The Wheel Turns Again

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The Wheel Turns Again

Exodus 1:8–2:10

The Israelites Are Oppressed

Now a new king arose over Egypt, who did not know Joseph. He said to his people, “Look, the Israelite people are more numerous and more powerful than we. Come, let us deal shrewdly with them, or they will increase and, in the event of war, join our enemies and fight against us and escape from the land.” Therefore they set taskmasters over them to oppress them with forced labor. They built supply cities, Pithom and Rameses, for Pharaoh. But the more they were oppressed, the more they multiplied and spread, so that the Egyptians came to dread the Israelites. The Egyptians became ruthless in imposing tasks on the Israelites, and made their lives bitter with hard service in mortar and brick and in every kind of field labor. They were ruthless in all the tasks that they imposed on them.

The king of Egypt said to the Hebrew midwives, one of whom was named Shiphrah and the other Puah, “When you act as midwives to the Hebrew women, and see them on the birthstool, if it is a boy, kill him; but if it is a girl, she shall live.” But the midwives feared God; they did not do as the king of Egypt commanded them, but they let the boys live. So the king of Egypt summoned the midwives and said to them, “Why have you done this, and allowed the boys to live?” The midwives said to Pharaoh, “Because the Hebrew women are not like the Egyptian women; for they are vigorous and give birth before the midwife comes to them.” So God dealt well with the midwives; and the people multiplied and became very strong. And because the midwives feared God, he gave them families. Then Pharaoh commanded all his people, “Every boy that is born to the Hebrews you shall throw into the Nile, but you shall let every girl live.”

Birth and Youth of Moses1

Now a man from the house of Levi went and married a Levite woman. The woman conceived and bore a son; and when she saw that he was a fine baby, she hid him three months. When she could hide him no longer she got a papyrus basket for him, and plastered it with bitumen and pitch; she put the child in it and placed it among the reeds on the bank of the river. His sister stood at a distance, to see what would happen to him.

The daughter of Pharaoh came down to bathe at the river, while her attendants walked beside the river. She saw the basket among the reeds and sent her maid to bring it. When she opened it, she saw the child. He was crying, and she took pity on him. “This must be one of the Hebrews’ children,” she said. Then his sister said to Pharaoh’s daughter, “Shall I go and get you a nurse from the Hebrew women to nurse the child for you?” Pharaoh’s daughter said to her, “Yes.” So the girl went and called the child’s mother. Pharaoh’s daughter said to her, “Take this child and nurse it for me, and I will give you your wages.” So the woman took the child and nursed it. When the child grew up, she brought him to Pharaoh’s daughter, and she took him as her son. She named him Moses, “because,” she said, “I drew him out of the water.”

Matthew 16:13–20

Peter’s Declaration about Jesus2

Now when Jesus came into the district of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?” And they said, “Some say John the Baptist, but others Elijah, and still others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.” He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” Simon Peter answered, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.” And Jesus answered him, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father in heaven. And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not prevail against it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.” Then he sternly ordered the disciples not to tell anyone that he was the Messiah.

Wheel in the sky keeps on turnin’

I don’t know where I’ll be tomorrow

Wheel in the sky keeps on turnin’

“Wheel in the Sky”by Journey)

Some 2500 years ago, a debate ensued between two philosophers named Heraclitus and Parmenides about the nature of reality and change.

Heraclitus, who is credited with the phrase, “You cannot step in the same river twice.”, believed that everything changes all the time. Change is the only constant in our life.

Parmenides, on the other hand, argued that if something changes then it ceases to be the same thing. With constant change there could be no such thing as identity.

What does that matter to us? Well, we deal with change and identity on personal levels and perhaps even more significantly across generations.

For example: If the Hebrew people no longer live in the land of their forefathers Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, are they still Hebrew?

Or: When the Hebrew people moved to Egypt and over the generations, eventually became slaves of them, were the younger generations who knew little to nothing about God Hebrew or had they become Egyptians?

Or, in modern terms: If someone today is a Hebrew person by ancestry but not a practicing or believing Jew, are they still part of God’s chosen people?

Or, by contrast: If someone is not genetically related to Abraham, does that disqualify them from ever being part of God’s chosen people?

In other words, if you either are or are not part of God’s people, can things change? Heraclitus would say yes. Parmenides would really struggle with this. Scripture is full of people who change their identities and change their lives. The word used to describe this is repentance. God calls us all to repentance because the brokenness of our world twists any original goodness that God creates in us by pulling us away from Him. We can certainly feel like we have always been a Christian, and we may not require a dramatic experience or change to put us on God’s path, but picking up our cross and following Jesus does not come naturally to us. Tweet: We can certainly feel like we have always been a Christian, and we may not require a dramatic experience or change to put us on God's path, but picking up our cross and following Jesus does not come naturally to us.It does not come naturally because we start off being deceived about our true identity, and then living into that lie begins to change us. Changing our allegiance changes our actions, and changing our actions changes our identity until at last, by God’s grace, we finally become the person God created us to be in the beginning.

(Poetic illustration from Matthew 25)

What changes have shaped your identity?

What further changes do you need to make in your life?

Click to Tweet!


  1. (Heb 11:23)
  2. (Mk 8:27–30; Lk 9:18–20)

First Frost

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Supple droplets coalesce

in morning mist, whose cool caress

embraces all in loneliness,

sinking into shallow ground.

Follows then a breath of air,

whose northern accent chills the fair

unfinished droplets, held with care

there upon my glass found.

Shining into crystal likeness,

bright and white and round –

they harden without sound.

Beaded strings of peasant pearls

twined about in crescent curls,

crawling up my window, whorls

unbroken in a line.

There beset with misting sweat

they bind together, tight and yet

their seamless sheen and coverlet

grows gently as a vine.

Silently, with silver strength,

they reflect the moonshine –

until the night’s resign.

Morning brings a glassy sight

a world engulfed in frost-fire light

and painted crystalline and white

in heavenly decor.

The dusted streets stand glistening

while festive boughs are listening

to birdsong southbound christening

the mountain to the shore.

The fragrance of festivity

wafts in and out my door –

til spring returns once more.

Blank Verse for Autumn’s End

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The window pales murky in the fog

covered morning as summer falls away

and chases dreams of life and light and dance

and warm embrace

when chance is spent for good

and feeling leaves withdraw, detach, and fall

to their subsequent slumber in the earth –

I know not where

the morning glories bow

their sightless eyes to depths unfathomed

the clock cooing in the distance again

disturbs my rest

upon an angel’s lap

my body purrs, awaiting patient’s pull

on tail ticked left bereft of rhyme or right

this autumn night

fading into the blue

gray haze of winter’s ice-cold grip of sleep

less pain and shaking fever flowered dreams

beneath me lies

receding warmth and life

outpoured in shudders gently held within

and trickling down through softly shaking hands

upon my neck

a gentle gaze is fixed

and founded in the face of saving love

that spared me from a mother smothering

my infant breaths

in faint and feeble steam

my gaze away peers through the glassy shield

which shelters me from feeling harsher change

as winter falls.

spiritus asper

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valor colored moments in patient days

lean into the wind just to feel its breath

to hear their name sung by the prairie grass

in the Rollingda Bultryple – my heart’s meter

drumming up from the dirt that coats my bones

 

there is another side I cannot see

facing out-taken fragments of mortar and pestle

crushed memories, congealed in tears

and painted like salve to balm my regret

off-white and sterile, dimmer and clean

 

perversely palatable these winnowless spaces

which pull on the edges of cheekbones and lips

turning backwards against their internal setting

until vigilance snaps with a rack-shatter clatter

and diligence stretches the joints out of keep

 

where is the storm to send what is the matter

at hand four beforehand and afterward never

when it’s time to fall back to the spring of complacency

comatose solitude frozen insensitive

bulwarks to blame for the faith of the enemy

 

lessen the teaching of carpeted clamor

when fire resounding is what my heart dreams

and fills my grip over with precipitation

that flashes with wonder and coddles the rage

against white-washed solutions and desolate gain

 

loosen the fount of Chimaera’s gullet

buttress the bridges that bide in between

the time to rush forward in anticipation

the time to crawl under the plunging debris

to the solace of six spaceless moments of motion

 

oh bring me that wind to blow through my bones

and peel the layers of paint worn and past

from the top of my head to the tip of my chin

and down to my toes where the cleaners crawl through

and make me anew

and make me anew