(my Lenten discipline this year is to write a short devotion, without extra editing or excessive thought, on the coming Sunday's lectionary texts for each of the 40 days. Later I might go through and edit/rewrite, but for now these are first thoughts.)
“A wandering Aramean was my ancestor; he went down into Egypt and lived there as an alien, few in number, and there he became a great nation, mighty and populous. When the Egyptians treated us harshly and afflicted us, by imposing hard labor on us, we cried to the LORD, the God of our ancestors; the LORD heard our voice and saw our affliction, our toil, and our oppression. The LORD brought us out of Egypt with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm, with a terrifying display of power, and with signs and wonders; and he brought us into this place and gave us this land, a land flowing with milk and honey.”
Humans are naturally storytellers—if you don’t believe me, head to any school and listen in the hallways or the cafeteria while the kids talk between classes. Everyone has a story to tell. We also have some communal stories—stories about our family, our country, or the world, stories that we connect to in some way even if it isn’t something that happened to us. This is the kind of storytelling that lets us say “those are my people” even if you’ve never met them or never been to their part of the country/world.
This is one of those stories that we tell because it reminds us who we are. Once upon a time, we were a mighty nation. Once upon a time, we were slaves. We were rescued and brought to this incredible place. This is our family story.
This story also tells us whose we are. Once upon a time, God made a covenant with our ancestors. Once upon a time, we called upon the LORD and were heard. God brought us out of slavery with signs and wonders, with a mighty hand, with terrifying power. God gave us this land. We belong to God, we are the people of God, we are the people God rescued and brought home.
And that’s what storytelling is really about, isn’t it? Coming home? Stories help us to live, to re-live, to inhabit our space and time. Telling the story brings us home again, brings us closer to one another and to the God who gave us the story and who continues to write the story with us.
Story-making God, today we affirm with the ancient Israelites that a wandering Aramean was our ancestor, that once we were mighty, once we were slaves, and many times we have been rescued by your mighty works and terrifying power. We pray today that you would be with us as we tell the stories of our life and faith in this season of Lent, that we might come ever closer to our home in you. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.