Wednesday 11 April 2012

Bible Book:

"At the end of 430 years, on that very day, all the companies of the Lord went out from the land of Egypt. That was for the Lord a night of vigil, to bring them out of the land of Egypt. That same night is a vigil to be kept for the Lord by all the Israelites throughout their generations." (vv. 41-42)

Exodus 12:40-51 Wednesday 11 April 2012


Rituals define a community. I was struck one Saturday whenvisiting a local synagogue by the children's re-enactment of theExodus stories as they sung action songs about the crossing of theRed Sea, and adults joined in - at their level with more maturesongs and prayers. I noted how the story seemed to unite thecommunity, giving them purpose, joy, identity and belonging. And Icame away convinced that this common story was something we neededto find again in Christianity.

At a later date my church invited members from the synagogue tojoin us for worship on a Sunday when we shared in Holy Communion.As the service progressed, I talked about the meaning of Communionand the reason why we participated in it. We came to the sharing ofthe bread and wine, and I simply explained that this was the wayChristians approached God, through the remembering of what Jesushad said and done at his last supper with his disciples before hisarrest. I spoke about the Methodist 'open table' - that in our owncommunity this was a huge symbol of inclusiveness, where rich andpoor, black and white, gay and straight, people with and withoutdisabilities are welcome to join together at God's table - throughJesus. I explained that Holy Communion was a symbol that all wereequally loved, exactly as they were, by God.

I invited our Jewish guests simply to sit and watch how we did it,giving the usual invitation to those who loved or who wanted tolove Jesus. The Rabbi commented afterwards on how spiritual he hadfound this - the whole community approaching God, as one,altogether. What's more, many of my church members thanked me forthe teaching aspect of the service: we too had understood more ofour own story.

Cultures and groups are made by our stories. We choose to enter inas a sign that what we believe is real, important and meaningfulenough to us.

That's what Jews did and do as they remember the Passover and thatis what members of all the other religions also do now in their ownstories in their own communities.

To Ponder

What spiritual insights have you received fromstories from religions and cultures different to your own?

If you were going to tell the Christian story tomembers of another faith, what would you emphasise?

Is it acceptable for the rituals of one religionto exclude members of another? Why?

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