The Gifts of Manna (Exodus 16)

mannaRe-posting two wonderful reflections by Steve Garnaas Holmes based on Exodus 16. In the first, he compares God’s provision of manna in the wilderness to those escaping slavery to the steadfast provision of what we need to get through our own wilderness. The second is an important reminder of the dangers of greed. Consider subscribing to his blog, Unfolding Light. – Lisa <><

Exodus 16:13-15
In the morning 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 God has given you to eat.“

What gets you through the desert?
What gets you through?
What gets you through the chemo,
the healing from abuse, the bad marriage,
what gets you through
the job that tries to kill you,
the dark valley of the shadow of death,
the rotten places, the placeless places,
the evil you fear, the evil you’ve done,
your daily inadequacy,
what gets you through?

Some will call it courage or stamina,
luck or faith or reaching down deep.
But you know it’s not you, not yours.
It’s given. To you. For you.
From the Holy One.

The thread you follow,
the source you drink from,
the encouraging voice,
the Divine desire that you thrive,
the gift amid the desolation,
you find it anywhere—
the usual, the impossible,
the unwelcome.
You learn to recognize it.
You learn to receive it.

For that grace that gets you through
you learn to say thank you.

You learn to count on it,
and be surprised,
every morning.
Every morning.

Exodus 16:18-21
Those who gathered much had nothing over, and those who gathered little had no shortage; they gathered as much as each of them needed. Some left part of it until morning, and it bred worms and became foul. Morning by morning they gathered it,
as much as each needed; but when the sun grew hot, it melted.

God’s vision of justice
is that everyone has what they need.

Manna in the wilderness,
the widow’s jar of meal,
laborers in the vineyard,
feeding the five thousand,
God’s forgiveness upon each heart:
each is given what they need.

It is gift,
that you can’t earn or possess.

Your excess rots in your hands.
What you have beyond your need
you have taken from your neighbor.
It poisons you.

Starve your greed
and feed on justice.
Until all have what they need
even God is hungry.

The Sentinel’s Prayer (Ezekiel 33:1-9)

blow shofar awake

Ezekiel 33:1-9 NRSV
The word of the Lord came to me: O Mortal, speak to your people and say to them, If I bring the sword upon a land, and the people of the land take one of their number as their sentinel; and if the sentinel sees the sword coming upon the land and blows the trumpet and warns the people; then if any who hear the sound of the trumpet do not take warning, and the sword comes and takes them away, their blood shall be upon their own heads. They heard the sound of the trumpet and did not take warning; their blood shall be upon themselves. But if they had taken warning, they would have saved their lives. But if the sentinel sees the sword coming and does not blow the trumpet, so that the people are not warned, and the sword comes and takes any of them, they are taken away in their iniquity, but their blood I will require at the sentinel’s hand.

So you, mortal, I have made a sentinel for the house of Israel; whenever you hear a word from my mouth, you shall give them warning from me. If I say to the wicked, “O wicked ones, you shall surely die,” and you do not speak to warn the wicked to turn from their ways, the wicked shall die in their iniquity, but their blood I will require at your hand. But if you warn the wicked to turn from their ways, and they do not turn from their ways, the wicked shall die in their iniquity, but you will have saved your life.

Jesus, Word made flesh,
Teach me to speak
Fill my mouth with your warning and wisdom
Raise my voice in alarm- with a cry of truth, justice and repentance
Open my lips in hope- with your call to salvation and healing

Your word is sharp- a two edged sword
Your word is challenge and change agent
Your word is life- grace and freedom
Breaking chains and falsehood
Destroying idols, prejudice, and dividing walls

Give me your words
Give me your sight and insight
Give me your courage, steadfast and persevering
Give me all I need to be your sentinel
That we may all live

This prayer was written in response to the Pulse Orlando massacre. In reading Ezekiel 33, I felt God calling me to speak out more by both naming the violence and injustice of our society and using my voice to speak peace, welcome, truth, and justice. God creates by speaking and invites us to join our voices to this saving work. When we don’t speak, people die. – Lisa <><  

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The Sentinel’s Prayer © 2016 Lisa Ann Moss Degrenia

You are welcome to use this work in a worship setting with proper attribution. Please contact Lisa for information and permission to publish this work in any form.

Prayer: Equity for Workers

Garments Factory in Bangladesh, photo by Fahad Faisal via Wikimedia Commons

Garments Factory in Bangladesh, photo by Fahad Faisal via Wikimedia Commons

This prayer comes in the light of the Bangladesh garment factory building collapse.

James 5:1-5 CEB
Pay attention, you wealthy people! Weep and moan over the miseries coming upon you. Your riches have rotted. Moths have destroyed your clothes. Your gold and silver have rusted, and their rust will be evidence against you. It will eat your flesh like fire. Consider the treasure you have hoarded in the last days. Listen! Hear the cries of the wages of your field hands. These are the wages you stole from those who harvested your fields. The cries of the harvesters have reached the ears of the Lord of heavenly forces. You have lived a self-satisfying life on this earth, a life of luxury. You have stuffed your hearts in preparation for the day of slaughter.

Mighty One
In your justice
In your mercy
bring equity to workers across your world
break the rod of oppressive business practices
free us from our addiction to low cost goods
raise up those who work in danger and discrimination
those who toil in the dirt, heat, and filth
those who care for the vulnerable
those who put clothes on our backs
food on our tables
roofs over our heads

Carpenter of Nazareth
You hear their cries and so do we
Fill us with courage and conviction
Make us instruments of your peace
your justice
your mercy
Amen

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Click here for a worship resource entitled Prayer for Labor Day

Prayer: Equity for Workers © 2013 Lisa Ann Moss Degrenia.
You are welcome to use this work in a worship setting with proper attribution.
Please contact Lisa for information and permission to publish this work in any form.

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