September 24 – Genesis

At the invitation of our National Bishop, Susan Johnson, we are spending a year reading the Bible. We have started with Genesis, and today are exploring part of chapter 32.

The same night he got up and took his two wives, his two maids, and his eleven children, and crossed the ford of the Jabbok.  He took them and sent them across the stream, and likewise everything that he had.  Jacob was left alone; and a man wrestled with him until daybreak.  When the man saw that he did not prevail against Jacob, he struck him on the hip socket; and Jacob’s hip was put out of joint as he wrestled with him.  Then he said, ‘Let me go, for the day is breaking.’ But Jacob said, ‘I will not let you go, unless you bless me.’  So he said to him, ‘What is your name?’ And he said, ‘Jacob.’  Then the man said, ‘You shall no longer be called Jacob, but Israel, for you have striven with God and with humans, and have prevailed.’  Then Jacob asked him, ‘Please tell me your name.’ But he said, ‘Why is it that you ask my name?’ And there he blessed him.  So Jacob called the place Peniel, saying, ‘For I have seen God face to face, and yet my life is preserved.’  The sun rose upon him as he passed Penuel, limping because of his hip.  Therefore to this day the Israelites do not eat the thigh muscle that is on the hip socket, because he struck Jacob on the hip socket at the thigh muscle.

Reflection – Jacob wrestles with God.  When have you struggled with God?  Jacob’s name was changed to Israel.  How did your struggle change you?

September 23 – Genesis

We are discovering the stories of Genesis, the first book in the Bible. Today’s passage is found in chapter 27.

Now Esau hated Jacob because of the blessing with which his father had blessed him, and Esau said to himself, ‘The days of mourning for my father are approaching; then I will kill my brother Jacob.’ But the words of her elder son Esau were told to Rebekah; so she sent and called her younger son Jacob and said to him, ‘Your brother Esau is consoling himself by planning to kill you. Now therefore, my son, obey my voice; flee at once to my brother Laban in Haran, and stay with him for a while, until your brother’s fury turns away— until your brother’s anger against you turns away, and he forgets what you have done to him; then I will send, and bring you back from there. Why should I lose both of you in one day?’

Reflection – Jacob has stolen the blessing that should have gone to his brother Easu, and Easu plans revenge.  Does your family have similar stories of strife, or are they forgotten and not talked about?  Why might it be important to remember them?

September 22 – Genesis

The story of Genesis continues. Today we look at part of chapter 25.

These are the descendants of Isaac, Abraham’s son: Abraham was the father of Isaac, and Isaac was forty years old when he married Rebekah, daughter of Bethuel the Aramean of Paddan-aram, sister of Laban the Aramean. Isaac prayed to the Lord for his wife, because she was barren; and the Lord granted his prayer, and his wife Rebekah conceived. The children struggled together within her; and she said, ‘If it is to be this way, why do I live?’ So she went to inquire of the Lord. And the Lord said to her,
‘Two nations are in your womb,
    and two peoples born of you shall be divided;
one shall be stronger than the other,
    the elder shall serve the younger.’ 
When her time to give birth was at hand, there were twins in her womb.The first came out red, all his body like a hairy mantle; so they named him Esau. Afterwards his brother came out, with his hand gripping Esau’s heel; so he was named Jacob. Isaac was sixty years old when she bore them.

Reflection – Again, a husband and wife can’t have children.  Again, God intervenes and gives them a family.  And this will happen again in a few chapters! Why do you think this keeps coming up in these stories?

September 21 – Genesis

We are responding to Bishop Susan Johnson’s invitation to read the Bible this year, and we have started with Genesis.

Today’s reading come from chapter 25.

This is the length of Abraham’s life, one hundred and seventy-five years. Abraham breathed his last and died in a good old age, an old man and full of years, and was gathered to his people.

Reflection – According to the text, Abraham was 175 years old when he died.  Is this one of those times when “we need to take the Bible seriously but not literally”?  How do you know when to make this distinction?

September 20 – Genesis

Here we are again, reading through portions of the first book in the Bible, commonly called Genesis. This passage is found in the 17th chapter.

God said to Abraham, ‘As for Sarai your wife, you shall not call her Sarai, but Sarah shall be her name.  I will bless her, and moreover I will give you a son by her. I will bless her, and she shall give rise to nations; kings of peoples shall come from her.’  Then Abraham fell on his face and laughed, and said to himself, ‘Can a child be born to a man who is a hundred years old? Can Sarah, who is ninety years old, bear a child?’  And Abraham said to God, ‘O that Ishmael might live in your sight!’  God said, ‘No, but your wife Sarah shall bear you a son, and you shall name him Isaac.  I will establish my covenant with him as an everlasting covenant for his offspring after him.  As for Ishmael, I have heard you; I will bless him and make him fruitful and exceedingly numerous; he shall be the father of twelve princes, and I will make him a great nation.  But my covenant I will establish with Isaac, whom Sarah shall bear to you at this season next year.’  And when he had finished talking with him, God went up from Abraham.

Reflection – God’s promise is given again to Abraham, and another promise is given to Ishmael.  How else have you seen God’s concern for others who have been considered “outsiders”?

September 19 – Genesis

Today’s reading from Genesis is located in the 16th chapter.

Now Sarai, Abram’s wife, bore him no children. She had an Egyptian slave-girl whose name was Hagar, and Sarai said to Abram, ‘You see that the Lord has prevented me from bearing children; go in to my slave-girl; it may be that I shall obtain children by her.’ And Abram listened to the voice of Sarai.  So, after Abram had lived for ten years in the land of Canaan, Sarai, Abram’s wife, took Hagar the Egyptian, her slave-girl, and gave her to her husband Abram as a wife.  He went in to Hagar, and she conceived; and when she saw that she had conceived, she looked with contempt on her mistress.  Then Sarai said to Abram, ‘May the wrong done to me be on you! I gave my slave-girl to your embrace, and when she saw that she had conceived, she looked on me with contempt. May the Lord judge between you and me!’  But Abram said to Sarai, ‘Your slave-girl is in your power; do to her as you please.’ Then Sarai dealt harshly with her, and she ran away from her.

Reflection – Abram and Sarai take things into their own hands, and conflict and division occur.  How have you discovered God’s promise becoming real when your life has been disrupted, and relationships strained?

September 18 – Genesis

Thanks for joining us in reading through the book of Genesis this month!

Today’s passage is found in chapter 15.

After 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.’  But Abram said, ‘O Lord God, what will you give me, for I continue childless, and the heir of my house is Eliezer of Damascus?’  And Abram said, ‘You have given me no offspring, and so a slave born in my house is to be my heir.’  But 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.’  He 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.’ And he believed the Lord; and the Lord reckoned it to him as righteousness.

Reflection – Abram is having difficulty believing the promise, and asks that it be renewed. Here’s the gift – God does it!  When have you needed to be reassured of God’s love?  How did that happen?

September 17 – Genesis

At the invitation of our national Bishop, Susan Johnson, we are reading portion of the Bible every day this year, as an exercise is Spiritual Renewal.

Today’s reading is found in the 12th chapter of Genesis.

Now the Lord said to Abram, ‘Go from your country and your kindred and your father’s house to the land that I will show you. I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you, and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and the one who curses you I will curse; and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.’

So Abram went, as the Lord had told him; and Lot went with him. Abram was seventy-five years old when he departed from Haran.

Reflection – Abram and Sarai, a couple who cannot have a family, will be a blessing for the families of the earth.  Think of a time you have unexpectedly been able to bless someone.  Give thanks for those times!

September 16 – Genesis

Today’s reading is from Genesis, chapter 11. The focus of the story changes from being on the world, to being on a specific family.

Terah was the father of Abram, Nahor, and Haran; and Haran was the father of Lot.  Haran died before his father Terah in the land of his birth, in Ur of the Chaldeans.  Abram and Nahor took wives; the name of Abram’s wife was Sarai, and the name of Nahor’s wife was Milcah. She was the daughter of Haran the father of Milcah and Iscah.  Now Sarai was barren; she had no child.

Reflection – Abram and Sarai cannot have children.  When have you experienced “barrenness,” or an inability to contribute?  Have you discovered God in those times, or has God been absent for you?

September 15 – Genesis

We are working our way through Genesis, the first book of the Bible. Today’s reading come from chapter 9.

Then God said to Noah and to his sons with him, ‘As for me, I am establishing my covenant with you and your descendants after you, and with every living creature that is with you, the birds, the domestic animals, and every animal of the earth with you, as many as came out of the ark.  I establish my covenant with you, that never again shall all flesh be cut off by the waters of a flood, and never again shall there be a flood to destroy the earth.’  God said, ‘This is the sign of the covenant that I make between me and you and every living creature that is with you, for all future generations: I have set my bow in the clouds, and it shall be a sign of the covenant between me and the earth.  When I bring clouds over the earth and the bow is seen in the clouds, I will remember my covenant that is between me and you and every living creature of all flesh; and the waters shall never again become a flood to destroy all flesh.  When the bow is in the clouds, I will see it and remember the everlasting covenant between God and every living creature of all flesh that is on the earth.’ God said to Noah, ‘This is the sign of the covenant that I have established between me and all flesh that is on the earth.’

Reflection – God makes a covenant with all of creation; not just with Noah, not just with people.  Does this challenge your image of God? What does this say about God’s priorities? About ours?