Saturday, January 8, 2011

The chicken that fell in the well and other stories

Torah portion Exodus 10:1 thru 13:16

Over and over again as we were growing up, my father regaled my sisters and me with the true story of  'the chicken that fell in the well'.  The scene was their family farm in rural Minnesota during the 1920's. Dad had four brothers and two sisters; why he was chosen as the hero of the story probably had to do with his age and gender...

The empty well held an unfortunate hen.  So a rope was tied around the small boy's waist and he was lowered into the dark well.  Proudly, I can imagine, Dad bravely grabbed the chicken and hollered to his father at the top, "OK, you can pull me up!"  Half-way up, he discovered an egg lay at the bottom of the well.  "Lower me back down, there's an egg!"

I always liked the way the story ended.  "Bawk, bawk, thank you, thank you," squawked the hen.  Then as Dad crawled over the edge of the well, he realized the egg had broken in his pocket.

How we would laugh!  Today Dad has 10 grandchildren who know the story. I never doubted the truth of it. Each time he told it, right down to the hen clucking 'thank you', the story was always the same.

This week's portion ends with God instructing Moses:

"and in the future, when your children ask you "what is this all about?" you shall tell them, 'With mighty miracles Jehovah brought us out of Egypt from our slavery.  Pharoah wouldn't let us go, so Jehovah killed all the firstborn is a reminder that God brought us out of Egypt with great power."

The annual Passover celebration is a way to remember God's 'passing over' the doors of the Israelites who had obediently placed the blood of a lamb on their doors.  The passover story was to be retold each Spring.

The details were probably vivid and believable when retold the first few years; perhaps after the first generation who had witnessed the events died, the story became less believable.

Yesterday, during our morning meeting here, my husband told his story of coming to faith.  It is his story, one that took place over 10 years ago, during a period of great stress, and one I believe our children remember.  It's personal and real; good to recount again and again.
Many people today believe the Bible is simply a book of stories.  Today we have to accept the ancient stories on faith. It's encouraging to read them.  Year after year, the stories in the Torah become more real to me.  Brilliantly written and full of prophesy,they foreshadow events of the New Testament.

In 2011, I  challenge you to find personal meaning in the weekly portion. 

Next week:  Exodus 13:17 thru 17:16.  Check back on Saturday!

Thanks for reading.

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