How does Rebekah feel about this startling encounter at the well? There, on an ordinary day, taking her ordinary trudge to fill the water jugs, suddenly she meets a travel-stained stranger who hails her as a bride and decks her in jewels. She might feel much the same way Sarah and Abraham felt when in old age they were told by strange travelers that Sarah would be giving birth.
How do we feel when God breaks into our daily routine after long waiting or amid pain and despair? A powerful story in John’s Gospel shows us the traumatized disciples in a locked room after Jesus’ resurrection. They are grieving his shocking death and the apparent complete failure of his mission. They themselves are in danger. Perhaps, above all, they are consumed with shame that they had abandoned him at Gethsemane. A woman has reported that she has seen him risen from death, but even if true, he will never trust them again. Their life’s meaning is destroyed.
Then suddenly he is there with them in spite of the locked door. Instead of reproaches he gives them the Shalom, the peace blessing. He entrusts them with a life purpose. He breathes into them the Holy Spirit, empowering them with the gifts they need for their mission. All this is given before they have even unlocked the door! Now they are no longer drowned in frightened shame. They have become apostles. (See John 20:19-23.)
Though we may have locked ourselves in a dark room of despair, fear, or hopelessness, God is in that dark room with us, breathing on us the Spirit of renewal. Even when trapped in dull, heavy routine, God already waits by the well, offering love and the gifts that love offers.
Open our eyes, God of love, that we may know you are with us wherever we are, that your Spirit enfolds us, and new hope and life is breathed upon us. 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.
I join many of those who will pray for you as you seek to discern what you are called to be at this moment. May God grant you the courage to fulfill that calling. May we all open our eyes and see the misery, open our ears and hear the cries of God’s people, and, like God through the Lord Jesus Christ, be incarnate amongst them.”
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