What Is It?

Through the Wilderness

Sixteenth Sunday after Pentecost, Year A

Manna, that’s what we’re celebrating today. Manna in the wilderness, sustenance for the journey. But also a question. “Manna” in Hebrew translates as, “What is it?” The perfect question for this odd stuff that just appeared in the wilderness every morning.

Exodus 16:2-15, New International Reader's Version (NIRV)

2In the desert the whole community told Moses and Aaron they weren’t happy with them. 3The Israelites said to them, “We wish the Lord had put us to death in Egypt. There we sat around pots of meat. We ate all the food we wanted. But you have brought us out into this desert. You must want this entire community to die of hunger.”

4Then the Lord spoke to Moses. He said, “I will rain down bread from heaven for you. The people must go out each day. Have them gather enough bread for that day. Here is how I will test them. I will see if they will follow my directions. 5On the sixth day they must prepare what they bring in. On that day they must gather twice as much as on the other days.”

6So Moses and Aaron spoke to all the people of Israel. They said, “In the evening you will know that the Lord brought you out of Egypt. 7And in the morning you will see the glory of the Lord. He has heard you say you aren’t happy with him. Who are we? Why are you telling us you aren’t happy with us?” 8Moses also said, “You will know that the Lord has heard you speak against him. He will give you meat to eat in the evening. He’ll give you all the bread you want in the morning. But who are we? You aren’t speaking against us. You are speaking against the Lord.”

9Then Moses told Aaron, “Talk to the whole community of Israel. Say to them, ‘Come to the Lord. He has heard you speak against him.’”

10While Aaron was talking to the whole community of Israel, they looked toward the desert. There was the glory of the Lord appearing in the cloud!

11 The Lord said to Moses, 12 “I have heard the people of Israel talking about how unhappy they are. Tell them, ‘When the sun goes down, you will eat meat. In the morning you will be filled with bread. Then you will know that I am the Lord your God.’”

13That evening quail came and covered the camp. In the morning the ground around the camp was covered with dew. 14 When the dew was gone, thin flakes appeared on the desert floor. They looked like frost on the ground. 15The people of Israel saw the flakes. They asked each other, “What’s that?” They didn’t know what it was.

Moses said to them, “It’s the bread the Lord has given you to eat.

Children’s Message (or Family Activity to be done at Home)


Affix the image of Moses to a popsicle stick or craft stick to create a cardstock Moses.) Each child should have his/her own cardstock Moses to use to re-tell this series of sermons with his/her own interpretation.

Share the story using the cardstock Moses and props.

The Bible says that God brought the Israelites out of slavery in Egypt. Remember last week? But afterward, when the Israelites were walking in the desert, they became hungry, and they couldn’t find anything to eat.

When the Israelites were hungry, they forgot about how bad things had been in Egypt. They forgot how good God had been to get them out of Egypt. They forgot to trust God to take care of them. Instead, they whined and complained. Have you ever whined or complained? Have you ever heard your parents complain about something? Have your siblings ever whined about something? Sometimes we complain instead of being thankful. That’s what happened to the Israelites.

God wanted them to understand that God would always care for them. So even though they complained and whined, God gave them food to eat – quail, which tastes like chicken, and manna, which is like bread. In fact, the manna fell from the sky like little flakes of bread. (sprinkle the cereal on cardstock Moses).

God provides a lot of good things for us, too. This scripture reminds us that God loves us and takes care of us. What are some things that God gives to us? (Allow children to respond). God not only gives us food, but also blessings, goodness, love, and peace. God deserves our thanks, so let’s pray a prayer of thanksgiving now.

Encourage the children to tell the story again to someone in their home this week while using the props. Have them take pictures and send them to the church to post on social media, coinciding with this sermon series.

Prayer: Thank you, God, for protecting us. Thank you, God, for caring for us with your love, peace, grace, goodness, and care. Even when we whine or complain, you love us. Remind us to give you thanks for the good things and not to complain when things might seem bad. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

New International Reader's Version (NIRV) Copyright © 1995, 1996, 1998, 2014 by Biblica, Inc.®. Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

In This Series...

Fourteenth Sunday after Pentecost, Year A - Lectionary Planning Notes Fifteenth Sunday after Pentecost, Year A - Lectionary Planning Notes Sixteenth Sunday after Pentecost, Year A - Lectionary Planning Notes Seventeenth Sunday after Pentecost, Year A - Lectionary Planning Notes