Surely the “disgrace of Egypt” belongs to Egypt. The shame of having enslaved other persons and having them escape, the embarrassment to Egypt’s gods—this should be ascribed to the Pharaoh and his associates. Why would the people of Israel, the enslaved people, have disgrace ascribed to them?
We are not only marked by the history of our actions; we are also shaped and scarred by how others have acted toward us. Our ancestors experienced stresses and pains that continue to affect us through family stories. Even more deeply, things like enslavement, pogroms, and wars shape our epigenetics, stirring deep responses within us that are beyond our understanding.
The disgrace of Egypt lingered with the people of Israel in their fear, their questions about their ancestors, and their understanding of the nature of God. If divine intervention could bring them into freedom, why were they permitted to be enslaved at all? They are able to embrace fully the joy and possibility of Canaan only when the reproach and shame of the past is lifted.
This kind of burden does not fall away instantly. God’s provision for the people through their wilderness wandering removed the burden slowly. Through each bite of manna, God rebuilt trust with the people of Israel. Through each sip of clean water, the people of Israel perceived the power and mercy of the One in whom their hope was anchored.
The disgrace of Egypt defined them by pain and by the actions of others. The promise of Canaan redefined them as a people who had been led and fed by God. Thus equipped by grace, they ate the produce of the land and feasted on the promise of tomorrow.
Providing God, strengthen my trust that I am not defined by the worst things I have done or that have happened to me. My identity is as your beloved child, equipped by grace to share your hope in the world. Amen.
Lent is a time for focusing on our need for God and for remembering God’s abundant resources for filling that need. When the Israelites finally pass into Canaan, they observe the Passover as a reminder of God’s deliverance of them from Egypt. The psalmist, traditionally David, rejoices in the fact that God does not count his sins against him. Paul declares that through Christ, God has made everything new. God no longer holds our sins against us, and we in turn appeal to others to accept this free gift. Jesus eats with sinners and tells the story of the prodigal son to demonstrate that no matter how far we stray, God will always welcome us home with open arms. God never stops pursuing us, even if we feel unloved or unworthy.
Read Joshua 5:9-12. What stories do you tell about your faith? What do these stories help you remember?
Read Psalm 32. When have you hidden from God? When has God been your hiding place?
Read 2 Corinthians 5:16-21. We are ambassadors for Christ. How does your life display for others that life in Christ eliminates worldly identity labels?
Read Luke 15:1-3, 11b-32. Do you identify with the prodigal son, the elder son, or the father in the parable? Are you ready to rejoin God’s household on God’s terms? Are you ready to welcome everyone home?
Responda publicando una oración.