I just wrote an entire blog. Hit the save button. My internet went out. The entire piece is now missing. This is how I feel:
The piece was about preaching at my friend’s ordination at New Brunswick Theological Seminary this weekend. I celebrated the work of chaplains, as his call is to chaplaincy. I spent a good amount of time inviting you to look at Exodus 16 with me as that is what I’m preaching on.
In 14 verses someone complains, or talks about complaining 14 times. Scripture says the Israelites would rather die than continue in the process of liberation.
I’m sure Moses was feeling pretty good after he stretched out his arms and God moved the sea. I know I would. Now the Israelites are in the wilderness, hungry, and not comfortable. Superstar Moses is now being blamed. The whole congregation of Israel turns on Moses and Aaron and complains. I’m sure he felt a little more like this:
God and Moses talk. God says, alright alright, I will remind them it was I who took them out of the land of slavery and I will provide for them each morning bread from heaven. I wonder if there was gluten free, too?
The vegetarians were happy, but the carnivores wanted a little more. So God said I will give them meat in the evening. And in the evening the carnivores ate quail.
The thing that keeps sticking out to me in this is that God, in the midst of their vibrant complaining, drew nearer to them. It was like God was saying “Oh yeah, I want to hear more of what troubles you.” God didn’t distance God’s self but God came closer.
God could have done this:
But no, God said to Moses to tell the people “I hear them.” Not only did God listen, but God also showed up in a cloud. God’s glory was noticed by all the people.
Liberation, freedom, salvation is difficult work. It’s not always fun. It’s not always comfortable. Wilderness is scary. But here’s what I know from this text and here’s what I know from Scripture, God is present. God might not take away the difficult feelings, but God is present. We are not alone. That’s what chaplains do. They can’t take away the pain. They can’t make it better. Chaplains offer presence. Chaplains stand in for God and remind us we are not alone.
So enjoy the bread for today. There is enough for you and there is enough for me. Everytime you meet at the Table of God be reminded that God hears you, receives you, and meets your needs.
And while this isn’t exactly what my other blog said, I sure had fun retelling the story of Exodus 16 Buzzfeed style. Not so frustrated, but feeling more like this: