Lessons from Passover for COVID-19

Standard

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…

Screen Shot 2020-03-27 at 12.48.56 PM

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: Resources Galore!

Standard

Sharing a whole list of articles written about embodied spirituality for you to explore! Check out these amazing resources…

Continue reading

EMBODIED: Flowing Grace

Standard

I love this short and sweet video called Flowing Grace from Paul Denniston of Grief Yoga. Whether your holiday season is busy and chaotic or filled with the pain of loss and grief, take a moment to flow in grace…

Click here for a longer chair practice that combines movement, breath and sound to connect to love, peace and grace. It is a quiet, simple practice that focuses on letting go of the negative in order to be filled with peace and contentment. If you are struggling this holiday season, I recommend exploring more of Paul’s resources on his website or on Facebook. Continue reading

EMBODIED: Abide Christian Meditation

Standard

I’ve recently discovered the Abide app. You can listen to daily scripture meditations, as well as meditations geared towards anxiety, anger, addiction, depression, fear and grief. There are meditations on blessing and forgiveness and even ones to help you drift off to sleep. Moreover, many of these Bible-based meditations are very embodied in nature, encouraging body-oriented relaxation and simple breath prayers like….

Exhale chaos
Inhale peace

Exhale anger
Inhale love Continue reading

EMBODIED: Walking a Labyrinth

Standard

Sending you to two different articles on the embodied practice of walking a prayer labyrinth. The first is at Guideposts and includes four different ideas of ways to pray through the labyrinth. You can find that article here. The second is at Patheos and includes a short history on labyrinths, as well. Find the Patheos article by clicking here. Finally here’s a world-wide labyrinth locator to help find one near you. Continue reading

EMBODIED: Resting in the Midst

Standard

We all need times of rest and replenishment in order to live whole-hearted and fully-embodied lives. However, in our crazy, hectic, fast-paced society, it is really difficult to make time or space for rest. Even when we are utterly exhausted we keep pushing: one more task… one more errand… one more project… one more phone call… one more appointment… one more   fill in the blank  . Our bodies cry out to stop, to slow down, to breathe, and yet, we keep right on pushing through.  And, worse, if something goes wrong (which *news flash* it’s bound to), it’s even more difficult to rest, because we are driven to fix things, to solve problems and to make them go away.  Continue reading

EMBODIED: Beautiful Prayer for Healing

Standard

Join Morgan Day Cecil for a short embodied prayer inspired by Fr. Thomas Ryan, recorded at St. Mary’s Cathedral in Sydney, Australia. The choir singing in the background is so BEaUtiful!

Continue reading

EMBODIED: Christ-Centered Breath Work

Standard

This edition of EMBODIED is a Christ-centered, breath-oriented, mindfulness practice. Although it was created specifically for those who have experienced trauma, you do NOT have to have experienced trauma to benefit from this quiet, Bible-based meditation. Truth is, we all have wounding, hurtful moments in our life, and we can all benefit from allowing God’s breath to breathe healing into every part of our being.

Continue reading

EMBODIED: Christian Meditative Prayer Beads

Standard

Mala prayer beads are very popular these days, not only among those who do yoga, but as a fashion trend. After I purchased my first mala, I began to research prayer beads and ropes from other religious traditions and eventually tore my mala apart to reconstruct it with Christian symbolism instead. Prayer beads or ropes are used across many spiritual traditions to help one pray. Traditional malas are used by Hindus and contain 108 beads. Rosaries are used within the Catholic tradition and contain 50 beads. Chotki are used within the Orthodox Christian tradition and contain 33, 50, 100, 150 or more prayer beads (or often knots instead of beads).

IMG_4969

Selah prayer beads are my own original, Christ-centered design for contemplative prayer beads. The word Selah is taken from the Book of Psalms. Hebrew scholars believe it is a musical term indicating a place of pause, reflection or a place to take a breath. Selah prayer necklaces are constructed with 100 beads, 10 of which are called Selah beads. These beads are meant to serve as stopping points, places for you to pause and reflect as you pray your way around the circular design of the necklace.

Continue reading

EMBODIED: “Embodied Prayer”

Standard

If you are a Christian on a journey of embodiment or discovering what embodiment might mean for you, there’s a book I would consider a must-read. The book is Embodied Prayer: Towards Wholeness of Body, Mind, Soul by Celeste Snowber, PhD, and like a text book, I’d call this one required reading! I found this book many years ago and have read it several times. While Dr. Snowber is an academic and educator, she is also a dancer, and it is the dancer who leads the way in this beautiful work on embodiment and prayer. Continue reading

EMBODIED: Praying with Play-Dough

Standard

Hello Fellow Worshipers! Found this recipe for play-dough with essential oils at One Essential Community and thought I would share it with you. You can find full instructions with photos and essential oil blend ideas.

Playdough is a wonderful way to use the embodied sense of touch during prayer and meditation time. Add essential oils and we include the sense of smell. You can add the following scriptures to embody your prayer, meditation and Bible study time: Continue reading

EMBODIED: Worship Dance TV

Standard

Introducing Vibeke Kiiskila, founder of Unity Dance Center and host of Worship Dance TV. I had the wonderful pleasure of spending some time talking with her about my journey in worship dance, embodied prayer and creative ministry. You can listen into our conversation here:

Continue reading

EMBODIED: Go into nature…

Standard

Go into nature…

…and let it teach you.

Come forth into the light of things, let Nature be your teacher. 
William Wordsworth

Believe one who knows: you will find something greater in woods than in books.  Trees and stones will teach you that which you can never learn from masters.
Saint Bernard de Clairvaux

Whenever I have found myself stuck in the ways I relate to things, I return to nature. It is my principal teacher, and I try to open my whole being to what it has to say. 
Wynn Bullock

Continue reading

Kintsugi of the Soul, edition 38

Standard

Our Kintsugi of the Soul* project is wrapping up next week. This week I want to share the story of a woman reunited with her dogs following the terrible wildfire in Paradise. I love this beautiful story of restoration!

Continue reading

Kintsugi of the Soul, edition 37

Standard

Today’s Kintsugi of the Soul* features a trUly BEaUtiful story of generosity and goodness. Cobey Thomas is a “gentle giant” with non-verbal autism that LOVES to swing. At 6’10” he has outgrown traditional swing sets, but Mr. Handyman from Knoxville, Tennessee stepped in and saved the day! You’ll have to watch and read the subtitles for the best news of all!!

Continue reading

Kintsugi of the Soul, edition 36

Standard

Today’s Kintsugi of the Soul* features Elizabeth Smart’s story of overcoming trauma. Kidnapped at 14-years-old, she nows speaks out on behalf of victims and shares her story of how forgiveness helps you rise above your tragedy and sorrow.

Continue reading

Kintsugi of the Soul, edition 35

Standard

Today’s Kintsugi of the Soul* features a story making the rounds on Facebook about Mr. Rogers. I cannot locate the original author or citation, but this is the story below.

Screen shot 2019-03-12 at 12.05.19 PM

I don’t mean to dishonor the other stories here. But there is one I wanted to add.

A good portion of my pro-bono work is defending abused children. It’s a cause close to my heart. In the course of my work I met a man who was an adult survivor. You wouldn’t have known it looking at him. He was this gigantic Polynesian guy. Wild curly hair. I think of him every time I see Khal Drogo on GoT. He was counseling some of the little kids, and doing a fantastic job of it.

I visited his home to get his opinion on something and I noticed a little toy on his desk. It was Trolley. Naturally curious, I asked him about it. This is what he told me:

“The most dangerous time for me was in the afternoon when my mother got tired and irritable. Like clockwork. Now, she liked to beat me in discreet places so my father wouldn’t see the bruises. That particular day she went for the legs. Not uncommon for her. I was knocked down and couldn’t get back up. Also not uncommon. She gave me one last kick, the one I had come to learn meant ‘I’m done now’. Then she left me there upstairs, face in the carpet, alone. I tried to get up, but couldn’t. So I dragged myself, arm over arm, to the television, climbed up the TV cabinet and turned on the TV.

“And there was Mr. Rogers. It was the end of the show and he was having a quiet, calm conversation with those hundreds of kids. In that moment, he seemed to look me in the eye when he said ‘And I like you just for being you’. In that moment, it was like he was reaching across time and space to say these words to me when I needed them most.

“It was like the hand of God, if you’re into that kind of thing. It hit me in the soul. I was a miserable little kid. I was sure I was a horrible person. I was sure I deserved every last moment of abuse, every blow, every bad name. I was sure I earned it, sure I didn’t deserve better. I *knew* all of these things … until that moment. If this man, who I hadn’t even met, liked me just for being me, then I couldn’t be all bad. Then maybe someone could love me, even if it wasn’t my mom.

“It gave me hope. If that nice man liked me, then I wasn’t a monster. I was worth fighting for. From that day on, his words were like a secret fortress in my heart. No matter how broken I was, no matter how much it hurt or what was done to me, I could remember his words, get back on my feet, and go on for another day.

“That’s why I keep Trolley there. To remind me that, no matter how terrible things look, someone who had never met me liked me just for being me, and that makes even the worst day worth it to me. I know how stupid it sounds, but Mr. Rogers saved my life.”

The next time I saw him, he was talking to one of my little clients. When they were done with their session, he helped her out of her chair, took both of her hands, looked her in the eyes and said: “And remember, I like you just for being you.”

That, to me, is Mr. Rogers’ most powerful legacy. All of the little lives he changed and made better with simple and sincere words of love and kindness.

Continue reading

Kintsugi of the Soul, edition 34

Standard

For today’s Kintsugi of the Soul* I’m am sending you over to UpliftTV once again to watch a short 10-minute film called Rosa: These Storms. It is the story of a determined, young Mayan woman, who turned her greatest heartbreak into the impetus that drove her dream. You do have to register with UpliftTV to view this short film, but it is free (they will occasionally send you emails about future inspiring films).

Screen Shot 2019-03-07 at 6.46.11 PM

We as people, might be like the birds… they undergo storms… winds… and they never give up. We should not be afraid of these storms.
Instead…
we ought to have wings…
and fly.
~Rosa

Continue reading

Kintsugi of the Soul, edition 32

Standard

Today’s Kintsugi of the Soul* might require a tissue or two! This precious little girl named Abigail is fighting an incurable cancer, and the Freeport Police Department made her dream of becoming a police officer come true and stands beside her as she fights “the bad guys” in her body!!

Continue reading

Kintsugi of the Soul, edition 31

Standard

Today’s Kintsugi of the Soul* features an inspiring, short film about writer Joe Minihane. Joe shares about his struggle with anxiety and how nature and community became two integral paths on his healing journey… a healing journey that first, took him across the UK in search of peace from his worry and then second, sparked and unleashed the creative spirit within. In order to access this film you’ll have to head over to Uplift TV and register for a free account. You’ll find the film here.

“I know that not everybody will want to throw themselves into the sea or get into a cold river, and I know that not everybody can. But everybody can talk and everybody can tell other people about how they’re feeling. And that to me is the most important lesson I’ve learned from this entire journey… that being open and honest are the first steps to making yourself feel better.”
~Joe Minihane. 

Continue reading