Lessons from Passover for COVID-19

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I’ve been spending a great deal of time contemplating Passover, not just because of the time of year, but also because of this world-wide health scare we call COVID-19. In 2020, Passover will be celebrated April 8-16th. It is a traditional Jewish holiday dating back to the earliest times of human history (prior to 1400 BCE) and is originally found in the twelfth chapter of Exodus:

While the Israelites were still in the land of Egypt, the Lord gave the following instructions to Moses and Aaron: “From now on, this month will be the first month of the year for you. Announce to the whole community of Israel that on the tenth day of this month each family must choose a lamb or a young goat for a sacrifice, one animal for each household. The animal you select must be a one-year-old male, either a sheep or a goat, with no defects.

“Take special care of this chosen animal until the evening of the fourteenth day of this first month. Then the whole assembly of the community of Israel must slaughter their lamb or young goat at twilight. They are to take some of the blood and smear it on the sides and top of the doorframes of the houses where they eat the animal. 

“…These are your instructions for eating this meal: Be fully dressed, wear your sandals, and carry your walking stick in your hand. Eat the meal with urgency, for this is the Lord’s Passover. On that night I will pass through the land of Egypt and strike down every firstborn son and firstborn male animal in the land of Egypt. I will execute judgment against all the gods of Egypt, for I am the Lord! But the blood on your doorposts will serve as a sign, marking the houses where you are staying. When I see the blood, I will pass over you. This plague of death will not touch you when I strike the land of Egypt.

“This is a day to remember. Each year, from generation to generation, you must celebrate it as a special festival to the Lord. This is a law for all time.”

I am particularly struck by verses 7, 12 and 13. They allude to the blood covering of the spotless lamb, as well as the last and most deadly of the plagues God has sent in judgement of those who have held the Israelites in captivity, and the act of God “passing-over,” from which this religious festival gets its name. The blood of the animal that was sacrificed was used to mark each home. This mark was a sign of protection. The meat of the animal was eaten together as a family, shared with neighbors where families were small. This act was a sign of provision for all. Let’s look at those two signs and what they have to teach us…

Protection: There’s been a great deal of talk about PPE (personal protective equipment) while our country’s medical system tries its best to address a crisis for which they were unfortunately unprepared. This protective gear provides a line of defense for our health care workers on the front lines as they care for those who suffer with the COVID-19 virus today. The crafty are sewing facemasks for the sick and companies are re-tooling to ramp up production of the medical-grade masks and equipment that our medical facilities are so desperately in need of. Ultimately our efforts to stay inside, self-quarantine and social distant are efforts to simply buy time for the medical community to build up resources and supplies and create new spaces for those that will be hospitalized and require intensive care and respirators as the virus outbreak peaks in every state across our nation. The directives to STAY INSIDE & SOCIAL DISTANCE are very real and extremely serious ones. Which brings me back to Passover.

The Passover scene from the movie The Ten Commandments is an eerie scene. While Moses and his family eat together, protected in their home with their doorway marked by the blood of the lamb, we hear shouts in the streets—people crying out in fear and grief, as the plague of death kills every first born in the homes without this blood covering. As I watch the news unfold, I am taken back to this scene again and again.

Ultimately, this scene takes me to a scripture from the Prophet Isaiah:

Come, my people, enter your chambers,
    and shut your doors behind you;
hide yourselves for a little while
    until the fury has passed by. Isaiah 26:20, ESV

I know some are frustrated at the “liberties” being denied many of us as “free” citizens. I know others who continue to think it is not that serious. I know there are many people who don’t have the option of staying home even if they wanted. Those on the front lines are saying if they could stay home, they would. But they can’t. Daily they put their own lives in jeopardy so others can live. I also realize that others live paycheck-to-paycheck and staying home leaves a great deal of uncertainty. I also realize that for some children staying at home is dangerous and opens them to more abuse. All of this burdens my heart deeply. And causes me to ask… for the rest of us…

What harm is it for us stay home? To stay inside? To shut the doors behind us until the fury has passed, as Isaiah warns us? What if instead of complaining, we were grateful that we can stay home? That we can work from home? What if we listened to the voice of the ancient prophet and hid, not out of fear, but in order to protect the weak and elderly in our communities? What if we imagined it was 4,000 years ago and God was commanding us to stay inside, instead of government authorities? What if we locked ourselves into our prayer closets and began to intercede for those mentioned in the paragraph above?

Early on I saw the quote, “The weak are worthy of the rest of us rearranging their lives” by KJ Ramsey. I must whole-heartedly agree. And speaking of hearts…

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I’ve seen stories of people hanging hearts in their windows as a sign of love and compassion for all that is going on in our world today. What if those hearts became our sign of protection, for us here in this time in HIStory? Our “blood covering” so to speak as we choose to step into our prayer chambers and intercede for the world at this unprecedented time in history?

How does the blood of Christ serve as a covering for you?
How can you visibly demonstrate that blood covering as encouragement to others?
(Click here for a post with hearts to print out and color)

Provision:  As people are hoarding toilet paper and hand sanitizer, I love that God instructs these ancient people to gather and share resources so as little meat as possible goes to waste. An animal was not killed for each family, but was shared among neighbors and friends. There is much to learn from that act alone. There is a sense of purposeful preparedness. They first selected a lamb or goat without blemish and then cared for and attended the animal until it was to be sacrificed. Plans were made. Neighbors worked together to make sure everyone had enough and yet not too much. Even though the meal itself was to be eaten in haste, the preparations leading up to the meal were thoughtful and coordinated. God makes a thoughtful plan for provision. No one goes without and no one gets to act out of greed and gluttony. This passage has much to teach us amidst the panic and chaos we’ve seen across the country.

As COVID-19 began to spread in the US, we were with our daughter Maddy in Montana. We were in a small ski resort community with one small grocery store. We dropped her off to purchase a few items, and when we picked her up she remarked how difficult it was to see an older couple trying to shop and make adjustments to their shopping list as items they planned to buy were gone. Another older gentleman was struggling to understand why there was no toilet paper. “It was so sad,” she remarked. Seeing these people struggle encouraged her to adjust her own shopping list so that others coming behind her would have enough.

We all have so much to learn in these unprecedented times.
How can we share our resources with others so no one goes without?
How can we pitch in and help those making sure children and families are fed, sheltered and cared for at this time?

Additional thoughts and questions for reflection on Exodus 12:

  1. Verse 1 indicates that the Israelites were far from home and held in captivity in Egypt. Quarantine (whether it is self-imposed or government mandated) might feel like captivity to you. What about it feels like captivity to you? What liberties are taken from you and what things are you still at liberty to engage in? Beyond our current health crisis, what other things might hold you in captivity?
  2. Verse 2 God tells them that from there on out, this will be the beginning of the year for them. Through this designation of time, God is indicating something new. What “new thing” do you believe God is doing in this season for us collectively and individually?
  3. Verses 3-4 give instructions on how the animal to be sacrificed was to be chosen and shared. In what ways can you step into “choosing and sharing” amidst this pandemic?
  4. Verses 5-6 prophetically points to Christ as the spotless lamb. It was spotless, chosen and carefully attended until the time came for its sacrifice. Consider the life of Christ here on earth, especially as it relates to being spotless, chosen and carefully attended. What does the life of Jesus teach us?
  5. Verse 11 gives specific instructions for how they were to eat the meal. In what ways have you learned about provision and preparedness in this season, especially as many are over-buying and hoarding supplies in anxious panic?
  6. Verse 14 speaks of commemoration. How will we (globally, communally, individually) choose to “commemorate” COVID-19 in the future? How will we remember those who suffered and succumbed to this illness, as well as those who have put their lives at risk in order to care for them? How do we want to look back and remember this time?

I recently saw this prophetic dance of intercession and travail in the Worship & Creative Arts Facebook Group I administer. It is a vivid and powerful example of God’s Passover covering in this season.

I’d love to hear from you. Please comment below* your own thoughts as you contemplate and reflect on this powerful passage of scripture and this time in our world history. I bless you with health, healing, compassion, patience and love. (*please note: negative and political comments will be deleted.)

For more Holy Week / Easter reflection you can spend some time reflecting on the last seven statements of Jesus spoken from the cross through the art, poetry and song with the “7” Virtual Art-Walk series:

Blessings of artistry, creativity, worship & BEaUty, Jody
Shine Brightly!

Jody Thomae © 2020 All Rights Reserved

_________________________

Book FrontJody Thomae is the author of God’s Creative Gift—Unleashing the Artist in You and The Creator’s Healing Power—Restoring the Broken to Beautifulboth in-depth, interactive devotional books in the Bible Studies to Nurture the Creative Spirit Within series that serve as resources for creative Christians, artists, and lovers of beauty and worship.God's Creative Gift by Jody Thomae Jody has been involved in worship arts ministry since 1997, serving as an arts ministry pastor and worship leader and is a guest lecturer on creativity, embodiment, and spirituality with Healing Care Ministries. Her passion is for the revelation of God to be made more real through the prophetic use of the arts in church and the use of creativity in formational and healing ministry. It is her desire to portray the message of Christ’s desperate and unfailing love for His people to help sustain the hearts of the broken and weary. She is particularly interested in the reclamation of the body in the healing of trauma and works in the area of embodiment with survivors of abuse, addiction, and trauma. Her life verse is Isaiah 50:4.
JodyThomaeCDcoverart_FA_printHer books are available through Amazon. Signed copies are available for purchase through Square where her resources are available most affordably (and in bulk amounts for your creative ministry team or group study). Jody has also recorded a devotional CD, Song of the Beloved, which is available through Square, iTunes, YouTube, Spotify, and other music outlets.

EMBODIED :: CaraMayan

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Screen Shot 2019-04-12 at 2.17.09 PMToday I would like to introduce you to an embodied spiritual practice called  CaraMayan. CaraMayan is a way of moving to the Bible for exercise, fitness, worship and prayer.  It is a Christian alternative to Yoga and Tai Chi based on dance and pilates movement. It was created by my friend Mary Jones, founder of the International Christian Dance Fellowship. I’ve had the privilege of meeting and spending time with Mary, and it was an honor to sit under her teaching and fellowship over a meal. She is truly a treasure in the kingdom of God!!

Not sure if anyone’s coined the term “Physio Divina”, but perhaps today is the day we do! In Lectio Divina (sacred reading) we read a passage of scripture several times to savor its meaning. In CaraMayan we experience the same type of meditation, except through physical movement. May you be blessed as you put this into practice.

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Lenten Reflection: Spirit-Empowered

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Scripture Reading:

A final word: Be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on all of God’s armor so that you will be able to stand firm against all strategies of the devil. For we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places.

Therefore, put on every piece of God’s armor so you will be able to resist the enemy in the time of evil. Then after the battle you will still be standing firm. Stand your ground, putting on the belt of truth and the body armor of God’s righteousness.  For shoes, put on the peace that comes from the Good News so that you will be fully prepared.  In addition to all of these, hold up the shield of faith to stop the fiery arrows of the devil.  Put on salvation as your helmet, and take the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.

Pray in the Spirit at all times and on every occasion. Stay alert and be persistent in your prayers for all believers everywhere. Eph 6:10-18

Reflections:

Our Lenten journey through Ephesians continued yesterday with Pastor John telling us that to live a Christ-Centered life, one that is rooted in love, is impossible

…save for God!
For with God all things are possible! Continue reading

Lenten Reflection: Christ-Centered Life

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Scripture Reading:

All praise to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly realms because we are united with Christ. Even before he made the world, God loved us and chose us in Christ to be holy and without fault in his eyes. God decided in advance to adopt us into his own family by bringing us to himself through Jesus Christ. This is what he wanted to do, and it gave him great pleasure. So we praise God for the glorious grace he has poured out on us who belong to his dear Son. He is so rich in kindness and grace that he purchased our freedom with the blood of his Son and forgave our sins. He has showered his kindness on us, along with all wisdom and understanding.

God has now revealed to us his mysterious will regarding Christ—which is to fulfill his own good plan. And this is the plan: At the right time he will bring everything together under the authority of Christ—everything in heaven and on earth. Furthermore, because we are united with Christ, we have received an inheritance from God, for he chose us in advance, and he makes everything work out according to his plan. Continue reading

Create-A-Day: your daily dose of creativity #214 — God’s Creative Gift

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National Book MonthAs we wrap up end our tribute to National Book Month, I would be remiss if I didn’t introduce my own book. “Last but not least” as the saying goes!

I wrote God’s Creative Gift—Unleashing the Artist in You in obedience to God’s calling in my life. Frankly, many of the topics I wrote about were thoughts and ideas that wouldn’t leave me alone until I had gently guided them onto paper. It is designed as a Bible study and devotional, great for individual or group study. It is not just for artists but creative folks of all forms, mediums and venues.

The Word of God is vital to our lives. It has much to say to all of us, and more than that, it has much to say to artists and creatives! Discover what God’s Word has to say to you as his masterpiece, his poem, his BEaUtiful creation! If you click here, it will lead you to my store where you can purchase a copy of my book signed with a personal blessing just for you! You can read more about my book here.

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Create-A-Day: your daily dose of creativity #153 — Vonda Drees Art Journaling

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Beloved  (c) 2015 Vonda Drees

Beloved
(c) 2015 Vonda Drees

We’ve looked at art journaling several times this year (you can check out last week’s post with links to the other posts by clicking here). Today I want to direct you to the blog of Vonda Drees: Journaling the Spirit’s Stirring. Continue reading

Create-A-Day: your daily dose of creativity #129 — Free Indeed!

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Koren War Vet Mem

The Korean War Veterans Memorial in Washington DC makes this powerful statement:

Freedom is not free.

Take a moment, look at these images, and consider the cost.

Count the Cost

What did your freedom cost the young man above?

Natnl Cem

What did your freedom cost the men, the women, the families represented by the more than 285,000 headstones at Arlington National Cemetery?

From the American Revolution to the current situation in the Middle East, have you considered the cost paid for your freedom?

Don’t ever forget!

And don’t forget the cost paid by Jesus Christ as he took your sin to the cross and was buried in the tomb. Continue reading

Create-A-Day: your daily dose of creativity #119 — Creativity A’Blaze’

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Maddy prom selfieToday’s post is dedicated to my daughter Maddy in celebration of her birthday. You are Madelyn Ruth, Magnificent Companion of God! You are my BEaUtiful daughter, ablaze with adventure and life!

I’ve posted the work of artist Colleen Briggs of Fragments of Light before. Want to direct you there again! This artwork and her accompanying story will certainly bless your day. As you read the story, you will quickly see it is an analogy for something much larger.

colleenbriggs.com

colleenbriggs.com

So click here to head over to her post entitled Blaze, and allow the Holy Spirit to minister to you as you read and enjoy her work.

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Create-A-Day: your daily dose of creativity #102 — Creative Inspiration from Tamika Hall

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Tamika Hall

I connected you with Tamika Hall Ministries back in January with a devotional podcast on 1st Peter. Wanted to share another of her podcasts today: How to Write & Publish a Devotional. Continue reading

Create-A-Day: your daily dose of creativity #87 — Redemptive Art

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As a Christian artist or creative, it is important to consider the redemptive value of your work. When viewed from a worldly perspective, we think of art in terms of monetary value—have we sold original pieces, prints, copies, songs, albums, scripts, . . . ? And we limit the value of our work to units sold. However, when we open ourselves as creatives to a heavenly view of value, we come to realize a whole new commodity. Are we changing lives, healing hearts, revealing beauty, seeking justice, claiming hearts for Our Creator? We begin to realize that there is a greater redemptive value to our work.

P lost Continue reading

“Father, into your hands..” Last 7 Words of Jesus in Art, Poetry & Song (Create-A-Day #66)

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“7” Virtual Art-Walk: Day 7

Jesus called out with a loud voice, “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit.” When he had said this, he breathed his last. Luke 23:46

Matt Durbin (c) 2010

Matt Durbin (c) 2010
mattdurbinart.com

Enough

Here I am, my son.

Your struggle is over.

It was near impossible

to keep from turning

toward your cries.

I felt each lash,

wailed as they

drove the nails.

I blacked out the sun

so as not to see

your suffering.

Come to me now,

let me bandage

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“It is finished!” Last 7 Words of Jesus in Art, Poetry & Song (Create-A-Day #65)

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“7” Virtual Art-Walk: Day 6

“It is finished!”  John 19:30

Matt Durbin (c) 2010

Matt Durbin (c) 2010
mattdurbinart.com

The Antique Rocking Chair

The carpenter is not disappointed

by the ruined finish or the broken arm,

loose spindles, failed glue joints.

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“I am thirsty” Last 7 Words of Jesus in Art, Poetry & Song (Create-A-Day #64)

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“7” Virtual Art-Walk: Day 5

Cup of Blessing by Matt Durbin (C) 2011 www.mattdurbinart.com

Cup of Blessing
by Matt Durbin (C) 2011
mattdurbinart.com

“Later, knowing that all was now completed,

and so that the Scripture would be fulfilled,

Jesus said, ‘I am thirsty.’”

– John 19:28

 

Drink 

The fount of living water

bellows drought. I want

to lift a ladle, cold and pure,

so you could be relieved.

But I’m deceived with ease.

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“…why have you forsaken me?” Last 7 Words of Jesus in Art, Poetry & Music (Create-A-Day #63)

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“7” Virtual Art-Walk: Day 4

“Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani?” which means “My God, my God, why have you abandoned (forsaken) me?”   Mark 15:34

Matt Durbin (c) 2010

Matt Durbin (c) 2010
mattdurbinart.com

Fear

I taste the juice of forbidden fruit

dripping from Adam’s mouth.

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“Dear woman, here is your son…” Last 7 Words of Jesus in Art, Poetry & Song (Create-A-Day #62)

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“7” Virtual Art-Walk: Day 3

[Jesus] said to [Mary], “Dear woman, here is your son.” And he said to this disciple, “Here is your mother.”  John 19:26

Matt Durbin (c) 2010

Matt Durbin (c) 2010
mattdurbinart.com

Mary at the Cross

I am not old. A bewildered mother

since conception who stored up

each moment. Now I will recall

the way you reached for me, a babe,

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“Today you will be with me…” Last 7 Words of Jesus in Art, Poetry & Song (Create-A-Day #61)

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“7” Virtual Art-Walk: Day 2

“I assure you, today you will be with me in paradise.”               Luke 23:43

Matt Durbin (c) 2010

Matt Durbin (c) 2010
mattdurbinart.com

Breath

Jesus, why are you

up here

with me,      why

is our blood

mixing      with dirt,

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“Father forgive them…” Last 7 Words of Jesus in Art, Poetry & Song (Create-A-Day #60)

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“7” Virtual Art-Walk: Day 1

“Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.” Luke 23:34

Matt Durbin (c) 2014
mattdurbinart.com

The People Stood Watching

Come, see a man who told me everything

I ever did. A man who healed my eyes,

fed me bread he multiplied, poured my cup

of wine, washed my feet, called me out

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Create-A-Day: your daily dose of creativity #56 — Bach’s Mein Jesu

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J open armsAs we move closer to Easter, won’t you take moment to reflect on the forgiveness offered to you in Christ’s death on the cross?

Then press play and as you listen to Bach’s Mein Jesu (My Jesus) from Leopold Stokowski’s Symphonic Bach, head over to read this powerful story of forgiveness, about a young widow offering the forgiveness of Jesus Christ to the killers of her husband who was serving the Libyan people in Benghazi as a teacher. There’s also a news report video worth the watch there.

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Create-A-Day: your daily dose of creativity #50 — Easter for Families

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Want to make Easter something more than just another commercialized holiday for the children in your life or the children you serve in your ministry? Want to make Easter about Jesus? Then check out Christ-Centered Easter Ideas for Families from Erika {sweeting} Dawson. She has links to ideas and devotionals and crafts and books and more! She’s sifted past the springtime Pinterest posts and found creative resources centered on Jesus!

erikadawson.com

erikadawson.com

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Create-A-Day: your daily dose of creativity #45 — Drama of the Cross

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Easter Devotional and Creative Prompt (i.e., Challenge)

We are two weeks into Lent; Easter is only a month away. It’s important to journey through this season intentionally with your heart open to what the Holy Spirit has for you creatively. So take a deep breath, saying a prayer of openness, and move ahead letting Him move you as you read…

Easter Devotional

As you read the passage below, imagine the scene as part of a larger drama unfolding. Think of the setting (Ancient Israel; very early in the morning at sunrise; Springtime, chill still in the air), the plot (Mary finds tomb empty; brings Peter and John to investigate; they find it as she reported; the body of Jesus is missing), the characters (Mary Magdalene, angels, Jesus) and the dialogue (try to hear it as you read). Continue reading