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  • Writer's pictureSt. Stephen's Lutheran Church

First Things: Water from a Rock

“First things” is a time-to-time look at the first reading for this coming Sunday. This Sunday’s reading is Exodus 17:1-7, which you can find by clicking here.

You can’t squeeze blood from a stone, but God can make water flow from a rock.

Dry, Empty, out of gumption, the Israelites are tired of wandering. Sure, they were suffering in Egypt, but at least in Egypt they had food and water.

God freed the Israelites, and God led them out of Egypt, but due to reasons, they were fated to wander in the desert for 40 years. Israel complained and complained, and again and again, God provided. They had no food, God made manna appear so they didn’t starve. They had no meat, and God sent quail. And here, they have no water. In Egypt, there was plenty of water. They had the Nile

Here, they were in denial, questioning whether this whole affair was worth it. So, they quarreled with Moses, and Moses cries to God. God answers this worn-out leader of these warn-out and miserable people, not with wrath or punishment, but with promise.

It sounds farfetched. “Strike the rock, and water will come out of it, so that the people may drink.” Moses did just that, and in a miraculous moment, water flowed in the desert.

Especially during Lent, we are confronted with our shortcomings. There seems to be little to go around. Little food. Little water. Little patience. We look around and see scarcity. We’re tired.

The message, though, is that God provides. We cannot. Again and again we fail, but somehow, by God’s grace, God provides. In miraculous ways, God provides.

God can even make water flow in the desert. God can bring life from death. God can feed the whole world everyday.

And if God can do all that, surely God can give us what we need to carry on. As Lutherans, we confess that God gives life and daily bread to everyone, even wicked people, purely out of God’s goodness. The rain falls on the just and unjust alike. Yet, as Luther writes in his Small Catechism, we pray that God cause us to be thankful for what God gives.

But how does God give us what we need? On one level, we get what we need from God’s creation. Most of us depend on people to share God’s bounty: farmers, truckers, grocers, cooks, servers, even employers to give us money. And as the church, we take our role in being daily bread seriously. We feed those who need it. We share what we have on Sundays and at other times. We work for a world where everyone has what they need.

God feeds us with more than just bread, though. Here, at church, we receive water from a rock. Here, people are baptized, washed and overwhelmed in God’s saving water and baptized into the resurrection that rolled the stone away. Here, the Word of God fills us spiritually for the road ahead. Here, the simple meal of bread and wine sustain us for life in God.

If you would like to learn more about how God provides, come to worship each Sunday at 9:30 AM. We are proud to provide for our community through the Greater Woodbury Cooperative Ministries and through the New Jersey Synod of the ELCA. Together with other Lutherans, we meet the needs of those in tough time through programs like Lutheran World Relief, Lutheran Disaster Response, and Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Services. Lutherans provide a public witness together through LEAM-NJ and ELCA Advocacy in Washington, DC.

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