Coronavirus Pandemic - 30th April, 2020

Psalm 23; Exodus 2:15b-25; 1 Peter 2:9-12

Thursday 30 April - Rev. Jerry Eve

I remember going along to Eastwood Theatre a few years ago to see a show by the RSC. This wasn’t the ‘Royal Shakespeare Company’, though, but the ‘Reduced Shakespeare Company’. They are American, and famous for taking the likes of ‘The Complete Works of Shakespeare’ and then condensing them into a single performance. It’s comedy, and at that time the production they were touring the country with was titled ‘The Bible (Abridged)’. Some Christians were concerned at the time it might be sacrilegious. I, however, thoroughly enjoyed it and, although it was irreverential in lots of places, the cast clearly had a love of Scripture. Although they hardly missed an opportunity to make a joke, they also relished telling the tales they did.

The reason I mention this is that there were two moments in the show when they refused to poke fun. The second was when one of them came on wearing a rabbit costume, and complained about having to be dressed like that to tell the story of Easter, which he did as well as I’ve ever heard it done in Church. And the first was when another of the actors recited the 23rd Psalm. Because there was no accompanying knock-about gag, as there was for everything else that was done, this then became an incredibly poignant and moving moment. It was wonderful.

Psalm 23 is wonderful, and this is just the first of three days running when we get to read it.

Exodus 2  and 1 Peter 2 are linked, I think, by the references in Exodus to Moses as a ‘foreigner’ and in 1 Peter to ‘strangers and refugees’. While we’re not getting much news at the moment about displaced persons, this does remain a huge worldwide concern. These two readings, though, demonstrate that it need not be an intractable one.

The Biblical hero, Moses, it could be argued, was either on the run from justice in Egypt when our story begins – or forced to flee. There are two ways of looking at it. Either he was a murderer or a freedom fighter. Whichever it is he clearly had a very keen sense of injustice, and this was something he brought with him from Egypt into Midian when, having killed an Egyptian for killing a Hebrew slave in his homeland, as a ‘foreigner’ he goes to the rescue of some Midianite women.

A question we might well ask here is, ‘Do you think he ought to have been repatriated, or allowed to assimilate?’ What would your answer be?

When it comes to the New Testament, Peter is addressing fellow early Christians when he refers to them as ‘strangers and refugees’, not in the sense of having not been born in the country where they live, but as citizens of another country i.e. The Kingdom of God.

Let us pray:

God, no one is stranger to you

And no one is ever far from your loving care.

In your kindness watch over migrants, refugees and asylum seekers,

Those separated from their loved ones,

Those who are lost

And those who have been exiled from their homes.

Bring them safely to the place where they long to be,

And help us always to show your kindness to strangers

And those in need.

We ask this through Christ our Lord,

Who too was a refugee and migrant

Who travelled to another land

Searching for a home,

Amen (Nouwen Network).

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