Second Sunday of Lent
Second Sunday of Lent
March 17, 2019
What if God had said to Abram, “Listen, I’ll have my attorney contact you and draw up a contract with the normal stipulations, exceptions and provisions. Then, have your people take a look at it and get back to me and if everything is in order we’ll set a date to sign it.”
I’ll tell you want would have happened: nothing. This isn’t in any way a slam against the legal profession, it just wasn’t what they did in the time of Abram; it wasn’t the language of his culture or time. But, when God said to Abram, “Come up on the mountain and ‘bring me a three-year-old heifer, a three-year-old she-goat, and three-your-old ram, a turtle dove, and a young pigeon,’” Abram knew exactly what was happening and what to do. He collected the animals and - split them in two because that’s what you did when you wanted to enter a covenant with someone. Then you’d each walk between the split animals as if to say, “And if I break this agreement may I be split in two just like these animals.” That’s what you did, and everyone knew it.
Even the smoking fire pot and a flaming torch wouldn’t have thrown Abram off; that’s what God did. And God passed between the split animals. But what happened next is what was so unexpected, so unprecedented! God didn’t ask Abram to do it, to walk between the split carcasses. God was promising that no matter what Abram did, God was going to uphold his end of the bargain and would never go back on the promise. No matter what, God would be there. It was a whole new understanding of God and how God operated. God did not change but it was a new understanding of our relationship with God.
Fast forward a few thousand years of tribal living, slavery and parting seas, disagreements and wars and a multitude of sin and grace, fidelity and infidelity, prophets and kings. Fast forward to this scene:
Jesus took three of his disciples up on the mountain. And there he became brilliant white, transfigured before their very eyes, conversing with the couple of the heavy hitters, Moses and Elijah. They were talking about a new covenant and how it would be entered into through a new exodus, a whole new understanding of the God and Us. The disciples, a bit overwhelmed by it all, didn’t get it, at least not yet. What God had in mind was completely new. God would make a new promise, a new covenant, through his sacrifice, his own death and resurrection. No longer would the people have to rely on sacrifices of animals to remain in God’s favor; there would be one sacrifice for all time. This was God’s word. Never before…
Fast forward another century, the beginning of a new generation of believers called Christians, a people that wasn’t formed by blood line or tribe affiliation, a people that would be formed solely out of faith, and anyone, male or female, Jew or Greek, slave or free could be a part of it. Unheard of! Nothing the world or any culture had ever seen before! A people whose citizenship was not in this world but in heaven, where our lowly bodies would be changed to conform with Christ’s glorified body!
I was pondering all of that this week and, what normally happens when I ponder, more questions arose. Like…why do we continue to try to make God into the God who we want God to be rather than let God be the God that God wants to be? Or do we really think we can capture the essence of God with the limitations of our language? Or think for a moment that we can predict God’s action in the world? Do we really think God loves us more than them or think that God will love me more if I say more prayers or say them this way rather than that way? And why, after all that we know of God and how God loves do we continue to close doors on those who are different than us or draw boundaries as if we can somehow contain the love of God or the limits of God’s mercy and forgiveness? Why do we still try to unravel the Mystery rather than just sit in awe and wonder before God who is ever the same and never the same?
Just some questions I’ve been pondering this week…just askin’.