When I started writing daily devotionals back in March I thought that they might continue through Holy Week. Surely by then, I thought, we would have figured out how to remain connected as a church—or even that we might be able to worship together again. The stories seemed to reflect the time so well. Why couldn’t we break out of quarantine with the Israelites as they fled Egypt and slavery? With Jesus and Paul and the psalms consoling us, it seemed like we had everything we needed for our time in the wilderness. Maybe time with scripture could be like manna from heaven—daily bread.
Now the connection seems broken. This week Joshua will continue to lead the Israelites into the Promised Land. He’ll even say farewell, telling them how to keep the promise. And yet we’re still here, waiting, and the promised return to church still seems far away.
The relationship between the two contexts—the story of scripture and our own story—is imperfect. Four months of zoom meetings do not equal forty years in the wilderness. But as we remain apart there are certain practices we can do to remain connected—with God, and with one another. We can continue to read scripture together, following the stories of our faith, gathering a little bit of daily bread as a gift of God to sustain us on the way of faith. We can pray when the morning comes so that the Word of God will guide our daytime wandering; or read the evening psalms that, like a pillar of fire, light the way to God in the darkness.
And, if we read scripture carefully, we might find our lives in the pattern of Israel’s faith. Just as we gather our daily bread, we rest. On the sixth day of the week, you’ll remember, God asks the Israelites to gather enough bread for two days. They are to rest just as the Creator rested.
My confession: I’ve been gathering daily bread for a while, but I’ve neglected to rest.
In a couple of weeks I will take some time for vacation and study leave. And, as a way of resting even as I work, I will forgo writing daily devotionals (or any devotionals at all, for that matter, while I’m “away”). I will, I however, offer a weekly reflection to help guide our church’s lectionary readings in the days ahead. My hope is that, through reading “together,” we all might contribute something to a shared understanding of how God is at work during this time. It’s up to us to gather the manna. And when we return to church, then, we’ll bring what we have, and share the bread of heaven.
Tuesday, July 21
Wednesday, July 22
Thursday, July 23
Friday, July 24
Saturday, July 25
Sunday, July 26
Monday, July 27
God, guide our reading, our praying, and our waiting—that in all our restless wandering we might find rest in you, in Jesus Christ, your Son. Amen.
Art: Moyers, Mike. Guidance Day and Night, from Art in the Christian Tradition, a project of the Vanderbilt Divinity Library, Nashville, TN. http://diglib.library.vanderbilt.edu/act-imagelink.pl?RC=57143 [retrieved July 20, 2020]. Original source: Mike Moyers, https://www.mikemoyersfineart.com/.