Thursday, April 08, 2010

Remember

Thursday, April 8, 2010 -- Thursday in Easter Week

Today's Readings for the Daily Office
(Book of Common Prayer, p. 959)
Psalms 146, 147 (morning)       148, 149 (evening)
Exodus 13:3-10
1 Corinthians 15:41-50  
Matthew 28:16-20

In the middle of the dramatic narrative about the Israelites' escape from Egypt, the Book of Exodus pauses twice to give instructions about how the community shall remember their rescue.  The passage anticipates the day when the community will have entered the promised land.  It tells the people to observed an annual festival of Unleavened Bread.  The people are to tell the story and to remember.  "You shall tell your child on that day, 'It is because of what the Lord did for me when I came out of Egypt.'"

In such a remembrance time becomes dynamic.  I am a slave in the 13th century BCE.  Look what the Lord did for me when I came out from Egypt.  I thank God for my liberation and the liberation of my community.  In my remembrance, I go to the past and actively recall the past to the future.  I re-enter the event of the Exodus, and I bring the work of liberation into my own day.  I become one who participates with God's activity of freeing those in bondage in my own generation.  Much prayer, ritual, and religious activity participates in this activity of making the past present.

"Were you there when they crucified my Lord?" we sing.  And we are there.  We break the bread and cry, "Alleluia.  Christ our Passover is sacrificed for us," and Christ is revealed in the breaking of the bread.  We participate in the Last Supper which happens now and is simultaneously a foretaste of our heavenly banquet.

Time and space is very fluid in religious ritual and prayer.  We enter into Kairos time and sacred space.  It becomes a thin place where past, present and future blend, where the created and uncreated touch, where finite and infinite, heaven and earth, life and death, now and eternity, material and spiritual all are near.  To remember in such a dynamic way is to bring the past into the present and to anticipate the future now.  The text of Exodus stops in its narrative to give instruction about this important act and tradition of remembering through the annual festival of Unleavened Bread.  Without such dynamic acts of remembering, we lose our grounding and identity.

There is another practice of remembering that is also mentioned in this text.  "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 my be on your lips; for with a strong hand the Lord brought you out of Egypt."  In tradition, observant Jewish men wear tefillin (sometimes called phylacteries) for their morning prayers, a set of small, cubic leather boxes painted black, containing scrolls of parchment inscribed with verses of the Torah, attached to the arm and hand and to the forehead by leather straps.  When we visited the Western Wall of the Temple, most of those making prayers in that place were wearing the tefillin.

All religious traditions have various ways to remind themselves of their faith.  Christians wear crosses or place scriptures, icons, or images in visible places as reminders of our stories and identity.  Some people make the sign of the cross before they pray.  We place the baptismal font with holy water at a convenient location on the way to communion at St. Paul's so we can touch the water and remember our own foundational Exodus, our baptism by which we were incorporated into the Church, the Body of Christ, given the Holy Spirit, and made heirs of eternal life. 

Ritual practice and remembrance are key components of reconnecting us with our stories, identity, and relationship with God and our community.  We return to our roots, and we are nourished.

Lowell

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Audio podcast: Listen to an audio podcast of the most recent Morning Reflections from today and the past week. Click the following link: Morning Reflection Podcasts

About Morning Reflections
Morning Reflections is a brief thought about the scripture readings from the Daily Office of Morning and Evening Prayer according to the practice found in the Book of Common Prayer of the Episcopal Church.


Morning Prayer begins on p. 80 of the Book of Common Prayer.
Evening Prayer begins on p. 117
An online resource for praying the Daily Office is found at www.missionstclare.com
Another form of the office from Phyllis Tickle's "Divine Hours" is available on our partner web site www.ExploreFaith.org at this location -- http://explorefaith.org/prayer/fixed/index.html

The Mission of St. Paul's Episcopal Church
is to explore and celebrate
God's infinite grace, acceptance, and love.

Visit our web site at www.stpaulsfay.org

Our Rule of Life
We aspire to...
worship weekly
pray daily
learn constantly
serve joyfully
live generously.

Lowell Grisham, Rector
St. Paul's Episcopal Church
Fayetteville, Arkansas

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