“If any household is too small for a whole lamb, they must share one with their nearest neighbour, having taken into account the number of people there are. You are to determine the amount of lamb needed in accordance with what each person will eat.” Exodus 12:4
It was the eve of the exodus from Egypt. God was about to loose the Angel of Death on the Egyptian households. Pharaoh’s continued hard heart had led to this moment. Most people are familiar with what happens next.
My husband and I qualify as a small household, which means that if we were part of the Israelite nation at the time we would have been sharing a lamb with our nearest neighbour. I confess that even with living where we do for the last twenty years we know very little about our nearest neighbour.
It was not just sharing the lamb with them, but taking into account the number of people there and how much lamb was needed in “accordance with what each person will eat”. I can just about deal with the numbers. I know how many children there are having taught more than a few of them. It is the appetite of each family member that would have me flummoxed. That kind of knowledge is beyond me. If it was my neighbour who was providing the lamb it is unlikely they would know how much I or my husband would eat.
God assumed when he gave that instruction to Moses and Aaron that it would present no problems. The community was close knit. They lived together in the ghetto that was Goshen. They had a shared experience of suffering and a shared experience of joy. They shared the same faith, bruised as it was. They knew exactly how much each person would eat.
Today many of us do not enjoy that kind of close community. There are some people that make it their business to know everyone else’s business – but I am not one of them.
Take it into the church setting – would that be any better? I suppose I am lucky that being a part of a small fellowship I have the opportunity to discover my neighbour’s appetites. Some people I know better than others. There are some people I more naturally move towards than others. Others require a little more work to find the things we have in common, or create something on which we can build a relationship.
It requires honesty and openness. I have begun to think about what people think about me that isn’t true. And not just what people think about me – but what I think about myself that isn’t true either. If I think about myself as a victim, for example, I live my life that way and other people see that and see me as a victim too. If I pick at my food, like a sparrow, in public, but gorge myself in my own home – people see the sparrow, not the glutton. When the neighbour finds the lamb to share with my household, he provides for the sparrow he sees, not the glutton I hide from him. He is not able to meet my needs because he doesn’t know what they are.
There have been too many occasions lately where I have not been the “me” I really am. The “me” I am is not really that quiet and silent. I am not aloof and unfriendly. I am shy and take a while to feel at home enough to unlock myself. I am worth getting to know. There is wisdom in me that doesn’t always lie on the surface.
If you are buying a lamb to share with me – I am not the sparrow or the glutton but somewhere between.