with reference to Exodus 5-12
It was 32 years ago – I was making pancakes one morning and explaining to my son that there wasn’t much pancake mix left and not much time so I was just going to add another cup of flour and we’d eat the pancakes but they would be rather flat. “Oh”, said Aaron, “You are making Exodus pancakes.” “Exodus pancakes?” I asked. “Yes, like when the Hebrew people had to eat quick and run away into the desert.”
At four years old, he knew this ancient and pivotal story that is at the heart of the Jewish identity – the Passover meal and the Exodus from Egypt. The story of the Passover and the preparations for leaving Egypt are rather mind-boggling and you can read the details for yourself. What catches my attention though, is that this story represents for them a paradigm shift in their understanding of the world and of themselves.
The people to whom Moses returns to Egypt to rally together, have only ever know this country. They have only ever known slavery and as far as they are concerned –this is reality. Pharaoh is God, because he says so, and their lot in life is to make bricks and mortar and build whatever they are told to build. They are not happy with this, but this is what they know. Moses comes home and messes with their minds. He tells them he has a message from `I AM WHO I AM’ who spoke to him while he was looking after some sheep, and they are like… “Ya… sure.” Then weird stuff happens – strange plagues – flies, and frogs and locusts and more – and a battle of wills between Moses and the Pharaoh. Finally, the land is haunted by death, and they set out to find life. They begin to believe that maybe they are more than slaves. Maybe they have a bigger purpose in life, and maybe this strangely-named God, whom Moses talks about, who seems to know their ancient ancestors, is calling them to a new way of being in the world. They experience a paradigm shift. The Seasons of the Spirit curriculum says it like this:
“On this first Passover, the enslaved Hebrew community prepared for an epic journey. It was to be a political journey, from slavery to freedom. It also was to be a journey toward community culture and identity. At the beginning of the journey, the Hebrews were a diverse people. After receiving God’s law at Sinai (10 Commandments) they became a people in a covenant relationship with God. By the end of the journey recounted in Exodus, the Hebrews were established as Israelites. Subsequent generations remembered Passover through worship.” (sos)
And… that’s pretty interesting. But what I am more interested in today is the paradigm shifts that you have experienced or are experiencing. Question in the bulletin asks “What significant shifts have changed how you see a particular issue and how you respond?”
This could be in relation to something on a very personal level – how you make an important life decision, or it may be related to the church and what our role is in a continually changing world. As we celebrate all the great things about Canada 150 this year, we also are aware of what historically has been painful and exclusive in this country. It may be something entirely different – and that’s ok. Think about a time when you had to leave behind
what you thought you knew to be true – for good or for bad, and asking Now what? Who am I now? What do I do? Where is God in all of this? Maybe even – What blessing can I wrestle out of this?
I want to share a brief example of a paradigm shift in thinking, and then I am going to invite you to find one other person/or two and talk about that question in the bulletin. Because “sometimes the shortest distance between two people is a story.”
When I married, (the first time) I married for life. I made a promise and I said I was going to stay `Till death do us part”, and by God I keep my promises! And I did – for many years – despite increasing unhappiness . The paradigm shift came when I realized that indeed something was dying. It was my own spirit. I was not being affirmed for who I was or what I was able to give. I came to understand that God did not want my spirit to be crushed, and would not love me any less, or my husband any less, if the marriage needed to end.
So, I invite you to find a partner and share a story…
(At this point in worship, people did find a partner and readily shared stories with one another until I brought them back to sing the hymn One More Step Along the World I Go.)