Thursday, 12 January 2012

Manna in the wilderness (SEAL theme: Going for Goals. Patience and Persistence)

  • Have you ever been on a long journey?
  • Where have you been?
  • Did you get fed up? (Children told me about plane flights where there were delays, car journeys where they got lost etc… Many children came to me as I sat in the school Quiet Garden during playtime after assembly with other stories of long journeys)
  • Did you ask “are we nearly there yet?” (almost every hand went up…!)
  • What do you do on journeys to help pass the time? (looking out of the window, playing games of various sorts…)

I’m going to tell you a story about people on a long journey

This is a story about Moses. Moses was a great leader, a great hero. All his people, the Israelites were slaves in Egypt. They had to do just what the king – the Pharaoh – told them. They had to work hard all the time for nothing, and if they complained then their masters beat them.
They were miserable, and they wanted to be free. But they couldn’t see how that would happen.

Then along came Moses. God had told him that he should go to Pharaoh and demand that he set the people free. Let my people go, said Moses. No! said Pharaoh. Again and again he said no. He said no even though God sent a plague of locusts – flying insects to eat all the plants in the land. He said no even though God turned all the rivers red so no one could drink the water. He said no even though God sent a plague of frogs…He just kept saying no. Moses could have given up, but he didn’t. Finally, though, Pharaoh had had enough, and just for a moment, he said yes. Moses gathered up the people and they got out as soon as they could. Only just in time, because Pharaoh changed his mind… No! he said again, and sent his soldiers after them. They chased them but they didn’t catch them.
Phew! Finally the people were free. They’d never been free before. They danced and they sang, and they were really happy. Free at last!

But now what? Moses told them that God would lead them to a new country where they could live, a really good place, full of good food for them, milk and honey. It sounded really good, but when would they get there?

They walked all day, and the next day and the next day…They kept on walking, and walking, and walking. Where was this Promised Land?
They started to grumble.
Grumble, grumble, grumble.
“Are we nearly there yet?” When are we going to get there? Do you even know where you are going? We’re too hot. We’re too cold. We’re thirsty. We’re hungry. Why did we even come anyway? At least when we were slaves we had food to eat. It might not have been much, but it was food. We’re probably going to starve to death out here. We might as well have stayed behind.
Grumble, grumble, grumble.

Oh, for heaven’s sake! Said Moses. Aren’t you glad to be free?

Grumble, grumble, grumble….

So Moses prayed to God.
God, these people are driving me nuts. What can I do with them? I don’t know where to get food for them. What are we going to do?
And God said to Moses, don’t worry, just give them the message I am going to give you…And God told Moses what to do, and Moses spoke to the people.

Listen up! I know we can’t see any food anywhere, but God is going to feed us. Go to bed, and in the morning we’ll see what we can see. Well, they didn’t think anything was going to come of it, but they went to bed anyway.
And in the morning, when they came out of their tents they looked around. The ground was covered with…something. It was a bit like a wafer, and it tasted like…honey! It was good. But what is it? they said to each other. What is it? In their language, the word for “What is it?” was manna, and so that’s what it was known as – the “what is it?” Now, said Moses, God says that you can gather up as much as you like. Some people worked really quickly , some people could only gather a little at a time, but when each of them came to measure out what they had they found it was just enough – no more. If they tried to save any for the next day it would go all horrible and filled with worms… They just had enough for everyone for each day …

They wandered on for years and years, but always there was manna to eat, until the day they finally came to that land God had promised to them, then they never saw it again.

The manna kept them going through the wilderness. I wonder what keeps you going when you have to do something that takes a while – learning something new…? There was a long silence at this point as the children thought… clearly the idea of having strategies to keep themselves going was a new idea. I asked the football team, whose success we had celebrated earlier what kept them going when they were losing matches, and one said – the thought of winning one day… which triggered a few other contributions like “telling yourself you mustn’t give up”. One child said that God could help us.
I suggested that friends, teachers, knowing our goals etc. might help us.

Prayer: silence to think about the times we struggle and how we keep going. Prayer for help at these times.

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