Monday, September 26

A Word of Praise
Praise to you Divine Presence.
You laid the foundations of the earth
when the morning stars sang together.
You called forth the first fireball thirteen billion years ago.
May the flame of prayer kindle in each corner of my home
that this place might be sacred for encountering you.

Exodus 18:1-12  

Notes
1. The names of Moses’ two sons mean ‘Alien’ and ‘Help.’ The community of Israel and the community of the Church are, by definition, ‘alien’ to every culture, living only by the ‘help’ of God. The community of faith is not “at home” in any cultural context, any more than Moses was at home in Egypt. On the other hand, ‘help’ reminds us that the community of faith is not self-sufficient (needing no help from God) nor abandoned (with no source of assistance in time of need.)

2. Moses give the most basic testimony of faith to Jethro: “God delivered”  and “God led.” These phrases are the expression of a faith that is public, concrete, and political.

3. Jethro is the model for the way in which biblical faith is heard and embraced.. The core activity  of the early church in Acts is telling and hearing.- thus the primary form of evangelism.

This Week’s Prayer

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Saturday, March 26

Moses, sculpted by Michalangelo

Exodus 16:27-35

Moses is in trouble again. The people of Israel had gone out on the seventh day to gather manna, and they found none. They should not have been surprised. Moses had told them all along that it would be this way. “Six days you shall gather it; but on the seventh day, which is a sabbath, there will be none.”
The problem was not God’s provision. “On the sixth day God provided enough manna for the people to gather twice as much as before.” The problem was that the people could not break the patterns they had learned in Egypt.
Anxious about their survival, they chose to depend on the labor of their own hands. They went to gather, even though God had provided abundantly. The Israelites had reverted to their identity as slaves.
In teaching the disciples to pray, Jesus told them to rely on each day’s supply without anxious hoarding. We don’t depend on food falling, fresh and tasty, from the skies. We trust God enough to live from an abundance-mentality, not a
scarcity-mentality. An abundance mentality generates gratitude and a willingness to share. A scarcity mentality brings out the worst in us.
It is a Gospel-sized challenge, based on the assurance of Jesus,”Do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself.” (Matthew 6:34)

Friday, March 25

Exodus 16:9-21

Not only is much of the Bible written in the form of poetry, poets throughout the centuries have taken biblical passages as the starting point for new poems. Here is how one poet responded to the reading for today.

Manna

Yakov Azriel

When least expected,
The manna
Comes.
Like a burst of lightning in a moonless desert night
Suddenly
Allowing you to see all at once in white
The deep ravines and gaping canyons,
The chiseled walls of protruding boulders,
The strangely sculptured statues of mesas,
The huge cliffs
Surrounding you.

When the manna comes,
You taste
(Instead of the dry rations of stale bread)
The most exquisite varieties of ice-cream
And chocolate-covered pastries
Filled with whipped-cream.

When the manna comes,
You drink
(Instead of a stingy, measured allowance of stagnant water)
Bottles and gallons of fruit juices,
From citrus to mango, from apricot to kiwi.

When the manna comes,
You smell
The fragrance of incense
Enwrapping and enveloping you,
Drifting down from the mountains of myrrh
And the hills of frankincense.

When the manna comes,
You see
A black raven perched on a leafless bush
Transform

Into a phoenix
Whose peacock-colored feathers dazzle,
Unscathed
By the halo of flames
Blazing around her.

When the manna comes,
You hear
The noise of traffic (honking horns, drivers' curses, coughing buses)
fade away;
Distant symphonies gradually grow louder and clearer
As chariots of ivory and translucent crystal draw near you,
Their wheels turning
Like gears inside a mother-of-pearl music-box,
Creating crescendos you never heard before:
The music of chariots driven by hosts of angels.
Or are these angels just notes of music:
Semibreves, crotchets, quavers
Somehow come alive?

And when the manna falls,
God's fingertips
Descend and gently
Touch you.

COPYRIGHT 2004 Association for Religion and Intellectual Life

Thursday, March 24

Manna from Heaven, Stained Glass

Exodus 16:1-8

Venturing toward a new reality is rarely easy. The old reality may have been merciless, but it was familiar. The new is unknown, and those who want to lead us there are in a precarious position.

It happened quickly for Moses and the Israelites – “on the fifteenth day of the second month” after fleeing Egypt. The people “murmured,” which is a code word for raking Moses and Aaron over the coals. “We would be better off back in Egypt as slaves.”

Even with excellent leadership, people often resist change. At least Moses and Aaron could claim that the people were actually murmuring against God.

Change-leaders must be prepared to absorb criticism. It helps to have one’s motives and methods tested by an honest discernment of God’s leading.