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, Psalm 105:1-6 & 37-45


This week, there is a little fun with food before diving into the main idea – God is at work even when we don’t yet understand.

Icebreaker (5 minutes)

  • What is the weirdest thing you’ve ever eaten?
  • What is one thing you think you could eat at least once a week – or more?
  • Would you rather eat the same thing every day for a year or eat something different every day for a year?

Activity (15 minutes)

Game: What is it?

How to play:

  1. Ask for two volunteers.
  2. Once you have the volunteers, tell them the game they are playing is called – What is it? The goal is to guess the food that you put in their mouth. The one with the most correct guesses wins.
  3. Place blindfolds on the two volunteers; make sure those watching know to not give anything away.
  4. Unwrap the items wearing gloves; and break off a piece and place it in their mouths. Have each volunteer guess the food. They might agree; they might not.
  5. Repeat the activity four or five times.

Note: Make sure these are not easy foods to guess. Also, remember that you may have youth with food allergies. Here are some ideas:

  • Mixed fruit blend baby food or any blend of baby food that isn’t just one flavor
  • An unusual vegetable – like a rutabaga
  • Spam
  • Dutch candy

If you are meeting virtually, turn the tables on this activity. Get students to put some food in their mouths and describe it to the others. What does it feel like? What are the flavors?

Check it out – The Israelites spent forty years eating something they called, “What is it?”

Scripture (15 minutes)

Read: Exodus 16:2-15

  • Why are the Israelites complaining?
  • What did God do?
  • How does the manna show us that God was at work?

It’s easy to complain when we’re uncomfortable, hungry, tired, and anxious because we don’t like to be any of those things. We like comfort, food, rest, and peace. Yet, how much have you been complaining about what is going on in our world right now?

Discussion (15 minutes)

God showed himself faithful to the Israelites, and they were able to share the wonders of what God was doing. Even in the midst of the wilderness, God was at work.

Read Romans 8:28.

  • How does this verse remind us that God is at work today?
  • What is God doing around us right now?
  • How might God be using this situation to help bring people to God?
  • How might asking God, “What are you teaching me?” help you adjust your focus from the challenges you are facing back to God?

Close in prayer.


  • Four or five food items, plastic gloves, wipes
  • Two blindfolds

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