27 March • Monday of the Fifth Week in Lent
1. Then the LORD said to Moses, “Go in to Pharaoh and say to him, ‘Thus says the LORD, “Let my people go, that they may serve me. 2 But if you refuse to let them go, behold, I will plague all your country with frogs. 3 The Nile shall swarm with frogs that shall come up into your house and into your bedroom and on your bed and into the houses of your servants and your people, and into your ovens and your kneading bowls. 4 The frogs shall come up on you and on your people and on all your servants.”’” 5 And the LORD said to Moses, “Say to Aaron, ‘Stretch out your hand with your staff over the rivers, over the canals and over the pools, and make frogs come up on the land of Egypt!’” 6 So Aaron stretched out his hand over the waters of Egypt, and the frogs came up and covered the land of Egypt. 7 But the magicians did the same by their secret arts and made frogs come up on the land of Egypt.
8. Then Pharaoh called Moses and Aaron and said, “Plead with the LORD to take away the frogs from me and from my people, and I will let the people go to sacrifice to the LORD.”
9. Moses said to Pharaoh, “Be pleased to command me when I am to plead for you and for your servants and for your people, that the frogs be cut off from you and your houses and be left only in the Nile.” 10 And he said, “Tomorrow.” Moses said, “Be it as you say, so that you may know that there is no one like the LORD our God. 11 The frogs shall go away from you and your houses and your servants and your people. They shall be left only in the Nile.” 12 So Moses and Aaron went out from Pharaoh, and Moses cried to the LORD about the frogs, as he had agreed with Pharaoh. 13 And the LORD did according to the word of Moses. The frogs died out in the houses, the courtyards, and the fields. 14 And they gathered them together in heaps, and the land stank. 15 But when Pharaoh saw that there was a respite, he hardened his heart and would not listen to them, as the LORD had said.
16. Then the LORD said to Moses, “Say to Aaron, ‘Stretch out your staff and strike the dust of the earth, so that it may become gnats in all the land of Egypt.’” 17 And they did so. Aaron stretched out his hand with his staff and struck the dust of the earth, and there were gnats on man and beast. All the dust of the earth became gnats in all the land of Egypt. 18 The magicians tried by their secret arts to produce gnats, but they could not. So there were gnats on man and beast. 19 Then the magicians said to Pharaoh, “This is the finger of God.” But Pharaoh's heart was hardened, and he would not listen to them, as the LORD had said.
We often take important things for granted until they are taken away. Things like Frog-free Houses and Gnat-free Air. Pharaoh had to learn it the hard way.
Pharaoh’s happy life was disrupted because he refused to recognise God and let God’s people go and worship Him. He had to deal with messy and noisy frogs until he changed his mind and gave in to God.
But Pharaoh broke his promise to God… again. So came the gnats, not only into houses, but onto people and animals. The magicians got the message, as they urged Pharaoh, “This is the finger of God”.
Does this sound familiar? Were we not also caught up with work and play, chasing projects and ambitions, often to the neglect God, health, loved ones and creation?
We were stopped in our tracks by something smaller than frogs and gnats—the coronavirus. In 2020, we had to stop all human interactions for a time, and learn safe distancing, social responsibility and sacrifice of personal freedom in order to weather this storm together.
Today in 2023, we are in a new normal, learning to live with Covid. But what kind of new normal are you experiencing?
For nearly two years we could not fully fellowship face to face, worship in song, or celebrate the sacraments with water, bread and wine. Have we learned to treasure these gifts much more? Are we now eagerly embracing what we’ve missed? Or have we been so starved that we no longer feel hungry, and settle for merely watching services or listening to sermons?
While we were stuck working from home, many of us rediscovered the joy of home. Even though we were each working, the down times together reminded us that we are family. Now that we are back in school or in the office, do we still have time together? Or have we returned to our old ways of living separate lives?
Many of us treasured our time with God with fewer distractions during the pandemic. We tasted God’s sweetness, and it helped our mental health. Are we still making intimacy with God a priority, under the demands of new normal?
The story of Pharaoh went downhill, each lesson more painful than the last. Hopefully we need not relearn these painful lessons. May we not go back to our old ways, as we march bravely into the new normal.
Heavenly Father, You love us so much that You will not let us lose our way. Remind us to put You first, to take time for self-care and the care of people around us. Help us to thrive in the new normal. In the name of the Christ our Saviour we pray. Amen.
How can we embrace even more fully today what we missed about church life during the pandemic?
How can we sustain the life-giving, relationship-deepening and faith-building things we did during the pandemic?
Venerable Wong Tak Meng
Archdeacon for Community Services
Diocese of Singapore