees the blood on the lintel and on the two doorposts, the Lord will pass over that door and will not allow the destroyer to enter your houses to strike you down. 24 You shall observe this rite as a perpetual ordinance for you and your children. 25 When you come to the land that the Lord will give you, as he has promised, you shall keep this observance. 26 And when your children ask you, ‘What do you mean by this observance?’ 27 you shall say, ‘It is the passover sacrifice to the Lord, for he passed over the houses of the Israelites in Egypt, when he struck down the Egyptians but spared our houses.’” And the people bowed down and worshiped.
I can’t help but think back to watching The Ten Commandments as a child when I read this passage. Every year around Holy Week it seemed that our family would find ourselves piled up on the couch watching Charleston Heston and Yul Brynner battle it out for the liberation of the Hebrew people. The 1956 film lasted for over three and half hours so it’s no wonder that much of what I thought (and apparently still think!) about the life of Moses was influenced by this movie. I can still see the black smoke creeping its way slowly through the scene as the Lord passes by the houses of the Hebrew families and hear the screams of the Egyptians as they encounter their first-born sons dead.
I remember watching this scene with such conflicted feelings as a child. I was all for the freedom from bondage and slavery for the Israelites and also remember wondering if it had to come at the cost of the lives of these Egyptians. I couldn’t square the God of love I was learning about in Sunday school with the plagues and destruction in the story of Exodus.
I’m grateful that there seems to be a shift in some circles in the way that Sunday School is taught. In place of black and white narratives there seems to be a shift to inviting more questions and wonder and curiosity to the Scriptures and what we encounter in the text. The Bible stories we learned about (by flannel graph characters of course!) were presented as truth but rarely were we also invited to approach the Bible as poetry or allegory or parable. It wasn’t until I was much older that I was asked to consider the Bible as one continuous story of a revelation of God’s love for us, from Genesis all the way through to Revelation.
When thinking on this passage over the past few weeks, I kept being drawn back to verse 26, “And when your children ask you, ‘What do you mean by this observance?” and it caused me to reflect on how and what we make room for as we share the story of faith from one generation to the next. Are we actively making space to struggle together through difficult texts or questions we have? I don’t remember a lot of room for queries or wondering when it came to matters of faith or the lessons we were taught in Sunday School. It felt more like storylines to memorize and facts to know rather than a beautiful narrative of remembering who God is and who we are as loved by God. Rolling verse 26 around in my mind has left me wondering about the spaces that we leave for questions and curiosities as we approach faith and as we continue to tell the story of Christ, our Passover Lamb.
As we continue to walk through this Lenten season, what would it look like for you to make more space for questions?
Are there stories from your childhood that need to be reexamined and approached with more curiosity?
May we welcome a child-like curiosity into this season as we make space to observe Lent and reflect on Christ, our Passover Lamb.
Lord, help us to invite curiosity as we live into our life of faith and as we share that life with those around us.
About the Author
Jenny and her family recently relocated to Nashville, TN after about a decade of living and serving in Ecuador. She is a mother to two, wife to one and still trying to figure out what she wants to be when she grows up. She is happiest when she can spend time outdoors or when she is gathered around a table with good friends and rich conversation. She continues to partner with Serve Globally of the Evangelical Covenant Church.