The Antidote to Nostalgia

israelites gathering manna

The story of the Israelites and Moses in the book of Numbers resembles a soap opera or melodrama. There is sweeping action, random and powerful emotional outbursts, a tortured protagonist, a touch of the supernatural, and a long, incremental story that draws big and small conclusions. You can review the first reading for 17 Pentecost (Sept 27, 2009) here.

I can see the Israelites’ point. Their descriptive longing for the leeks and onions and cucumbers and wonderful meats and melons and garlic…these words have been recorded for thousands of years and still, the idea of it makes my mouth water.

But what I connect to most is not the food. It’s something far broader. Wanting the old ways–desperately, persistently–even if it means that someone else gets to control your destiny. The price of security is often one’s freedom. And as we read on, Moses, too, feels enslaved to the expectations of the people.

Nostalgia is a powerful emotion. Nostalgia, however, can also become a closing-in, a glossing-over…a thin substitute for faith. The antidote to nostalgia? Imagining a future, where freedom in God IS the daily manna.

God of past, present, future: You tend to our needs. You do not cater to our wishes. Help us to find the difference. Amen.

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