11 September 2009

Miriam, the older sister

last sunday, as part of the "start sunday" at church, we listened to brief monologues based on biblical characters connected to "the Promised Land." one of those who spoke was Miriam, who complained a lot. i know the stories about Miriam from the Bible, but I don't think I'd ever quite seen what it might have been like to be the older sister of Moses.

Miriam, as the big sister, helped Moses become who he was. she played a part in the princess finding him and having him being semi-raised by his own mom. she was probably well aware of Moses' rash behaviour in killing an Egyptian and was most likely exasperated that he'd lost the opportunity to work within the royalty to make changes that would be beneficial to the Israelites (being older and a woman, she probably could have found a much less violent and rash solution to the problem:)). and seeing as foreigners hadn't exactly been gracious to the Israelites, she probably wasn't too thrilled with his wife, either. and then there's Moses' speaking problem and his crazy idea of being called by God and the grumbling of the Israelites and... if you think about it that way, it's a bit easier to see how Miriam might have often been exasperated by Moses - and that she, as the big sister who watched over him when he was little, might have complained somewhat at his incompetency and might have even wanted to step in and fix things when her brother was fumbling about.

it is interesting to picture the big sister and wonder. it makes me see Miriam as more of a real person, and in doing that the Bible seems more real - and more relevant to my life. and as i see Miriam more as the big sister, it makes me wonder about how good i am at allowing others to make their own mistakes and use their own gifts. and it helps remember that, now matter how much i might want to, i can't play the big sister and try and step in and rescue others. and more so, as much as i might think of myself, i'm hardly the best at many things. and as i picture the big sister and am reminded not to think too much of myself, i'm also reminded not to think too little of myself (or others). Moses was certainly centre stage - but Miriam, as the big sister, did play a pretty significant part in the Israelites leaving Egypt. as Micah 4:6 puts it: the LORD sent Moses, Aaron, and Miriam before the people. and there's something comforting in being able to see again how God uses imperfect people as part of his plan/work.

with thanks to the Oude Kerk and the organizers of the 'startzondag' programme for having me think about these things.

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