Birds of Prey

Today’s Readings for the Daily Office

Psalm 45 (Morning)
Psalm 47-48 (Evening)
Gen. 15:1-11,17-21
Heb. 9:1-14
John 5:1-18
 


Birds of Prey

Today’s reading from Genesis gives us two very different images of Abram, just as he is about to give up on his hopes. One of the images is famous and beautiful: The Lord brings Abram outside in the dark of night and asks him to look up to the heavens and count the stars. Then, the Lord promises, “So shall your descendants be.”

The other image is less appealing. When Abram asks for a sign that he will possess land, the Lord instructs him to bring out several young animals as a sacrifice (a heifer, goat, ram, turtle-dove, and pigeon). Abram kills the animals and then sits with them during the day. The passage tells us, “when birds of prey came down on the carcasses, Abram drove them away.”

These are very different images of keeping hope alive. Sometimes, hope feels like lifting our gaze to the sky and cherishing numberless points of light. At other times, hope feels like protecting decayed carrion from the sky’s scavengers, who threaten what little we have left. At sundown, God accepts Abram’s sacrifice and makes a covenant with him, but not before what must have been a truly rotten afternoon. Today may be a day when living with hope and faith sometimes takes more endurance than a glance at the stars.
 


Written by The Rev. Dr. Lora Walsh, Associate Priest

Lora is passionate about building inclusive communities and nurturing the spirituality of contemplatives-in-action. She holds a PhD in Medieval Christianity. On Sundays, you can find her either at the altar or in the back pew with her family, including Zadok (5) and Aletta (3).

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