We held our third week of Unchurch last night and I'm still stoked. Becky and I have been preaching on foundational stories, the birth of Moses, the burning bush, and last night the passover. I looked at Exodus 12 and talked about the way in which the people were called out to fulfill their vocation as the people of God. I started by looking at something Jon Levenson has written about - that the freedom given the Hebrews is not freedom as we usually think of it. It is not freedom from constraint but freedom to serve God. It is leaving the service of Pharoah who is oppressive to serve God who is loving and righteous. At the end of that chapter are instructions for how the foreigners are to be treated. There is only one Torah for Hebrew and foreigner so foreigners can participate in the passover if they first are circumcised. So the distinction between who is in the community and who is not is not racial, biological, or even based on participation in a significant event like the exodus but is rather the willingness to serve God. And it is the willingness to be a part of the community. I finished by looking at Martin Luther King's last sermon the day before he was martyred. He talked about the way in which Pharoah planted seeds of disunity among the slaves and called on African Americans to remain a community in the face of opposition and in those famous closing words he spoke of knowing that he was serving God and how he had seen the promised land.
Our discussion afterwards was incredible. My favourite element of Unchurch is the response to the word in our conversation. The starting off point was someone's objection that God would choose some and not others and that He would kill the first born of Egypt. So we had a long conversation about the problem of reading troublesome texts. And then the issue turned to who belongs to the community and who doesn't and what happens if you feel like you are the kid Jesus didn't pick to be on his team. We're getting to know each other better and people are speaking more and more personally about their struggles with faith, the church, Scripture. I don't know where this is going but I am so grateful to be a part of it. The only problem is that I can't fall asleep Monday nights anymore because my brain is going a mile a minute.