Day 18--Darkness will Pass Over--"Choices"--Ex 7:4 - 12:30
January 18, 2021, 8:51 AM

Day 18 Exodus 7:14 – 12:30

Two things for today that stood out—the plague of darkness and the Pass Over (my spelling is intentional).

The darkness that descended as the ninth plague doesn’t seem so terrible to us today because we have so many artificial lights to brighten the darkness. Exodus 10:23 “People could not see one another, and for three days they could not move from where they were.” That made me shudder because we do not really understand the fear, the powerlessness and the horror of pure darkness as it was presented in this verse.

Many years ago, my family and I were living in West Virginia and we toured a coal mine, heading deep down into the bowels of the earth literally. We sat in a little train car, surrounded by thick stone walls that stood close around us, traveling with other people we did not know, trusting a guide who had obviously done this tour many times before. When we got to the deepest part, the guide said, “I’m going to turn all the lights off now so you can ‘see’ darkness.” It was a lesson for me. Could not see family. Could not see my hand in front of my face. Could not see a glimmer of anything resembling light and my eyes panicked. Not me, but my eyes. I was looking around quickly, as though I could find the merest hint, as though the familiar glow of something could light up my purely darkened brain. Air tasted different. Sounds were magnified. And we would have been helpless, absolutely helpless, if this had been ‘real life’.

For me all the plagues center around this idea—pure darkness. Each one sounded so terrible—boils, blood, gnats, frogs (in your bread bowl, for heaven’s sake!!). But then the loss of the firstborn sons. Remember that this would have included adult men as well, so ALL the firstborn sons would have died—husbands, fathers, sons of all ages. (I know our bible translation says simply ‘firstborn’ but the reality is that the times would have required the death of the potential power figures in the populace, represented at that time by males.)

And Pharaoh himself seems to embody that as well—pure darkness. No light. No goodness.

The verses from John 8:12 speak loudly to me today:  “Jesus…said, ‘I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.’ ” He said these words after forgiving what was considered unforgivable at the time—the woman caught in adultery. Jesus pointed out the deep darkness in each of our souls when he told the people that the person without sin among them could throw the first stone of death at her. Only Jesus qualified, and he did not pick up any stones. He forgave her—also reminding her not to sin anymore. It is his light that can penetrate the deepest darkness.

And the Pass Over. I have purposely separated those words so we can understand them better. My sister is Jewish and it always sounds like one word “Passover”, which it is, but it stands for an action, for God’s power to save his people and his decision to do so. The angel of death passed over the Hebrew people because of the blood of the lamb. Does this sound familiar to anyone? This is also the story of the Christian “pass over”, the sacrifice of Jesus, the lamb of God, who causes death to pass over us. In our Eucharistic prayers, at the fraction (the breaking of the bread) we say “Christ our Passover [lamb] is sacrificed for us.”

We share a pass over understanding with our Jewish brothers and sisters, even as we honor their remembrance of this original pass over before the exodus of the Hebrew people—the idea that God saves us from the deepest darkness, even when we cannot see the way before us.

Chag Pesach Sameach!! (Hebrew for Happy Passover Festival!)

(Note: today is the remembrance of the Rev. Dr. martin Luther King, Jr. Please let us hold in prayer,, and commit to action his dream that envisioned an equality of light and of righteousness for all people, regardless of the color of their skin. How is it possible that we continue to wrestle with these issues still today? Commit to being part of the solution—run with your candle into the darkness and help to lead others out.)

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