Exod. 2:1-22; 1 Cor. 12:27-13:3; Mark 9:2-13
There is so much in a name. Remember Moses? You know, the guy who gets the 10 Commandments? Leads the people through the desert? Let my people go! You remember now, right?
Our scripture today ties us to his birth but also his name. Because of the Pharaoh’s edict that every Hebrew boy be thrown into the river while every girl lives, Moses’ mother makes a papyrus basket for him and puts him in the reeds on the bank of the river. Someone else draws him out of the water to save him.
Did you know his name wasn’t really Moses. That’s just English. In Hebrew the name that is given to him is Moshe, which means “I drew him out of the water.”
Do you remember who scooped him up from the Nile? It was Pharaoh’s daughter who decided to save him and raise him. In a story that is all too reminiscent of Joseph being shown grace by the Egyptians, this story stands as a reminder that God can work even through the most unlikely people.
This story reminds us of the powerful place of women, and the ironic salvation of foreigner women, in order for God’s good purposes to move forward.
Pharaoh had decided all boys were to be killed. But that edict was outwitted by Moses’ mother, who strategically places Moses among the reeds. This is not like leaving a child to die, abandoning them to isolation, left out in the middle of nowhere until he dies of starvation. This was the edge of the Nile, the life-blood of the community. Many will come by here, to get water and to bathe. But who gets water in this culture? Women.
Moses’ mother stacked the deck in the sense that she was passing Moses’ fate onto the women of the land. And while Pharaoh’s heart was hard, I believe she knew God’s grace would shine brightly if it was placed in the hands of women, even Egyptian women.
Water plays central roles in the Bible, not the least of which is new life in baptism. Water is the life-blood of the community. From droughts to plagues, from watering crops to changing water into wine, to be drawn out of the water is to be drawn from the source of life itself. Here is someone, Moshe, who has come from vigor and vitality, and will become one of the strongest leader of the Biblical record. From water…not just the Red Sea parting, but from that basket in the Nile, salvation comes from the water.
This is the power of the water of baptism when Jesus rises from the Jordan after his own baptism. Or when we come from the water. It is not merely a cleansing. It ties us to the Creation story, to Moshe, to the Nile, to the Red Sea too. Out of the chaos comes hope. Out of the depths, new life and new possibility breaks forth. Water is a sign of salvation, and that the drought of our lives has ended, flooded with newness, vitality, health, and wholeness.
We have all been drawn from the water, wrapped into God’s magnificent handiwork, and called forth into daring new adventures.