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​​​​Lent 2017 Week 2

THE WAY to FREEDOM

By Rev. Jennifer Pick

"The desert shatters the soul's arrogance and leaves body and soul crying out in thirst and hunger. In the desert we trust God or die."

—Dan B. Allender

"In the evening a flock of quail flew down and covered the camp.

And in the morning there was a layer of dew all around the camp."

—Exodus 16:13

Todd Pick: "The Way to Freedom," 2017.

Image: "The Way to Freedom" ©Todd Pick, 2017.

PILGRIMS ON A JOURNEY

The Israelites are not a month in their exodus journey in the wilderness. They go to their leaders and confess they would rather be enslaved and know where their next meal was coming from than be on their way to freedom and starve. Human nature has not seemed to change much. We long for freedom, but freedom is hard work. Freedom comes at a cost.

When we find ourselves in this new territory of freedom in Christ, it might seem easier to long for something that was easier and familiar, even if it means slavery. The Lenten pathway often takes us where we would rather not go. But sometimes there are lessons that can only be learned when we find ourselves in places we don’t want to be. And there are always signs of God’s provision, if we look closely.

There is some disagreement in scholarly circles about what exactly “manna” is and what it looked like—as if one could define or describe a miracle of God in anything resembling adequate human language. The Hebrew of the word translated as “manna” literally means, “what is it?” In rabbinical literature, manna was thought to be one of the ten things created on the first day of creation at twilight. In some instances it is flaky, in others it look like coriander seeds, but is so fragile that it melts in the sun.

All of this to say that manna looks different for each of us. The way that God feeds us, even when we are grumbling and forget the sacredness of the moment, is unique to who we are.

I don’t know about you, but my life tends to run in cycles and not in a straight line. I feel like I have to begin again more often than not. I know that there have been countless times in my life where God has pulled me out of the things that enslave me, provided for me on the journey, only to have me forget that manna that makes itself available to me every morning; only to forget that God has called me to a particular path and journey.

When times seem hard, when your feet hurt from walking, when your eyes sting from sleeplessness, when you've forgotten why you risked walking in darkness and drought: be aware today of the bread from heaven that has landed in your path. And remember that you are on a journey, beloved, and God goes with you.

PRAYER FOR THE JOURNEY

Ever-living God, just as you called the people of Israel to gather manna in the desert, gather us into your presence which feeds and sustains. When we grumble to return to the way things used to be, provide us with fresh vision, brimming with your hope. Continue to renew and provide for your pilgrim people.

As we journey further into the landscape of Lent, remind us to seek after that food which sustains our souls—faith, hope, and love. Remind us that all life is nurtured and nourished by you. Let our tables overflow with the bounty of friendship as we sojourn this freedom road together.

Through Christ our Way, so let it be.

Todd Pick, 2017.

BREAD from HEAVEN

by Rev. Todd Pick

“The act of asking for bread is for us a daily reminder that our lives, like our bread, are gifts from God. Daily, we are dependent upon God.”

—William H. Willimon

"Then the Lord said to Moses,

I’m going to make bread rain down from heaven for you.

The people will go out each day and gather just enough for that day.’”

—Exodus 16:4

Time in the wilderness reminds us that the ordinary, everyday necessities of daily living are gifts of God. The Lenten journey is a season of fasting and prayer. As physical hunger leads us to uncover the true hunger of our soul’s desire, we are also reminded to simply live and to live simply—one day at a time, with God’s help.

Bread is necessary for life. It brings us together in community around shared tables. It allows us to understand one another. It provides us with strength to forgive the disruptions and divisions within the human family. “Give us this day our daily bread.” Such a simple phrase, and such a human one.

It's a petition that reminds us of God's generosity. But to recite it is to remember that bread is not evenly distributed in our world. To remember that we pray not for "my bread" but "our bread." To remember that we have work to do to bring heaven's reign on earth.

This week I invite you to offer up thanksgiving for the gift and the Giver of our daily bread.

OUR DAILY BREAD: A LITANY

As we give thanks for your presence

with us in the wilderness;

As we give thanks for your providence

which sustains us;

GIVE US THIS DAY OUR DAILY BREAD

As we put one foot in front of the other,

moving forward in faith;

As we pray only for what we need

for the living of this day;

GIVE US THIS DAY OUR DAILY BREAD

As we give thanks for the birth of each sunrise;

As we give thanks for the strength

you give us to rise up each day;

GIVE US THIS DAY OUR DAILY BREAD

As we walk the way, accepting the work

to which you have called us;

As we live into our calling to love you

by loving one another;

GIVE US THIS DAY OUR DAILY BREAD

As we give thanks for the daily reminder:

we are fed;

As we give thanks for the daily reminder:

you feed us;

GIVE US THIS DAY OUR DAILY BREAD

As we remember that no bread comes

to our table without work and sacrifice;

As we remember those who work hard to grow,

transport and prepare our food;

GIVE US THIS DAY OUR DAILY BREAD

As we remember that a life lived out of prayer is a life lived in love and justice;

As we seek bread for our neighbor—

the hungry and hurting,

those starved of love and justice;

GIVE US THIS DAY OUR DAILY BREAD

As we are transformed by your hands, made whole;

As grace transforms our hearts, making us holy;

GIVE US THIS DAY OUR DAILY BREAD

As you give us the courage to be lifted,

blessed and broken open like bread;

As you fashion us into signs of divine presence

which nourish and sustain others;

GIVE US THIS DAY OUR DAILY BREAD

As we walk toward freedom,

praying and working for bread until all are filled;

As you rekindle our hope,

renew our strength, and revive our souls;

GIVE US THIS DAY OUR DAILY BREAD

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