As this week opens near June’s end, a traditional month of committed love and marriage, our first four days center on two great love stories in scripture. In this first story, Abraham and his son Isaac are in deep mourning over the death of wife and mother Sarah. Knowing they need comfort and new life, Abraham sends his trusted servant on a long trip to his old home and to Abraham’s kinsfolk to ask for a bride for Isaac.
Why is this story told in such minute and fascinating detail throughout a long chapter with repetitions? It is a significant event not only describing the early beginnings of the history of a great nation, but also revealing a new, great symbolic concept of how God relates to the human heart and the human community: as marriage partner.
From Genesis to Revelation, scripture uses the marriage commitment as the sacramental symbol of God's pledged love and the pledged response of God’s people. This chosen mutuality is expressed by the invitation of God through the prophet Hosea, “You will call me ‘my husband,’ and no longer call me ‘my Baal’” (which means “my master”) (Hos. 2:16, esv).
God offers a radically new concept of marriage based on mutuality rather than barter, ownership, or domination. Through this concept of mutuality, Hosea offers a radical concept of God, who comes to us not as master to submissive servant, demanding fear and obedience, but as bridegroom to bride, lover to the beloved.
God of love, as we turn to you seeking your presence and listening for your guidance, help us to respond to you not in servitude but in committed love and trust. Amen.
The reading in Genesis transitions our attention from Abraham to his son Isaac. When Isaac comes of age, Abraham sends a servant to find a wife for him. When the servant meets Rebekah, her kind hospitality convinces him that she is the one. Isaac marries her, and the readings in the psalm and Song of Solomon celebrate nuptial love as a symbol of God’s love. Paul in Romans reflects on the human condition. We desire to do what is right, but we fall short over and over again. What is the solution? God delivers us through Jesus Christ. In Matthew, Jesus emphasizes his intimate relationship with God and invites all who are weary to enter into Christ’s rest.
Read Genesis 24:34-38, 42-49, 58-67. Which of these or other biblical stories model for you the relationship between God and humanity?
Read Song of Solomon 2:8-13. How have you seen God at work in the way loving relationships have transformed you?
Read Romans 7:15-25a. When have you refused to participate in Communion because you did not feel worthy? How might participating in Communion in times of strife or sin help you be reconciled to God and others?
Read Matthew 11:16-19, 25-30. The life of faith holds many ironies. How do you hold together the seeming opposites of Jesus’ and John’s focus in their ministries? of seeking to be yoked to God when your burden is too heavy?
Respond by posting a prayer.
This season, Whitney R. Simpson has given us the gift we must open: a clear, accessible invitation to connect with the divine spark that is within us. This is the best present: being present for Jesus’ birth, God made human.”
Learn more about our newest Advent resource, Fully Human, Fully Divine here.