Blogging Towards Sunday, February 28, 2010
Genesis 15 presents the story of Abraham concluding the covenant with God through the sacrifice of an animal. Divided in two it represents, as was practiced in the ancient world from Israel to Sumeria and Babylon, whoever breaks the agreement or covenant, shall suffer the fate of the sacrificed animal. Yet what's striking in the passage is that God alone passes through the middle of the sacrifice, the ritualistic action that concludes the agreement. In the end it's God who seals the deal, assuming the totality of the covenant: what the Apostle Paul would call grace upon grace.
So how is God revealed to us? We often expect the heavens to open and a voice to boom out into the skies and to write the will of God for all to easily see, or for us to be struck by a bolt of lightening and receive instant clarity. Yet these two stories present theophany and the self-revelation of God quite differently: in the context of an ongoing relationship, in a way in which those involved (Abraham and the disciples) don't really realize what's going on when it does. We believe that God is still speaking today, still acting in our world, always creating, redeeming and resurrecting - yet how and when do we hear it? see it? experience it in our lives and our context? Maybe we're looking for something so gigantic that we miss the simple, present thing right before us? Maybe we're listening more for what we want to hear than what is being said? Maybe we're unable to slow down enough, to step out of daily life (as occurs in the passages) in order to listen differently? A favorite song of mine talks about the Israelites in the desert, saying that God is still talking, we are not listening. The problem is that such a line of thinking often leads up to feelings of guilt, regret and despair, when God speaks to give us encouragement, hope and courage. Maybe we already hear God speaking to us through nature, scripture, community and service; yet we don't trust that God would speak to little old us.