Manna of the Heart

Posted by: Richenda at Sunday June 7, 2009 in

I was thinking of the problems that arise because of the (necessary?) combination of money and ministry. Churches pay rent, sponsor retreats, fund mission and aid work, and the rest… And I am thinking how amazing it will be in the New Jerusalem when money will be gone and the manna of the heart will fulfill all the needs of ministers and ministry.

And then I think, manna of the heart! What a wonderful image! What a great way to say describe something that is hard to describe. I wonder, did I coin a cool new phrase?

Of course I turned to Google to find out. Has anyone written ‘manna of the heart’ before? Yes! Actually, Mr. George Burrowes who wrote a Commentary on Song of Solomon in 1860. On page 47 he writes “There are periods in the Christian Life when the soul enlightened by the Holy Spirit sees a deep, instructive, and glorious meaning in the Song; when the truth thus found here, proves to be the very manna of the heart, the very quintessence of spiritual nourishment…”

Quintessence of spiritual nourishment, pretty good!

We get the word Quintessence from the classical & medieval periods, from the pagan philosopher Aristotle. Medieval people based their world understanding around his idea of the the four essences: earth, fire, water, air. The fifth (quint) essence was separate and distinct from all of these and was thought as the ultimate essence, ethereal and pure. Monks believed the result of their distilled liquors held something of the quintessence. It was thought to be heaven or heaven-like, perhaps. (Makes me think of today’s advertisements for perfumes!)

(Well…I tried hard to find a cool medieval image of Aristotle and his four essences, but I failed… mea culpa.)

What’s most important, though, is this idea of manna of the heart. I am reminded of one of Wesley’s rules of faith, to ‘stay in love with God.’ We are encouraged to stay spiritually nourished, even when it’s hard to do so. When times get complex, when the ministry money gets tight or runs out… Or when the candles are burned up, and the church is far away, these are the moments to remember that manna comes from God, and only from God. It is given always in times of need, to the lost, the wandering, and the people of the wilderness.

So. Manna of the heart, the stuff that comes each day to sustain the faithful, to fill us with comfort, love, and care, no matter the circumstances of our lives. Try a morning devotion and you will see exactly what I mean. Spend a moment with a candle or a psalm. Or both. Or neither, just God and yourself in a quiet moment together.

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