Today’s Readings for the Daily Office
Psalm 148, 149, 150 (Morning)
Psalm 114, 115 (Evening)
1 Kings 8:22-30 (31-40)
1 Tim. 4:7b-16
I AM, Too!
As a first century Jew, for Jesus to say, “Before Abraham was, I am,” was simple blasphemy. He was to be punished by stoning according to the scripture. In Hebrew tradition, “I AM” is the holy name of God given to Moses at the burning bush. It is never to be spoken out loud.
However, Jesus was conscious of an intimate, abiding union with this I AM-God. He listened within and sensed that union. He said that anyone could hear the same thing if they would listen, if they could imagine themselves as being “from God.” “Whoever is from God hears the words of God.” He tried to convince his hearers that we are all from God and in God and going to God. He spoke of the divine union that exists between God and humanity. Over and over in this Gospel of John, Jesus tried to get his hearers to understand that we are all in God, our life comes from and goes to God, and therefore we are all one.
But was easier for his listeners to say, “You have a demon.” For us it may seem easier to think we are broken and flawed, maybe even full of demons and death, rather than sense that we are one with God.
Jesus insists that we are as intimately connected to God as he was. If we will just get out of our own self-centered way, we receive that eternal life as gift — now. And he says, if we can become conscious of that divine union, that consciousness will be stronger even than the taste of death. Each of us also has the right to say, “Before Abraham was, I am.”
Written by The Rev. Lowell Grisham; Rector
Lowell grew up Episcopalian in Oxford, Mississippi where he was strongly impacted by the Civil Rights struggle of the 1960’s. It planted in him a willingness to question inherited assumptions and to work for generosity and inclusion in a diverse society. Lowell served parishes in Mississippi and Arkansas before coming to St. Paul’s, Fayetteville in 1997. He and his wife Kathy have been married since 1975 and have two children and three grandchildren.