Mortals ate of the bread of angels; the Name sent them food in abundance. (Psalm 78:25)
Our economy depends on the idea of scarcity. That is, baked into our system is the idea that there is not enough to go round, and this idea infects us all. Whether it’s money, housing, possessions, or security, we never seem to be content. And so as a society, as institutions, as households, even as individuals, we tend to hoard what we have and constantly scramble for more. Meanwhile, we promise ourselves that, once we have just a little more, then we will be secure. Then we will be generous. Then we will trust in God.
But foundational to our faith is the assertion that God provides everything we need, and then some. We see this generous openhandedness in Exodus. Even in the wilderness, where resources seem few and far between, God provides. Even in the face of grumbling, God provides. Even when people ignore God’s instructions and hoard God’s provision and it rots, God provides fresh manna again. And God’s provision is not simply the bare minimum, or starvation rations, or dry and tasteless wafers which stick to the tongue. It’s the bread of angels, sweet as honey, raining down in abundance from heaven.
As we think about Sanctuary’s ongoing viability, I invite you to reflect prayerfully on this ancient story. Think about how and when you / we have experienced God’s provision, and give thanks. Then think about potential ways forward. Which witness to a trusting faith? Which are born out of fear of scarcity? And which might embody a sweet celebration of God’s openhanded generosity?
1. PREPARE: Make yourself comfortable. Uncross your legs; relax your body; uncomplicate your heart. Ask God to help you surrender to whatever it is that God wants to do in you or say to you today. Breathe slowly and deeply in, then out.
2. READ: Read the following passage aloud at least three times through, slowly. Listen carefully. Notice anything which captures your attention.
The Israelites said to Moses and Aaron, “If only we had died by the hand of the Name 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 Name 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 …” The Israelites did so, some gathering more, some less. But when they measured it with an omer, those who gathered much had nothing over, and those who gathered little had no shortage; they gathered as much as each of them needed. And Moses said to them, “Let no one leave any of it over until morning.” But they did not listen to Moses; some left part of it until morning, and it bred worms and became foul … The house of Israel called it manna; it was like coriander seed, white, and the taste of it was like wafers made with honey. (Exodus 16:3-4, 17-20a, 31)
3. REFLECT: Allow a word, phrase or image to speak to you. What do you notice? What emotions do you feel? What questions are bubbling up? Reflect in silence.
4. RELATE: Now wonder: What does this passage say about God, people, faith, economics? When has God met your deep need, perhaps even in the face of your grumbling? What do you most need to hear?
5. RESPOND: Do you have any sense of an invitation, comfort or challenge? Pray about this, and tell God about anything which is emerging. If you feel called to action, ask God to show you/us the next step.
6. REST: When you feel ‘done’, rest awhile. Savour the conversation you are having with God, and God’s loving presence. Close with a gesture of thanks: perhaps a simple bow. As you prepare to leave this space, if any word, phrase or image persists, let it guide you. Or if nothing in particular arises, remember this:
- And the taste of it was like wafers made with honey…
Emailed to Sanctuary 26 April 2023 © Sanctuary, 2023. Photo by Arwin Neil Baichoo on Unsplash. Sanctuary is based on Peek Whurrong country. Acknowledgement of country here.
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