Tuesday, January 29, 2008

God's Covenant with Abram

Tuesday, January 29, 2008 -- Week of 3 Epiphany, Year 2

Today's Readings for the Daily Office (Book of Common Prayer, p. 945)
Psalms 45 (morning) 47, 48 (evening)
Genesis 15:1-11, 17-21
Hebrews 9:1-14
John 5:1-18

I've never noticed it before, but in the dramatic account of God's covenant with Abram, Abram never walks through the sacrifices. This covenant binds only God, not Abram. It is a unilateral, one-sided promise from God to grant Abram both land and descendants.

The convenant ceremony is very ancient, one might say, primitive. Animals are split in two, and the parties to the covenant declare their the intention of their agreement. Then the parties walk through the middle of the animal carcasses, communicating physically the understanding -- "May I be cut in two like these animals if I do not fulfill my obligation under this agreement."

Abram prepares the animals and fights off the birds of prey. When it is dark, "a smoking fire pot and a flaming torch passed between these pieces." These are the signs of God's presence. God walks between the animals and makes a covenant with Abram, communicating, in essence, "May I be cut in two like these animals if I do not fulfill my promises." God speaks to Abram of the gift of the promised land. Nothing is asked of Abram in return.

It may be that Abram's faith, his trusting in God's promise was good enough. Abram trusts; God covenants.

I'm reminded of Paul's theology of justification by faith. God gives salvation, a relationship of intimacy, as God's gift to us "while we were yet sinners." All that is necessary for us is to accept the gift -- faith, or trust.



Audio podcast: Listen to an audio podcast of the most recent Morning Reflections from today and the past week. Click the following link: Morning Reflection Podcasts

About Morning Reflections
Morning Reflections is a brief thought about the scripture readings from the Daily Office of Morning and Evening Prayer according to the practice found in the Book of Common Prayer of the Episcopal Church.

Morning Prayer begins on p. 80 of the Book of Common Prayer.
Evening Prayer begins on p. 117

An online resource for praying the Daily Office is found at www.missionstclare.com
Another form of the office from Phyllis Tickle's "Divine Hours" is available on our partner web site www.ExploreFaith.org at this location -- http://explorefaith.org/prayer/fixed/index.html

The Mission of St. Paul's Episcopal Church
is to explore and celebrate
God's infinite grace, acceptance, and love.

Visit our web site at www.stpaulsfay.org

Our Rule of Life
We aspire to...
worship weekly
pray daily
learn constantly
serve joyfully
live generously.

Lowell Grisham, Rector
St. Paul's Episcopal Church
Fayetteville, Arkansas


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