Sunday, September 21, 2008

Reflection on the manna from heaven - Exodus 16:2-15

The Lord heard the complaints of the hungry Israelites in the wilderness, and He gave them bread to eat that came from heaven - manna. This manna was bread that lasted just for the day, there was no way to preserve it beyond the day, and I always imagine that the fit and the healthy had to work hard in order to gather the manna to feed the sick, the old, and the young. Working together, there was enough food for all to eat, and there was no reward for trying to hoard the food - the food would not remain beyond the day. One of the miracles of the manna was that it helped to bring together a gripy and complaining crowd, and helped transform hungry individuals into a community. There was enough for all to eat, no one went hungry as long as the members of the community helped those who could not help themselves, and there was no reward for hoarding food for tomorrow. I wonder if this could serve as a parable for us in the 21st century as we strive to eradicate extreme poverty and hunger in the world? While we complain and gnash our teeth about our financial institutions in this country, perhaps we should save a bit of our creativity, our willingness to offer up "bail outs" and our compassion for those who are hungry and suffering mightily.

~ The Rev. Peter M. Carey

From today's lectionary readings...

Exodus 16:2-15

The whole congregation of the Israelites complained against Moses and Aaron in the wilderness. The Israelites said to them, "If only we had died by the hand of the LORD in the land of Egypt, when we sat by the fleshpots and ate our fill of bread; for you have brought us out into this wilderness to kill this whole assembly with hunger."

Then the LORD said to Moses, "I am going to rain bread from heaven for you, and each day the people shall go out and gather enough for that day. In that way I will test them, whether they will follow my instruction or not. On the sixth day, when they prepare what they bring in, it will be twice as much as they gather on other days." So Moses and Aaron said to all the Israelites, "In the evening you shall know that it was the LORD who brought you out of the land of Egypt, and in the morning you shall see the glory of the LORD, because he has heard your complaining against the LORD. For what are we, that you complain against us?" And Moses said, "When the LORD gives you meat to eat in the evening and your fill of bread in the morning, because the LORD has heard the complaining that you utter against him-- what are we? Your complaining is not against us but against the LORD."

Then Moses said to Aaron, "Say to the whole congregation of the Israelites, `Draw near to the LORD, for he has heard your complaining.'" And as Aaron spoke to the whole congregation of the Israelites, they looked toward the wilderness, and the glory of the LORD appeared in the cloud. The LORD spoke to Moses and said, "I have heard the complaining of the Israelites; say to them, `At twilight you shall eat meat, and in the morning you shall have your fill of bread; then you shall know that I am the LORD your God.'"

In the evening quails came up and covered the camp; and in the morning there was a layer of dew around the camp. When the layer of dew lifted, there on the surface of the wilderness was a fine flaky substance, as fine as frost on the ground. When the Israelites saw it, they said to one another, "What is it?" For they did not know what it was. Moses said to them, "It is the bread that the LORD has given you to eat."

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