April 11, 2004

Do You Feel Anything?
"On that day tell your son, 'I do this because of what 
the LORD did for me when I came out of Egypt.'" 
(Shemot / Exodus 13:8).

At some point during our seder last week, I turned to 
my oldest son, and said to him, "Do you realize that 
if we lived back then, we too would have been slaves? 
We would have been building cities for Pharaoh under 
harsh taskmasters just as our ancestors did."

I have celebrated Passover countless times. Year after 
year, I have attended seders. Most of my adult life, I 
have led them. I have heard and told the story of our 
deliverance from Egypt over and over again. Yet it is 
astounding to me how the words can be said, but the 
message doesn't always get through to me.

Yet in our tradition we are encouraged to reflect upon 
the fact that if it hadn't been for what God did for 
us long ago, we would still be slaves today. We are 
encouraged to reflect, and maybe we do reflect, but 
still the message doesn't necessarily get through.

For some of us the message doesn't get through, 
because we don't really believe it. For some Jewish 
people, Bible stories are simply myth and folklore, 
not unlike the stories of ancient Greece or the fables 
of Aesop.

But many of us do believe these stories. Not only do 
we claim that they are historical, we understand that 
they are relevant to our lives today. And yet does the 
message of these stories really get through?

It is so easy to tell a story, sing a song, or perform 
a ritual without allowing ourselves to be touched by 
their meaning. We can so easily recite even the most 
dramatic words, yet fail to be touched by them.

Obviously it is not the performing of a ritual that 
puts us in touch with its meaning. If we don't allow 
ourselves to fully engage in what is going on, its 
intended impact most likely will pass us by.

That's why I stopped and asked my son the question, 
"Do you realize that it could have been us?"

The Passover story told at the seder is not just the 
story of the Jewish people. The story of bondage and 
deliverance is intended to be the story of all of us. 
For just as the Jewish people were freed from bondage 
in Egypt, in this life we all find ourselves in 
bondage to sin, disease, and death. And just like the 
Jewish people were freed from slavery to Pharaoh, so 
all people have the opportunity to be freed from 
bondage through the deliverance of the Messiah.

Then again maybe the story of deliverance is your 
story. But when was the last time you stopped and took 
the time to realize what God has really done for you? 
Maybe now is that time.