Recorded on November 18th, 2018
Holy days are meant to be like Communion – not just a remembrance of times past, but a celebration that will shape us. What would it look like if we all truly set apart a holiday as a holy day?
Transcript of Sermon:
I get the opportunity to read our scripture this week our scripture reader was not able to be here so I get to bring you the Word of God today and I’m excited about that we are going to be in Exodus 15 it is in your bulletin if you would like to read along it says then Moses and the Israelites sang this song to the Lord I will sing to the Lord for he is highly exalted both horse and driver he has hurled into the sea the Lord is my strength in my defence he has become my salvation he is my God and I will exalt him the Lord is a warrior the Lord is his name Pharaoh’s chariots in his army he has hurled into the sea the best of Pharaoh’s officers are drowned in the Red Sea the deep water have covered them they sank to the depths like a stone your right hand Lord was majestic in power your right hand Lord shattered the enemy the Word of God for the people of God thanks be to God indeed I thought that it would be fun today to start by talking about the holidays because we have officially begun the true I guess the type part of the holiday season Thanksgiving is on Thursday and holidays are times that it depends on what nation you’re in they might change what holidays you celebrate but in the United States there are times that are set apart to celebrate something specifically we have the Super Bowl which really isn’t a national holiday but really actually is a national holiday we have Valentine’s Day in Saint Patrick’s Day we have Easter the fourth of July Halloween Thanksgiving we have Black Friday which is totally an American holiday am I wrong we have Christmas we have New Year’s Eve and we have many others then there’s other holidays that we celebrate as family units times that are set apart for our families things like our anniversaries and our birthdays where each year we set a part time to celebrate a person or a group of people in our lives and I thought we should have some audience participation this week so be prepared I’m gonna ask you a question and I actually respect respect respect expect a response back but I was wondering what are your favorite holidays which is of all of those are one that I didn’t last which is your favorite mother Mother’s Day I didn’t even put that the any Father’s Day how did I miss those votes set but you’re right those are great ones who said Christmas over here Oh Elaine did and Vicki did too Easter Joseph what fourth of July that’s fun watermelon that’s James too and Ella’s Joe New Year we sit at home and do nothing that’s fair I’ll give you that anybody else have one that hasn’t been said here it’s interesting to me holidays my favorite is Christmas I did not grow up in a church home as I’ve told you all before and so Christmas didn’t revolve around Jesus for us but Christmas was how I was introduced to the idea of God and Jesus because it every Christmas my family watched Charlie Brown Christmas and in the middle of Charlie Brown Christmas Linus goes on the stage and speaks from Luke to the story of Jesus and I knew watching that that there was something special that I was supposed to know but for years and years I never really understood what that was but this worldly thing was the first thing to speak Jesus into my heart in my life but honestly that’s not them what number one reason why I loved Christmas so much I loved Christmas because of the lights I loved Christmas because in California was actually kind of chilly so there was that need to bundle up I love the idea of fires in a fireplace I love the idea of family being together I’m sure as a child I loved the idea of presents but I just loved the feeling that comes with Christmas and we all have our reasons for our favorite holidays but mainly holidays in general are these times that are set apart times where we step back from the race of this world and recognize something else happening around us the reality for the United States is that a lot of the holidays that we celebrate don’t actually celebrate what they’ve began celebrating Easter for example used to be about Jesus and it still is to some degree but to more of a degree for more people it’s about the Easter Bunny and eggs and candy and pretty little dresses it has Christmas used to be solely about Jesus and now it’s well everything I said that I loved about Christmas and it doesn’t mean it can’t be both things but it used to be about one thing think about Thanksgiving for some people is really just Black Friday Eve right it’s just the day before I get to shop a lot and then Veterans Day and Memorial Day and Labor Day those all are just big excuses to have sales and to buy something cheaper than you would normally have spend it on right holidays where it used to be just a day set apart but the world has kind of taken over our holidays and we’ve let them and we participate in that and they’ve become something a little bit different than what they were meant to be when they started so we are in a series about exodus we started a few weeks ago we have one more week left after this week I hope you’ve enjoyed getting to know Moses and getting to understand what God is trying to do through Moses in Egypt today we are going to be talking about really what is the climax of the first part of Exodus where the Israelites go through the Red Sea and they are actually delivered from Pharaoh from slavery and we have seen how Moses God chose though he could have done all of these mighty things without working through humans that God chooses to use humanity you and I to do the work that he wants to do in this world so we have been challenged almost every week to really be considerate about how we are supposed to be doing God’s work in this world because when we look around and we see a broken world we are the agents that are supposed to do something about that we’ve also talked about how exodus is how God is working to show us who God is before Exodus the Israelites had a very thin understanding of the reality of God but through his acts in the plagues God has shown that he’s not just one of the other gods that the Egyptians worshiped because the Egyptians worshiped many gods including Pharaoh the king God’s not just one of many he’s one and only not only is he the one and only but he’s able to do amazing things that no other God could even pretend to do not only that he’s not a god full of empty promises God is God God is able God is the great I am and today we’re gonna be looking about how we celebrate and how we recognize the power and the work of God in our lives today by looking at the way the Israelites recognized and celebrated this newly discovered unknown before ability of God to do work in their lives so I’m going to read to you just a little bit from Exodus 12 Exodus 12 is the beginning of the Passover and I know that some of you probably know about the Passover maybe have heard that heard Passover before I think for me the first thing I knew of Passover not having grown up in church was that it was some holiday that was on a calendar that I didn’t understand and then I realized it had something to do with a Jewish tradition and then over time as I’ve gotten to know God I’ve realized that it has very much to do not only with the Jewish tradition but my understanding of who God for me is and so God gives the Israelites some very specific instructions as Exodus 12 begins it says the Lord said to Moses and Aaron in each this month is to be for you the first month the first month of your year tell the whole community of Israel that on the tenth day of this month each man is to take the lamb for his family one for each household if any household is too small for a little for a whole lamb they must share one with their nearest neighbor having taken into account the number of people there are you are to determine the amount of lamb needed in accordance with what each person will eat the animals you choose must be year old males without defect and you may take them from the sheep or from goats take care of them until the fourteenth day of the month when all of the members of the community of Israel must slaughter them at twilight then they are to take some of the blood and to put it on the sides and tops of the doorframes of the houses where they are to eat the Lambs that same night they are to eat the meat roasted over the fire along with bitter herbs and bread made without yeast do not eat the meat raw or boiled in water but roasted over a fire with the head legs and internal organs do not leave any of it till morning if some of it is left till morning you must burn it this is how you are to eat it with your cloak tucked into your belts your sandals on your feet and your staff in your hand it eat it in haste it is the Lord’s Passover on the same night I will pass through Egypt and strike down every firstborn of both people and animals and I will bring judgment on the gods of Egypt I am the Lord the blood will be a sign for you on the houses where you are and when I see the Blood I will pass over you no destruction play no destructive plague will touch you when I strike Egypt so if you’re anything like me when you read these detailed instructions of what the Israelites are meant to do my eyes totally glaze over I have a hard time paying attention to all of that detail and I even struggled with whether or not I should read it to you because if I have trouble focusing in on it then you would probably have trouble because in my mind I’m thinking well this does not apply to me I am NOT going to do any of these things we don’t do these things in our world but what I’ve learned as I began to dig deeper into Exodus is that it’s very important these instructions and how specific they were tell us a lot about how the Israelites were supposed to remember and commemorate and it tells us a lot then how we should in our lives remember and commemorate because what happens here in Exodus as we look at the Passover and then we look at the Israelites crossing through the Red Sea these unbelievable miracles that just don’t seem possible when those things happen book ending both of those events on either side are instructions from God about how they are to remember what he’s about to do so we get to the we get to the Passover and God says I’m about to do this but before I do this I want you to know that I expect you to do this to prepare yourselves and then not only that but I want you to do it again every year here on after and then after the event happens he tells them the exact same set of instructions and I promise I won’t read all of that to you but it’s right there it’s kind of like it’s instructions the invent instructions the event instructions the invent and here’s what happens here’s why God says you are to do these things as specifically as you are doing them he says this is a day you are to commemorate for the generations to come you shall celebrate it as a festival to the Lord a lasting ordinance for seven days you are to eat bread made without wheat yeast on the first day remove the yeast from your houses whoever eats anything with yeast in it from the day of the first the seventh must be cut off from Israel on the first day hold a sacred assembly and on another day and on and another one on the seventh day do you not work at all on these days except to prepare food for everyone to eat that is all you may do this is the important part celebrate the festival of the unleavened bread because it was on this very day that I brought your divisions out of Egypt celebrate this day as the lasting ordinance for generations to come and then this is what he says before and after the Passover he says do these things on that day tell your son I do this because the Lord did for me what the Lord did for me when I came out of Egypt this observance will be for you like a sign on your hand and a reminder on your forehead that this law of the Lord is to be on your lips for the Lord brought you out of Egypt with his mighty hand you must keep this ordinance at the appointed time year after year see the points here is not that this is a law or rule that was put upon Israelites to make their lives harder or to make them worthy of the work that God did it’s so far from what is actually trying to be happening here what God is saying is that something amazing is about ready to happen in your lives and as the years go on and as you get further away from these events the majesty of these events will start to dwindle and in order to make this real for you in your everyday lives and in the lives of your children who didn’t get to experience it or the lives of your grandchildren who don’t get to experience it you need to have a day set apart a day set apart to remember this incredible day where I did amazing things for you to deliver you you need to set apart a day to remember how much I love you and how far I will go to protect and provide for you these are instructions about having a day set apart these are holy days not holidays you see we have Christmas and Easter as our High Holy holidays in the Christian tradition but they truly are unfortunately now holidays because they include so much of what the world participates in they’re not so much holy days anymore where a lot of us may go to church and we try our best to make Jesus be central to what we’re doing those days but as hard as we try I mean as hard as I’ve tried at least it’s hard to make it central and the only point the real reason for those days so they aren’t quite holy days for me and my family they aren’t days where we sit down and we really talk about the work that God has done in our lives and the lives of our family in particular they are in a day set apart to remember the power and the majesty in the love of God so I titled today’s sermon rhythm of life because what I think God is showing us here is that we need to have an intentional rhythm of life that allows holy days to happen in our families because really the point is for you to remember yes but not just for you to remember for you to be able to share with your children and then your grandchildren and then your great-grandchildren who God is the – the true reality of the powerful love of God the Father and of Jesus the Son and the presence of the Holy Spirit the scripture we started with is called the song of the seas it’s a celebration scripture it’s really a very long poem that’s only about half of it it’s in Exodus 15 and that poem outlines in detail the work that God did for the Israelites and because it was written down and because it was read each year as they celebrated these things in detail the Israelites remembered with their families year after year this moment not only did they just remember the moment they got to experience that freedom for themselves each year and new because holy days are meant to be like communion when we come to communion it’s not supposed to be just this remembrance it’s supposed to be a time where we actually are in the presence of Jesus where we are getting closer with Jesus holy days should be the same they shouldn’t just be a remembrance of Jesus’s birth or a remembrance of Jesus dying on the but it should be an ability to be in that time and place where Jesus did these unbelievable things because of his love for you and for me holy days are supposed to play a function of shaping you and I and our family members as believers we have 365 days in a year and if we don’t spend at least one of those days truly set apart for God what are we teaching our children and our grandchildren really we say that we love God we go to church for an hour – but that’s really all the time that as the family most people and I’m not saying everybody so don’t get me wrong because I know there’s people who do this differently but for most of us were really just communicating that God’s important a little bit of time but what if as a community we learned in our families to set apart a holy day for God a day where there were specific ways in which we acted they’re one of the reasons why there were so many rules and regulations is because they couldn’t participate in life as normal that way if there weren’t rules and regulations they could just go on as they perfectly were but with rules and regulations they got they had to stop and to think and to be very intentional about their actions moment by moment so they could draw closer to God so what would it look like in our lives if we as family members chose one day out of the year that’s not our really owned by some other holiday and set it apart as our families holy day a day set apart to remember what God has done yes in the Bible but also what he’s done in our family’s lives for those of you who have had the privilege of growing up in a church family where your parents are your grandparents went to church I bet you don’t know half of the stories of the ways that God has intervened and done amazing things for your family members because they weren’t written down or they weren’t shared in detail and the further that we get away from those events the less specifically we remember those events and the less powerful they happen to be in our lives I know that’s true for me when I think about the ways that God has worked in amazing ways in my life I can give you the big picture details but sometimes it’s hard to remember all of the small different ways where he showed up in that series of events and miraculous ways to just let me know that he knew who I was and that he loved me so I guess what I’m saying is maybe you and I together and as I work this III honestly I’m going to try and do this with my family this year is to look at one day set apart as a holy day to remember what God has done and the life of our family not just that year but over the years and to look at what God wants to be in our lives to have a rhythm of being together and then to honor that day and maybe by setting something apart my children will understand that my faith is not just something that I talk about but something I want to live and maybe they will start to make my faith instead of living under the wings of my faith maybe they will grow their own faith relationship with God we were talking in Sunday school about how God created us created all of nature in a specific rhythm how their seasons and things grow and they die and we were created in much the same way we were created to have rhythm in our lives rhythm connects us to things that are important or it connects us to things that are not important but they become important because that’s what the rhythm of our life honors and I know from experience that the rhythm of my life doesn’t often show what I say is truly important in my life and I know that probably more years than not what I’ve exhibited to my children is not that God is the most important thing in my life but that’s something else is the most important thing in my life so holy days how can we make holy days a part of our rhythm of life how can we set apart time to recognize what God is doing for our children to be able to recognize what God is doing can you imagine what that would give to them is they endeavor life without you your grandchildren especially do you know how many stories I’ve heard from all of you about how your grandparent played such an important role in shaping you in your faith it’s the opportunity that we have because our faith is not just about us it’s about us in the next generation and the next generation and the next so as we enter into this holiday season and it’s okay for it to be a holiday we don’t need to go in it with guilt we do need to try and remember that we are celebrating the birth of Christ but at the same time we need to be looking for other ways to create holy days in the rhythm of our lives so that we can truly understand and connect with the majesty and the beauty of Christ will you pray with me god I thank you so much for creating us to have rhythm to crave a certain sort of flow in our lives got it so hard to truly have time set apart for you whether that just be on Sundays or devotional times in the mornings but as families it’s even harder to celebrate together as family members we go to church and children go to one place an adult go to another as we come together God please help us to see how can we can create holy days for our families a day truly set apart to understand and recognize the work in your life that you’re doing in our lives that you have done in our lives so that we can understand how you want to be in relationship with us and so that hopefully God willing our children and our grandchildren and our great-grandchildren would also get to know you and get to believe that you are the great I am who wants to and is able to do amazing miraculous things in our lives most of all the fact that you want to love us and be in relationship with us it’s in the name of Jesus that we pray we love you God