The Exodus Story

You’ve called me here. You’ve called me here to tell the story of the journey, what it takes to set out on that road and to travel from slavery to freedom. From entrenchment to enchantment. Now if you are faithful to the road, it will lead you, lead you right up to the brink of the unknown. And each of you must dive into the sea of the unknown, into the waters of chaos and rebirth. And you must be moved by the God of power that surges within you and around you. And you must let yourself be delivered onto dry ground.

Then you will no longer walk on the road. You will dance! I hold out my hands to you. Won’t you join the dance?

I am Miriam. I am Miriam, of the dance!
Come and dance with me
Come and sing with me
Play your tambourine
Spirit, lead the dance!
Spirit, lead the dance!

The story goes like this. It was a time of bondage. The Egyptians set task-masters over our people and forced us into labor. The whole nation of Israel ground in slavery and cried out “Out of slavery, our cry for help rolls up to God!”

Let us cry, let us cry to our God:
Oh, set your people free!
Let us cry, let us cry to our God:
Oh, set your people free!

And God heard our groaning and remembered the covenant made with our ancestors. God looked upon us and took notice of us. And so, God spoke to my brother Moses. Now I like to call him my little brother Moses for how can I forget the image of his tiny basket floating on the Nile when he was only three months old. Then I helped to pluck my brother from Pharaoh’s threat of death. Now Moses, once saved from the waters, was called upon to save God’s people!

Let us cry, let us cry to our God:
Oh, set your people free!
Let us cry, let us cry to our God:
Oh, set your people free!

And so it happened that Moses was keeping the flock of his father-in-law, Jethro, a priest of Midian. And he led his flock to the far side of the wilderness till he came to Horeb, the mountain of God. And there the Angel of God appeared to Moses in a flame of fire, in a bush that was burning, yet it was not consumed. And my brother said, “Now there is something you don’t see every day! I must go closer and see why this bush is not burnt up.” And God spoke to Moses out of the center of the bush. “Moses, Moses. . . .” And my brother was a little confused.

“Now wait just a minute! First you want me to believe that God is in the center of a burning bush, and now you want me to believe that God is a woman!?” “Take off your shoes for the place on which you stand is holy ground! I have something to tell you, Moses!” Our God delivered this message to Moses.

I have seen the misery of my people
And I have heard them cry.
So come; I will send you, Moses
to Pharaoh, to bring my people
the Israelites out of Egypt.
To a land flowing with milk and honey.

Now my brother was afraid and complained to our God, saying “Who am I that I should go? What shall I say to our people?? I am nothing, nobody, what shall I say?”

I will be with you.
I will redeem you with an outstretched arm
and with mighty acts of justice.
I ask this
I AM WHO AM.

After that, Moses pretty much had to go along with the program. So he returned to Egypt and spoke to Pharaoh. But Pharaoh’s heart was hardened. So God sent plague after plague upon the Egyptians, but still Pharaoh’s heart was hardened. Finally, our God passed over the land, striking down the first-born of all the Egyptians, but passing over the Israelites. And Pharaoh and all his people cried out in the night!! Pharaoh summoned Moses, saying “Rise up! Go away from my people! Take your flocks and your herds and be gone! Get the flock out of here!”

So we took our dough before it was leavened, in our kneading bowls wrapped up in cloaks on our shoulders. And all the companies of the Lord went out of the land of Egypt. And our God led us with a pillar of cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night! Through the wilderness, making a road for us, until we came to the shore of the Sea of Reeds.

But then when we looked behind us, we saw there were Egyptians advancing upon us! And my brother shrieked “Do you see what is behind us? Everybody run for your lives!” And in great fear our people cried to our God,

Let us cry, let us cry to our God:
Oh, set your people free!
Let us cry, let us cry to our God:
Oh, set your people free!

And then our God spoke to Moses,

Why do you cry out to me?
Tell the Israelites to go forward
But you lift up your staff
And stretch out your hand over the sea.
And divide it, that the Israelites may
Go into the sea on dry ground.
Then I will harden the hearts of the Egyptians
So that they will go in after them.
And the Egyptians shall know
That I am God!
When I have gained glory for myself over Pharaoh,
His chariots and his chariot-drivers.

But we all stared at this river in disbelief. Could this great body of water ever become our gateway to freedom? Could Moses, once saved from the waters, lead us through this rushing river into the arms of our God?

There in our dread, the Angel of God, who had been moving before us, moved and took its place behind us. And the presence of our God lit up the night so that one camp did not come near the other all night long.

Then Moses stretched out his hand over the sea. And just as my mother breathed with all of her might to push Moses into birth, so our God of wonders breathed over the waters. Our God drove the sea back by a strong east wind, all night long! Drove the sea back and turned the sea into dry land. The waters were divided! Then all of our people, all the Israelites, walked into the sea on dry ground, the waters forming a wall for us on our right and on our left. The LORD led us through the sea!

But then the Egyptians pursued and went into the sea after us. All of Pharaoh’s horses, chariots and chariot-drivers. But our God in the pillar of cloud and fire called their chariot wheels so that they turned with difficulty. And the Egyptians cried out, “Let us flee from the Israelites! For God is fighting for them against Egypt!”

Then God spoke to Moses again,

Stretch out your hand over the sea
So that the water may come back upon the Egyptians
Upon their chariots and their chariot-drivers.

So Moses stretched out his hand over the sea, and at dawn, the sea rushed back to its borders. As the Egyptians fled before it, the waters returned, wave after wave. And covered the chariots and chariot-drivers. Covered the entire army of Pharaoh that had followed us into the sea. Not one of them remained.

But we, the Israelites, walked on dry ground through the sea, the waters forming a wall for us on our right and on our left. Thus, our people saw the great work that Yahweh did in our midst. And that day, our God washed away our slavery. And all my people feared the LORD, and believed in the LORD and they even believed in my brother Moses.

Then I, the prophet Miriam, took a tambourine in my hand. All the women came after me, with tambourines and with dancing, and we sang this song to our God,

Let us sing, let dance to our God
Who has brought us through the sea!
Let us sing, let us dance to our God
For our God has set us free!

I sing to our God
Great and glorious!
Slavery and bondage
Are cast into the sea.
Source of my strength,
Holy one who saves me,
This is the God I will praise,
The God of my ancestors.

Let us sing, let dance to our God
Who has brought us through the sea!
Let us sing, let us dance to our God
For our God has set us free!

Who is like you, saving God?
Water brings us to faithfulness.
Also in splendors, birthing wonders,
You brought us through the Sea of Reeds.

Let us sing, let dance to our God
Who has brought us through the sea!
Let us sing, let us dance to our God
For our God has set us free!

See how Pharaoh’s chariots and charioteers
Follow us in fury into the Red Sea?
They lie covered by the deep.
The breath of your wind
Is majesty and power.
Your raised right arm, O God,
Opens doors to liberty!

Let us sing, let dance to our God
Who has brought us through the sea!
Let us sing, let us dance to our God
For our God has set us free!

You called us and planned this,
Awesome God, on the mountain that you chose
Where you made a dwelling place for
The temple you built with your own hands.
Oh God is for ever and ever!

Let us sing, let dance to our God
Who has brought us through the sea!
Let us sing, let us dance to our God
For our God has set us free!

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