This week’s reflections focus on the texts from the Second Sunday in Lent: Genesis 15:1-12, 17-18; Psalm 27; Philippians 3:17-4:1; and Luke 13:31-35.
Beginning in Genesis, we noted some of the contextual details of the text. The different titles for God show an editorial hand revising the more traditional names of God, YHWH, and Elohim. The arcane ritual involving the animal carcasses would have shown the commitment of God’s covenant with Abram. The smoking fire pot and flaming torch symbolize the divine presence. Walking between the pieces was a way to convey, “If I fail to uphold my end of the covenant we have made, may I share the same fate as these animals.” This ritual is therefore a sign of God’s faithfulness to Abram.
We wondered about the number and types of animals listed, and questioned whether those would have also had symbolic meaning for the original audience. We also noted that within Abram’s narrative in Genesis, this story is told before the birth of Ishmael, and therefore takes place over thirteen years before the birth of Abraham and Sarah’s son, Isaac. This seemed a good reminder of how God’s faithfulness follows God’s timeline, rather than our own preferences.
We didn’t spend much time with the text from Philippians, though we did find verse 20 interesting given the current events within US politics. It is interesting to think about how Paul’s words, “our citizenship is in heaven” relates to our own role within our society.
In the text from Luke, we were all caught on the way Pr. Sue had drawn out the imagery of Jesus as mother hen, particularly as it contrasted to the preceding reference to Herod as a fox. We thought it interesting that even within the Bible, the imagery often used for God, shield, fortress, lion, etc, seems to direct one’s thoughts away from the vulnerability and intimacy of the imagery of a mother hen with her chicks.
It was interesting to see the Pharisees coming to offer a warning to Jesus about Herod for Jesus’ safety, given how often they are recalled for the way they opposed Jesus. We also pondered what might be meant by verse 35’s statement, “See, your house is left to you.” Might this be a reference to the fall of the temple?
If this summary has piqued your interest, share your thoughts in the comments below. Also, feel free to join in tomorrow evening as we continue the conversation through Google hangouts. Email Joe (firstname.lastname@example.org) if you have any questions about the text study, or are interested in getting involved. Blessings on your Lenten season.