This blog provides a meditation on te Episcopal daily readings along with a headline from world news:
17When Abram was ninety-nine years old, the Lord appeared to Abram, and said to him, ‘I am God Almighty; walk before me, and be blameless.2And I will make my covenant between me and you, and will make you exceedingly numerous.’3Then Abram fell on his face; and God said to him,4‘As for me, this is my covenant with you: You shall be the ancestor of a multitude of nations.5No longer shall your name be Abram,* but your name shall be Abraham;* for I have made you the ancestor of a multitude of nations.6I will make you exceedingly fruitful; and I will make nations of you, and kings shall come from you.7I will establish my covenant between me and you, and your offspring after you throughout their generations, for an everlasting covenant, to be God to you and to your offspring* after you.8And I will give to you, and to your offspring after you, the land where you are now an alien, all the land of Canaan, for a perpetual holding; and I will be their God.’
9 God said to Abraham, ‘As for you, you shall keep my covenant, you and your offspring after you throughout their generations.10This is my covenant, which you shall keep, between me and you and your offspring after you: Every male among you shall be circumcised.11You shall circumcise the flesh of your foreskins, and it shall be a sign of the covenant between me and you.12Throughout your generations every male among you shall be circumcised when he is eight days old, including the slave born in your house and the one bought with your money from any foreigner who is not of your offspring.13Both the slave born in your house and the one bought with your money must be circumcised. So shall my covenant be in your flesh an everlasting covenant.14Any uncircumcised male who is not circumcised in the flesh of his foreskin shall be cut off from his people; he has broken my covenant.’
God introduces himself to Abram as El Shaddai, an ancient name, and gives Abram (Exalted father) a new name Abraham (here, Father of a multitude). The author is emphasising the almost official courtesy of God’s approach as well as his power ion giving names. “Walk before me and be blameless” may mean that it’s OK for Abraham to be in God’s presence, or it may be a command to walk always in God’s presence and to avoid blameworthy actions. The Covenant has no “ethical” component, unlike the Mosaic covenant. Abraham and his descendants are to recognise that they belong to God; and the sign of their belonging will be the circumcision of males. We know this custom predates the period of Abraham and was used by many different peoples. Amongst Abraham’s people however it is a sign of God’s ownership of the people through ownership of the males and their organs of generation. In a sort of literal way, the future belongs to God.
The three Abrahamic faiths, Judaism, Christianity and Islam, all recognise the Abrahamic covenant as part of their history and Abraham’s “walking before God” as an example fortheir lives. In all three faiths there are directions for walking faithfully which are the daily guidance for disciples. In all three faiths the sense of belonging to God as a people is fundamental. Exploring what we share and where we differ in our “walk before God” is essential work for us if we are to be peacemakers in a world where evil people from all three religions look to gain power by setting us against each other.
39 (Jesus said,) ‘You search the scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that testify on my behalf.40Yet you refuse to come to me to have life.41I do not accept glory from human beings.42But I know that you do not have the love of God in you.43I have come in my Father’s name, and you do not accept me; if another comes in his own name, you will accept him.44How can you believe when you accept glory from one another and do not seek the glory that comes from the one who alone is God?45Do not think that I will accuse you before the Father; your accuser is Moses, on whom you have set your hope.46If you believed Moses, you would believe me, for he wrote about me.47But if you do not believe what he wrote, how will you believe what I say?
The scriptures only have value as witnesses to God, Father, Son and Spirit. For Christians the scriptures of the Old Tetstament must be interpreted in the light of the New, although it would be very difficult to undertsand the New without the Old. Jesus taught that scripture knowlege of itself could lead astay if it did not lead to a love of God. Such a love would have enabled Jesus contemporaries to understand him better, and it enables contemporary Christians to understand not only Abraham but also Moses and Mohammed. (Peace be upon them). Certainly this Gospel teaches that Jseus is the supreme revelation of the Father and those who through Jesus love God’s holiness will find that it gives them an understanding of all love of God and all holiness. We do not make Jesus greater by making Mohammed less. Jesus prophesies that those who come in the own name and for their own glory will get a better reception from humanity than those who are witnesses to the glory of God. His prophecy continues to be fulfilled.