- Fr. Guillermo A. Arboleda
Vacation Bible School Sunday (VI Pentecost - Proper 10A)
These are the descendants of Isaac, Abraham’s son: Abraham was the father of Isaac, and Isaac was forty years old when he married Rebekah, daughter of Bethuel the Aramean of Paddan-aram, sister of Laban the Aramean. Isaac prayed to the Lord for his wife, because she was barren; and the Lord granted his prayer, and his wife Rebekah conceived. The children struggled together within her; and she said, “If it is to be this way, why do I live?” So she went to inquire of the Lord. And the Lord said to her,
“Two nations are in your womb, and two peoples born of you shall be divided;
the one shall be stronger than the other, the elder shall serve the younger.”
When her time to give birth was at hand, there were twins in her womb. The first came out red, all his body like a hairy mantle; so they named him Esau. Afterward his brother came out, with his hand gripping Esau’s heel; so he was named Jacob. Isaac was sixty years old when she bore them.
When the boys grew up, Esau was a skillful hunter, a man of the field, while Jacob was a quiet man, living in tents. Isaac loved Esau, because he was fond of game; but Rebekah loved Jacob.
Once when Jacob was cooking a stew, Esau came in from the field, and he was famished. Esau said to Jacob, “Let me eat some of that red stuff, for I am famished!” (Therefore he was called Edom.) Jacob said, “First sell me your birthright.” Esau said, “I am about to die; of what use is a birthright to me?” Jacob said, “Swear to me first.” So he swore to him, and sold his birthright to Jacob. Then Jacob gave Esau bread and lentil stew, and he ate and drank, and rose and went his way. Thus Esau despised his birthright.
“God gives us what we need, so TRUST GOD!”
VI Sunday After Pentecost (Proper 10A) - VBS Sunday
Last week, about twenty children and ten adults participated in Vacation Bible School at St. Matthew’s for five nights in a row. Our theme this year was the Exodus story (Group's "Wilderness Escape"). We gathered together in the nave for song, Scripture, and prayers; we made crafts in the parish hall; we met in a “tent” with “Moses”, who told us stories about the Israelites’ escape from Egypt and journey in the wilderness; and, because we are St. Matthew’s Church, we ate A LOT.
But most of all, we learned together about the importance of trusting God. Each day there was a special theme, a phrase the leaders would repeat. And every time someone said the key phrase of the day, everyone responded, “Trust God!”
The theme for today’s sermon is the same as Tuesday’s theme: God gives us what we need, so… “TRUST GOD!”
MANNA IN THE WILDERNESS
The Bible passage we read on Tuesday was Exodus 16. This is the story of the Israelites complaining to God that they were hungry while wandering in the wilderness.
These people began as slaves in the land of Egypt. God saved them from their bondage and rescued them from Pharaoh and the Egyptians. God brought them out of Egypt by parting the Red Sea and allowing them to cross the sea on dry land.
The LORD God saved the Israelites from slavery and promised to bring them to a place of rest and refreshment. God promises Moses and the people a better life for all the trouble they go through to escape Egypt.
But immediately after crossing the Red Sea, they weren’t in the Promised Land, they were in a desert. They were far from the fresh water of the Nile River and all the food that comes from it. They are hot, tired, and hungry. They were not entirely sure about where they are going or why, so they begin to rebel against Moses and Aaron’s leadership.
Miraculously, when the people complain to Moses and Aaron, God speaks. God knows what they need before they need it, but God also chooses to speak with the Israelites when they speak with God. God is with us, even when things are hard.
The Israelites need food, and God responds to their need. This is the miracle of manna. God gives the people manna in the wilderness.
The heavenly bread is the food that nourishes them throughout their journeys in the desert. The manna continues to feed the people for the entire time they are in the wilderness. They eat this heavenly food every day until they arrive in the land of Promise.
The manna was exactly what they needed when they needed it. Like the Israelites, God gives us what we need… so TRUST GOD!
ISAAC & REBEKAH
In our Old Testament lesson today, we find a similar story about God answering prayers to satisfy needs.
Isaac and Rebekah pray to God for help. They got married following their romantic first meeting (last week’s OT lesson - Genesis 24:34-67). But in the first few years of their marriage, they realize that they cannot have children.
How will God’s promises come true if Isaac and Rebekah do not have children? Remember, God promised Abraham that he would be the father of a nation, and that the great nation would come through his son Isaac. Isaac heard the story of God speaking to his parents from a very young age. God’s promise became part of his identity. But if Isaac had no kids, then the promise would not come true!
So Isaac and Rebekah prayed that she would become pregnant. The LORD God did answer their prayer and Rebekah became pregnant, but look at when it happened!
They got married when Isaac was 40 years old and their sons were born when Isaac was 60 years old. They had to wait 20 years for their prayer to be answered.
I’m sure that Isaac and Rebekah did not want to wait this long for their children. They wanted God’s promise to come quickly. Similarly, the Israelites didn’t want to wait 40 years to arrive at their Promised Land. And they didn’t want to wait until they were so hungry that they snapped at Moses and Aaron before they received food. But sometimes God’s promises require us to wait.
And despite the long wait, God gave Isaac and Rebekah exactly what they needed when they needed it. And like Isaac and Rebekah, God gives us what we need, … so TRUST GOD!
WANTS & NEEDS
God’s promises help us to see the difference between wants and needs. God is not a vending machine. God doesn’t always give us what we want.
There are plenty of times when we ask God for things that we don’t really need. Can you think of a time when you wanted something but didn’t receive it? Did you learn anything in that experience of waiting, or denial?
Sometimes God teaches us through answering our prayers with, “No.” Perhaps even more often, God responds to our requests with, “Not yet.” Waiting is an important part of receiving God’s promises, because the process of waiting requires our trust.
If we never had to wait for anything, if God always gave us everything we wanted and needed right away, there would be no need for trust. We wouldn’t have to have faith because we would already be able to see God’s promises accomplished.
We need fresh air and water, food every day, shelter over our heads, clothes to protect us from the cold. We need family, friends, and communities of love. We need the Spirit of God dwelling in us, “the Spirit of [God] who raised Jesus from the dead” (Rom 8:11)
We may want all kinds of other things on top of that. And sometimes we may have much more. But God shows us our needs through the promises. The promise of life in the Spirit and forgiveness in Jesus Christ sets our priorities straight.
Even if God doesn’t always give us what we want, God gives us what we need, so … TRUST GOD!
Isaac and Rebekah knew that they needed to have children in order for their family to become the great nation of Israel. God had made them a promise and they prayed for God’s promise to come true.
Likewise, the Israelites left Egypt because God commanded them to leave. God promised that he would bring them to a land flowing with milk and honey. They believed God’s promise and knew that God would fulfill it. In order to get there, they needed food, and God gave them food. God showed the people what they needed through the promise.
What are some ways that God gives you what you need? Spend some time this week journaling and reflecting about all the good gifts God gives you. Practice thanking God for all your blessings, and see how that transforms your faith and trust in God. May you always know that God gives you what you need, so … TRUST God!