Episcopal Diocese of Minnesota

Environmental Stewardship Commission (MEESC) Lectionary Reflection All Years, Maundy Thursday, Psalm

Psalm 78:14-20, 23-25:
He led them with a cloud by day, * and all the night through with a glow of fire.

He split the hard rocks in the wilderness * and gave them drink as from the great deep.

He brought streams out of the cliff, * and the waters gushed out like rivers.

But they went on sinning against him, * rebelling in the desert against the Most High.

They tested God in their hearts, * demanding food for their craving.

They railed against God and said, * "Can God set a table in the wilderness?

True, he struck the rock, the waters gushed out, and the gullies overflowed; * but is he able to give bread or to provide meat for his people?"

So he commanded the clouds above * and opened the doors of heaven.

He rained down manna upon them to eat * and gave them grain from heaven.

So mortals ate the bread of angels; * he provided for them food enough.

Reflection on Psalm 78: by John Gibbs, PhD

Ancient Israel and Church alike extol God's works in this world. Psalm 78 is one of several psalms (105, 106, 135, 136) that look back across God's works with and for God's People.

This psalm sharply contrasts God's faithfulness within the creation and, on the other hand, the faithlessness of the covenant community. What does God do? God uses what God has created to provision the People: springs of water gush forth from the rocks, rains pour down from above, "mortals ate of the bread of angels; he sent them food in abundance" (78:25). As for the People, on the other hand: "They forgot what he had done, and the miracles that he had shown them" (78:11). They forsook both covenant and law. They resorted to flattery, lies, infidelity to God (78:36-37)

It is essential to retain this cosmic context for Holy Week. What happens during these days is not a private via dolorosa (path of tears), for it is a New Exodus that includes not only all Israel, but all humanity, and all creation.

To Reflections on the other readings for Maundy Thursday:
Old Testament Exodus 12:1-14a
Psalm Psalm 78:14-20,23-25
this page
New Testament 1 Corinthians 11:23-26(27-32)
Gospel John 13:1-15 or Luke 22:14-30

John Gibbs, a retired theologian, attends Trinity Episcopal Church, Park Rapids, MN. He originally wrote this reflection in 2001. John and we welcome your comments. Please address your comments or additional reflections to John Gibbs or any MEESC member, or mail them to:
MEESC Holy Trinity Church Box 65 Elk River, MN 55330-0065 USA

The MEESC assumes that all correspondence received is for publication on this web site. If your comments are not for publication, please so note on your correspondence. The MEESC reserves the right to decide which items are included on the web site.

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This page last updated 01-03-25.