Leaning Into Life - Devotions for the Wisconsin Annual Conference for August 31
Now the two midwives (Shiphrah and Puah) respected God so they didn’t obey the Egyptian king’s order. Instead, they let the baby boys live. (Exodus 1:17)
The first chapter of the book of Exodus offers us a challenging story. It tells of a new king who came to power in Egypt, who didn’t know Joseph. It tells of how the Hebrew people had flourished so much in Egypt that they were seen as a threat by this new king.
This new king enacted laws that enslaved, disrespected, and put down a whole group of people -- the Hebrew people. Into this time of systematic racism, he continued putting pressure on the Hebrew people, by demanding that two of the Hebrew midwives, Shiphrah and Puah, kill any boys who were born.
In ancient Egypt to go against an edict of the king often meant that you would lose your life.
But these two faithful women chose to trust God. Relying on their faith, they let the baby boys live. When they were called to account by the king, they came up with a good line that got them off the hook. “The Hebrew women are much stronger than Egyptian women and give birth before any midwife can get to them.”
Most surprising of all, Pharaoh fell for it!
We are told, as the story ends, that God treated the midwives well, and gave them families of their own. They are among the first named women in our Bible, not attached to a man.
This is a beautiful, challenging story, reminding us as people of faith, that when we are facing times of challenge, when we aren’t sure what to do in the face of injustice, that we can turn to the One who calls us into being, into community. We can trust in the God of life. The one who invites us to life and to live for justice. We can do what we can, even if it seems small. And God is pleased by our steps of faith.
May God give us the courage and grace we need for this day.
Prayer: Loving God, what a year 2020 has been. It has challenged us in so many ways. It has revealed to us such brokenness in our world and in our lives. Teach us, as your people, to stand with you, to stand on the side of those who have no voice or recognition. Live in us and live through us to touch this world and make it a place where life can grow. In the hope Jesus offers us, Amen.
May this devotion provide you with a moment of faithful reflection and care. You are involved in ministries of justice and witness, in ministries of standing up and standing with people working to create better systems and communities, in ministries of learning and searching and researching to become more aware and awakened, more technologically savvy and proficient, more virtually and personally present in your churches and communities and world. Each of us who serve as members of your Wisconsin Cabinet write these devotions in grateful prayer for you – for sustenance and buoyancy, for strength and courage, for safety and just actions, and for faith and love to be full and fulfilled in your daily lives. God’s grace and blessings, God’s challenge and healthy discomfort, God’s Spirit and energy be with you, in the hope Christ offers us all.