“For truly to see your face is like seeing the face of God…'” Genesis 33:10
Jacob meets this brother after years of running, lies and fear. And he find in his brother the sweetest of responses.
It is something Jacob seeks. It is something Esau gives. It is a gift.
Nothing in the story tells us if Esau second-guessed, thought it over or regretted it afterward. He simply gave it.
It’s a gift that points us to Christ, in whom we are forgiven, free and right with God.
Let us pray: In you, O Lord, I put my trust. Amen.
“Abraham built an altar there….and called that place, ‘The Lord will provide.'” Genesis 22: 9,14.
Abraham builds an altar. Stone upon stone that becomes a place he will never forget.
It is a moment for him where God interrupts his imagination and startles him with possibility and provision.
I remember reading in an unpublished journal, a phrase someone had sketched in the margins: Sometimes the darkest roads lead to the brightest places.
It was that way for Abraham. With Christ, it is that day, everyday, with us. Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will not fear.
Let us pray: Thank you God, thank you that you fill my life with hope, even when in the world and in my heart there seems to be little. I look to you, provider, life-giver, God of hope. In Jesus name. Amen.
“The Lord said to Abram, ‘Go…'” Genesis 12:1.
God calls Abram and Sarai in Genesis 12:1 and this marks a turning point. Before chapter 12, death seems to reign. After, it is call, promise and life.
But the call, for Abram, is something to answer. One way or the other. It is a moment for him and Sarai that we all have. How they respond defines their life. Go into the unknown, with faith. Or stay where they are and make it on their own.
Jesus said, “Those who try to make their life secure will lose it, but those who lose their life will keep it.” We have been given much, and out of God’s abundance to us, we respond.
Lord God, grant that we may say ‘yes’ to your call to follow, in faith and in trust. In Jesus’ name. Amen.
P.S. Prayer for Thanksgiving Meals
“I will remember my covenant that is between me and you and every living creature of all flesh.” The Lord, Genesis 9:15
We can easily think of limiting God. Of reducing God to an idea, a place, an experience in the past.
But the story of Noah and the Rainbow ends with an outrageous promise. That the Lord, creator of sun, moon and skies, promises to be our God and the God of all. The promise is not limited by any conditions. The promise does not stop with a few. But for all time and with all people and all the earth.
Lord God, grant that we might look for you this day, today, even now, in the good lives you have given us.. In Jesus’ name. Amen.
“God said, “You shall not eat of the fruit of the tree that is in the middle of the garden, nor shall you touch it, or you shall die.” ’ 4But the serpent said to the woman, ‘You will not die; 5for God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.’” Genesis 3:3-4
In Genesis 3 there is a basic tension between what God says and humanity’s ability to live it. The boundaries are clear. They exist. There is a better way to live. God gives it. But as much as the first humans may want to exist in harmony with God and God’s intention, they find that on their own power they cannot.
The New Testament talks about that tension this way: “ I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate….Now if I do what I do not want, it is no longer I that do it, but sin that dwells within me.” Romans 7: 15-20
Part of the Good News is actual power for living God’s good ways – and that’s available through trust in Jesus Christ.
Lord God, grant that we might hate sin and trust in Christ’s power to transform our wills, emotions, words and actions, to be in harmony with you. In Jesus’ name. Amen.
“In the beginning when God created the heavens and the earth, the earth was a formless void and darkness covered the face of the deep, while a wind from God swept over the face of the waters.” Genesis 1:1-2
In the beginning – in fact before it – there was God. And after the end there will be God. We live in the middle. In God’s good creation. All we have is from God.
From nothing, from ‘a formless void’, God created. This is a fundamental action of God, the creator. Terrence Freitheim says, “God’s creation is going somewhere; it is a long-term project, ever in the process of becoming”.
It’s a basic belief we share. That, as part of God’s creation, we are going somewhere. God is always at work among us. That wind still blows.
Lord God, guide us through this week in the assurance that as our Creator, you are still forming and shaping us, and our church, through Jesus Christ. Amen.
P.S. Please remember Margaret in the church office, with busy start to the church program year, the Blessing of the Backpacks liturgy this Sunday the 10th, the Almahamid family we sponsored from Syria as their three children begin school in Hamilton, and all the children and youth at Central heading back to school. A special donation was made this week from the Benevolent Fund to purchase back to school supplies for 25 children at the Good Shepherd’s emergency residential centre. Thank you for your generosity in giving to this fund!
Here some resources that I have used in worship, and have found helpful. A work of Christian art, connected to a Scripture reading. These are PDFs, set for printing.
Matthew 6: 19-21 – The 7 Acts of Mercy, Brueghel the Elder, 1559.
Matthew 8: 28-34 – Jesus heals the demoniacs, 14t c. Lower Rhineland Homiliary.
Matthew 14: 22-33 – Disciples See Christ Walking on the Water, Henry Ossawa Tanner, 1907.
Ecclesiastes comes from the Latin transliteration of the name of the author of the book, translated into Greek, which means ‘Gatherer’.
The book is about the ‘gathering’ of wisdom, wealth and happiness.
Book is part of the OT Wisdom Literature.
Written after 450 BCE.
Contains Persian and Aramaic ‘loan words’.
Persian period = economic activity, aided by standard coinage
Major themes are: individuals always push to change their current state (8:8), we all die (3:19), life has a cycle (3:1-8), how every generation must deal with life which they can’t control, God is sovereign in the end (12:12-13).
Key words: Vanity (x38), under the sun (x29), wisdom/wise (x52), man (x47), labor (x36), and evil (x22).
Help from the Book on the Christian life:
- Death is indiscriminate. All are susceptible. The future is not known or controlled by humans. James 4:14, You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. We find that our only help is in God.
- Joy and Sorrow. Our truest gain is in Christ.
- Work and Vocation. Work is toil, but vocation is purpose.
- Knowledge of God
- Knowledge of Self.
Notes taken from the Oxford Annotated Bible and Ecclesiastes (by William B. Brown).