“A TRIBAL GOD?” - A SERMON FOR RACIAL
A sermon preached at the
“Thus the Lord delivered
Israel that day from the power of the Egyptians
and Israel saw the Egyptians lying dead on the seashore” (Exodus 14:30)
So what really happened?
a great Caribbean style hurricane wind
separate the waters for the Israelites?
was the original event a little more mundane -
lightly clad Israelites scampering safely over marshy ground
leaving heavy Egyptian chariots
hopelessly bogged down in the rear?
indeed is the whole story not historical at all, but rather part of
profound early Israelite mythological story telling,
along with Adam and Eve and the Tower of Babel?
answers to that will depend on how we read our bibles -
but whatever the historicity or otherwise of the tale,
there is here much food for theological thought.
So let me briefly suggest three things we can learn from this passage:
1. God’s love & care can & will ultimately destroy the forces of evil.
chariots of Pharaoh got bogged down in the mud -
the forces of evil have built into them, by their very nature,
the seeds of their own destruction.
powers that be may appear invincible,
but ultimately they fail as sure as Pharaoh’s army was defeated.
the 1960s, Martin Luther King preached a mighty sermon
on the parting of the Red Sea,
relating it to the fate of the black population of the Southern States,
promising that the evil of their racist and segregationalist oppressors
would ultimately be left dead on the seashore,
and the downtrodden children of slaves,
like the Hebrew slaves in Egypt, should yet see the Promised Land…
(Martin Luther King “Strength to Love” p.76)
course every generation sees new Pharaohs, new chariots of evil -
It is one of the particular ironies of history
that the oppressed of one generation
can often become the oppressors of the next.
at the Mint we value our links with Zimbabwe,
and it is good to welcome Philip back after his trip to Zimbabwe -
I’ve asked him to say a quick word about the situation there
a bit later in the service.
to all our friends from Zimbabwe,
as Mugabe clings to power and the future remains unclear,
you need to hear the Gospel message:
the powers of evil may triumph in the short term,
but ultimately the mighty powers of evil shall be cast down
and the humble lifted up,
every evil shall be defeated by God’s love,
just as the might of Rome and the gallows of Pilate
were defeated by an empty tomb and a risen Lord of Life.
2. God remains the Lord of all nations and all
There is a danger that we read the Red Sea story
as the story of the victory of one tribal God (the God of Israel)
over another tribal God (the God of Egypt).
Nothing could be more wrong.
Sea deliverance is about the victory of the whole
of humanity (of every race and nation) over the powers of evil,
not the victory of one nation and its deity over another.
old Jewish rabbinic commentaries on the Red Sea passage
tell the story of the ministering angels in heaven offering
to sing a song of praise celebrating the destruction of the Egyptians.
But God turns to the angels and rebukes them, saying
“My children lie drowned in the sea, and you would sing?”
forget that God’s covenant with Noah and all humanity
preceded his covenant with Abraham & Moses & the children of Israel -
our God is the God of all people -
Israelis and Palestinians, Russians and Georgians, Americans and Iraqis.
use the prayer cards given out with the service sheets today.
Hold them close to you at one angle
and you can see many faces of every colour and race.
Hold it further away, and you see the face of Christ.
the prayer card says, we need to recognize the presence of Christ
in each and every person we meet.
will defeat the evil powers that be
But thank God (for is there not something of Pharaoh in all of us?),
thank God that the fall of the wicked men and women
is no cause for rejoicing in heaven,
but rather a chance to bring them to the Lord’s feet
from whence they, we, might be lifted up in love…
3. We are called to follow God
wherever he may lead -
even though it may sometimes mean
a journey across the desert & into the sea.
called to live Godly lives
in what still seems to be Pharaoh’s world.
That means walking with God, in the way of Christ is
§ the way of justice and love,
§ the way of peace and non-violence,
It is a
path we are called to walk in faith and trust
in the very face of the powers that be.
though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death
I shall fear no evil, for thy rod and thy staff, they comfort me”.
modern-version of the story of the Red Sea
tells how God says to Moses
‘Hold out your staff and walk into the waters,
and you and the people will pass safely through.’
So Moses walks towards the sea with his staff held high.
the waters do not part - and as Moses walks forward
he finds himself wading deeper and deeper.
the water reaches the top of his legs,
Moses stops and looks up to heaven -
‘Lord, you said you would part the waters - what has gone wrong?’
‘Nothing my child’ replies God,
‘you keep on walking and I’ll part the waters
when you are up to your neck’.
Do we walk in faith, in trust?
in a dark and dangerous world.
Pharaoh’s armies are ever upon us.
And God says “Follow me”
He gives no guarantees where he will take us.
§ Maybe along a fine and firm causeway,
§ Perhaps through the mud of despair and the slough of despond,
§ Maybe into deep and fearsomely dangerous seas.
§ Maybe even through the waters of death itself.
thing we know -
if we follow in faith, wherever the path leads,
God goes with us and all will be well.
me says God - I will show you the way:
There is the Gospel challenge
for those who might seek to hitch a lift
in the comfortable but doomed chariots of Pharaoh
me says God - I will be with you always:
There is the Gospel of reassurance
for the bereaved and the dying,
the confused and frightened,
for the oppressed and the persecuted.
is only one place to be in this world -
and that is marching with God
alongside his people and
alongside the poor and the needy -
And never fear,
for though the waters be oh so deathly cold and deep -
God goes with us,
and with him before us and beside us
our destination is secure -
and we too are headed for the Promised Land!
Order of Service
Racial Justice Sunday
14 Sept 2008 10.30 a.m.
Service of Holy Communion led by Rev Andrew Sails
Hymn 13: “Praise My Soul”
Reading: Exodus 14:19-31 (p. 72)
Korean Musical Group
Reading: Luke 4:14-19 (p. 1031)
Hymn “Help us tread the paths of justice”
(Andrew Pratt 2006 © Stainer and Bell)
Sermon: “A Tribal God?”
Hymn “We have a dream”
(Michael Forster, NHWS 348, Tune: Woodlands)
The Lord’s Prayer
Hymn 700 “Lord we have come”
(The collection will be taken during the singing of this hymn)
Holy Communion [The congregation remains standing.]
Minister: Lift up your Hearts.
All: We lift them to the Lord.
Minister: Let us give thanks to the Lord our God.
All: It is right to give him thanks and praise.
Minister: All glory be given to you, O Father, who created us as one human race, one family upon earth. Father we give you thanks for all your love for us throughout history, and especially for the gift of your Son, living our life, walking alongside us in our pain and sorrow, freeing us from the bondage of sin and death and bringing us into the glorious freedom of the children of God. So with all our sisters and brothers in this world, and in the world to come, we join with the angelic choir as we sing:
All: 거룩 거룩 거룩하신 주 전능하신 하나님
(sing in 거룩 거룩 거룩하신 주 전능하신 하나님
English or 어제도 계셨고 오늘도 계시며
Korean) 이제 곧 오실 거룩하신 주
holy, holy is the Lord;
holy is the Lord God almighty!
Holy, holy, holy is the Lord;
holy is the Lord God almighty!
Who was, and is, and is to come!
Holy, holy, holy is the Lord!
Minister: On the night he was betrayed, the Lord Jesus took
bread, he gave thanks, broke it and gave it to his disciples saying
“Take, eat, this is my body. Do this in remembrance of me.”
In the same way he took the cup; he gave thanks and gave it to them saying: “Drink of it, all of you; this is my blood of the new Covenant which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.”
Hear us, O Christ, and breathe your Spirit upon us
and upon this bread and wine. May they become for us your body, vibrant with your life, healing, renewing and making us whole.
And as the bread and wine which we now eat and drink are changed into us, may we be changed again into you, bone of your bone, flesh of your flesh,
loving and caring in the world.
Look, the Body of Christ is broken for the life of the world.
Distribution of Bread and Wine.
All are invited to receive bread and wine. Please come forward to the rail when the steward indicates. Should you wish to receive a blessing only, simply come forward to the rail, but do not hold out your hand for bread and wine.
During the distribution, music will be played by our visiting Korean musicians from Germany.
All: We thank you Lord, that you have fed us in this sacrament, united us with Christ, and given us a foretaste of the heavenly banquet prepared for all people. Amen.
Hymn 437 “Guide me O thou great Jehovah”
Organ: Finale from Sonata in C# Minor -
(Maestoso - Fugue - Maestoso - Grandioso)
based on a hymn from a German Psalter of 1500 ‘Beata Nobis Gaudia’ - ‘Blessed are the joys which return to us as year follows year’