Water from the rock
Exodus 17: 1-7 (NRSVA)
1 From the wilderness of Sin the whole congregation of the Israelites journeyed by stages, as the Lord commanded. They camped at Rephidim, but there was no water for the people to drink. 2 The people quarrelled with Moses, and said, ‘Give us water to drink.’ Moses said to them, ‘Why do you quarrel with me? Why do you test the Lord?’ 3 But the people thirsted there for water; and the people complained against Moses and said, ‘Why did you bring us out of Egypt, to kill us and our children and livestock with thirst?’ 4 So Moses cried out to the Lord, ‘What shall I do with this people? They are almost ready to stone me.’ 5 The Lord said to Moses, ‘Go on ahead of the people, and take some of the elders of Israel with you; take in your hand the staff with which you struck the Nile, and go. 6 I will be standing there in front of you on the rock at Horeb. Strike the rock, and water will come out of it, so that the people may drink.’ Moses did so, in the sight of the elders of Israel. 7 He called the place Massah and Meribah, because the Israelites quarrelled and tested the Lord, saying, ‘Is the Lord among us or not?’
I find it hard to relax, unwind, let my guard down, concentrate or even think straight when I am thirsty. Once I realise I’m thirsty I quickly become irritable and lose a sense of perspective. I go from not realising I’m thirsty to suddenly gasping in a blink.
Our need to drink is a constant reminder of our bodies and their frailty. We may think we are as tough as nails… but we are nails that need regularly watered and to sit in the sunshine and have someone to talk to… we are basically houseplants.
In our reading from Exodus today we see a deep physical need burst into the narrative. It’s easy to imagine the frustration, the headaches, the weariness, the tension of their dehydration. It must have been unbearable, each one more grouchy than the last. In the midst of this moanfest God doesn’t tell Moses that the Israelites should just put up with it. He says — "Gie them sumhin to drink!” In the middle of a dry and inhospitable place God provided life-giving water to a thirsty people. Sometimes we make things so complicated and nuanced and layered and actually all somebody needs is a glass of water.
Where are the rocks that God is calling us to strike? The dry, inhospitable places that could literally and figuratively slake the thirst of others? Where are there pockets of possibility that offer us opportunities to bless those around us?
Lead us to life-giving water and to people we can share it with.
to those who are dehydrated and irritable,
to those who are dehydrated and exhausted,
to those who are dehydrated and unwell,
to those who are dehydrated and dying
to those who are dehydrated and longing for something more.
Help us not to ignore the physical needs of those around us
guide us in tending to body and spirit as one continuous person.
The Transforming Drink: Make time every day this week to thank God for a drink, whether a blessed cuppa, a cool water or a glass or two in celebration. Think about how Jesus lived a human life and regularly had to drink just like us. Give thanks for the drinks you have.