Through the Bible in a year – January 11

The Scheme for January and February can be found here

Genesis 24; John 8:31-59; Psalm 17

In Jesus’ encounter with ‘the Jews’ we see more of what it means to be the offspring of Abraham, children of the Promise, of Faith. Jesus allows that his opponents are descendents of Abraham, but not his children. There is the line of blood, but not of faith – for they do not do what Abraham did, which was to believe.

His opponents declare him to be a Samaritan and hearing that we are opened up to the richly textured and multilayered world of Scriptural revelation. For John has already introduced the Samaritans, in the woman at the well. And she meets Jesus at Jacob’s well. In this encounter between the Life giver and the woman with no husband, deep memories of faith are evoked. Of previous meetings between Patriarchs and their betrothed at a well. Encounters which are generative of much life as Abraham’s obedience begins through the stumbling lives of his offspring begin to bear fruit.

We are also reminded of the significance of Truth, that all that has turned sour comes from the lies of the serpent in the garden. Of course Jesus’ words leave us staggered – how can these be true? ‘Amen. Amen. I tell you, whoever keeps my word will never see death’ We are reminded of Abraham, who kept his word, rejoiced to see His day. True words, from the Life Giver – the one who alone can say in Truth, I AM. ‘And they took up stones to throw at him’

Through the Bible in a Year – January 4

The Scheme for January and February can be found here

Genesis 8-9; John 4; Psalm 7

Two days ago I commented in passing on the habit of editing the Psalms to suit our sensibilities, swathed in cotton wool as many of us are, never thinking it possible we would find ourselves in a position where we might in desperate need call down curses on those who come against us. The Psalms are prayers for All of Life. Today’s though faces us with something which I suggest ought to be far more troubling to us. How in truth dare we pray ‘O Lord my God . . . if there is wrong in my hands . . . then let my enemy pursue, overtake me and trample my life to the ground and my soul to the dust . . .’ Strangely we have not excised this from our psalters

Praying the Psalms as with all prayer is not just about, or even not primarily about calling on God to change things, rather if we pray attentively we cannot but find that We must change. The Psalms throughout speak with searing clarity and not a hint of hypocrisy of The upright, The Just, Those of integrity. As with the serious grandeur which our Genesis readings confront us – these prayers call us to a fuller and deeper humanity and repentance.

A necessary repentance – for as we see, God has wiped the slate clean, but he still works with the same raw material of fallen humanity, whose ‘heart is inclined towards evil from youth’. We do not need Augustine to ‘devise’ original sin. It is there, in the new humanity as in the old. And humanities Choice, to Know Good and Evil is revealed to be terrible in its effects.

Noah is found naked and drunk – in the aftermath he takes the fullness of the divine image upon himself, to Bless, and to Curse – from one family, the people’s are divided.

Yet One comes who joins together in himself those so divided. The deadly enemies, Samaritans and Jews – those who pray these ancient prayers – are joined into one in the encounter of the woman at the well with the Lord of Life. Deep archetypes – Male and Female – Life giving. Look! The fields are ripe for harvesting!