This text is used for the Lectionary Year A on July 30, 2017.
History has a strange way of repeating itself. There is a couple in my church that just celebrated their 35th wedding anniversary. They met in 6th grade and have been in love ever since. Their story seemed strange to me. I don’t know anyone who married their high school sweetheart from my hometown. Not one. Over the 35 years of marriage, they raised four boys. Three out of the four sons married their high school sweetheart.
Our text for today is also a story of history repeating itself. It is a story about love, deception, waiting, and dysfunctional families. A journey through Genesis will reveal a flawed, dysfunctional first family of faith. Abraham and Sarah had their own struggles as they made a mess of their family by trying to bring about God’s promises in their own way (Genesis 16). Isaac and Rebekah’s twin boys, Esau and Jacob, were estranged, to say the least. Jacob, the younger, seized the opportunity to steal his brother’s birthright (Genesis 25:31-34). His brother came to him famished, and Jacob used that moment to take what was rightfully Esau’s. Toward the end of Isaac’s life, his wife Rebekah conspired with Jacob to deceive his father Isaac through a masquerade. Jacob was able to make his father believe he was Esau. Isaac gave his full blessing to Jacob (Genesis 27:27-29), and there was none left for Esau (Genesis 27:37). The hatred and conflict between Jacob and Esau reached a boiling point when Esau planned to murder his brother. The threat to the covenant in this generation is the conflict between Jacob and Esau.
This text is used for the Lectionary Year C on October 30th, 2016.
The book of Habakkuk often takes a minor role in our reading of the Minor Prophets. If referenced at all, it usually focuses on the famous refrain found at the end of the fourth chapter. A refrain that speaks of resting in God’s will no matter what comes. But, the impulse to jump right to those verses does a disservice to what transpires before. Similarly, there is a temptation to jump past the hard points in life. We want to jump past grief to comfort; jump past pain to healing; jump past doubt to assurance. But many times the hard times are an essential part of the overall process. This reading from Habakkuk gives us a chance to practice this discipline.
The Prophet starts out his account with a question and lament. “How long,” he asks “should I cry out for help?” The prophet is in distress, and he is fed up with it. For Habakkuk, it appears that God has not reached out to save him. God has not taken a look at his trouble. How do we help someone who is questioning God? What do we do when that person is us? Often, these questions don’t find much space in our churches. But the prophets and the psalms don’t seem as afraid of them as we can be. Commentators note that the beginning of Habakkuk’s claims seem vague, and perhaps that is for the best. We cannot write them off as a special occurrence, a one-time thing. Habakkuk speaks from a place that we all come to at some time or another. How can we speak about it?
This text is used for the Lectionary Year B on December 21, 2014.
When the angel Gabriel appears to Mary to tell her that she will have a son who will be the Son of God, her response is, “How can this be?” (Luke 1:34). It’s a fair question! In this passage, Luke shows us that God is about to do something completely new – something that’s never been done before. But in order to understand more fully the extent of what God is about to do, we first need to read this text in light of other call narratives throughout the Bible. Continue reading