Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Exodus 17:1-7

Pentecost +20 – Year A

Exodus 17:1-7

The Mayo Clinic says the symptoms of dehydration are:

Mild to moderate dehydration is likely to cause:
• Dry, sticky mouth
• Sleepiness or tiredness — children are likely to be less active than usual
• Thirst
• Decreased urine output — fewer than six wet diapers a day for infants and eight hours or more without urination for older children and teens
• Few or no tears when crying
• Muscle weakness
• Headache
• Dizziness or lightheadedness

Severe dehydration, a medical emergency, can cause:
• Extreme thirst
• Extreme fussiness or sleepiness in infants and children; irritability and confusion in adults
• Very dry mouth, skin and mucous membranes
• Lack of sweating
• Little or no urination — any urine that is produced will be dark yellow or amber
• Sunken eyes
• Shriveled and dry skin that lacks elasticity and doesn't "bounce back" when pinched into a fold
• In infants, sunken fontanels — the soft spots on the top of a baby's head
• Low blood pressure
• Rapid heartbeat
• Fever
• In the most serious cases, delirium or unconsciousness

Unfortunately, thirst isn't always a reliable gauge of the body's need for water, especially in children and older adults. A better barometer is the color of your urine: clear or light-colored urine means you're well hydrated, whereas a dark yellow or amber color usually signals dehydration.

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So were the Israelites dehydrated or not? Only their urine knows. Perhaps they simply still trying to work out the effects of generations of slavery – impotence?

Since they have not had any power with which to effect their circumstances, muttering and complaining rise to an art form. We know what to do with a drunken sailor, but not what to do with a complaining people. In these kinds of stressful situations and these kinds of enslaved minds and hearts a time of testing is unavoidable. If it weren't over water in the desert, it would certainly be the next deviation or delay from being noticeably one day closer to a promised land. Everyone knows it don't take no forty years to move from Egypt to Canaan. A series of complaints, when it appears the journey is going to be longer than anticipated, is to be expected.

This is a situation that cries out for assurance. The question about whether G*D is with us or not presupposes our ability to be able to make that discernment. Unfortunately we have a conflict of interest that arises with this question – we expect that G*D will bring us fortune and if there is no evidence of that, on our terms, then, obviously, G*D is not with us, is dead or, at least, missing in action.

In today's world there are many who are thirsty, at least are able to claim they are, and who need assurance – a key theological need in troubling times.

For now we leave it with a humble recasting of the question: If G*D is not immediately evident to us, is G*D absent?

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