Unconventional Redemption

Message Title: Unconventional Redemption
Theme: Redeemer of Stories
Season: ORDINARY
Main Text: Exodus 1:8-2:10;
Scripture Reading: Romans 12:1-8;
RCL Scripture: Exodus 1:8-2:10; Psalm 124; Isaiah 51:1-6; Psalm 138; Romans 12:1-8; Matthew 16:13-20
Focus: God uses women in Israel’s exodus & redemption story.
Function:  To find yourself and others in the Big Redemption story and see your little redemption coinciding with The Big Redemption.
Other Notes:

SCRIPTURE READING: Romans 12:1-8 So, brothers and sisters, because of God’s mercies, I encourage you to present your bodies as a living sacrifice that is holy and pleasing to God. This is your appropriate priestly service. Don’t be conformed to the patterns of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your minds so that you can figure out what God’s will is—what is good and pleasing and mature. Because of the grace that God gave me, I can say to each one of you: don’t think of yourself more highly than you ought to think. Instead, be reasonable since God has measured out a portion of faith to each one of you. We have many parts in one body, but the parts don’t all have the same function. In the same way, though there are many of us, we are one body in Christ, and individually we belong to each other. We have different gifts that are consistent with God’s grace that has been given to us. If your gift is prophecy, you should prophesy in proportion to your faith. If your gift is service, devote yourself to serving. If your gift is teaching, devote yourself to teaching.If your gift is encouragement, devote yourself to encouraging. The one giving should do it with no strings attached. The leader should lead with passion. The one showing mercy should be cheerful.

LORD’S PRAYER

BOOK INTRO: A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle

  1. We finally have a “combo-breaker” in our books in the Redeemer of Stories series. I read today’s book before I saw the movie! Aren’t you proud of me? Don’t be. I need to read more.
  2. Book details: In 1962, Madeleine L’Engle released the first book in a growing series titled A Wrinkle in Time. This book is a balance of the Science Fiction and Fantasy genres and debated to be part of Christian fiction.
  3. Synopsis: (Nice video summary: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dMacFsaOzuk)
    1. The book opens by introducing the reader to the Murry family; which includes a husband and wife scientist team, their daughter Margaret who is always called Meg, twin sons Sandy & Dennis, and youngest son Charles Wallace.
    2. Mr. Murray has gone missing and has been missing for a long time. Many in the community assume he left his family, but the Murry’s know better. Their father is mysteriously missing, but Sandy and Dennis do not seem to miss a beat. However, this tragedy significantly affects Meg and Charles Wallace. Meg struggles with her emotions and continues to have problems in school. Eventually, we meet a classmate of Meg’s, Calvin O’Keefe, who befriends Meg when she doesn’t even like herself. Charles Wallace, though a prodigy at home, struggles with casual interactions.
    3. Charles Wallace meets a group of mysterious old women with odd names: Mrs. Whatist, Mrs. Who, and Mrs. Which. As we get to know these characters, they seem to be angels or aliens or some kind of celestial beings with capabilities unlike humans. These mysterious women, along with Calvin, help Meg and Charles Wallace on their journey to find their father.
  4. Morning Focus: Meg doesn’t like herself. Meg doubts her intellect and capabilities and is impatient. She gets angry and defensive easily and takes time to calm down. Through the journey to find Mr. Murray, both Meg and Charles Wallace, face challenges that highlight the hardships they’ve encountered in their father’s absence.

TRANSITION: Meg doesn’t feel qualified to help in the rescue mission of Mr. Murry, except as protection for Charles Wallace. She doubts her place in the story. In our text for today, we will hear the beginning of a very familiar story but with a new focus. My hope is you hear your place in this story as we consider new vantage points.

SCRIPTURE: Exodus 1:8-2:10

Summary: vs 8-14

  1. Joseph and his brothers have passed away
  2. The Pharaoh that is now in power, never knew Joseph and now fears the Hebrews/Israelites.
  3. Pharaoh enslaves the Hebrews.
  4. The Hebrews now make mortar, bricks, and work the field.
  5. But still their numbers grew and Pharaoh was scared of an uprising.

1:15-2:10 15 The king of Egypt spoke to two Hebrew midwives named Shiphrah and Puah:16 “When you are helping the Hebrew women give birth and you see the baby being born, if it’s a boy, kill him. But if it’s a girl, you can let her live.” 17 Now the two midwives respected God so they didn’t obey the Egyptian king’s order. Instead, they let the baby boys live. 18 So the king of Egypt called the two midwives and said to them, “Why are you doing this? Why are you letting the baby boys live?”19 The two midwives said to Pharaoh, “Because Hebrew women aren’t like Egyptian women. They’re much stronger and give birth before any midwives can get to them.” 20 So God treated the midwives well, and the people kept on multiplying and became very strong. 21 And because the midwives respected God, God gave them households of their own. 22 Then Pharaoh gave an order to all his people: “Throw every baby boy born to the Hebrews into the Nile River, but you can let all the girls live.” 2 Now a man from Levi’s household married a Levite woman. The woman became pregnant and gave birth to a son. She saw that the baby was healthy and beautiful, so she hid him for three months.When she couldn’t hide him any longer, she took a reed basket and sealed it up with black tar. She put the child in the basket and set the basket among the reeds at the riverbank. The baby’s older sister stood watch nearby to see what would happen to him. Pharaoh’s daughter came down to bathe in the river, while her women servants walked along beside the river. She saw the basket among the reeds, and she sent one of her servants to bring it to her. When she opened it, she saw the child. The boy was crying, and she felt sorry for him. She said, “This must be one of the Hebrews’ children.” Then the baby’s sister said to Pharaoh’s daughter, “Would you like me to go and find one of the Hebrew women to nurse the child for you?” Pharaoh’s daughter agreed, “Yes, do that.” So the girl went and called the child’s mother. Pharaoh’s daughter said to her, “Take this child and nurse it for me, and I’ll pay you for your work.” So the woman took the child and nursed it. 10 After the child had grown up, she brought him back to Pharaoh’s daughter, who adopted him as her son. She named him Moses, “because,” she said, “I pulled him out[a] of the water.”

EXPLANATION & INTERPRETATION: God uses women in Israel’s exodus & redemption story.

  1. Yes, this is the story of the birth of Moses. And frequently, we skim past the opening chapter to focus on the baby in a basket. But there are some significant stories we miss when we jump into the river before considering how the baby got there.
  2. 5 Women in Moses’ story: In this passage we learn about five women paramount to Moses becoming the man who would lead the Hebrews out of Egypt. Moses would have never gotten into the basket in the river or raised in Pharaoh’s house if it wasn’t for these five women.
    1. SAY THEIR NAMES:
      1. Two Midwives, Shiphrah and Puah, who defied Pharaoh’s orders and allowed Hebrew baby boys to live.
      2. A Mother, Jochebed, who gave birth to a son and hid him from the officials and eventually placed him in a basket in the river for his safety.
      3. A Sister, Miriam, who protected her baby brother and encouraged Pharaoh’s daughter to adopt him. She was clever enough to get her own mother to raise Moses ‘for’ Pharaoh’s Daughter.
      4. Pharaoh’s Daughter– Though we never learn her name, this Unnamed Woman, adopts a baby, in defiance of her father’s decree. She raises a Hebrew in Pharaoh’s household but waits until he is weaned thus allowing his beginning years to be with his biological family.

APPLICATION: To find yourself and others in the Big Redemption story and see your redemption coinciding with The Big Redemption.

  1. These five women were part of God’s redemption story for Israel and tantamount to the Exodus story. Yet we don’t tell their stories in Sunday School. They don’t have their own VeggieTales episode. And churches build a theology that invalidates their role in the Redemption of Israel or the Church as a whole.
  2. Redemption in the book: In A Wrinkle in Time we see Meg underestimated herself because of her flaws and overestimate Charles Wallace because of his talents. Meg doesn’t even consider that her flaws could become talents with practice and determination.
    1. It isn’t until they send the kids into a task without Mrs Who, Which, and Whatsit that Meg’s thoughts are challenged. Mrs. Whatsit gives each kid a gift to help them in the task at hand. To Meg, she gives her faults. This forces Meg forced to consider how her faults could help her.
  3. Our Little Redemption: I have said this before but I believe that hurt people hurt people. I believe the world is full of hurt people that can perpetuate unhealthy practices and teachings because of pain. Specifically, I believe our own insecurities can frequently lead to discrediting others as we discredit ourselves. We make this weird competition game, and God’s gospel gets muddled with jealousy.
    1. Ubuntu: My dream is we take part in changing the competition. My dream would be adapting a philosophy of Ubuntu. There has been a few different versions floating around on Facebook, but the general concept is of unity.
      1. Ubuntu[1]: “I am what I am because of who we all are.” (From a definition offered by Liberian peace activist Leymah Gbowee.)
        1. “A person with Ubuntu is open and available to others, affirming of others, does not feel threatened that others are able and good, based from a proper self-assurance that comes from knowing that he or she belongs in a greater whole and is diminished when others are humiliated or diminished, when others are tortured or oppressed.” — Archbishop Desmond Tutu
        2. “A traveller through a country would stop at a village and he didn’t have to ask for food or for water. Once he stops, the people give him food and attend him. That is one aspect of Ubuntu, but it will have various aspects. Ubuntu does not mean that people should not address themselves. The question therefore is: Are you going to do so in order to enable the community around you to be able to improve?” Nelson Mandela
      2. This philosophy removes the concept of competing for value. We can care for each other because we recognize our connectedness. We can fill our role in this world because everyone is filling a custom-made role. No one is competing for space to exist.
    2. Each a role, unique from others
      1. Humans don’t have to compete for God’s favor or love.
      2. Humans don’t have to compete for redemption.
      3. Humans don’t have to compete for a role in God’s redemption story.  
  4. The Big Redemption:
    1. For centuries, the church has been perpetuating damaging teachings by underestimating and undervaluing the role of women in sharing & living out the Gospel message. It wasn’t until I was a seminarian, that I realized that not every Christian church teaches the same perspective on women.
    2. Ultimately, the teachings boil down to two perspectives:
      1. Complementarians: God views men and women as separate, distinct, with different roles, though equally valued and loved. Men lead, women serve.
      2. Egalitarians: God values all humans equally and equips individuals based on their talents and gifting, not based on their gender. Anyone can lead or serve.
    3. You can find both perspectives in scripture. BUT when you consider that both arguments are present, it rather disassembles the complementarian perspective.

CONCLUSION:

  1. God uses all of us. God uniquely equips all of us.
    1. It doesn’t have to be a competition. It could be a collaboration. We work together, in the spirit of Ubuntu, as part of God’s Big Redemption story.
    2. We all may be in the midst of our little redemption stories but are still able to participate in the bigger picture. You don’t have to have God all figured out to be loved by God or to be part of the Big Redemption story.
  2. Benediction:
    1. Validate our own redemption story
    2. Validate other’s redemption story
    3. Take part in God’s redemption story and recognize it isn’t a competition of favor, reward, or holiness.  

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ubuntu_philosophy#:~:text=with%20%22unhu%22.-,South%20Africa,of%20who%20we%20all%20are.%22&text=Nelson%20Mandela%20explained%20Ubuntu%20as,him%20food%20and%20attend%20him.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s