The Lord is my shepherd. I lack nothing.

He lets me rest in grassy meadows; he leads me to restful waters; he keeps me alive.

He guides me in proper paths for the sake of his good name.

Psalm 23:1-3

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The whole Israelite community complained against Moses and Aaron in the desert. The Israelites said to them, “Oh, how we wish that the Lord had just put us to death while we were still in the land of Egypt. There we could sit by the pots cooking meat and eat our fill of bread. Instead, you’ve brought us out into this desert to starve this whole assembly to death.”

Then the Lord said to Moses, “I’m going to make bread rain down from the sky for you. The people will go out each day and gather just enough for that day. In this way, I’ll test them to see whether or not they follow my Instruction.”

Exodus 16:2-4

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When we follow God, unexpected things happen. God leads people into freedom because God is a liberating God, but it might not be what we expect. In today’s passage, the Israelites who were slaves have been freed but they are also still suffering because they haven’t yet made it to the end of their journey into God’s fulfilled promises.

Freedom doesn’t come instantly. Even when old oppressive systems are broken down, it takes time to build new liberating ones. Following God means leaving behind what we know to be harmful and then sticking with the difficult journey toward building something better, even if it takes a long time. Following a liberating God is also signing up to be patient and continuing to trust God in the journey as it unfolds.

Thankfully, that journey is marked by God’s unswerving presence and provision, like when God provided for these Israelites in the desert on their journey. What does God provide you for your journey? How does God show you God is present?

Emily Peck-McClain

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Liberating God, I know you call us to be free and to work to free others from oppression. I know you are with me on the journey from freedom to promise. Teach me patience, provide for me, and keep me near to others who can journey with me. In your holy name I pray, amen.

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Even when I walk through the darkest valley, I fear no danger because you are with me.

Your rod and your staff— they protect me.

You set a table for me right in front of my enemies.

You bathe my head in oil; my cup is so full it spills over!

Yes, goodness and faithful love will pursue me all the days of my life, and I will live in the Lord’s house as long as I live.

Psalm 23:4-6

Emily Peck-McClain

Rev. Dr. Emily A. Peck-McClain is Visiting Professor of Christian Formation and Young Adult Ministry at Wesley Theological Seminary in Washington, D.C. She is author of Arm in Arm with Adolescent Girls and a contributing editor to We Pray With Her and Speaking Truth. Emily lives in Maryland with her spouse, three kids, one dog, and infinite chaos, especially during the pandemic.

Amazing Grace

Rodrigo Rodriguez

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