Exodus 8-10

Good morning! We have a challenging passage today in Exodus 8-10. Eight more plagues come on the Egyptian people as a result of Pharaoh’s refusal to let the Hebrews go for three days to worship God. The Moses who acts as God’s mouthpiece today is confident and self-assured (unlike in previous chapters), because he recognizes that the power of these plagues comes from beyond him. This is really a battle between deities, since Pharaoh was considered divine as well. The request to go away and make sacrifices to the Hebrew God is so threatening to Pharaoh because it demonstrates allegiance to another, greater Power.

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Exodus 1-4

Good morning! Today we begin the book of Exodus, which focuses on the escape of the Hebrew people from slavery in Egypt, their covenant with God afterward at Mount Sinai, and the human leaders of Moses, Aaron and Miriam. Our opening reading (chapters 1-4) gets us into the story recounting the death of Joseph and all his generation, then announcing the arrival of a new king unlike the Pharaoh who had been so kind to Joseph. Instead, out of fear for being overrun, the new Pharaoh enslaves and persecutes the Israelite people.

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Genesis 48-50

Good morning! Today Americans take special time to remember Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s life and legacy of working to overcome the evils of racism, classism and war. May our remembrances also include rededication to the ideals for which he lived and died, the Beloved Community of justice and righteous love. Dr. King grew in those values from his study of the Bible, and I hope that our exploration of the same text may translate into similar commitments in word and action today.

This is also the last day of our reading through the book of Genesis. If you have managed to keep up these past few weeks, good for you! If you are a few days behind, or jumping in today for the first time, good for you! What matters more than chapter and verse is your determination to explore this ancient text with a community of other curious readers, listening for what catches your imagination and leads to more meaningful life. My deep thanks go out to the folks who have mentioned recently the importance of this project. It takes time to write and comment each day, but encouragement like yours helps me know it’s worth the effort. I’ll keep it up, and I hope you will too!

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Seeds of Divine Life

Community United Church of Christ (Saint Paul Park, Minnesota)

Scripture: Mark 4:1-34

The American legend John Chapman was born in 1774, just before the United States was. He grew up in Massachusetts, but started traveling to explore the western frontier in his teenage years. He was a simple and good man by all accounts. Two passions animated his life and caused him to travel throughout the American frontier. The first was religion—he was a missionary for the Swedenborgian faith. The second was apples, and this is why history knows him also as “Johnny Appleseed”.

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Genesis 46-47

Good morning! We are nearing the end of the story of Joseph, and the end of the first book of the Bible. Genesis is longer than most other books of the Bible, so well done sticking with it! I hope this has been a good experience, and that you’re looking forward to continuing on together. In today’s reading (Genesis 46-47), Jacob and his descendants settle in Egypt at Pharaoh’s invitation, Joseph exercises his authority as overseer of Egypt to greatly increase the power of Pharaoh, and Jacob nears death.

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