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
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.