Exodus 12:2 tell us, “This month shall mark for you the beginning of months; it shall be the first month of the year for you.” And it is the first month of the year for me, always has been because I was born in this month. In fact, today is my birthday.
But this verse from Exodus is not about my birthday. It is about the celebration of Passover, which apparently began the beginning of the year when it was instituted.
A couple of years ago I heard the best sermon on Passover ever. I wish I could reproduce it for you here, or at least give you all the main points, but I never saw a written copy and I only remember parts of it now. The story in Exodus tell us that the Hebrews were still slaves in Egypt when they got the instructions for the first Passover. You might remember that some of those instructions were to get dressed and be ready to go, eat standing up; kill a lamb and roast it whole and then eat the whole thing (and if your family wasn’t big enough to eat a whole lamb in one sitting, then team up with another family because the lamb had to be eaten that night.)
Now here’s the part I remember from the sermon: It takes a long time to roast a lamb whole. You were to get together with your guests and sit around and talk until the meal was ready and then stay to consume the whole thing. Sounds to me like what God was trying to do here was to reconnect some people in preparation, not just for a quick escape from slavery, for a journey that was going to take decades.
Some of the best things in life don’t happen in a hurry. Good chili or stew or even soup take a long time to simmer. Roasting a whole lamb takes many hours. Kindling or rekindling the relationships required to build a nation can take hours as well, and becoming a new nations take decades in the wilderness.
I can’t help but wonder if this relatively new nation of the United States of America doesn’t need a little more time in the wilderness to coalesce. Or maybe this time in history just feels like the wilderness to me, and maybe we could use this time to establish relationships and learn to live and work together.
Anyway, that’s my birthday wish. Get the candles over here so I can blow them out.