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.

Manna in the wilderness comes as a surprise. God at work among us is always startling, unexpected. So, worship should reflect this surprise. Who among you does nobody expect to hear proclaim? A child? A youth? Who refreshes and nourishes the community in an unusual way? A single parent who seems to struggle day by day, and yet continues on somehow? Who has insight into the difficulties of living in the pandemic? Someone recently unemployed? How can we give voice to these “manna in the desert” kinds of people? What platform can you provide so that their voices are heard or words are read in a way that can help sustain the whole community?

The protocols for safety won’t permit handing out things to eat or even to take home at this time. So, what could you show; or what image could you email to everyone to remind them that God provides, that God sustains? What token could be provided that would be a symbol of God’s presence, even in the wilderness of today?

Call to Worship

In the prayers and the praise,
in the words and the wonder:
we are given enough joy to live each day.
In the justice for the oppressed,
in the unexpected generosity for the lost:
we are given enough compassion
to use in service each day.

In the promises made to all,
in the mercy offered to each:
we are given enough grace to share each day.


Reading the Catechism

What does the fourth request mean?
"Give us today our daily bread" means,
Do take care of all our physical needs
so that we come to know
that you are the only source of everything good,
and that neither our work and worry
nor your gifts
can do us any good without your blessing.
And so help us to give up our trust in creatures
and to put trust in you alone.

(Heidelberg Catechism, Lord's Day 50)

Prayer of Application

Give us this day our daily bread: this is our prayer.
If by our grace you give us more, Lord, help us share.
We are your voice, your hands, your feet; use us to show
in word and deed compassion to a world in need.
We thank you, Lord, for joy and peace, for loving care.
As you have loved us, help us, Lord, your love to share.
Then we will tell of living bread; of Jesus Christ, whose
blood was shed that hungry people might be fed. Amen.
PsH 290 (Helen Otte, 1986 © 1987 CRC Publications. Used by permission.)

(from Calvin Institute of Christian Worship, https://worship.calvin.edu/resources/resource-library/bread-for-today-exodus-16-hcld-50/)

Offering Prayer: Exodus 16: 2-16

O God,
from your providing hand even the dissatisfied and grumbling
receive what they need for their lives.
Teach us your ways of justice
and lead us to practice your generosity,
so that we may live a life worthy of the gospel
make known through your Son Jesus Christ, our Savior. Amen.

(from Thematic, Intercessory and Scripture Prayers for the RCL, Vanderbilt Divinity Library.)

Prayer of the Day

Fresh as each morning
you come to us,
Crafter of manna.
Your grace rests
gently upon us,
waiting to be gathered,
to become the bread of life
we share throughout the day.

Fresh as compassion's justice,
you come to us,
Servant of the poor.
Choosing to give
as you desire,
you show us the last,
so we can make them first
in our hearts and hopes.
Doing no wrong,
you make us right
with God for all time.

Fresh as the water
which turns a desert
into a meadowland of flowers,
Spirit of uninterrupted grace,
you come to us.
When we would grumble,
you give us the gospel to live out;
when we would protest,
you teach us songs of praise;
when we would utter laments,
you fill us with God's laughter.

God in Community, Holy in One,
refresh us with your presence
as we pray as Jesus taught, saying,
(The Lord's Prayer)


Litany of Praise

“We Make Known God’s Deeds”
(Psalm 105:1-6)

Left Side: We give thanks to God, we call on the name of the Lord, we make known God’s deeds among the peoples.

Right Side: We sing to God, sing praises to God: we tell of all the Lord’s wonderful works.

Left Side: We glory in God’s holy name; let the hearts of those who seek the Lord rejoice.

Right Side: We seek the Lord and the Lord’s strength; we seek God’s presence continually.

Left Side: We remember the wonderful works God has done, God’s miracles, and God’s judgments.

Right Side: We are offspring of God’s servant Abraham, children of Jacob, God’s chosen ones.

All: We give thanks to the Lord, we call on God’s name, we make known God’s deeds among the peoples.

(Tony Peterson, The Africana Worship Book: Year A, Discipleship Resources, 2006, p. 72.)

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