Good morning, family.
God bless you this day, the day that the Lord has made. Let us rejoice and be glad in it.
As I reflect upon the scriptures this week, the word that has come to my mind, and is perhaps a loose connection shared between the passages, is the word identity. As I read these texts, I am asking myself, "what - or who! - do I identify with?"
The text from Genesis 22, one of the most difficult and brutal in the entirety of the scriptures - Abraham's binding of Isaac and intent to sacrifice him - is profound in how it portrays Abraham identifying with God as both provider and faithful to promises made. Abraham so deeply identifies with God, has such faith in God and God's provision and faithfulness that he goes forward with the unthinkable.
Psalm 13, a classic lament text, so deeply identifies with God's faithfulness, God's provision, protection, and God's love and care, that the psalmist dares to hope. Psalms of lament are so powerful because they are written out of a profound certainty that our present sufferings are not what God desires for us, and will never have the final say! Psalms of lament are a unique kind of hope in that the writers would not cry out, the writers would not lament if they didn't identify so deeply with God, and with hope in God's desires for us! The psalm makes the turn of transformation at the end, thereby confirming that the psalmist's identity in trial is not misplaced or misguided.
Romans 6 calls us to identify so deeply with God and with righteousness in the world that we would call ourselves slaves! It's a remarkable and provocative turn of phrase here that Paul uses: we're slaves to (we identify with) something, either still slaves to Sin and it's dominion over us and the earth, or we identify as slaves to God - and in being a slave to God and God's righteousness we actually, ironically, find our freedom, our liberation!
Finally, our text in Matthew, about welcome, calls us to deeply identify with others - to welcome them. The text ties together welcome and reward, in that when we welcome others, when we identify with them, we receive reward. What's striking in the text is how in this act of welcoming one another, we welcome Christ, and thus, welcome God among us. To identify with others to the extent that we open ourselves up to them in welcome is a holy, sacred participation in the life of God. Extending a cool cup of water to one who is thirsty is a profound act of identity - with God and with the other.
Many blessings as you dwell this week in the scriptures. May you find your identity in the God who is faithful, who looks after us, who is with us and who welcomes us. May it be a cool cup of water in and through you.
Grace and peace,
Scriptures For This Week: June 28, 2020
After these things God tested Abraham. He said to him, “Abraham!” And he said, “Here I am.” 2 He said, “Take your son, your only son Isaac, whom you love, and go to the land of Moriah, and offer him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains that I shall show you.” 3 So Abraham rose early in the morning, saddled his donkey, and took two of his young men with him, and his son Isaac; he cut the wood for the burnt offering, and set out and went to the place in the distance that God had shown him. 4 On the third day Abraham looked up and saw the place far away. 5 Then Abraham said to his young men, “Stay here with the donkey; the boy and I will go over there; we will worship, and then we will come back to you.” 6 Abraham took the wood of the burnt offering and laid it on his son Isaac, and he himself carried the fire and the knife. So the two of them walked on together. 7 Isaac said to his father Abraham, “Father!” And he said, “Here I am, my son.” He said, “The fire and the wood are here, but where is the lamb for a burnt offering?” 8 Abraham said, “God himself will provide the lamb for a burnt offering, my son.” So the two of them walked on together.
9 When they came to the place that God had shown him, Abraham built an altar there and laid the wood in order. He bound his son Isaac, and laid him on the altar, on top of the wood. 10 Then Abraham reached out his hand and took the knife to kill his son. 11 But the angel of the Lord called to him from heaven, and said, “Abraham, Abraham!” And he said, “Here I am.” 12 He said, “Do not lay your hand on the boy or do anything to him; for now I know that you fear God, since you have not withheld your son, your only son, from me.” 13 And Abraham looked up and saw a ram, caught in a thicket by its horns. Abraham went and took the ram and offered it up as a burnt offering instead of his son. 14 So Abraham called that place “The Lord will provide”; as it is said to this day, “On the mount of the Lord it shall be provided.”
1 How long, O Lord? Will you forget me forever?
How long will you hide your face from me?
2 How long must I bear pain in my soul,
and have sorrow in my heart all day long?
How long shall my enemy be exalted over me?
3 Consider and answer me, O Lord my God!
Give light to my eyes, or I will sleep the sleep of death,
4 and my enemy will say, “I have prevailed”;
my foes will rejoice because I am shaken.
5 But I trusted in your steadfast love;
my heart shall rejoice in your salvation.
6 I will sing to the Lord,
because he has dealt bountifully with me.
12 Therefore, do not let sin exercise dominion in your mortal bodies, to make you obey their passions. 13 No longer present your members to sin as instruments of wickedness, but present yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life, and present your members to God as instruments of righteousness. 14 For sin will have no dominion over you, since you are not under law but under grace.
15 What then? Should we sin because we are not under law but under grace? By no means! 16 Do you not know that if you present yourselves to anyone as obedient slaves, you are slaves of the one whom you obey, either of sin, which leads to death, or of obedience, which leads to righteousness? 17 But thanks be to God that you, having once been slaves of sin, have become obedient from the heart to the form of teaching to which you were entrusted, 18 and that you, having been set free from sin, have become slaves of righteousness. 19 I am speaking in human terms because of your natural limitations. For just as you once presented your members as slaves to impurity and to greater and greater iniquity, so now present your members as slaves to righteousness for sanctification.
20 When you were slaves of sin, you were free in regard to righteousness. 21 So what advantage did you then get from the things of which you now are ashamed? The end of those things is death. 22 But now that you have been freed from sin and enslaved to God, the advantage you get is sanctification. The end is eternal life. 23 For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.
40 “Whoever welcomes you welcomes me, and whoever welcomes me welcomes the one who sent me. 41 Whoever welcomes a prophet in the name of a prophet will receive a prophet’s reward; and whoever welcomes a righteous person in the name of a righteous person will receive the reward of the righteous; 42 and whoever gives even a cup of cold water to one of these little ones in the name of a disciple—truly I tell you, none of these will lose their reward.”