Nothin' But All This Manna
I've been reading from the Book of Numbers this morning. Not something that I'm prone to do on an ordinary day, but meeting with the Committee on the Office of General Assembly falls in that "not ordinary" category. Our devotion this morning was taken from Numbers 11, the biblical account of the First Session Meeting.
It sounds awfully Presbyterian. People are whining and longing for the good old days. The leader is feeling overwhelmed. And another leader is tattling on elders who are trying to get in on the act. When the people complain to Moses, Moses complains to God - and God suggests that Moses go find not one but SEVENTY people to help him lead this rowdy bunch.
Moses has been wandering along with them in the wilderness for a good while now. (a wilderness which, in our terms, would have been much more navigable with a GPS - but the efficiency of that kind of trip would not have allowed time for their formation as a People). The good news is that they were no longer slaves in Egypt; the bad news is that by this point, they were willing to trade their freedom for a luxurious meal.
God provided for them all the way through. They had manna to eat, Moses was not going to have to lead alone, and there was plenty to go around. And yet they still felt the call to whine:
"If only we had meat to eat! We remember the fish we used to eat in Egypt for nothing, the cucumbers, the melons, the leeks, the onions, and the garlic; but now our strength is dried up, and there is nothing at all but this manna to look at."
So, in that particular context, this hit me right between the eyes. "Nothin' but manna." Nothin' but what God has provided for us. Nothing but sustenance to help get us through to the next thing. COGA is dealing with some difficult issues. In some ways we have more questions than answers. There are dollars on the spreadsheet, but we always want to know that we have more. But we have "dayenu" - enough. Maybe it's not the leeks and garlic that we want - but we're free. We're God's beloved children. And what God provides is what we need - what we cannot provide for ourselves - to get us through.
So then we're all enduring this hot mess in Washington that we call "judicial hearings." Many of us are longing for the days of other administrations - the good old days, however we define them. And I must say that practically any of our previous presidents are looking like bargains to me, compared to what we have now! I have been chief among the whiners of the last year and a half, especially it seems in the last month. But it still is true.
Friends, God has given us nothin' but manna. Nothin' but what we need to sustain ourselves to move forward. Everything we need to take the next step. Sustenance which we cannot provide for ourselves. Like our forebears who had to wander in the wilderness without a GPS, God is giving us strength for each day to make it to our destinations. I've said before - maybe even in this space - that there is no better time than this moment for the Church to be the Church. We've got much to offer: a safe space, truth-telling, honor and dignity for all people, wholeness. These are things for which our world aches. But we have to accept the manna which God places before us, so that we will have the strength to get there.
We'll get through this, together. God has done it before, God can do it again. Hang in there.