Lenten Reflection for March 17, by Reverend Bev Brown
Then Moses said to Aaron, ‘Say to the whole congregation of the Israelites, “Draw near to the Lord, for he has heard your complaining.” ’ And as Aaron spoke to the whole congregation of the Israelites, they looked towards the wilderness, and the glory of the Lord appeared in the cloud. The Lord spoke to Moses and said, ‘I have heard the complaining of the Israelites; say to them, “At twilight you shall eat meat, and in the morning you shall have your fill of bread; then you shall know that I am the Lord your God.”’
In the evening quails came up and covered the camp; and in the morning there was a layer of dew around the camp. When the layer of dew lifted, 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 the Lord has given you to eat. This is what the Lord has commanded: “Gather as much of it as each of you needs, an omer to a person according to the number of persons, all providing for those in their own tents.” ’ The Israelites did so, some gathering more, 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. And Moses said to them, ‘Let no one leave any of it over until morning.’ But they did not listen to Moses; some left part of it until morning, and it bred worms and became foul. And Moses was angry with them. Morning by morning they gathered it, as much as each needed; but when the sun grew hot, it melted. Exodus 16:9-21
Lent is a time of preparation. As a young child I gave up chocolate inspired by that basket I knew would be mine on Easter Sunday. Since becoming an adult I see my challenge as one of giving up doubt inspired by the flashes of the Lord’s presence and the promise of kingdom come. Today’s scripture gives me pause to examine…How do I worship? Am I trusting God to provide Manna? Am I resting on the cornerstone of Jesus?
At all times and in all things we are to praise our God and minimize our grumbling. We stiff necked people are found grumbling even during the miracle. Hungry and worn we forego our worship filled with fear and doubt we question. What is this strangeness called Manna? Is the Manna sufficient? Will it sustain me? I believe God hears our every thought and word, yet I grumble constantly, it seems more now than ever. So if the ancestor’s grumbling angered God why do I continue? It is the struggle with my fear, lack of faith and unfamiliarity with what and how the miracle appears. Can I release my doubt and hold to the vision of God’s constant faithfulness no matter how it looks?
Scripture reminds us that we are one citizenship—no borders. There is no black or white, red or blue, young or old, native or foreigner—we are spiritual expressions reflected and selected by our Holy Spirit to be the Lord’s hands and voice. Today’s challenges make us mindful we must be sanctuaries to harbor not only our spirits but those of others as well. The threatened, excluded and suffering are everywhere and the work continues—for resurrection is promised, as the temple of the kingdom is being built. Are we working to be a sanctuary “tried and true”?
Holy Spirit, we do not know or always understand your ways, yet we walk a path set by Christ who also faltered and doubted. Let the final reminders of this season fill us with vision and courage to move as You have taught us to fulfill your will in constructing the temple. Renew our faith and strengthen us to stand with the suffering and betrayal that are part of the human condition. Help us to be secure in your vision and eat the Manna being provided which will sustain and teach us that we and it are enough. As we turn to and not away, lift our eyes, voices and spirits toward the resurrection. Let Lent focus our discernment and enable us to seek the light within for reconciliation and peace in unity. Amen.
Reverend Bev Brown, MDiv, BCC, is a retired VA hospice chaplain, entrepreneur and professor, is embracing writing, meditation and spiritual creativity to shine a light in all places. She is a native New Yorker, raised as a Disciple of Christ and passionate about her faith married with an adult daughter in Boston. Her love of this city nurtures her with its people, culture and arts—and commitment to equality and appreciation of difference.