Manna Lessons

Bernardino Luini, c. 1520
The Gathering of Manna, Bernardino Luini, c. 1520

This Week’s Lectionary Passage:  Joshua 5: 9-129The Lord said to Joshua, “Today I have rolled away from you the disgrace of Egypt.” And so that place is called Gilgal to this day.  10While the Israelites were camped in Gilgal they kept the passover in the evening on the fourteenth day of the month in the plains of Jericho.11On the day after the passover, on that very day, they ate the produce of the land, unleavened cakes and parched grain.12The manna ceased on the day they ate the produce of the land, and the Israelites no longer had manna; they ate the crops of the land of Canaan that year.

That experience in Egypt was still hanging around, a past that you just can’t shake, that haunts your dreams and gets in the way of moving forward.  If was hard, hard to live within someone else’s culture, to live with what is important to someone else, to give up who you were and, more than that, to give up who you were becoming.  Hope had all but died.  And then God opens a door and you can literally taste freedom just over the horizon.  But the horizon was far away.  And on the way was danger, and hunger, and thirst.  And then manna appears.

It was a mysterious little plant, appearing each day so that they could eat their fill and then disappearing just as quickly.  You couldn’t hold on to it, couldn’t save it, couldn’t pack it away for safekeeping.  It was downright elusive.  But maybe that’s what hope is all about.  Maybe hope is like that, appearing when we need it and then disappearing when we try to hold onto it.  Maybe hope dies when we hold it too long and try to make it something that it is not.  Maybe hope requires that we keep moving.

But now, God has rolled Egypt away.  We have to let the pain go.  We need to remember, yes, because it is part of us and we need to make sure that it doesn’t happen again–to anyone.  But we have to forgive and let go of the disgrace.  God has rolled that away.  And here at Gilgal, meaning “rolling away”, that all comes true.  On this day, we have eaten of the land.  This beautiful land with disgrace rolled away has provided for us.  And the manna is only a memory.  Maybe it was there to teach us to only take what we need, to teach us to let go, to teach us to hope, to teach us to keep moving.  It is good lesson to carry into this land.  I am no longer looking for manna.  God has now invited me to participate in what God provides.  This land can feed us all.

So, as you continue on your Lenten journey, think about those things that you still hold, those things that you need to let go.  Learn to take what God offers; learn to let go; learn to hope, learn to keep moving. Learn to not miss what God has provided because you’re looking for manna.

Grace and Peace,


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