Sunday, 8 October 2017

God Provides

Exodus 16: 1-18; sermon for 8th October

We have jumped ahead in the story of the Israelites.
Two weeks ago, we were watching as Jacob and Esau battled it out for blessings and birthrights; now generations have passed. Jacob’s sons have given birth to a nation.
They have lived in exile and as slaves to the all powerful Egyptians. Last week (if we hadn’t been doing harvest) we would have heard about Moses encounter with God in the desert: the burning bush and the voice that told him to stop, take off his shoes for he had reached holy ground. God told Moses he had heard his people’s cry and he would rescue them.

Now, God is in action again; through God’s interceding the Israelites were freed from slavery and escaped Egypt; but their rejoicing at God’s provision has once again turned to bitter wailing. They have been in the wilderness for just six weeks; it is desert, and the desert is barren. They begin to complain loudly to Moses and Aaron – blaming them for the conditions they are in; blaming them for taking them away from the safety of Egypt – even though there they had been slaves, poorly treated and persecuted. God calls to Moses and tells him that all will be well. God will provide food, in the morning and the evening. All they need for each day will be provided.
And, so it was.
And, so it remained. For as long as they wandered in the desert, there was food every day. Morning and evening. God provided.
As I pondered this reading and its message this week I asked myself this question:
“Where is the manna for me today?”
Now, clearly, I am not talking literally about miraculous bread that comes from heaven with the early morning dew; but I am talking about what I need to feed my soul; what I need to help sustain my faith and be who God calls me to be.
We all experience wilderness times. Times when we feel we have maybe lost direction; or perhaps enthusiasm is on the wane. Times when we may call on God but not necessarily know the divine presence in our hearts. These wilderness times can be lonely, difficult and hard to bear.
Energy and enthusiasm are low, and we struggle to find meaning and hope in anything. These are the days when we especially need manna. Bread of Heaven – the thing which can nourish our souls and make us fit and well again.
“Where is the manna for me?”
The answer to that question will be different for each of us. It may be in rest and relaxation; or time spent out in the fresh air. You may be someone who needs a good walk to waken you up and revive your flagging spirits.
Or maybe you need a companion? Someone to talk to, someone who will take the time to listen and let you know you are not alone.
“Where is the manna for me?”
There are days when manna feels less necessary; everything is going well. Life is running on an even keel; we are all moving forward with the same goals in mind and the same hopes for the future – life is good. No need for manna, we are firing on all cylinders and everything is going well.
It just takes a small thing though for it all to come tumbling down.
How blessed we are to know that God has a plan; God sees the bigger picture and knows without doubt that we will wander from, all well, to Lord help me, in a heartbeat.
God will provide
God will bless
God knows us; knows me; knows you.
God knows each of us exactly as we are. Knows the things that will drag us down; and also knows what we need to renew, refresh, start over again.
What a blessing that is!!
When we need manna – it will come. We may, like this Israelites look at it and wonder – “what is it?”
What is it?
It is hope
It is joy
It is nourishment for the soul
It is all we need; when we need it.
As we close our service later on, we will be singing Guide me oh thou Great Jehovah – the hymn inspired by this story.
Guide me, O thou great Jehovah,
pilgrim through this barren land;
I am weak, but thou art mighty;
hold me with thy powerful hand:
Bread of heaven, Bread of heaven,
*feed me till my want is o’er.
Bread of heaven – God’s sustaining, feeds us until we want no more.
Feeds us until we are satisfied
Feeds us – physically, spiritually – completely
Feeds us, through our friends, through our praying,
God Provides
And we are satisfied

Not manna - but fruits of God's providing all the same

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