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Posts Tagged ‘manna and quail’


Order: The Ten Commandments

The Ten Commandments

The Tenth Day of Christmas, January 3, 2018

On the tenth day of Christmas, my true love gives to me ten lords a-leaping.

Many of us are familiar with The Ten Commandments that Yahweh gives to Moses, but how often do we pause to think of the fact the God, through Moses, not only gives us a simple set of rules to follow, but that he explains the effect these rules will have on our lives. God sees our authenticity by the way we live, and by the way we do or do not say, “Yes,” in response to God’s call. Today the old Christmas carol poses these questions to us: do we see the Gospel stories as a fulfillment of God’s hope in the covenant God establishes with us in the promise of the Ten Commandments?

This part of the Exodus story is bracketed by two convergent episodes: the provision of quail, manna and water by God to the Israelites, and the planning and building of a desert temple-tent for Yahweh by the Israelites. We see actions by both God and the Chosen People that speak of their desire to live in a covenant relationship. And the actual agreement, along with its explanations and implications, lies between these two actions in chapters 20 to 24.

The Holy Spirit

God takes the Israelites out of bondage – just as Jesus later does for all when he comes to live among us and to institute the Kingdom (in Luke 4:14-30). With the giving of the commandments, God foresees the struggle of the people in the desert. God’s preservation and protection of these people bring to God not only fame, glory and praise, but also an arrogant, contemptuous rejection by us. So too does Jesus arrive among God’s people to fulfill the Mosaic Law, to provide and protect us, and then to suffer at our hands; yet ultimately, God the Father and God the Son both offer their compassion and mercy to us when we are wayward. All that is required of us is that we repent of our past transgressions and then respond to the call. Just as God sent an angel to guard the Israelites and bring them to the place God had in mind for them (23: 20-33), so too does Jesus send the Holy Spirit to dwell with us after Jesus’ resurrection – to guide and protect, and to lead us to the holy place he has prepared for us. Of course, later in Chapter 32 of Exodus, the people tire of waiting for Moses to descend Mt. Sinai, so they create and worship the Golden Calf. Moses returns, breaks the tablets and loses his patience. The people repent, agree to do as Yahweh asks and Yahweh restores the tablets. A familiar story that we repeat today – we only need to read and compare history and current events. And it is no wonder that we stray – no wonder that the Israelites strayed. When we look at chapters 20 to 24 of Exodus, we see the social implications of the Mosaic Law. We might pay special attention to some of the verses that hold ideas difficult to take, verses that call for us to respect ourselves and one another: 22:15, 23:1, 22: 1-3, 22: 20, 21:35-36.

So on this day when we continue our celebration of God’s truest gift of love, we take a few moments to recollect our experiences in covenant relationships with others. We might mediate for a bit on how we might remain faithful to the one central covenant in our lives. And we might decide how best to renew that covenant each day with our Creator.

Adapted from a reflection on The Ten Commandments written February 14, 2007.

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2 Corinthians 8:7-15: A Matter of Equality

Tissot: The Gathering of the Manna

Tissot: The Gathering of the Manna

Sunday, July 12, 2015

Frequent arguments arise about how to create social and political policy for the common good and this is natural. There will always be those among us who take advantage of generosity hearts. This incontrovertible fact causes worry and suspicion. It creates a feeling of ill will toward those who need the help of the fortunate. There will always be suspicion and bias in human relationships but this does not mean that we cannot practice Christ’s example in our small, everyday dealings with one another.

Though Christ was rich, for your sake he became poor . . .

Once we discover how we our sharing of wealth can be managed prudently, we might begin to offer more of our abundance to others.

By Christ’s poverty you might become rich . . .

As Jesus so often tells us, our treasure must lie in our actions rather than the goods, property and fame we have stored up in this world.

Not that others should have relief while you are burdened, but that as a matter of equality your abundance at the present time should supply their needs, so that their abundance may also supply your needs, that there may be equality.

Paul reminds his readers that God dealt with the Israelites in the desert with generosity and grace by providing water from rock, and quail and manna from the sky. The real miracle in this story is not so much that sustenance appeared out of nowhere, but that there was enough for all.

Whoever had much did not have more, and whoever had little did not have less. (Exodus 16:18)

This generosity and plenty will again be seen when Jesus feeds thousands with a few fish and loaves offered by a child. (Matthew 14, Mark 6, Luke 9 and John 6)

There is a lad here who has five barley loaves and two fish, but what are these for so many people? So they gathered them up, and filled twelve baskets with fragments from the five barley loaves which were left over by those who had eaten (John 6:9 and 13)

And so Paul sends us this message: Brothers and sisters: As you excel in every respect, in faith, discourse, knowledge, all earnestness, and in the love we have for you, may you excel in this gracious act also.

All that have and all that we are is gift from God. Jesus himself, although he is divine, tells us that he does the will of the creator. How then can we refuse to imitate Christ in his generosity for us? How then can we reject the idea of sharing the abundance we have at this present time?

As we meditate on this reading today, let us consider where our wealth lies. It may be physical in that we own much and we may have worked quite diligently for this abundance. Yet is it not God who gives us this plenty and how can we not share it?

Our wealth may be spiritual or psychological. Again, was it not God who blessed us with this equanimity? How can we not share the benefit of stable mind and heart when God has given this sense of balance to us in the first place?

As we spend time with these verses and compare varying versions of these stories by clicking on the scripture links, let us also pledge to share our wealth in some way with those who have less. And let us commit to sharing a portion of this plenty with those who have far less than the gifts we have received from God.

If you find yourself without a cause to which you might devote yourself, click on the words Social Justice in the category cloud in the right hand column of this blog. Or enter the words Social Justice into the blog search bar and explore. If you already have a favorite cause, enter that information into the comment bar below and share it with others. In this way we come together in our reply to Christ’s invitation to share God’s gifts as a matter of equality.

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