The theme of my spiritual life lately, and thusly of my preaching, seems to be: “God will give you good things, but not in the way you want God to.”
And the Israelites in our Exodus text are examples par excellence of that phenomenon.
In the grand tradition of internet culture somehow describing ancient dynamics in more vivid ways than ever before, it often appears as though God is “trolling” the Israelites.
And I’m sure I’m not the only who feels that God has trolled me—in a loving, humorous, and exceedingly frustrating way.
We’re in the midst of “Bread of Heaven Summer” as the gospel texts for these propers in Year B is are known.
Jesus wants to make really clear to us that he is the Bread of Heaven, and if we want A. everlasting life, and B. a decent quality of life here and now, we need to turn to him for sustenance. This is a theme that rarely can be overdone.
But where things get interesting is in the contrast between how straightforwardly Jesus offers sustenance, and how roundabout and backdoor of a path God the Father seems to take in our Hebrew Scripture texts.
In the gospel lessons, Jesus does clear, concrete things, like literally feed 5000 people with actual bread and fish.
And when it comes to spirituality, he offers forthright teaching like, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never be hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.” That’s pretty clear.
But the Lord is much sneakier in Exodus. Continue reading