1st Scripture Reading: Exodus 16:2-15 & Psalm 105
This service is the third in a series called “Creation Time”. We have been following the Israelites on a journey from servitude and oppression in Egypt, to relative freedom in the wilderness of Sinai.
This journey has been marked by supernatural events and divine intervention. The people are accepting the leadership of Moses and Aaron, but somewhat reluctantly. They complain that things are not a whole lot better with this new reality, and are not seeing that God is their salvation, and are not trusting that God will indeed provide for their most basic needs.
The Israelites have stepped out in faith on a journey the end of which they cannot see, and without much in the way of travel insurance! They have no food, no water, no shelter and no clear destination or assurance that any of this will be available any time soon.
I can’t help thinking about the people of Barbuda, or Mexico City in the aftermath of natural disasters over which they have no control, but which have devastated their communities leaving them with little in the way of accommodation or services we take for granted, like electricity, water, grocery stores and hospitals.
What I hear over and over again in situations like this, is how the people start to pull together – how they help each other, share their provisions, support each other in times of grief and loss. I am also reminded of the story of the loaves and fishes – how when we share with generous hearts, there is always enough.
But it seems we didn’t always know to do these things. That we needed to learn to trust that there is abundance – if we share there is always enough.
And that doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t plan for emergencies, or for a journey we are planning to take. The loaves and fishes story would have been very different if a young boy had not looked ahead and understood that he might need to have food with him – sustenance for a day of pilgrimage with Jesus.
So I have brought a backpack to add to our travelling display today – a backpack into which I will ask (………..) to help me put what we might need for our journey into the wilderness.
We will pack our backpack with survival items, but we will also remember where these items originally came from. Like the Israelites we also must thank God for the things we need – things we could not provide for ourselves without Divine origination.
Hymn #651 VU “Guide Me O Thou Great Jehovah”
2nd Scripture Reading: Philippians 1:21-30 & Matthew 20:1-16
I believe we are multi-dimensional beings, and Paul is talking about living like Christ in a spiritual dimension, as opposed to denying that reality, and choosing to live in a purely physical dimension. Could it be that this is what Jesus meant when he stated: “the kingdom of God is near you”?
Our children are scaring us with their seeming ease at living in several different dimensions at once. I can think of the world of facebook, of reality TV, of video games, and the internet. Many of us struggle to navigate any of these alternate realities, and wonder why our kids find it so easy.
But we know, don’t we, that we always have choice. We are creatures of a loving God who has given us the freedom of choice in our lives. So we can choose to live a spiritual life, or a physical life, or some combination of these realities.
In biblical times, there was widespread rejection of the physical life in favour of the spiritual life. As if, somehow, we could totally deny the physical reality of this earth from which each of us springs. This has led to neglect and even abuse of the natural world, and psychological and social problems for most of the people who buy into it. Young people move easily from one dimension of life to another, and we too must learn that one reality is not necessarily better than the other, and to integrate and find wholeness in the coexistence of both.
And it is never too late for us to acknowledge and accept that which is true and life-affirming. Jesus doesn’t care how late we come to wisdom – only that we come. For he loves each one of us as if there was only one of us, and eventually we will all find our way back to the fold.
Hymn # 150 MV “Spirit God, Be Our Breath”