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Advent Reflection for December 1 2021

Egypt to Canaan

(note: answers to the trivia questions can be found at the end!)

We got talking about family traditions and how in Poppy’s family growing up in the 50s, they weren’t allowed to play cards. They were, however, allowed to play a few select board games – Christian board games in particular. My cousin and I reminisced about a particular Bible

trivia board game that we played as children at our grandparents’ house thirty years ago. As cousins, we would assemble ourselves into teams, and we would lie down in the living room on our grandmother’s particularly large and somewhat itchy wool rug and try not to kick her end tables that were carefully decorated with breakable knickknacks. We would spend hours playing this one game called “Egypt to Canaan.” In this game, we were challenged with obscure Old Testament trivia facts, mainly about the Israelites’ trying journey through the desert. By answering questions correctly, you could advance closer to the Promised Land. For instance, “Name the son of Amram and Jochebed (1) – move forward six spaces.” Or, “Who was the oldest man in the Bible and how long did he live? (2) – move four spaces for each correct answer.” “Special cards” could improve your positioning (“Manna falls! Move forward 5 spaces”) or they could bring negative consequences – “For murmuring and complaining, take one extra trip around Mount Seir.” And the ultimate, coveted special card could move you directly to the Promised Land in one move!

As we were recalling memories of this game, my dad piped up, “I think I have that game upstairs! Do you want to play?” This was highly unusual – not a game playing family, remember? We spent the next hour or two, playing a competitive, multi-generational, sixty year old board game! It was a beautiful time together, laughing about the simplicity of the answer to “What was remarkable about the burning bush?” (3) and lamenting the outcome of the first set of tablets of the Ten Commandments. (4) I was impressed when the young kids’ team answered correctly, “How many of the men of Israel did Gideon choose for his army?” (5) and my memory was stirred to recall a distant fact when my dad pulled out the answer to “Name the father of Noah.” (6)

As I looked around the table and saw how each of each of us in the family was connected to the Old Testament stories and facts through our memories, I made the important connection that God’s presence in our lives was not a distant, forgotten trivia fact, but that He was with us in that moment and in all moments of our lives. Just as He was with the Israelites in their wanderings and trials on that journey to Canaan, He is with us in the everyday wanderings and trials of our own lives. And He is faithful – even when we don’t see or acknowledge Him. He is present and close. As I looked deeper into the people around the table, I saw histories and scars of challenging life events common across generations in families – early loss of a husband and father, relationship struggles, parent-child conflict, addiction issues, illness, accidents and unrealized dreams. But through those life events, I also saw an overarching, unifying story – deeper and stronger than family ties. It was and is Emmanuel, God with us. His faithful presence was palpable to me, through Biblical history, family history, and in that present moment of togetherness as a family.

In the coming days, as you walk through this period of waiting and anticipation during this Advent season and perhaps reflect on the similarities to the journey from Egypt to Canaan, know that your family (whatever form and type it is!) carries the ultimate “special card” – the faithful gift and blessing of Emmanuel.

Bonus: If you can name the Old Testament book that contains the phrase “Great is thy Faithfulness,” (7) move forward ten spaces!

Answers to the trivia questions:

  1. Moses

  2. Methuselah lived for 969 years

  3. It would not burn up

  4. They were broken in anger by Moses in response to the Israelites’ worshipping of the golden calf

  5. 300

  6. Lamech

  7. Lamentations

Written by Amanda Wood-Atkinson


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