Exodus 16:2-4, 9-15 (NRSV)
Verse 2The whole congregation of the Israelites complained against Moses and Aaron in the wilderness. Verse 3The Israelites said to them, "If only we had died by the hand of the Lord in the land of Egypt, when we sat by the fleshpots and ate our fill of bread; for you have brought us out into this wilderness to kill this whole assembly with hunger." Verse 4Then the Lord said to Moses, "I am going to rain bread from heaven for you, and each day the people shall go out and gather enough for that day. In that way I will test them, whether they will follow my instruction or not. Verse 9Then Moses said to Aaron, "Say to the whole congregation of the Israelites, 'Draw near to the Lord, for he has heard your complaining.'" Verse 10And as Aaron spoke to the whole congregation of the Israelites, they looked toward the wilderness, and the glory of the Lord appeared in the cloud. Verse 11The Lord spoke to Moses and said, Verse 12"I have heard the complaining of the Israelites; say to them, 'At twilight you shall eat meat, and in the morning you shall have your fill of bread; then you shall know that I am the Lord your God.'"
Verse 13In the evening quails came up and covered the camp; and in the morning there was a layer of dew around the camp. Verse 14When the layer of dew lifted, there on the surface of the wilderness was a fine flaky substance, as fine as frost on the ground. Verse 15When 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.
Old Fred was a storyteller, his craft rooted in a long history of the intermarrying of Cree and Ojibwe people with French fur traders beginning in the early 1800’s. Uttering the words “Remember when…?” his dark luminous eyes would dance surrounded by decades of wisdom folded in wrinkles.
This is how I imagine the Exodus stories were told. Around a campfire, I can hear the words: “Remember when our ancestors suffered in slavery? When they groaned in hunger in the wilderness, God fed them with something they had never seen before.”
I am a pastor and a storyteller. I still want to tell stories of how I have seen God’s mercy. I long to model for my grandchildren that I still need God’s grace and mercy. God is faithful. In our stubbornness we all experience God’s anger, but then also that incredibly gentle love of a father who holds, protects, and nurtures an infant.
Gracious God, shaking your head at our stubborn ways, you have a remarkable capacity to look at us with fresh and compassionate eyes. Thank you. Amen.