Stories of The Night: The Sea – Reflections 5-10-17

 One of the “required” readings for the Easter Vigil is the crossing of the Red Sea. 

It is one of the easiest to present creatively at the Vigil from songs to PowerPoints to dramas and melodramas. It is also easy to pull in participants from the congregation to serve as “extras” - saved Israelites or drowned Egyptians or, sometimes, the sea itself.

I must say that I can neither read it, re-tell it, see it, nor hear it with thinking of the epic movie The Ten Commandments
Yul Brynner is the pharaoh. Period. My imagination doesn’t even want to try to come up with any other ideas. I think one of the more profound moments of the seemingly endless movie is when Pharaoh returns from the debacle at the Red Sea and says “Moses’ God is God.”

Besides being a spectacular tale, this story of the crossing of the Red Sea is foundational to all that follows in the Bible. This story gave the Israelites their identity as God’s chosen people.  It also gave God the identity of a God that is “hands-on” in the care of God’s people. It is a “hands-on-ness” that culminates in God taking on flesh, becoming human, and dying human.

It is pretty easy to see the resurrection in this story of the Red Sea and to understand its required place in the Vigil. The people are pressed up against the sea with nowhere to go. An army bent on their destruction bears down on them; they are, for all intents and purposes, dead. Then God, as liberator, opens their watery tomb and provides a muddy way to new life - to a land flowing with milk and honey. 

Then God, as liberator, opens the tomb and delivers Jesus and all humanity from death – to a new life of love both here and in eternity. That act is reenacted with each baptism. Through baptism God liberates us, to quote Martin Luther, from sin, death, and the devil, opening a way through the water to new life.

And oppressed-made-free response? Miriam grabs a tambourine and starts singing and dancing. And we, being more restrained Lutherans, shout out Christ is Risen, and sing a whole bunch of Alleluias.

What are your thoughts and comments?

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Gloria Dei Lutheran Church in Iowa City

Gathered by grace. Scattered for service.

123 E Market Street
Iowa City, IA 52245