I feel like we’re wandering in the wilderness. Even though we’re surrounded by all the comforts of life, nothing feels comfortable. Nothing feels right . Nothing feels safe. Even though I’ve had more than enough of my share of food, I’m hungry: Hungry for God’s word, hungry for God’s love, hungry for God’s justice in a world that is hurting so badly.
Just like the Israelites wandering the desert, I want to cry out, “it would be better if we were already dead.” But no, we don’t get that escape. Instead, we have to face more hunger, more loneliness, more disaster, more tragedy, more human on human violence.
We’re hungry for God’s love, hungry for God’s answers, hungry for God’s justice.
God rained down the bread of heaven on the Israelites, when will God’s justice roll down like water for us?
The people following Moses received their manna, when will today’s meek finally inherit the Earth, when will today’s outcasts receive liberation?
Maybe if we complain loud enough, God will take care of us the same way. Maybe if we shout to the heavens, God will send us what we need.
How long, O Lord? How long? When will you dry up the floods? When will you stop the earthquakes? When will you stop us from killing each other?
When will God lead us out of the “Egypt” we’ve created? Out of the bondage of hate and the slavery of violence and racism and misogyny and homophobia and xenophobia and transphobia and anti-Semitism and Islamophobia …and…and…and…? When do we get to witness the glory of God? When do we get our daily bread?
“Then the Holy One said to Moses, “Look , I will rain down bread from heaven for you…. ‘In the evening you will eat meat, and in the morning you will have your fill of bread.”
And “..in the morning … on the surface of the desert were flakes of something: delicate, powdery, fine as frost. When they saw this, the people of Israel said to each other, “What is it?”
We hunger for God’s promised justice. We lament and mourn. We shout to the heavens “how long, O God?”
What if it’s already here? All around us, overhead and underfoot; filling the air, covering the ground. What if God’s justice surround us but we keep asking “where is it?” and “what is it?”
What if it doesn’t look the way we think it should?
If we want divine justice to rain fire down on our enemies, to destroy the people we view as evil, we’re going to be disappointed. If we expect to see God’s justice wielded with weapons, we’ll never be able to recognize the Holy One at work.
We want God’s justice to be tangible; heavy as rock, as substantial as a well-cooked steak (or maybe a good grilled portabella mushroom, if you prefer). Instead, what we receive is delicate, powdery, flakes as fine as frost.
God’s justice comes in the form of extravagant love. And forgiveness. And reconciliation. God’s justice comes in the form of action that calls on the dominant culture to lift up the oppressed and suffering. God’s justice comes in the exposure of white supremacy and systematic racism. It comes when I lay down my privileges so that others can have the same justice that I have always had.
God’s justice doesn’t come when we attack, it comes when we lay down our lives for others. When we willingly follow Christ to the cross.
I’m hungry for God’s justice but I’m not sure I like what’s being served.
Like the Israelites wandering in the desert, we cry out in hunger to God “Please! Send us something!” But when God delivers, we say “no, that’s not good enough.”
Like the people wandering the desert, we expect … we demand the best and we’re not satisfied unless we are spoon-fed by the divine hand.
But that’s not what’s promised. Just as Moses and the people had to go out and collect what God had delivered, we too are called do the work.
God’s justice is all around us, underfoot and overhead.
Pick it up and call your representatives and legislators. Demand “no more of this.” Tell them that gun reform must be a priority. That we need stronger background checks, state and federal cooperation, and funding poured into services for people struggling with mental illness.
Pick it up by demanding that our leaders create legislation and develop diplomacy based on love.
Pick it up and speak to your friends and neighbors about your outrage about the idolatry of guns in our nation.
God’s justice will only be evident when we drown out the sounds of gunfire with the sound of swords being beaten into plowshares.
The bread of heaven covers us when we learn to turn the other cheek instead of responding with vengeful violence.
Pick it up and offer forgiveness when you think you want vengeance. Offer conversation when you feel a pull toward contention. Offer love when others are wielding hate.
Divine justice rains down on us when we follow God’s instruction and see God in the eyes of another.
Our manna comes in the form of justice and equality for all genders, all colors and ethnicities, all abilities, all relationships.
We can’t just expect God make everything better if we aren’t willing to change our lives and our world.
We can do this because we follow the One who is Living Bread,
the One who creates a feast for thousands when it seems like there are only crumbs.
The One who prepares a feast for us even when we are surrounded by our enemies: violence, hatred, doubt, and complacency.
The One who reminds us that Christ is found when we feed the hungry and give drink to the thirsty, and stand up for the least of these.
Divine justice rains down on us when we see God in the eyes of another.
When we can seek God’s justice by following in Christ’s footsteps, we will never be hungry.
When we can enter into the ministry of extravagant welcome and radical love, we will never thirst.
When we can open our hearts to the Bread of Heaven, we will be fed until we hunger no more.
We’re hungry for God’s justice. Now it’s up to us to collect it and share that sacred meal will all of God’s children.
May God give us eyes to see what we have been given. May we have courage to follow in the radical footsteps of Christ. May the Holy Spirit give us the strength we need to keep traveling through the wilderness until we reach the Promised Land. Amen.