Exodus Day Thirty
August 11, 2020, 5:16 AM

New Year
Exodus 12:2-11

This month shall be for you the beginning of months.
It shall be the first month of the year for you.
Tell all the congregation of Israel
that on the tenth day of this month
every man shall take a lamb
according to their fathers' houses, a lamb for a household.
And if the household is too small for a lamb,
then he and his nearest neighbor
shall take according to the number of persons;
according to what each can eat
you shall make your count for the lamb.
Your lamb shall be without blemish, a male a year old.
You may take it from the sheep or from the goats,
and you shall keep it until the fourteenth day of this month,
when the whole assembly of the congregation of Israel
shall kill their lambs at twilight.
Then they shall take some of the blood
and put it on the two doorposts
and the lintel of the houses in which they eat it.
They shall eat the flesh that night, roasted on the fire;
with unleavened bread and bitter herbs they shall eat it.
Do not eat any of it raw or boiled in water,
but roasted, its head with its legs and its inner parts.
And you shall let none of it remain until the morning;
anything that remains until the morning you shall burn.
In this manner you shall eat it: with your belt fastened,
your sandals on your feet, and your staff in your hand.
And you shall eat it in haste.
It is the LORD's Passover.

Do you remember where you were, or what you were doing on “9-11”? I do. I was sitting at my computer on that Tuesday morning back in 2001, getting ready to write a sermon. I was a seminary intern in those days, and quite blissfully unaware of anything going on in the world— except a beautiful, sunny Florida fall morning. My phone rang. It was my pastor. He said, “Have you heard?” Well, no. Heard what? His voice was grave, and he said, “Go turn on the TV.”

That’s my memory of the day. It was a day that dawned a new chapter of life in the modern world. A new, painful way of being. Airport headaches. Getting on flights, nervously hoping everyone on the plane is a good person. Going through extra layers of time-consuming, irritating security protocols for entry to sporting events and amusement parks. And etc. And etc. Perhaps most tragically, people of Middle Eastern descent unjustly singled out as suspicious, and sinister— especially young males. Students rejected at aviation schools for merely wanting to learn take-off skills, but uninterested in landing. Okay, forget that last one. —Life changed. It was a cultural paradigm shift. Life would never be the same for Americans, and that change permeated the fabric of everydayness, globally. It was the new normal.

Historic interventions of the extraordinary that wrinkle time are rare; but when they happen, they can be epoch shifting markers, as “9-11” so clearly demonstrates. Perhaps our current pandemic moment will be so in hindsight, as well? I hope not. But now, I want to lighten the time trajectory— not all epoch changing moments are negative. I’m thinking of two moments that we encounter in our Bibles. The first one is initiated from the section of Exodus that I’ve featured today. Passover. “This month shall be for you the beginning of months. It shall be the first month of the year for you.” (12:2). God told the Israelites that this deliverance they were about to receive, would be the beginning of a New Year. The calendar was going to be rearranged. This springtime event would be the spring of a new era. God was doing something new in their midst. Everything must change. This would be a day that would be looked back upon, and remembered as special. A day that would define a people; and a way of life. The Hebrew calendar would, going forward, be infused with redemptive markers of God’s faithfulness.

This calendar change served as sort of a warm-up for the big calendar change coming. The second big moment I mentioned previously. The birth of Jesus Christ, of course. We know that we now measure time in relation to that major, epoch shifting event. We are currently in “the Year of our Lord,” 2020. Two thousand and twenty years removed from the Incarnation in Bethlehem. We mark time historically now as B.C. and A.D. “Before Christ” and “Anno Domini” (“In the Year of our Lord”). Now I think it’s kind of interesting that this basic calendric orientation still holds in our increasingly secular world. The time markers are the same, but we denote them B.C.E. and C.E. “Before the Common Era” and “Common Era”! Call it what you will, Jesus still reigns, even in the secular, scholarly world!

Since I started with my Florida experience in 2001, I may as well end this entry with a Florida experience as well. The Space Shuttle program was still going strong at the time. You must remember that when watching a launch — and we always watched every launch as Floridians — you would always see the launch clock in the inset of the picture. That big clock that does The Countdown: 10 – 9 – 8 – Yada, Yada, Yada, Activate Main Engine Hydrogen Burn-off System. Main Engine Start, Solid Rocket Booster Ignition, Liftoff!

What you may not realize is that as soon as liftoff happens, that big launch clock immediately begins to reverse count. Marking time away. The Shuttle rocket stream has made an impact in time measurement upon the earth. There is now anticipation for the day when the Shuttle returns. Marking time, eagerly. It will return! This is where we are on The Countdown Clock. The Year of Our Lord, 2020. We anticipate his return. We mark our time on that return. May that thought be on our hearts with each New Year, going forth.

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