As we’ve read through Exodus, we’ve switched switching between Egyptian and Israelite identities – but it all comes to a head in this story. The Egyptian army is destroyed; and when the Israelites see their bodies washed up on the shore, they sing and dance for joy. If we don’t celebrate when justice is done, we don’t care enough; but if we celebrate when people suffer, we lose our humanity. How can we celebrate when hurtful people receive justice without losing our humanity?
READ: Exodus 14:19-31, 15:21 (Year A Proper 19)
The angel of God who was going before the Israelite army moved and went behind them; and the pillar of cloud moved from in front of them and took its place behind them. It came between the army of Egypt and the army of Israel. And so the cloud was there with the darkness, and it lit up the night; one did not come near the other all night.
Then Moses stretched out his hand over the sea. The Lord drove the sea back by a strong east wind all night, and turned the sea into dry land; and the waters were divided. The Israelites went into the sea on dry ground, the waters forming a wall for them on their right and on their left. The Egyptians pursued, and went into the sea after them, all of Pharaoh’s horses, chariots, and chariot drivers. At the morning watch the Lord in the pillar of fire and cloud looked down upon the Egyptian army, and threw the Egyptian army into panic. He clogged their chariot wheels so that they turned with difficulty. The Egyptians said, ‘Let us flee from the Israelites, for the Lord is fighting for them against Egypt.’
Then the Lord said to Moses, ‘Stretch out your hand over the sea, so that the water may come back upon the Egyptians, upon their chariots and chariot drivers.’ So Moses stretched out his hand over the sea, and at dawn the sea returned to its normal depth. As the Egyptians fled before it, the Lord tossed the Egyptians into the sea. The waters returned and covered the chariots and the chariot drivers, the entire army of Pharaoh that had followed them into the sea; not one of them remained. But the Israelites walked on dry ground through the sea, the waters forming a wall for them on their right and on their left.
Thus the Lord saved Israel that day from the Egyptians; and Israel saw the Egyptians dead on the seashore. Israel saw the great work that the Lord did against the Egyptians. So the people feared the Lord and believed in the Lord and in his servant Moses.
Then the prophet Miriam, Aaron’s sister, took a tambourine in her hand; and all the women went out after her with tambourines and with dancing. And Miriam sang to them: ‘Sing to the Lord, for he has triumphed gloriously; horse and rider he has thrown into the sea.’
- REFLECT: What do you like or dislike about this story? What shocks you? What questions does it raise?
- RELATE: How should we celebrate when justice is done? What if this justice means somebody else suffers? Talk about this.
- RESPOND: Is God calling you or us to any practical response now? Pray about it, then act, or talk to one of the leaders if it requires a group response.
- REPORT: If you or your household do take action, text or email a photo of that action to Sanctuary with a brief explanation. We can use it during the service or, with your permission, add it to the Facebook page.
Cartalk / Tabletalk © Sanctuary, 2020. Year A Proper 19.
Cartalk / Tabletalk
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