When the Hebrew people left Egypt, they were instructed to collect resources is not just from their own homes but from their Egyptian neighbors. This included jewelry and fabrics and animals and food. But as they traveled, and as time went on, Their resources were beginning to dwindle. They were in the middle of a desert, comma where there weren’t a lot of resources just resources just out and about for them to choose from. Whatever animals they would have brought with them, they decided the animals were going to be necessary when they entered their new life in the new land, so they didn’t want to have to resort to eating them yet, since their journey just started.
They went to Moses, because this was Moses’ is stupid idea, to complain. They had food in Egypt. They could have survived in Egypt.
Last week we looked at the parting of the waters that save the Hebrew people from their Egyptian captors and the Egyptian army. That was just a week for us and it doesn’t seem like that much time has passed for the Hebrews either. They had just seen this miracle, they had seen this God do an amazing and miraculous and unimaginable thing. But they weren’t sure that this God would even noticed if they ate, or didn’t. This God can part the waters, but it seems kind of unlikely that this God cared about their day-to-day lives, which would be how most gods of the day interacted with people.
Moses is about to have a rebellion on his hands. Because many revolution began because of insufficient food.
Moses doesn’t says enough to give him a little time and then he goes to God. Because it seems at this time, Moses is the only one who understands and is able to have these conversations with God.
It turns out the God of the giant miracle is also the God of the day to day. The God of the parting of waters cares about the experiences of the people. God promises them bread in the morning and meet at night. Every morning when the Hebrew people would get up there would be a dusting, like dew on the ground, of this white substance what was like a bread. It didn’t seem to resemble anything they had before and so they wondered what is this is this, which is how we end up calling it manna, it sounds like the question “What is it?” It’s a like a dad joke. It would disappear like do in the noon sun, only have more again the next morning. And in the evening, quail would land around so they could have meat. Those that remained, would fly away and then more would come again the next day–you’d think they’d learn.
There were rules, guidelines, a covenant for this miraculous bread and meat: take only enough for your household and only enough for the day. I say, every day except that there was no manna and no quail on the Sabbath so on the day before the Sabbath you take enough for the 2 days for your household.
The first covenant boundary was to take just enough for what you need for that day.
Now I imagine the slaves were like a lot of people who are oppressed or abused, and there is not always enough always enough everyday to eat. Hear stories about children who are abused that hide food away to make sure on days when there isn’t enough that they have something to eat. I imagine while the Hebrew people were enslaved, making sure there was enough food for the days when there was not was vitally important for their survival.
In this desert, there has to learn about a different way of living.
The bread, the manna, if they had any left over of this delicious whatever it was, the next day, it went from delicious to maggots. They could not store it up. Except for the day before the Sabbath when miraculously it lasted 2 days instead of one.
The Hebrew people were being invited to trust in the God who could both save them on a cosmic scale through the waters AND cared for their daily needs on a macro scale by giving for each meal. They had to learn to trust that there was going to be enough.
I’m not really sure where this came from maybe it is remnants of my grandmother growing up during the depression, but somewhere in my life I’ve learned to save things for special occasions. Dumb things. Like if someone would gift me a really nice smelling lotion. I’d want to save it for a special occasion because what if I use it and I run out and then I won’t have it anymore. To be fair doesn’t make any sense in my household growing up because we could always go get more. My church would also do a rummage sale once a year and so we started to get into a bit of a habit of putting things in the rummage that we didn’t need any more. But growing up my parents had a very large basement and it could hold a lot of things that we didn’t need any more, for a very long time.
Where we live now doesn’t have a lot of extra space. And it doesn’t seem to take very long to go from having everything very well organized to be overrun by things or boxes or attempts at storing items. And we have an ongoing place where we put items that need to go be donated. Kelly is adamantly opposed to extra clutter and will move things into that crate more quickly than I do. I always wonder if maybe we’re gonna find some use for that as soon as we don’t have it anymore and then we’re gonna have to buy it again. What if we reorganize everything or remove and the next time we do that the item we got rid of would be perfect right there.
I know the “what if’s” are about fear: fear of not having enough, running out, fear that there is a limited quantity of resources and if other people have more there might not be anything left for us. So we acquire and we build-up. We collect and we hold on to more than we need to get through each day.
When we come to a story like this, we usually think about other people: those who have acquiring more than they need, hoarding more than is necessary. We could name some people who have collected homes, cars, access, money beyond not just what they need for a given day, to more than anyone could need for their single lifetime, and for the lifetimes of their children. We know that it’s wrong and what they should be doing, and it’s easier to look out there, to them, than it is to wonder what it means for us.
Every Sunday, we ask God to give us this day our daily bread, but I wonder if we trust God any more than the Hebrew people trusted God in that desert. Do we believe there is enough? Do we believe there are enough resources, enough water, enough food? Enough love?
God was creating a new community that trusted and believed in abundance. God was creating a community understood that they would be cared for and that there would be more than enough. God was creating a community that trusted and understood there was enough, so that they could be prepared for the next step: that there was enough to share. Even in the desert, the Israelites, the Hebrew people, were going to be fine and have more than enough. There was room for temptation–to take more, so there were always leftovers! There was always more than they needed! They needed to learn to trust that there is abundance and enough to share.
Because there was going to be a time when they were living in a world with vulnerable people, with people who didn’t seem to have anything, with people who were living in their own deserts, with widows and orphans and immigrants, and they were going to have to believe and trust in enough more than enough more than enough in abundance enough to share.
For the Hebrews, it was clearly food and it would become other resources. For us, we almost always look at it as money. But I think we ought to look at it as how we interact and engage with all of creation. Can we live in the world and with creation and among other animals and plants and people with an expectation of abundance, that cares about the well being of each other?
In Robin Wall Kimmerer’s book, Braiding Sweetgrass, she gives a citizenship guide, or maybe a covenant, for how to live on the Earth as if there is enough. To live on the Earth together as if we are functioning from we are functioning from the idea of abundance. To live on the Earth as if it matters how we take things how we use things how we share things.
It involves gratitude. It involves acknowledging the role of every piece of the ecosystem that cares for you, so you can care for it. Do not take what the Earth is not willing to give. To never take the very first thing you see and never take the very last. Never take more than you need and to never take more than half-leave some of that abundance for others. It’s a way of looking at what we use, what we receive from the Earth, what is given to us from the Earth through the God of abundance, and seeing that what we have is enough for all of creation. It is a way of receiving and taking and consuming as if it has cosmic and macro consequences.
Enough is enough, and there is enough for everyone, for all of creation. There is a way to live in communion with our neighbors, with our land, with our pets, the neighborhood coyote, and even the little red squirrel.
There is enough to give, and it doesn’t start out there, it starts with each of us. It starts with us living and giving in the trust that there is enough, that there is abundance, and then giving out of that abundance. Trusting in God, and God’s people, that is each other, that when times are hard, and maybe they are hard right now, that someone will be able to share abundance with you. That is the call of the Hebrews: just enough until you trust enough to give. Then give until all have enough.