Today was one of those days. The morning began with an increasing volume of birdsong to reveal a beautiful late winter day under a Carolina blue sky. Visions of spring time were dancing through my head. The neighbors reported the robin redbreast, a sure sign of spring, had appeared (although this one has been pecking at the door to get out of the cold). The daffodils are coming up., They are late but are getting closer to blooming:
(Photo taken today).
Even our church service provided some hope, some promise that we will get through the tough times. Our sermon today was relatively straight forward with the rector focusing on the "vision" of Abram and the fire pot and the faith of Abram. We wandered a bit and somehow got into the story of the prodigal son, but the rector was still able to finish up in reasonable time. Of course it helped that he did not mention anything about Philippians 3:17-4:1, so I will recall it here because this beautiful day had me fixated on earthly things.
Brothers and sisters*,(Brothers) join in imitating me, and observe those who live according to the example you have in us. For many live as enemies of the cross of Christ; I have often told you of them, and now I tell you even with tears. Their end is destruction; their god is the belly; and their glory is in their shame; their minds are set on earthly things. But our citizenship* is in heaven, and it is from there that we are expecting a Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ. He will transform the body of our humiliation* so that it may be conformed to the body of his glory,* by the power that also enables him to make all things subject to himself. Therefore, my brothers and sisters,*(Brothers) whom I love and long for, my joy and crown, stand firm in the Lord in this way, my beloved.
I guess I have been yearning too much for the vision of spring that I needed to be drawn back into focus and to look forward to the transformation promised by Jesus.
Before leaving, I cannot miss an opportunity to flesh out the missing verses from today's readings.
Wedged between verse 12,
As the sun was going down, a deep sleep fell upon Abram, and a deep and terrifying darkness descended upon him.
and verse 17,
When the sun had gone down and it was dark, a smoking fire-pot and a flaming torch passed between these pieces. On that day the Lord made a covenant with Abram, saying, ‘To your descendants I give this land, from the river of Egypt to the great river, the river Euphrates,
The Lectionary expurgated Genesis 15:13-16:
Then the Lord said to Abram, ‘Know this for certain, that your offspring shall be aliens in a land that is not theirs, and shall be slaves there, and they shall be oppressed for four hundred years; but I will bring judgement on the nation that they serve, and afterwards they shall come out with great possessions. As for yourself, you shall go to your ancestors in peace; you shall be buried in a good old age. And they shall come back here in the fourth generation; for the iniquity of the Amorites is not yet complete.'
Faith and hope abounded in today's service, but the promise comes with a price.
Perhaps the lectionary committee did not want to throw any earthly dirt on today's visions. Or maybe they just did not want to offend any remaining worshippers of Amurru.