12 April 2012

Exodus 13:3-10

"It shall serve for you as a sign on your hand and as a reminder on your forehead, so that the teaching of the Lord may be on your lips." (v. 9)


I have always been impressed by the respect and regard with which Muslims handle and take care of the Qu'ran. A Muslim keeps their Qu'ran on the top shelf of a bookcase. It is to be revered - a result of Islam's belief that the Qu'ran contains the literal word of God. Also impressive is their daily routine of prayer, which surely ensures that God(Allah) is always on their minds.

This is the kind of devotional 'being' that is also being commanded, in today's passage, of the Israelites in regard to the time, energy, commitment and seriousness with which they approach their faith and approach God. My Jewish friend writes to me: "The command was only about ensuring that no yeast was eaten, and that it was removed from the house. The custom goes much further. Around midday before the first night of Passover (I don't know if it's universal among Jews) there is a hunt for crumbs - a spring cleaning - with a feather and a candle, to go in every tiny corner ... Eating and cooking utensils are changed - many people keep a separate set of everything to change for Passover."

Everything is changed: every act, for this time, becomes something that is special for God. Jews go the extra mile in gratitude for God's salvation.

As Christians we talk about living by the Spirit, rather than by the letter of the law. We are discouraged from getting tangled up in too many religious rules and regulations. Jesus points us to the fact that we will constantly fail in our efforts to keep to them. We are taught that we cannot be saved by works but only through faith in the grace of God (Romans 3:21-25). So how then do we put in the extra effort if we cannot show it by firm attempts to follow God's rules as perfectly as we can?

As Christians, the one command we have is to love (Matthew 5:43-46), and to love as perfectly as we can - to love our family, our friends, the misfit, our enemy. This is the 'law' or the command that is to be on our hands, our foreheads and our lips as followers of Christ.

How serious are you about your faith? Do you wear it on your hand, on your forehead - in your heart - for others to see, to recognise and to experience? Does it affect the attitude you have to your prayer time, to communion, to sharing the love and justice of Jesus with all of those whom you meet in your daily living?

To Ponder

Do you agree that it is sometimes easier for us to see the spirituality in a faith other than our own? Why?

What helps you to remain constantly in God's presence in your daily living?

Bible notes author

The Revd Sue Male

"I am a Methodist minister in Harrow and Hillingdon Circuit, married to Phil with two children - Charis, 17, and Michael, 14. "My passions in ministry are the Bible, inter faith relations and the promotion of equality and diversity in our churches.