“The Israelites walked on dry ground through the sea, the waters forming a wall for them on their right and on their left.” (Exodus 14:29)
We are in the process of taking classes in spiritual formation at Columbia Seminary in Atlanta. We’re doing this because we believe that all of us need to pay more attention to our spiritual life. Working for the church makes this no more or less important. We all need to find ways to learn and grow.
Coincidentally, Dave was there last week and his class was about the Exodus story and the lessons in the lectionary for the next three weeks are about the Exodus! This week the people leave captivity in Egypt, next week they receive the covenant at Sinai, and the following week Joshua leads the people into the Promised Land. The stories are foundational for our Jewish sisters and brothers. They also serve as the reference point for Jesus helping people understand who he is as the Messiah.
I have to say that the course caused all of us to struggle with how God is portrayed in the story. The Bible is not a book with simplistic and flat images for God. It is complex and shows us God from a variety of perspectives – some of them can even make us squirm a bit!
But the bottom line for the Exodus story is that God sides with the oppressed. God works to set people in captivity free. God’s deepest hope for us and for all people is that we would be truly free. This is not just the freedom we lift up in our country, but an deeper freedom that taps into the hopes and dreams that God has for each person.
We are all in different places in our lives. Some of us feel trapped by our situations and unable to free ourselves. But God also blesses us, and perhaps many of us live lives that are very privileged compared to the lives most people around the world live. Because we see such images of wealth and power in the media around us, we often feel poorer and weaker than we are in reality. If you are burdened by something that holds you captive, God wants you to be free. And if you are living well and feeling free already, then God wants you to see who is oppressed around you and work to set them free as well.