March 25, 2005

Faithful Lines / Shirley Vogler Meister

Planned journey from Exodus to Easter

In January when I began my daily reading of the Bible from its beginning, I did not expect to be slowed down so often because of thought-provoking passages and commentaries in Today’s Light Bible: New International Version. Every time I think I’m cruising along in the Old Testament, I then read a “Get the Big Picture” preface or a “Sharpen the Focus” suggestion at the end of a daily passage that inspires time-consuming research. No, I don’t have to make detours, but my inquisitive nature demands this—and it is enjoyable.

When starting the Book of Exodus in Lent, I came across this “big picture” idea that halted me: “The exodus of the Israelites from Egypt could be called The Old Testament Easter.” I’d never thought of that before. If the point were offered in previous studies or in homilies I’ve heard through the years, it was lost on me (probably because I wasn’t open to it or wasn’t paying attention).

Enamored with the Exodus/Easter idea, I spent hours trying to see this from all angles by finishing and then re-reading parts of Exodus and by doing research. This took me to the Web site, where I found a blurb about a book titled Forward to Freedom: From Exodus to Easter, written by David Adam, the vicar of the Holy Island of Lindisfarne in the United Kingdom.

No, I didn’t order the book because I already had my Lenten reading in hand, but I did learn that it examines Exodus, suggests risking the “desert of uncertainty to receive the freedom that God [originally] offered Adam,” and “encourages readers to leave that which captivates them—and then move forward.” I suggest readers study Exodus in order to better understand the path to Easter and the Resurrection.

On our path to Easter, my husband and I instead followed The Little Black Book provided by our parish. Bishop Ken Untener, who died in 2004 in his Diocese of Saginaw, Mich., wrote the six-minute meditations on the Passion according to Mark. The book eased our personal exodus to Easter, widened our knowledge about the Lenten and Easter seasons, and helped us understand the impact of the Resurrection in new ways.

We learned about “Paczki Day” (a Polish Shrove Tuesday), as well as other eclectic points, including feast days, i.e. St. Patrick, St. Joseph, St. Peter, St. Scholastica and St. Frances of Rome. (Did you know she is the patron of motorists?) It explained the history of St. Mark’s Gospel and Church customs—and even gave an example of amusing (albeit blasphemous) fifth-century graffiti.

Most of all, The Little Black Book gently enlightened us during our “exodus” toward an ever-beautiful Easter!

(Shirley Vogler Meister, a member of Christ the King Parish in Indianapolis, is a regular columnist for The Criterion.)

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