Narrative Lectionary Key Verse for Today
NL Daily Devotion for Sunday, September 30, 2018
by Dr. Kimberly Leetch, Clergy Stuff
Have you ever seen a horror flick where a monster is chasing a group, and although they decide to stick together, one in the group panics and runs? You know what happens. The runaway gets eaten, of course. They would have done better to remain with the group, to keep still instead of run.
When faced with dicey situations, a normal reaction is fight, flight, or freeze. Some people prepare for a fight. Others run. Some freeze up, unable to think or act. When faced with an Egyptian army, many of the Israelites froze. Without thinking it through, they cried that they were better off in Egypt than dead in the wilderness. They did not desire to fight. They were too weary to flee. So, they just stopped. Cried. Complained. Succumbed to fear.
Moses offered another option. Be still. Moses told them not to be afraid, that God would fight for them. “You have only to keep still.” Not frozen—intentionally still.
Stillness is a practiced art. The ability to be still amid chaos is cultivated over time by meditation, prayer, and just plain practice. Someone I love has trouble with stillness. She is constantly moving, fixing, cleaning up, organizing. Her whole world is noisy with action. When recommending she practice the art of being, the art of stillness, I suggested she do all her dishes, and then leave one dirty fork in the sink. The thought drove her crazy!
I assured her it was a tiny practice for a bigger goal... when other, more terrifying things will come like cancer, the death of a parent, or a child leaving for college, the art of stillness will benefit her greatly. She will have practiced sitting uncomfortably with the event of dis-ease. She will have learned to be still.
In those moments of intentional, uncomfortable stillness, God is wildly active. It is in those moments God fights for us. God fights the illness. God fights the grief. God fights to be present when we need God the most. Sometimes our best course of action is to be still.
Narrative Lectionary Daily Reading:
Exodus 14:5-7, 10-14, 21-29
When the king of Egypt was told that the people had fled, the minds of Pharaoh and his officials were changed towards the people, and they said, ‘What have we done, letting Israel leave our service?’ So he had his chariot made ready, and took his army with him; he took six hundred picked chariots and all the other chariots of Egypt with officers over all of them.
As Pharaoh drew near, the Israelites looked back, and there were the Egyptians advancing on them. In great fear the Israelites cried out to the Lord. They said to Moses, ‘Was it because there were no graves in Egypt that you have taken us away to die in the wilderness? What have you done to us, bringing us out of Egypt? Is this not the very thing we told you in Egypt, “Let us alone and let us serve the Egyptians”? For it would have been better for us to serve the Egyptians than to die in the wilderness.’ But Moses said to the people, ‘Do not be afraid, stand firm, and see the deliverance that the Lord will accomplish for you today; for the Egyptians whom you see today you shall never see again. The Lordwill fight for you, and you have only to keep still.’
Then Moses stretched out his hand over the sea. The Lord drove the sea back by a strong east wind all night, and turned the sea into dry land; and the waters were divided. The Israelites went into the sea on dry ground, the waters forming a wall for them on their right and on their left. The Egyptians pursued, and went into the sea after them, all of Pharaoh’s horses, chariots, and chariot drivers. At the morning watch the Lord in the pillar of fire and cloud looked down upon the Egyptian army, and threw the Egyptian army into panic. He clogged* their chariot wheels so that they turned with difficulty. The Egyptians said, ‘Let us flee from the Israelites, for the Lord is fighting for them against Egypt.’
Then the Lord said to Moses, ‘Stretch out your hand over the sea, so that the water may come back upon the Egyptians, upon their chariots and chariot drivers.’ So Moses stretched out his hand over the sea, and at dawn the sea returned to its normal depth. As the Egyptians fled before it, the Lord tossed the Egyptians into the sea. The waters returned and covered the chariots and the chariot drivers, the entire army of Pharaoh that had followed them into the sea; not one of them remained. But the Israelites walked on dry ground through the sea, the waters forming a wall for them on their right and on their left.