The Lord said to Joshua, “Today I have rolled away from you the disgrace of Egypt.” And so that place is called Gilgal to this day.
Those who do not know their history are doomed to repeat it.
Or do the saying goes.
The Israelites have wandered and wandered and they finally make it to the Promised Land. An entire generation has passed and even Moses himself is buried in the ground before God’s people make it to the land of milk and honey. Joshua, ever mindful of faithful leadership, marks the place of their transition from the past into a new future, and the Lord said, “Today I have rolled away from you the disgrace of Egypt.”
Not when the horse and the rider where overwhelmed by the rushing waters of the sea.
Not when the plagues rained down upon the Egyptians.
Not when Moses struck the rock in the wilderness and brought forth water.
The stone of disgrace is rolled away only when they finally make it to where they were going.
And even in this powerful moment of newness, they are reminded of what took place back in Egypt. This is a reoccurring theme in the biblical witness, not just what happened in Egypt, but reminding God’s people what God did for them.
We are tied to our histories whether we like it or not.
And in this moment God says, you are bound to your history, but you are not defined by it; today I roll away the disgrace.
Ten years before the Civil War took place in the US the Methodist Church split over differing theologies about slavery. Many/Most of the Methodist churches in the north believed that it was ungodly to maintain the institution of slavery where many/most of the Methodist churches in the south believe that slavery was instituted by God.
The Methodist Church did not come back together until the 1930s.
That is part of the history of Methodism, a history that many of us would rather ignore or forget. Particularly in the state of Virginia, there are a good number of churches that were around when the split took place and they proudly display which version of the church they chose to identify with.
We are bound to that history, but we are not defined by it. God is still pushing us into new places with new ideas and new theologies. Some of our Moseses will be buried in the past and new Joshuas will have to stand to lead us into places unknown.
But we cannot forget who we were, otherwise we are doomed to return.