Lectionary Text for the Second Sunday in Lent:
Genesis 15:1-12, 17-18: 1After these things the word of the LORD came to Abram in a vision, ‘Do not be afraid, Abram, I am your shield; your reward shall be very great.’ 2But Abram said, ‘O Lord GOD, what will you give me, for I continue childless, and the heir of my house is Eliezer of Damascus?’ 3And Abram said, ‘You have given me no offspring, and so a slave born in my house is to be my heir.’ 4But the word of the LORD came to him, ‘This man shall not be your heir; no one but your very own issue shall be your heir.’ 5He brought him outside and said, ‘Look towards heaven and count the stars, if you are able to count them.’ Then he said to him, ‘So shall your descendants be.’ 6And he believed the LORD; and the LORD reckoned it to him as righteousness. 7 Then he said to him, ‘I am the LORD who brought you from Ur of the Chaldeans, to give you this land to possess.’ 8But he said, ‘O Lord GOD, how am I to know that I shall possess it?’ 9He said to him, ‘Bring me a heifer three years old, a female goat three years old, a ram three years old, a turtle-dove, and a young pigeon.’ 10He brought him all these and cut them in two, laying each half over against the other; but he did not cut the birds in two. 11And when birds of prey came down on the carcasses, Abram drove them away. 12 As the sun was going down, a deep sleep fell upon Abram, and a deep and terrifying darkness descended upon him. 17 When the sun had gone down and it was dark, a smoking fire-pot and a flaming torch passed between these pieces. 18On that day the LORD made a covenant with Abram, saying, ‘To your descendants I give this land, from the river of Egypt to the great river, the river Euphrates,
Luke 9:28-43: On the next day, when they had come down from the mountain, a great crowd met him. 38Just then a man from the crowd shouted, ‘Teacher, I beg you to look at my son; he is my only child. 39Suddenly a spirit seizes him, and all at once he shrieks. It throws him into convulsions until he foams at the mouth; it mauls him and will scarcely leave him. 40I begged your disciples to cast it out, but they could not.’ 41Jesus answered, ‘You faithless and perverse generation, how much longer must I be with you and bear with you? Bring your son here.’ 42While he was coming, the demon dashed him to the ground in convulsions. But Jesus rebuked the unclean spirit, healed the boy, and gave him back to his father. 43And all were astounded at the greatness of God.
COMMENT: This encounter of Abram with the LORD intrigues me. There is little room for doubt that there is an intimate, profound bond between Abram the LORD (Jehovah, the Covenant name of God). The LORD has developed Abram’s faith that he easily receives a ‘message’ from the LORD in the form of a vision. The LORD says, “Do not be afraid, Abram, I am your shield; your reward shall be very great.” For Abram the ‘reward’ would be a child, an heir, which he did not have.
The scene recorded in Luke 9 is also about a man and his child. This man’s son is sick and he believes even Jesus’ disciples can cure the boy. Reward for this man is to have his son made whole.
What does the word reward conjure up in our minds? The Scripture is full of ‘rewards’ that are clearly defined. “Those of steadfast mind you keep in peace— in peace because they trust in you. Isaiah 26:3. Jesus said, “Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens and I will give you rest.” Matthew 11:28 ‘Peace’ is the reward for trust and ‘rest’ is promised from heavy burdens.
But when the reward has no clear object, what thoughts rise in our minds? Perhaps we think of material gain; or we want to recapture an emotional state now lost from a broken relationship. Perhaps we want to experience again the joy when we find God.
Lent is the perfect time to have these discussions with God. This season of introspection lends itself to opening ourselves to hear God’s voice, in whatever way God chooses to send a “word,” an answer. A reward of Lent can be the awareness that God is in the midst of the mental pain of grief. That God even squeezes our tear ducts to release the mental struggle resulting from loss. Consider a God who laughs with us and never at us and who dances with us in our joy, especially in mundane places like supermarket isles!
Let us keep the Spirit of Lent in our hearts and claim the reward promised by the Psalmist that we will daily, in an eternal present, see God’s goodness, “in the land of the living.” Psalm 27:13.
©February 27, 2010
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