3/11/2019 10:22:00 AM
Today's reading from Deuteronomy 26:1-11 is one of the centerpieces of the Haggadah, the Jewish text that sets the order for the Passover meal. While those gathered around the table re-tell the story of the Exodus, they make a confession to each other and to God as laid out in verses 5 through 8. They admit how they were part of a wandering community that was enslaved by the Egyptians. They testify how God saved them. They affirm that their relationship to God isn't only tied to the fact they were born into the family of Jacob. Their God is their God because God freed them from slavery. What's amazing about this text is that the pronouns here ("you") are singular. These words are meant to be spoken by individuals. It's not the community that's saying "a wandering Aramean was my ancestor;" I'm the one asked to say that. God wants each person to remember their history and, through the act of remembering, realize how God is currently doing the same for them. The God that loved them in the past is the same God who loves them now. And the God who loves them now is inviting them into a new future where God's love becomes what primarily defines them.
A Jewish colleague of mine described this passage as a text about "arriving." It's about remembering where you've come from and pointing to where you're going. When we remember our faith stories, we're doing more than looking at things that happened in the past. Instead, we're re-participating in the ongoing story of how our God makes a difference in our lives right now. The stories in the Bible point us to that realization. It's not enough to read scripture; we need to also make scripture our own. We do that by paying attention to those moments in our lives when God shows up. Your faith is your own and your faith is a gift. It, through Jesus, is already yours. Yet we also have the responsibility to make that faith a true part of who we are. We need to first tell ourselves and then tell others about how God has made a difference to us. And when we start doing that, we start arriving in the place God wants us to be.