It seems we have another week ripe for preaching; manna from Heaven, an indignant Jonah, St. Paul choosing to remain present in his dispersed communities of believers, and the parable of the landowner who pays in more ways than one.
What bubbles up for you as you read the Exodus reading, as the people are grumbling (again!), saying it would have been better to die than to follow Moses out of their captivity? I can think of a few ways our people, and our selves, have been “captive” since the early spring. Are your people starting to grumble? Are they courting covid in their pressure to meet together, shoulder to shoulder, singing hymns fortissimo and hugging tightly without masks? What bread can we give them that will satisfy their lust for more? What light can we show them that will make the bars of our exiles and quarantines seem somewhat less confining? Where is that heavenly food in your own life? When have you found your complaining mouth unexepectedly filled with nourishment?
Maybe Jonah is on your list this week, his frustration with the people he was sent to save, and with the bush that withered and died over his very head. He’d come to love that bush, that small measure of protection, though he did not plant and grow it, or, indeed, even ask for it. When the sun rises where you are is the wind sultry? Is your town on fire, literally, or figuratively?
Paul, too, wants to die (a common theme apparently). And yet he obeys that Rule of Benedict (you know, the one that didn’t exist yet, ha!). He decides to stay, remain steadfast and obedient to the work laid out for him, though he longs for heavenly rest. Where do you, or your people, long for rest near a cool stream? In what ways have you, and your people, chosen to remain in community during this pandemic, when it would have been almost easy to slip quietly away?
And finally! One of my favorite parables. Work for all who will have it, and equal pay for all who will work. This parable reminds me of St. Chrysostom’s Paschal Homily:
If any have laboured from the first hour,
let him receive today his rightful due.
If any have come after the third,
let him celebrate the feast with thankfulness.
If any have come after the sixth,
let him not be in doubt, for he will suffer no loss.
If any have delayed until the ninth,
let him not hesitate but draw near.
If any have arrived only at the eleventh,
let him not be afraid because he comes so late.
Why do we litmus test worthiness to receive a fair wage? Why do we think we have worked harder than others have? Do your people work in literal or figurative fields? Is Jesus talking about more than work? Could Jesus be talking about salvation? Are the cradle church members more holy than the new believers?
I hope these provide some jumping off points for you this week. Godspeed!
Alicia Hager resides in West Michigan and is a Postulant to the Sacred Order of Priests in the Episcopal Church. Alicia enjoys spending time with her daughters and her husband, is bonkers about her cats, and blogs at astrawberrypointe.wordpress.com.
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