My friends Scott and Rolf formed a bluegrass combo about 15 years ago.  Because they’re both pastors and Bible geeks, and many of the rotating band of musicians that play with them are also pastors or “churchy” folks, it’s fitting that they drew their band name from scripture.  For inspiration, they turned to the verses that introduce the passage that we just read on Sunday from the Book of Exodus.

“If only we had died by the hand of the Lord in the land of Egypt, when we sat by the fleshpots and ate our fill of bread, for you have brought us out into this wilderness to kill this whole assembly with hunger.” Exodus 16:3

Apparently, in our story, God’s people believed that it would be better to die in captivity with a full belly than to die of hunger as a free people.  But they seem to have lost sight of how much God prioritizes life, especially in the face of death.  So God listens to the complaint and delivers on God’s promise to be about life.  And God feeds the people quail and manna.  Every day for the next forty years, God reminds the people that God will make sure that they have enough to live.

But what reference in that verse would make for a good band name?  Being an Old Testament scholar, Rolf naturally gravitated to calling his merry troupe, “The Fleshpots of Egypt.”  He would probably make some lengthy claim that it’s a reminder of how good we might have thought we had it in the past, but things could be so much better if we trust that the future under God’s care could be good too.  I believe he just wanted an edgy-sounding name that would look good on a t-shirt or sticker. The truth is probably somewhere in between.

Captivity and hunger sit opposite freedom and satisfaction.  Complaint sits opposite thanksgiving just as death sits opposite life.  But our experiences are so rarely ordered around a simple binary.  Most of the time we don’t get to live in the definitively black or white but stumble around in the gray.  But God’s faithfulness is steadfast and it’s exactly for this reason we can live in the certainty that while the Fleshpots of Egypt might give us comfort in the here and now, there will always be more joy to come.

May God’s peace come to you this day.  -Pastor Peter

Let us pray…

Loving God, you fill the hungry with good things. Send your blessing on all those who prepare food (and music) for our nourishment and delight and make us all ever thankful for daily bread. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.