The Daily Office | March 11, 2018
Psalms 56, 57, 58
Exodus 1:8-14; 1:22-2:10
Psalms 59, 60, 61
Collect: Ash Wednesday
Almighty and everlasting God, you hate nothing you have made, and you forgive the sins of all who are penitent: Create and make in us new and contrite hearts, that we, worthily lamenting our sins and acknowledging our wretchedness, may obtain of you, the God of all mercy, perfect remission and forgiveness; through Jesus Christ our Lord; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
Collect: The Fourth Sunday in Lent
Gracious Father, whose blessed Son Jesus Christ came down from heaven to be the true bread which gives life to the world: Evermore give us this bread, that he may live in us, and we in him; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.
I'm sure you've read the Exodus story before, but have you ever considered what was the driving motive behind Pharaoh's command to enslave the Israelites?
Fear. Fear that this ever-growing people might rebel. Fear that they might join Egypt's enemies if war were to break out. Fear that they might try to escape the land. Fear is a powerful emotion.
And reflect on the fact that this fear is completely speculative. There were no wars breaking out. There was no evidence that the people were discontent. It was purely speculative fear about the unknown future that drove the Egyptian leadership to oppress those who were different than them.
Things haven't changed much over thousands of years, have they?
We still deal with oppression and social injustices all around us, largely based out of fear and not understanding people who are different from us. Racial strife continues to be prevalent in our country, and Sunday morning is the most segregated few hours each week in America.
Is it a stretch to suggest that oppression, racism, islamophobia, and all sorts of contemporary social injustices originate in fear? From a lack of knowledge and understanding someone different than us? Perhaps even from a hard heart, like Pharaoh, a stubbornness to even try to understand and empathize, and instead project our own thoughts and assumptions on others?
My challenge to you this week is to have a conversation with someone different than you - someone of a different race or ethnicity, a different religion, even a different socio-economic class, whomever you can find. Have a conversation with them, and listen. Ask them about their experiences, their struggles, their perspectives, and listen. Allow your heart to hear someone else's heart, look through someone else's eyes. And don't be afraid! Fear stems from simply not knowing.