14 April 2012Exodus 13:17 - 14:4
"When Pharaoh let the people go, God did not lead them by way of the land of the Philistines, although that was nearer; for God thought, 'If the people face war, they may change their minds and return to Egypt.' So God led the people by the roundabout way of the wilderness towards the Red Sea. The Israelites went up out of the land of Egypt prepared for battle." (vv. 17-18)
God's plan takes time. God leads the Israelites the long way
round - guiding them carefully on a route that they can cope with -
a journey that will end in strengthened rather than weakened faith.
But what about God guiding us on our journey today?
At our inter faith (Seder), the local rabbi told a story of a former rabbi, long ago, who had heard whispers of the idea that women may be looking to train and to become rabbis. Incensed by this, he had declared that the day a woman became a Rabbi he would put an orange - something totally out of place - on the Seder plate. Now, with women rabbis now readily accepted in the Liberal Jewish tradition, the local rabbi smiled and placed an orange on the Seder plate.
As God guides, attitudes and behaviours change and love grows as God's kingdom unfolds that little bit more.
We too can (proudly) put an orange on our communion table.
The teenage girl in our congregation knows that she is valued and loved.
Can we say the same for the gay teenage boy looking for a safe place to tell us who he is?
Can the woman sat in the wheelchair see the words of the hymns on the projector screen - or have we sat her where others standing to see the screen will obscure her view?
Can the poorest members of our congregations afford to attend our fund raising events and socials along with the richest?
Is there a crèche to make parents - our missing generation - and their little ones welcome in our churches?
The list could go on, and it is tempting ...
But just as God led the Israelites carefully to meet their goal, so too God leads all of God's own children now. And that is what gives rise to our hope!
Picture your church now. Who could that orange represent in your community (or outside of it)? And when will you be able to put it on the communion table in joy that God's kingdom is growing in your midst?