Thirty-Second Day of Lent   17 comments

Christ Pantocrator

Thursday, April 2, 2020

Collect and lections from the Episcopal Lesser Feasts and Fasts Holy Women, Holy Men:  Celebrating the Saints

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Follow the assigned readings with me this Lent….

Kenneth Randolph Taylor

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Genesis 17:1-8 (Revised English Bible):

When Abram was ninety-nine years old, the LORD appeared to him and said,

I am God Almighty.  Live always in my presence and be blameless, so that I may make my covenant with you and give you many descendants.

Abram bowed low, and God went on,

This is my covenant with you: you are to be the father of many nations.  Your name will no longer be Abram, but Abraham; for I shall make you father of many nations.  I shall make you exceedingly fruitful; I shall make nations out of you, and kings shall spring from you.  I shall make my covenant with you and your descendants after you, generation after generation, an everlasting covenant: I shall be your God, yours and your descendants.’  As a possession for all time I shall give you the land in which you now are aliens, the whole of Canaan, and I shall be their God.

Psalm 105:4-11 (Revised English Bible):

Look to the LORD and be strong;

at all times seek his presence.

You offspring of Abraham his servant,

the children of Jacob, his chosen ones,

remember the marvels he has wrought,

his portents, and the judgements he has given.

He is the LORD our God;

his judgements cover the whole world.

He is ever mindful of his covenant,

the promise he made with Abraham,

his oath given to Isaac,

and confirmed as a statute for Jacob,

as an everlasting covenant for Israel:

I shall give you the land of Canaan,

he said,

as your allotted holding.

John 8:51-59 (The New Testament in Modern English–Revised Edition):

[Jesus replied,]

Believe me when I assure you that if anybody accepts my words, he will never see death at all.

The Jews replied,

Now we know you’re mad.  Why, Abraham died and the prophets, too, and yet you say, ‘If a man accepts my words, he will never experience death!”  Are you greater than our father, Abraham?  He died, and so did the prophets–who are you making yourself out to be?

Jesus returned,

If I were to glorify myself, such glory would be worthless.  But it is my Father who glorifies me, the very one whom you say is God–although yo have never known him.  But I know you, and if I said I did not know him, I should be as much a liar as you are!  But I do know him and I am faithful in what he says.  As for your Father, Abraham, his great joy was that he would see my coming.  Now he has seen it and he is overjoyed.

The Jews said to him,

Look, you are not fifty yet–and have you seen Abraham?

Jesus returned,

I tell you in solemn truth, before there was an Abraham, I AM!

At this they picked up stones to hurl at him, but Jesus was nowhere to be seen; and he made his way out of the Temple.

The Collect:

O God, you have called us to be your children, and have promised that those who suffer with Christ will be heirs with him of your glory: Arm us with such trust in him that we may ask no rest from his demands and have no fear in his service; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

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An understanding of this day’s excerpt from John requires context, for it comes from a narrative.  Jesus has been arguing with a group of Jews in the Temple.  They had believed in him briefly, until he said that they would know the truth, which would set them free.  Then they began to argue that they were descendants of Abraham who had never known slavery, so they did not need to be set free.  Jesus replied anyone who sins is a slave, and that he, as the Son, could liberate them.  Our Lord and Savior continued by saying that the individuals around him were not acually children of Abraham, for Abraham responded to God faithfully; children of Abraham would follow his example.  Jesus continued by telling these individuals that the devil was their father, for the truth was not in them, either.  Then the crowd questioned Jesus’ sanity, and accused them of dishonoring not only himself, but God, also.  This is a summary of John 8:31-50.

In John 8:51-59 Jesus identifies himself with “I AM,” which harkens back to the burning bush episode from Exodus, and pulls rank.  (If anyone deserved to pull rank, it was Jesus.)  He says that he knows Abraham (I have no doubt.) and references the divine prediction of the conception of Isaac by the aged Abraham and Sarah.  God had acted to initiate a covenant with human beings and to continue a lineage to which Jesus was heir.  Referring to this, Jesus says that Abraham was faithful despite how unlikely this promise seemed.  So the people standing in front of him were not children of Abraham because they acted faithlessly in the presence of the fulfillment of divine promises.

The Johannine Gospel tells us that people tried to stone Jesus on the premises.  That behavior did not demonstrate faithfulness, certainly.

It is easy and appropriate to condemn such behavior.  Indeed, as I write these words I rest on nearly two thousand years of tradition.  The mob of the Johannine story rested on thousands of years of tradition, too.  They had become complacent within their tradition.  Is the same statement true about us today?  Useful tradition can be beautiful and necessary; I do not advocate throwing out the baby with the bath water.  All I say is this:  May we avoid religious complacency and smugness.  When God speaks to us, may we recognize that voice and respond faithfully, not defensively.  May we be dutiful children of the living God, I AM.  May we go where God commands us to go and follow divine instructions, as Abraham did.  Abraham had abandoned his home and culture–his traditions–to follow God literally and figuratively.  What does God require of you?

KRT

Written on March 10, 2010

http://blogatheologica.wordpress.com/2012/02/14/what-god-requires/

Posted October 29, 2010 by neatnik2009 in 2020, April 2, Episcopal Church Lectionary

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17 responses to “Thirty-Second Day of Lent

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