“Manna From Heaven” 

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Welcome to this month’s topic of ELIXIR: Personal Fulfillment.

I have a wonderful sister (three actually!) who is a pastor for the United Church of Christ. While that is not my own spiritual path, she and I share deeply and I treasure her viewpoint from her inclusive, liberal theology. While thinking of how to open this month’s theme, my sister Lee (Rev. Lee Ireland from Connecticut) told me of a sermon she was giving, called “Manna from Heaven.” Well, of course, that is the Elixir of Personal Fulfillment itself, so I invited Lee to share her sermon focus with us here.

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She agreed, so here are her words:

September 24, 2017 

Here we have one of the most human passages in scripture…this is a passage that is close to home as I think about all of those who’ve lost everything to the hurricanes and earthquakes. 

2 In the desert the whole community grumbled against Moses and Aaron. 3 The Israelites said to them, “If only we had died by the Lord’s hand in Egypt! There we sat around pots of meat and ate all the food we wanted, but you have brought us out into this desert to starve this entire assembly to death.” 

4 Then the Lord said to Moses, “I will rain down bread from heaven for you. The people are to go out each day and gather enough for that day. In this way I will test them and see whether they will follow my instructions. 5 On the sixth day they are to prepare what they bring in, and that is to be twice as much as they gather on the other days.” 

and in the morning you will see the glory of the Lord, because he has heard your grumbling against him. Who are we, that you should grumble against us?” 8 Moses also said, “You will know that it was the Lord when he gives you meat to eat in the evening and all the bread you want in the morning, because he has heard your grumbling against him. Who are we? You are not grumbling against us, but against the Lord.” 

11 The Lord said to Moses, 12 “I have heard the grumbling of the Israelites. Tell them, ‘At twilight you will eat meat, and in the morning you will be filled with bread. Then you will know that I am the Lord your God.’ 

13 That evening quail came and covered the camp, and in the morning there was a layer of dew around the camp. 14 When the dew was gone, thin flakes like frost on the ground appeared on the desert floor. 15 When the Israelites saw it, they said to each other, “What is it?” For they did not know what it was. 

Moses said to them, “It is the bread the Lord has given you to eat.”  : Exodus 16:2-15  

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   Have you ever felt like the Israelites in the passage above?    Like your life was going along just fine and then suddenly – the rug was pulled out from underneath you and you had to pack up and move??? And start all over again – with nothing? Think of all of those who are now feeling like that in Texas, Florida, Puerto Rico, and Mexico –  who are enduring the consequences of the hurricanes and earthquake! 

    Last night I happened to see that “Bruce Almighty” was on TV and it was hilarious to listen to his lines from the beginning of the movie, which could’ve been exactly what was not printed in the Exodus passage.  It became even more meaningful when toward the end of the movie, God was playing a blind man begging for money and we heard the words to the song playing in the foreground:  “What if God was one of us?”   A profound touch to a movie that begs us all to consider our understanding of God and who we are as human beings living on this earth and in fellowship with one another.  Interesting!   

What if you had the role of being God for a few days?  What would YOU do?     

So – If you had been an Israelite – would you have not appreciated that the leaders were complaining to God about the way they were being treated? I mean, if God had said your tribe was his chosen people, and then led you out in the desert and proclaimed your freedom but now you were struggling to figure out how to survive, wouldn’t you be belly-aching and demanding justice just like you see described in this passage?  Justice from God?     

And what would you feel like when you heard God’s answer? – “I’ll give you your daily bread and quails”…. 

That would get old pretty fast, wouldn’t it?  

 What would you do?    

What would you have been hoping for God to do?    

It begs the deeper Q – what is your image of God?  A being up in heaven who manipulates us human beings like chess pieces?   Making demands before our needs will be met?   

BUT – according to this passage in Exodus – your needs ARE being met! Just not as you were expecting or according to your hopes and perhaps your design of how you wanted your life to go.   When you realize that your daily needs WILL be met – but not as you may have wished – you will hear the invitation – bringing a change in your mindset. 

You know that feeling?  

L I S T E N  
 
Begin to see with new eyes.  

Hear new messages that you wouldn’t hear otherwise. 
Trust differently.  Stop trying to influence other people’s free will.   
Recognize that God’s angels come in many different forms. 
What is it that you are seeing is emerging that couldn’t come any other way .  You know it could be because you have been demanding that God create things to fit into your vision rather than allowing the ways of love to unfold. How are youy today being asked to let go and Let God – be? Be the creator of your own life? 
It means you will have to check your ego at the door and “surrender”….surrender your attachments to particular outcomes  and thus  become a servant of divine love. 

May God’s light and peace and love pour down upon us this day and strengthen us in our ability to walk with one another and those we don’t yet know and share that and watch as other’s lives begin to open and be enriched and transformed.    Peace and grace, Amen.  

Prayer of the Day 

Gracious Lord,  
Fresh as each morning  you come to us, 
Crafter of manna. 
     Your grace rests  gently upon us, 
      waiting to be gathered, to become the bread of life 
we share throughout the day. 
 
Fresh as compassion’s justice, you come to us, 
Servant of the poor. 
Choosing to give as you desire, 
you show us the last, so we can make them first 
     in our hearts and hopes. 
Doing no wrong, you make us right 
     with God for all time. 
 
Fresh as the water, which turns a desert 
into a meadowland of flowers, 
Spirit of uninterrupted grace, you come to us. 
When we would grumble, you give us the gospel to live out; 
when we would protest, you teach us songs of praise; 
when we would utter laments, you fill us with God’s laughter. 
 
God in Community, Holy in One, 
refresh us with your presence 
as we continue to give you thanks and go forward with your love.  Amen.  

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images are from pixabay.com

Thanks for your Guest Blog, Rev. Ireland!

I welcome YOUR comments and Stories!

2 thoughts on ““Manna From Heaven” 

  1. I would have most certainly grumbled. I wouldn’t have seen the bigger picture. “Oh we’re free. Well, thanks for nothing.” But in a way, isn’t that how life exactly is? We are free. Free to choose whatever we want. And yet we grumble because we don’t have this or that but it’s precisely because of our choices that we don’t have this or that. No one to blame but ourselves. It’s almost like we’ve been given ultimate authority over our lives but we’d rather just be slaves as long as we a e fed. Good sermon. Thank you for sharing.

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