December 9th, 2013

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The communities of Moses



Scripture: Exodus 2

Moses, wasn’t an orphan, he was born into a Hebrew family who were part of an oppressed but thriving community in Egypt.  The Egyptians who had enslaved the Hebrews were concerned about overpopulation in the slave camps and had issued a culling order.   Moses’ life was in danger right from birth. To save his life, his mother sealed him into a reed basket and hid him by floating him in the Nile.

This facilitated the introduction to his second community: the house of Pharaoh.  Adopted by the royal family, Moses was allowed a safe and privileged early life.  He knew the people in the most powerful positions. It is quite likely that he was affectionately cared for by Pharaoh’s daughter and maybe by the whole household.  He wasn’t just displaced; he was enfolded into that community.

As a grown man, Moses couldn’t help but notice the mistreatment of the Hebrew people.  One day he saw one a Hebrew slave threatened, so he intervened, and killed the Egyptian.  He was forced to flee and that mishap led him to his third community: Jethro’s family.  Again, this time as a refugee, Moses was not just tolerated, but enfolded into a family of significance in the land of Midian.  Jethro, High Priest of Midian, gave his daughter Zipporah in marriage to Moses.  They had a son and Moses was firmly established within his third significant community.


(This window depicts the three stages of the life of Moses.  Moses as a prince in Egypt.  Moses before Pharaoh. Moses with the Israelites in the wilderness as a lawgiver.)

Moses is the prototype ‘third culture kid’ – born in culture, raised in another, and settling as an adult into still another culture; imprinted by all of them, yet in some ways detached from all of them.  He is the perfect sojourner – the perfect man to rally an Exodus.  He didn’t see this when God called him at the burning bush to lead the Hebrew people to freedom, but it’s difficult for us not to see it.

It makes me wonder how the communities that formed and shaped me have also prepared me.  In what ways has my influence or impact been extended or strengthened because of my unique experiences?  Like Moses I tend towards doubt and question God’s placement of me – why me, why here, why this?   So God reaches back into this rich pool of resources and finds a way to help me believe, just as Aaron, someone on whom Moses could trust and rely, gave voice to Moses’ assignment.

Lord Jesus, as we turn toward Christmas, turn our hearts toward you. Amen


(This picture is a lovely collection of women from my family community)