Our economic system assumes scarcity: that is, that there is never enough to go round. The anxiety generated by this idea leads us to hoard what we have, and to always seek more. But God’s abundance, seen here as manna, shows that there is enough for everyone. What do your household’s habits of working, shopping, saving, investing and giving reveal about your faith? Do you hoard money, clothes, whatever? Or do you trust God to provide what you need when you need it? How does this story challenge your economic behaviour?
READ: Exodus 16:2-15 (Year A Proper 20)
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.”
- REFLECT: What do you like or dislike about this story? What surprises you? What questions does it raise?
- RELATE: What does your household hoard? How does this story challenge your economic behaviour? Can you imagine trusting God to provide all your needs? (This could be a good time to have a chat with teenagers about savings, investments, insurance and superannuation. Can we even be faithful while participating in our economic system?)
- RESPOND: Is God calling you or us to any practical response now? Pray about it, then act, or talk to one of the leaders if it requires a group response.
- REPORT: If you or your household do take action, text or email a photo of that action to Sanctuary with a brief explanation. We can use it during the service or, with your permission, add it to the Facebook page.
Cartalk / Tabletalk
If this helped you talk about faith with your household, why not share it on social media? And why not flick us a small donation, to support our ministry of helping people of all ages grow in faith!