Generosity 2019

Ex. 16:13   In the evening quails came up and covered the camp; and in the morning there was a layer of dew around the camp.  14 When the layer of dew lifted, there on the surface of the wilderness was a fine flaky substance, as fine as frost on the ground.  15 When the Israelites saw it, they said to one another, “What is it?” For they did not know what it was. Moses said to them, “It is the bread that the Lord has given you to eat.  16 This is what the Lord has commanded: ‘Gather as much of it as each of you needs, an omer to a person according to the number of persons, all providing for those in their own tents.’”  17 The Israelites did so, some gathering more, some less.  18 But when they measured it with an omer, those who gathered much had nothing over, and those who gathered little had no shortage; they gathered as much as each of them needed.  19 And Moses said to them, “Let no one leave any of it over until morning.”  20 But they did not listen to Moses; some left part of it until morning, and it bred worms and became foul. (NRSV)

As we escaped Egypt and began making our way through the wilderness with God, we were immediately confronted with the difference between what we needed and what we wanted.  God was faithful to provide all that we needed but we struggled to trust that God would continue to provide,  God, through Moses, is very specific.  “Let no one leave any of it over until morning.”  But, the narrator reports that some of us tried to horde the gift of the manna out of anxiety about food for the future and, “… it bred worms and became foul.”
It is worth wondering what God is trying to teach us with this pattern of daily providing only a daily allowance which is sufficient for our daily needs.  Many of us let our worry about tomorrow to lead us to covet and horde and collect far more than we actually need, and this story suggests that when we do that our affluence has a way of becoming “foul.”
Though prudence teaches us to be wise and to demonstrate discretion in our financial life, it is also part of our discipleship that we learn to trust that God, who has provided for us thus far, will continue to provide what is required tomorrow.  We do not have to compete so much, and to strive so hard, and attempt to gather more than we actually need.  We can leave the extra manna in the field, trusting that tomorrow there will be enough to satisfy.
Lord, we often pray, “give us this day our daily bread…”. Help us, Lord, to live fully into the meaning of the prayer.  Teach us to live each day content with our daily bread and nurture in us a trust that you will provide tomorrow all the things which we truly need.  Amen.

Paul Lang