But Pharaoh said, “Who is the LORD, that I should heed him and let Israel go? I do not know the LORD, and I will not let Israel go.” 3 Then they said, “The God of the Hebrews has revealed himself to us; let us go a three days’ journey into the wilderness to sacrifice to the LORD our God, or he will fall upon us with pestilence or sword.” 4 But the king of Egypt said to them, “Moses and Aaron, why are you taking the people away from their work? Get to your labors!” 17 He said, “You are lazy, lazy; that is why you say, ‘Let us go and sacrifice to the LORD.’ 18 Go now, and work; for no straw shall be given you, but you shall still deliver the same number of bricks.”
I’ve been feeling lazy lately, really lazy. Perhaps it is because I know what lies ahead in the coming months and I am feeling dreadful. Maybe I am storing up some down time for when there will be none. I’m not self aware enough to understand it, but I can recognize it and I certainly feel guilty about it.
Interestingly enough, I came upon an email devotion where the author, drawing from one of his mentors, put forth a curious question: When have you been like Pharaoh? When I read the title, I asked myself what that could possibly mean. Am I enslaving church folk? Is this about boundaries? The answer lie within the text of the devotion. The author challenged the reader to examine the expectations we have for others and what expectations we hold ourselves to as pastors. Are we too hard on the people we serve? Are we too hard on ourselves? The answer to the first question is yes…and no. When we try new programs, create new worship experiences, plan for the visitor who hasn’t yet arrived only to find three people in the room: you and two other people who felt bad that the pastor might be alone. Do I rage or ruminate on failed attempts to create or provide new experiences? Not really. I know that, for millennials & Gen Xers, church isn’t social networking, it’s based on desire that competes against sports, kids, and work obligations. Instead, I go back to the drawing board for the “thing” that beats all those other “things” out.
But, to be honest, sometimes I do have a high expectation: that everyone could see change around them and want to flow with it. That we would embrace the things that keep us vibrant and current…in an ever-changing world. I guess I don’t want to have the church I serve be like my great aunt’s house: furniture covered in plastic with all the tea cups individually wrapped. She kept it like that because no one came and it was easier to keep the dust off. Think about that. No One Came to Visit. What a powerful thing to fear for the place that feeds and comforts you.
I pray that our laziness, mine and ours collectively, is temporary; a tiny bit of respite in a world full of forward motion. I pray also that our stillness comes from waiting on a word from God and not creating a museum to our own memories or hiding from what the world (or Jesus) asks of us. Lastly, I pray for forgiveness and open communication so we may meet one another in our own hopes and dreams and not wait for frogs, pestilence, or the shadow of death to decide our fate for us. Amen.