Since fall 2018, Glendale Church of the Brethren has been walking with God through the Old Testament in eager anticipation to arrive in the New Testament during the Season of Lent.
We began with the story of creation and focused on the seventh day, Sabbath, the day God rested. We learned that as humans we are called to also honor the Sabbath day; to rest in order to be renewed in our relationship with God, and refreshed so that we can continue faithfully doing the work God is calling us to do.
Then we met Abraham—the man God called through blessings and promises. We met his wife Sarah, and later their son Isaac. One Sunday we recalled how Abraham and Sarah were called to be a witness to their neighbors, to faithfully follow and worship God even when their path and goal was unclear.
From the first set of patriarchs and matriarchs we moved forward to Jacob, the grandson of Abraham. We watched with awe as Jacob’s name was changed to Israel in a midnight wrestle. With joy, we also claimed and acknowledged that when we encounter God, our names also change, we become sons and daughters of God.
But from acceptance we turned to rejection. We saw with disbelief how Israel’s sons sold one of their brothers, Joseph, into slavery. We sat the tension of reconciliation and anger. Joseph forgave his brothers and so we also acknowledged our own need to forgive and seek forgiveness.
Israel’s sons and their wives and children grew, their flocks grew, and when the Pharaoh who had given Joseph work in Egypt died and the new Pharaoh came into power, he was not nearly as welcoming to the next generation of Israel’s children. The new Pharaoh enslaved the people and required them to work under truly difficult conditions.
It was during this time that Moses, born into an Israelite slave family but adopted into Pharaoh’s own household, was born. Moses’s life in Egypt was violent and after Moses killed an Egyptian slave master he fled to the desert. It was in the desert that Moses became a shepherd and met God one day through a curious event. God moved Moses from curiosity to calling and sent Moses back to Egypt to ask the Pharaoh to let the Israelites go so that they could worship God once more.
The Pharaoh resisted Moses, but after God sent plagues to Egypt—each one worse than the last, the Pharaoh relented. The Israelites left Egypt, but almost as soon as they had gone, the Pharaoh sent his entire army after them. But even in this incredibly vulnerable position, God used a strong wind to blow the Red Sea apart and the Israelites walked through on dry ground while their captors remained behind.
Last Sunday we witnessed as God continued to provide for the Israelites through food in the desert, manna, and also quail. We learned that God provides through huge miraculous events like parting a sea, but also in daily events like food, water, and a place to sleep. All of these things, big and small are held in God’s hands.
The Israelites wandered in the desert for forty years, and at the end of their wandering they were instructed to give the first fruits of their harvest in the promised land to God. So this Sunday we will create a Remembrance tree, naming the things we are thankful for. We will also remember where our church has come from in the past forty years. And, we will celebrate with the Israelites the joy of giving back to God what God has given to us.
Please join us via our livefeed on Sunday, January 27 at 10:45am PST.