Homily: August 2, 2015
Pentacost 10, YEAR B; Rev. Phil Boelter, Vicar What was up for the Israelites,
wandering in the wilderness?
They had been miraculously liberated from Egyptian slavery.
Most of us know the drill.
Ten miracles in Egypt-
crossing the Red Sea.
Pretty dramatic “movie type” stuff.
But by the time we reach our reading for today
The Hebrews had been unceremoniously dumped
In the middle of the Sinai desert.
It seemed like God had forgotten them,
So, not too surprisingly,
they began to grumble.
“Why did we EVER leave Egypt in the first place?”
”We had it good back there.”
“What’s going to become of us now?”
Israelites, would you like a little cheese to go with all that whine?
In today’s reading,
six weeks later,
their promised land was nowhere in sight.
Their provisions were being consumed at an alarming rate.
The only thing God was leading them to was
Sand, sand and even more sand.
Have you and I ever been in a similar place?
a place of profound discontent?
No matter what we seem to try,
No matter what we think, feel, pray or do
It is just no use.
We are in a word, like the Hebrews in the desert
But thank God,
the Israelites eventually learned
how to taste the now.
We can too!
In response to the peoples’ complaint
God provided manna and quail
as food in the desert.
That food was given each and every day-
New Fresh Different
adapted to the needs of that particular day.
The story goes that God gave only enough manna
to feed everyone
for that day alone.
If the people tried to hoard it-
putting it away in the ancient equivalent of Tupperware-
they’d open it up the next day
It had turned rancid,
And become inedible.
The other strange occurrence
Was that the manna and quail only fell to earth Sunday- Friday-
but on Friday
Twice as much fell…
And then nothing at all every Saturday.
Even more miraculously
on the Sabbath-
the leftovers from Friday didn’t turn rancid.
Are these just folk tales?
But these stories bear one very important point.
God only gives sufficient grace for the day
God wants us to taste the now.
As Jesus himself prayed
And we too pray every time we gather
To be fed at this Table:
“Give us this day our daily bread.”
We only get enough of whatever we need to last for TODAY-
but do we DO get enough….
In the present moment.
We only get into trouble when we try
to either borrow from the past
or anticipate the future,
not living in the moment.
not tasting the Now.
The Israelites could have sung
an ancient version of the theme song
from that hit 1960’s series “All in the Family.”
Remember Archie and Edith Bunker sitting at the piano
in their living room singing?
“Boy the way Glen Miller played
Songs that made the hit parade.
Guys like us we had it made,
Those were the days.”
Some of us might look back
longingly to our supposedly “good old days”
as the Israelites did.
It gets more tempting for me
to do so with every year that passes.
But more likely these days
You and I (perhaps most of us)
keep looking ahead for the next big thing,
rather than tasting the Now,
rather than living in the present moment-
Where God lives with us.
The drill goes like this:
When we’re young we think-
If only I can get out from under my parent’s thumb.
When I get my drivers license
I’ll have arrived.
Then after we get our license
we’re still looking forward-
Then maybe High school graduation,
College or grad school.
We are always pressing forward, looking forward.
Every single milestone rushes by.
We think that Next Big Thing will make us complete.
First career job.
Then if we’re lucky,
We get so busy looking for the next big thing
We often miss the biggest thing of all-
the present time
which is the present God wants to give us.
He waits for us each day to calm down
to pay attention.
He longs for us to unwrap and open that gift of the present moment.
And taste the now.
It’s a constant theme in scripture-
God doesn’t live in the future or the past
God lives in the now.
God invites to dwell there with him.
today and every day.
God invites us this morning
To taste the now.
In Thorton Wilder’s brilliant play Our Town
young Emily Webb has just died in childbirth.
In the play she’s has been given the chance to go back home
to see her mother and family one last time
as she was back when Emily was alive.
Emily is given one final chance to taste the now.
“I can't bear it. Mama, I'm here. I'm grown up.
I love you all, everything. –
I can’t look at everything hard enough.
Oh, Mama, just look at me one minute as though you really saw me.
Just for a moment now we're all together.
Mama, just for a moment we're happy.
Let's look at one another.
It goes so fast.
We don't have time to look at one another.
I didn't realize.
All that was going on in life and we never noticed.
One more look.
Good-by, Good-by, world.
Good-by, Grover's Corners,
Mama and Papa.
Good-bye to clocks ticking
and Mama's sunflowers.
And food and coffee.
And new-ironed dresses and hot baths
and sleeping and waking up.
Oh, earth, you're too wonderful for anybody to realize you.
Do any human beings ever realize life while they live it? - every, every minute?”
Then Emily heard the realistic, pessimistic Stage Manager’s answer:
“No one does, except for perhaps the “saints and poets, maybe.”
Begin to taste the now.