The book of Exodus gives us only two options to answer the question of where we are. Either we are in slavery - settled, yes, but enslaved, or we are on the move - nomads in the desert looking for the Promised Land.
Eric Kim is a street photographer I admire, and in the clip he refers to his life as a nomad...
...and how it cuts against the expectation of settledness that the West encourages.
The era of Christendom called for places of worship to make a grand statement - cathedrals and architectural masterpieces which would point to the heavens in perpetuity. The rediscovery of our nomadic roots will surely direct us once more to the tent as worship space; temporary and moveable, leaving no trace of its presence. I think the first generation of Christians got this, and so the writer to the Hebrews in chapter 13 verse 14 states
For there is no permanent city for us here on earth; we are looking for the city which is to come.
The Irish poet, Michael Longley, borrowed from the King James translation of this verse for the title of his first collection of poems, No Continuing City. Let us not pretend that this is not a precarious existence; unsettling and disrupted. This is not the easy option. Is it any wonder that, at times, the people following Moses complained and wished they had never left slavery in the first place!
So, as we work through Exodus we need to repeatedly ask ourselves where we see ourselves in this story. The preferred answer, the Promised Land, is not available to us without the trials and hardship of the journey, but those difficulties are what shape us into who we are.