Like Ducks Fighting Over Stale Bread

The former Egyptian slaves wandered in the desert. “Anything would be better,” they thought. Now with their destination far in the future, with their bellies empty, they began to whine. They said to Moses and Aaron,

‘If only we had died by the hand of the Lord in the land of Egypt, when we sat by the fleshpots and ate our fill of bread; for you have brought us out into this wilderness to kill this whole assembly with hunger.’ Exodus 16: 3 NRSV (Read in context.)

The women and men of the Board gathered in the church basement. The coffee was flowing

Photo by Ducklover Bonnie

and someone even brought donuts.  It was gonna be a long one. This was the annual meeting to discuss the budget. Several whined to anyone who would listen,

“Since the economy tanked our investments have been flat at best. What are we gonna do? Several of our big givers have died or moved away. It’s like God has abandoned our church. I guess we’re just going to have to cut our contribution to the homeless shelter.”

The joyous nature he woke with was gone. Taking his hands off the keyboard, he leaned back in his chair. A frown grew on his face. He whined to is wife,

“Well, if you call Sallie Mae and tell them we’ll be a few weeks late on your student loan, if we just accept we have to pay a late fee on the water bill, and if we give less to charity this month, we should make it to another pay day. As he opened the fridge and pulled out a snack, he said, “We have no safety net anymore now that we’ve emptied my pension and sold the second car. Why can’t we ever get ahead?”

***

What if? What if we’re not meant to get ahead? What if we’re only expected to gather enough for today?

Then the Lord said to Moses, ‘I am going to rain bread from heaven for you, and each day the people shall go out and gather enough for that day. Exodus 16: 4a NRSV (Read in context.)

“Go out and gather enough for that day” not enough for tomorrow, for next week, for retirement, or for the feared rainy day. A core message of the manna section of Exodus is that of trust, of taking just enough. The ancient author implies that trusting God, trusting the earth, and perhaps even trusting our journeys through the wilderness requires taking just enough.

Perhaps the problem with the economy and even the church is that we’ve forgotten this basic message. When we take more than enough for today, we’re like ducks fighting over the stale bread thrown to us in the park. Churches hold investments “just in case” while local charities struggle to have enough resources to feed the poor. Individuals plan for a future we can’t predict. We drive fancier cars or live in bigger homes than we need.

Communal One of Relationships, Heal our wounds that we might trust that enough for today is enough. Remind us that we are created in your image as social, interrelated people who need one another. Knowing that what we do impacts everyone, grace us with the wisdom and love to take just enough for today and share the rest. Amen.

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