Presented August 5, 2018 by Jim Guida
Based on Exodus 16: 2-4, 9-15 and John 6: 24-35
Writing a sermon is hard. You start out with nothing and are expected to produce maybe 15 minutes of brilliance. From nothing.
Well, you do have the lectionary. That's the Bible verses, recommended by the Christian churches, that are offered as a start for all the churches each Sunday. So there is that.
But other than that, you have nothing.
Except … there are commentaries, which are academic papers written by people much smarter than me about the particular Bible passage. These offer historical insights, contextual references to the time the passage was written, and other helpful bits of information, making the passage informative and relevant.
But other than that ... nothing.
Well, nothing except for the most important tool, which is the Holy Spirit, framed by one’s own experiences, emotions, and intelligence.
So actually, there is a great deal provided from what seems like a blank sheet of paper. Because no matter how hopeless it may seem, God provides.
Now that is easy to say if you have a roof over your head, clothes on your back, food in the cupboard and money in the bank. But for many of us, these are luxuries. Not knowing if you have a next meal, let alone where it is coming from, can be unsettling.
Manna from heaven.
The Lord provides. Be grateful for what we have.
In Exodus 16 we read:
“In the morning you shall have your fill of bread, then you shall know that I am the Lord your God. So it was that quail came up at evening and covered the camp, and in the morning the dew lay all around the camp. And when the layer of dew lifted, there, on the surface of the wilderness, was a small round substance, as fine as frost on the ground. So when the children of Israel saw it, they said to one another, ‘What is it?’ For they did not know what itwas. And Moses said to them, “This is the bread which the Lord has given you to eat.”
Reference this to the communion bread. When we commune in the name of Jesus, we acknowledge our Creator God.
When the layer of dew lifted? Is the dew in our life hiding the treasures below it?
Bethany is again searching for a pastor. God will provide.
Our finances are not unlimited. God will provide.
Every time we sing the Doxology, we proclaim God will provide.
We sing, "Praise God from whom all blessing flow." We don't sing "Praise God for whatever we can get." Nor do we sing "Praise God for the good stuff only." No! It's "all blessings," whether we recognize them or not!
When Job said to God, "Give me a break, Lord!" God did not respond, "Okay—just kidding." No! God said, "Who are you to question me? I put the mountains up and set the borders for the seas. Don't you tell me what's what!" And so, as Children of God, we trust God. And we have even more reason to do so than the good Job did; we have the Christ—God's visage on earth —to lead on toward's God's way. And while even the Yellow Brick Road had its obstacles, that way—God's way—is the way of love and peace and, yes, even prosperity; the prosperity of a full heart.
Bethany is again without a pastor. What the hell? But we were blessed with Rev. Will for nine months.
I have lost a beloved mentor and our church family has lost a beloved friend and matriarch. What the hell? But I was blessed with a friend who shared with me her wisdom, her spirit, and her love.
Fires are still raging just a few hours from our doorstep. Homes are being destroyed and lives are being uprooted, of not lost altogether. What the hell, God? I don't have an answer for that. Sometimes the silver lining is hidden behind a deadly toxic cloud. In times like these, we must look at the story of Job.
And while we are questioning God, we are being sent manna. Firefighters from all over the state are rushing to our aid. Red Cross, Salvation Army, and others are setting up rescue centers. Dollars and donations are pouring in.
We are not alone.