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Preparation and Passover by David Fulk

Exodus 12:1-14

I will pass over you, and no plague shall fall upon you to destroy you…This day shall be a memorial day, and you shall keep it as a feast to the Lord; throughout your generations, you shall observe it as an ordinance forever (Exodus 12:13-14).

Is there some serious (non-celebratory) event in your life where every detail is so etched into your memory it is impossible to forget? For me, such an event was twelve years ago today when my mother, Opal, died. So many details. So many things to do.

For the Israelites in Egypt, Passover night was such an event. Centuries later it is still remembered in vivid detail by their ancestors who share a gratitude that the Lord passed over their houses marked by the blood of a lamb.

What is mesmerizing about this text (vv. 3-11) is the detailed instruction of what had to happen before the Lord passed over their houses. I’m not sure what a comparable, modern example is that requires following instructions so precisely from how food is selected, prepared, eaten, and disposed of, not to mention what you can wear, and how to wear it. With instructions so lengthy and so detailed, someone with a sense of humor might wonder why they also didn’t have to stand on only their left foot and keep their right eye closed. 

The text doesn’t reveal why all these instructions were necessary, but it’s clear they had to do a lot of preparation. Could preparation be the significance of Passover for Christians? It complements our intentional Lenten season preparation for Easter. 
How much more meaningful is Easter morning when we have observed a Holy Lent.

Lest we think Passover is only for our Jewish friends, we Christians are descendants of the faith of those Israelites. Passover begins tomorrow evening. It is also our memorial day…a feast for us to keep. While most of us will not remember that night with a Seder meal of lamb and bitter herbs, we should tell the story. 

In telling and handing down that story we can better understand that even before Jesus’s Good Friday sacrifice, we were saved when the Lord spared those ancestors of faith who followed the Lord’s instruction, who prepared for his passing, and who remembered.

David M. Fulk

at Thursday, April 18, 2019
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Fixing Our Eyes by Marcie Handrich

Psalm 70

But I am poor and needy; hasten to me, O God! You are my help and my deliverer; O Lord, do not delay! (Psalm 70:5).

David ran from Saul for many years and also faced the possibility of death during the time of Absalom’s rebellion. David’s prayer in Psalm 70 was probably in reference to these particular threats on his life. How quickly we call on God as we encounter illness and a myriad of other challenges and trials in our lives. I have feared many things over the course of my life but never possible death at the hand of someone close to me. I have, however, called on God in the face of tragedy, as I did when my nephew, Army Spc. Joseph "Joey" Riley, was killed in Afghanistan in 2014. God brought us through the initial days of shock and deep grief. God continues to comfort and sustain us now. 

Australian minister, Natalie Rosner, points out in her blog, Fixing Her Eyes, that maybe our continued recognition of our spiritual poverty and need for God’s deliverance is one of our greatest challenges. How often, in the non-crisis times, have I allowed my belief in my own abilities, sufficiency, and resources to keep me from trusting our all-sufficient God. Self-sufficiency certainly doesn't allow space for the posture and work needed to cultivate soul.

If I am going to cultivate the fruit of the spirit, I will not be able to do it alone. Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control will only be allowed to blossom and grow as I collaborate with God’s Spirit. May the God who delivered David deliver me and all of us from our tendency toward self-sufficiency as we journey ever closer to Good Friday, Easter celebration, and beyond.

Marcie Handrich

at Wednesday, April 17, 2019
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Lessons from the Junkyard by Michele Peck

I Corinthians 1:18-31

But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong (1 Corinthians 1:27).

Anyone who has ever had me as a teacher knows that there is a book near and dear to my heart. It is the book Junkyard Wonders by Patricia Polacco. This true story tells how Patricia moved to a new school and was heartbroken to find out that she was placed in a class referred to (even by the teacher) as “The Junkyard.” However, her unforgettable teacher and the amazing friends in her “tribe” helped Patricia realize that the junkyard is a place where every child can become something truly special. You must read it if you haven’t, but have some tissues on hand.
One particular year, I remember as having a tough start. The gap between abilities in my classroom seemed uniquely wide, and we were struggling to come together as a community. Among this group of students was Timmy, a student who had been retained. Retention is a last resort, so you know this was a struggling student. Although I typically read Junkyard Wonders to my students in the spring when they were more mature to handle it, I decided we needed this book in the fall. I kept an eye on the children as I read. I noticed that Timmy was very engaged and at one point got up to get himself a Kleenex. At the end of the story, the room was silent. We all sat pondering what we had just heard: the difficulties, the sadness, the triumph. Timmy slowly raised his hand and with tears in his eyes said, “That’s me...I’m like that...I’m a junkyard wonder.”  He went on to say, “I can’t read. I don’t get things as fast as you guys.”  Need I say, I needed more tissues than in past years?
Friends, let me tell you, Timmy was right. He WAS a junkyard wonder. That young man taught us things about life that year even though Timmy wasn’t the child we expected to learn the most from. He didn’t appear to be the wisest kid in the class, but I must tell you that he was. Through him, we learned how to persevere through difficulties, and to find joy in the smallest of accomplishments. We learned how to love unconditionally and how to see the uniqueness in every classmate.
If your list of accomplishments is short, if you worry that you are not the wisest person in the room, fear not. God can use even you. God uses all of us when we humble ourselves before the cross, boasting only in Him — His accomplishments and His wisdom.  

Michele Peck

at Tuesday, April 16, 2019
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