June 18, 2017
Grace and Peace to you this morning. Grace and Peace.
Our two readings this morning call to mind the provision of God for life.
In the wilderness, on their way out of Egypt and into a new covenant, a new land, a new life, God sent quails in the evening and manna in the morning. A place where there was no food, God sent food. And this flaky stuff could be fried, grille, baked, and the people ate. And those who gathered a lot and those who gathered a little, everyone had enough. Because it is not about our work, but about God’s providing.
And on the sixth day, they were to gather extra for the sabbath, and that was the one day it would not go bad.
God provides all that we need to get through the wilderness. But Manna gets its name from the Hebrew words for “What in the heck is this?” They do not recognize this stuff at first. It is not familiar. The help they receive, when they first see it, it does not look like help.
When Jesus is preaching in Matthew, he tells the people not to worry. God will take care of us. But with this great comfort comes a warning. We cannot serve two masters. We can either rely on the grace of God and trust that God will make a way, or we can control life ourselves. I recently had a conversation with a business owner here in town who was talking about what it means to him to trust in God, to follow God and not try to arrange everything as if he were in charge of it all. I was reminded of the old saw, “Everyone wants to serve God. Many of us want to serve as God’s manager.”
What does it mean to share? To share earthly and spiritual resources? We have seen this again and again. When someone we love has died, we show up at the house with food. We show up at the funeral home with hugs and love and words of grace. We pray with and for the family at the funeral. We sit around the tables and tell stories.
What does it mean to share earthly and spiritual resources? It means showing up early and cooking food for a community dinner, and then serving it to people as if they are honored guests at a banquet.
What does it mean to share earthly and spiritual resources? It is time and energy and attention paid to rehab projects on the Congregational Commons so that we can show hospitality to neighbors and be the church for them in ways that don’t freak them out or scare them off.
Do you know that our posts on Facebook about the renovation to that property have gotten more likes an shares than anything else we have done? Praising God in here is good and right and necessary. But that’s not what people notice.
Yesterday, before the funeral, I went in to the lounge, and there were the prayer shawl knitters and crocheters. Sipping coffee, making prayer shawls, talking about life and their day and what is going on in town.
This morning, I walked into the library and there was the Bible Study. Coffee, discussion, sharing.
Yes, both moments involved coffee, but that was not the important piece. People giving time, attention, sharing with one another. These are perhaps the most important gifts we have to offer one another.
And prayer shawls and Bible study are pretty tame things to be involved in. They do not tend to tax us too much.
Attending to people in their grief takes more out of us. Waiting for the surgery to be over so that we can find out from the doctor how it went, and did they get it all, and what is the prognosis takes more out of us. Speaking a word of welcome and hope and love to people that society has cast aside or deemed worthless takes more out of us.
But here is what God does. When we are in the wilderness, God provides manna. God sends quails. God makes water flow from the rocks.
And when we are comfortable and settled and satisfied, God makes us manna, makes us quail, makes us water, and sends us to care for those in the wilderness.
And this is how we can do this. Because it is not about our work. Well it is. We have to show up. We have to be there. We have to use our gifts, whether they are full jars of manna, or just little measuring cups. And with God, they are enough.
Nadia Bolz-Weber has one of my favorite corrections to a saying. “The Lord will not give you more than you can handle.” Codswallop! Okay, that is not the word she uses, but you get the idea. Her correction is, “God will not give you more than your community can handle.”
Because if we are the church, if we are following Jesus, then we will find the manna we need, even if we don’t know what it is at first. And if we are the church, if we are following Jesus, we will be the manna that someone else needs.
The Israelites did so, some gathering more [manna], 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.
We can share, because there is enough for all of us.
Therefore do not worry, saying, “What will we eat?” or “What will we drink?” or “What will we wear?” For it is the Gentiles who strive for all these things; and indeed your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But strive first for the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.
Thanks be to God. Amen.