by David Baer, October 2, 2016
Text: Exodus 12:1-13,13:1-8
Who here likes Thanksgiving? I know it’s a little ways off still, but do you know where you’re going to be for Thanksgiving this year? Who are you going to be with?
What’s the big deal on Thanksgiving? What does everybody get together to do? (Eat a meal.)
And what’s so special about eating this meal? Why do we have a big meal with our families every fall? (Spend time together, express thankfulness about our blessings.)
I’m going to tell you a story about a special meal in the Bible. Actually, I’m going to tell you two stories… But I don’t want to get ahead of myself.
The first story happened more than 3000 years ago, at a time when the Hebrew people were slaves. Does anybody know what country they lived in? (Egypt.) They were slaves who had to work for the king. What was the king called? (Pharaoh.) They worked for Pharaoh in Egypt, and they build enormous stone buildings. They weren’t free. They didn’t have a land of their own. And the Pharaoh put people in charge of them that treated them really mean. What do you think the Hebrew people did?
They cried out to God, and God listened to them, and God called a man named Moses to lead them out of slavery so that they could be free. And Moses kept going to Pharaoh and telling him, “God says, Let my people go!” But Pharaoh was really stubborn, and he wouldn’t let the people go. So God sent plagues on Egypt. Can anybody tell me, what is a plague? It’s when something bad happens. So God sent flies and frogs. God made the sun stop shining for a while. God even turned the river to blood, so that the water was too disgusting to drink. So what do you think Pharaoh did then? He was still stubborn, and he wouldn’t let the people go!
Finally, God sent one more plague, the angel of death. But God wanted to make sure the Hebrew people were protected. So God told Moses that every family should take a lamb to eat. They were supposed to take some of the blood from the lamb and smear it on the outside of the doors of their houses, and when the angel of death saw the blood, he would pass over that house and not hurt anybody inside. And to this day, the Jewish people still eat a meal every year where they eat lamb with their families and remember the story. Does anybody know what the meal is called? (Passover, because the angel of death passed over the homes of the Hebrew families and didn’t hurt them.) But many of the Egyptians died because of the plague, and so Pharaoh told the Hebrews they could go, that they had to go quickly—“Just leave!” he said. That meant they were free! God promised to be with them and show them a land of their own that they could live in.
Now, there are three things about this story that you need to know. One thing is this—God said that there might be some families that didn’t have a lamb to eat. But that’s OK. God said that their neighbors should get together with them and share a lamb. When God blesses us, when God does something good for us, we’re supposed to share it, and make sure everyone is included in the blessing.
The second thing to know about this story is what God told the people to do with the leftovers. What do you do when you have leftovers? (Keep them in the fridge, eat them later. If they are too old, throw them away.) Well, God told the people that when they ate the Passover lamb, if there was anything left over the next morning, they were supposed to burn it in the fire, so that it would all be gone. Why do you think God told them to do that? … I think it was because God wanted the people to trust that God was going to take care of them, that they didn’t need leftovers, that there would be food for them to eat if they just trusted and followed God. God wants us to follow God and to trust that God is going to take care of us.
So what do we need to remember about this story? One: Share the lamb. When God helps us, when God blesses us, we need to share that blessing with others. And two: You don’t need the leftovers! God wants us to follow God and to trust that God will take care of us.
One last thing we need to know about this story. It didn’t happen just once. People get together every year, over and over again, to remember that it happened. Do we have a Passover meal here at our church? (Yes, in the spring!) And we share that story with kids like you. We share the story because they want the kids to understand that if God hadn’t helped us, we’d still be in Egypt. We’d still be working for Pharaoh and not free. So God freed you too, God helped you too, even though you weren’t there. We eat the meal so we can remember what happened and know that God helped us too. We eat so that we can remember how good God is.
What are the three things to remember about this story? Share the lamb—make sure everyone is included in God’s blessings. Burn the leftovers—trust God to take care of you. And remember the story—eat the meal and tell the story to remember that God is good, God helped us then and God still helps us today.
We’re not going to celebrate Passover today. We’re going to have another meal in a few minutes. Does anybody know what that meal is called, where we all eat some bread and drink some grape juice? (Communion.) It’s a little different from Passover, but it’s not that different. Jesus is sometimes called the Lamb of God, and he’s the one who died, not an animal, to save us and protect us. And Jesus rose again. So we share bread and juice to remember that Jesus set us free from death, so that we could live forever with God; and he set us free from sin, so that we could love God and each other the way God wants us to. We pass the bread and the juice around, and we make sure everyone has enough, that everyone is included. We promise, when we eat, that we are going to follow God and trust God. And we tell the story so that we remember just how good God is. And when we do that this morning, there will be others all over the world doing the exact same thing. You see, today is World Communion Sunday, when all the churches in the world are invited to celebrate this special meal on the same day. Can you imagine how many people that is, how many who try to share God’s blessings, trust God, and tell the story? Can you imagine what a big family of God we’re all part of?
Share the lamb, burn the leftovers, remember the story. Share God’s blessings so that everyone is included. Trust and follow God, and you’ll have everything you need. Remember the story, and know how good God is. That’s what Passover is about, and it’s what Communion is about. If it’s OK with your parents, you are welcome to receive Communion today with the congregation.
Let us pray: God, you are the one who sets us free to live and to love you and one another as your own people. When you bless us, remind us to share. When we worry, remind us to trust and follow you. When we gather, remind us to tell your story and remember your goodness to us. Be present in our sharing of this special meal, and feed not just our bodies but our spirits, so that our lives will show all people just how much you love them. We pray in Jesus’ name, Amen.