Scripture of the Day:  March 15, 2020     
Third Sunday in Lent

Exodus 17:1-7

17 The whole Israelite community broke camp and set out from the Sin desert to continue their journey, as the Lord commanded. They set up their camp at Rephidim, but there was no water for the people to drink. 2 The people argued with Moses and said, “Give us water to drink.”
Moses said to them, “Why are you arguing with me? Why are you testing the Lord?”
3 But the people were very thirsty for water there, and they complained to Moses, “Why did you bring us out of Egypt to kill us, our children, and our livestock with thirst?”
4 So Moses cried out to the Lord, “What should I do with this people? They are getting ready to stone me.”
5 The Lord said to Moses, “Go on ahead of the people, and take some of Israel’s elders with you. Take in your hand the shepherd’s rod that you used to strike the Nile River, and go. 6 I’ll be standing there in front of you on the rock at Horeb. Hit the rock. Water will come out of it, and the people will be able to drink.” Moses did so while Israel’s elders watched. 7 He called the place Massah[a] and Meribah,[b] because the Israelites argued with and tested the Lord, asking, “Is the Lord really with us or not?”

Reflection:

Not long ago, the people of Israel were in Egypt, crying to God of the oppression and misery the Pharaoh and his army were inflicting upon them.  Against Moses’ will, God sent Moses to rescue the Israelites and lead them out of their slavery in Egypt and into a new land and a new life of freedom.  But the people had barely gotten into the wilderness when they (the whole Israelite community) complained:  “We should have stayed in Egypt!  At least there we had plenty of meat and ate all the food we wanted.  Now you (Moses) have brought us into this wilderness where we will all starve to death!”
        So, in chapter 15 Moses led the people across the Red Sea and into freedom.  In Chapter 16 the people complain of hunger and blame Moses for disrupting their lives by taking them out of Egypt (even though they’re the ones who begged God for freedom!).  And now, by Chapter 17, the people are thirsty and ready to kill Moses!  It’s been barely a month and the people already want to go back to Egypt and kill the person who freed  them from their lives of slavery!
        This is not a glowing picture here of human nature.  From this story and many others in the Bible, our tolerance for change and hardship and patience appear to be low. We are experiencing that right now, longing for the sweet days when there was no virus, when we were free to do as we pleased and we could buy all the hand sanitizer and toilet paper we wanted.   Oh how sweet life was!
        Like the Israelites in the wilderness, our routines have been disrupted and like them some of us are mad as hell!  Democrats blame Republicans, who blame Democrats and the media and the “fake news” and China blames the US military for planting this germ in Wuhan and the US blames the “foreign virus” and a woman on the news says it’s all another plot to impeach the president and others call her crazy and remove her show from the air.  I haven’t heard anyone blame God yet, but someone should do that.  I mean, why didn’t God make us so we’d be immune to this kind of thing!?  It’s God’s fault!
        So I’m sympathetic to those poor people stuck in the middle of nowhere with not enough food or water and they have to blame someone but they don’t have the courage to blame God so they blame God’s servant, Moses.  And Moses is hanging there, suspended,  between an angry mob about to kill him and a God whom he doesn’t know that well yet.  And he says to God, “Help me!” And what does God say? God says, “Take a few people with you as witnesses, and leave the crowd and I will show you what to do — I will show you that I am everywhere — I will show you how to squeeze water out of a rock!  I am everywhere — SO KEEP YOUR VISION ON ME — and stop all the blaming, but trust me.  Trust me.”
        This is our message for today, the third Sunday of Lent, brought to you directly from the desert of Sin, many thousands of years ago, and yet, timeless.

Much love,

George