Lent Devotions: Called to be everyday heroes

March 8, 2017

Editor’s note: This Lent season, Bread Blog is running a series of devotionals written by staff, alumni, and friends of the San Francisco Theological Seminary, which is affiliated with the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A). 

By Rev. Yolanda M. Norton

Exodus 1:8-20 

At the end of Genesis, the Israelites are in Egypt because of a famine in Israel. Despite the harsh conditions that brought Israel to Egypt, it was an Israelite – Joseph – who found a solution for how Egypt could sustain itself in the midst of the same famine. At the end of Genesis, it seemed like Israel and Egypt had found a way to live together. Yet when Exodus begins, a leader has risen to power that does not know or does not care about the nation’s history. Pharaoh, content with expanding his power, demonstrates his ignorance, his hubris, and his determination to create a system of oppression. He commands that innocent Israelite boys be brutally killed at birth.

It seems that in every era there are those who come to power with an intention to compromise the integrity of community and snuff out the life of innocents. In every age there are those who are ordered to build and do more with less, and expected to live in inhumane conditions.

In Exodus 1:8-20, in the face of a command for genocide it is not some superhuman, larger-than-life character that preserves life. Instead Shiphrah and Puah, two midwives, decide that their calling to usher life into the world is greater than pharaoh’s imperative for death. In these difficult times we, too, must remember that God is calling ordinary people to do extraordinary things to counteract the reach of empire. We cannot wait for a messiah to save us from imperial abuse. Some environments simply require individuals to be courageous and prudent in the midst of their everyday lives and trust that God will care for us. 

Rev. Yolanda M. Norton is assistant professor of Old Testament at San Francisco Theological Seminary

We cannot wait for a messiah to save us from imperial abuse.

Tools
from our Resource Library

For Education

For Faith

  • Unity Declaration on Racism and Poverty

    A diverse body of Christian leaders calls on the churches and Congress to focus on the integral connection.

    Dear Members of Congress,

    As the president and Congress are preparing their plans for this year, almost 100 church leaders—from all the families of U.S. Christianity—are...

  • In Times Like These … A Pan-African Christian Devotional for Public Policy Engagement

    This devotional guide invites deepened relationship with and among Pan-Af­rican people and elected leaders in the mission to end hunger and poverty.

  • Sermon by David Beckmann at Duke University Chapel

    Remarks delivered October 1, 2017 at Duke University Chapel in Chapel Hill in North Carolina.

    Thank you for inviting me to preach here at Duke University Chapel. And I especially want to thank the Bread for the World members who have come this morning.

    Bruce Puckett urged...

For Advocacy

  • U.S. Hunger and Poverty State Fact Sheets

    These fact sheets provide a snapshot of hunger and poverty in the United States and in each state plus Washington, D.C. 

  • Fact Sheet: Hunger by the Numbers

    In 2017, 11.8 percent of households in the U.S.—40 million people—were food-insecure, meaning that they were unsure at some point during the year about how they would provide for their next meal.

  • Sentencing Reform and Corrections Act of 2017

    Unnecessarily long prison sentences, combined with the lack of rehabilitative programs for people in prison, exacerbate hunger, poverty, and existing inequalities.

    Overly harsh mandatory minimum prison sentences have contributed to the rapid increase of our country’s prison population. The...

Field

Changing Climate, Changing Farmers

February 7, 2017

Insight

April 10, 2018

The Jobs Challenge

From the Blog

Embajadores de paz

December 9, 2018