Monday, August 1, 2011

God our help

Numbers 11:4b-15 - A frustrated Moses journeying out of Egypt with hungry and ungrateful Israelites 
Psalm 81: 12-17 - Sing with joy to God our help
Matthew 14:22-36 - Jesus walks on water and commands Peter to fearlessly do the same

We know this Moses well.  Here he is in the first reading, journeying with the Israelites out of Egypt to the Promised Land and caring for them as their divinely chosen leader, yet burdened by the suffering, and the stubbornness, of the Israelites.  His people, so many of them, are in their hunger begging to be fed while still recalling that even in their enslavement in Egypt, they at least ate their fill.  Pained by their endless cries of hunger and despair, Moses cries out to God in exasperation: Why me? Why should I be responsible for them? What did I do to deserve this, and how will I possibly satisfy their hunger? I cannot do this on my own…”

I imagine that many of us gathered here today often feel these same sentiments in the day-to-day of our lives.  How often do we feel overwhelmed by our responsibilities, and weighed down by the immensity of the need around us?  How often do we give, and give, and give of ourselves, and feel so little appreciated in return?  Whether it is caring for elderly parents or grandparents, raising children, laboring to teach our students, or feeling compelled to respond to the needs of St. Charles Food Pantry or the refugees in Somalia, no doubt we have moments when the human struggle we witness causes us to ask “Why?  Why should I be responsible for this?  How will I possibly meet their endless needs? I cannot do this on my own…”

We are commanded to love one another, yet we often struggle to find the energy.  We are called to feed the hungry, but where to find the food?  We are asked to walk on water, but the strength of the wind is terrifying.

It is in these moments of fear and frustration, when we feel the weight of the world on our shoulders and in our hearts, that we find ourselves in the company of Moses and Peter.  Struggling with the seeming impossibility of the Lord's command, they simply cry out, “Lord, save me!”   Their courageous act of faith invites us to trust that we too will be met with saving grace in Jesus’ outstretched hand the moment we reach for God our help.

Written for a lay-led communion service at Fairfield University, 8/1/2011

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