Rebekah and Isaac were in love, but she was barren. Yet she was not unique; throughout scripture, key roles are played by women who are barren—Hannah the mother of Samuel the prophet, the “nameless” mother of Samson the judge, and Elizabeth, the mother of John the Baptist. Theologically, this phenomenon indicates that God can use us as God sees fit, despite any of the ways in which we might seem barren.

Every two years at our monastery, the abbot of our Mother House makes a “Visitation,” working and praying alongside us and interviewing each of us privately. A “Visitation Card”—like a report card or an annual review—is the frightening result.

Scripture serves as a visitation card for all of us, and the prophets are hard graders. Do any of us make the honor roll? “Be ye therefore perfect,” instructs Jesus (Matt. 5:48, kjv). In fact, “When you have done all that is commanded you, say, ‘We are unworthy servants; we have only done what was our duty’” (Luke 17:10, rsv). I can manage perfection for perhaps a few hours on a sunny day.

Christianity is about the barren yet fruitful; the lost yet found; fallen yet raised; tainted yet cleansed; sick yet healed; arrogant yet humbled; guilty yet forgiven; unlovable yet loved. Grace is amazing, offered not as a “because” but as a “nevertheless.” As John insists, it is “not that we loved God but that [God] loved us” (1 John 4:10). Strangely, our major undoing is the difficulty we have in accepting gifts.

On this day in 1415, John Huss was burned at the stake for his prophetic preaching. Lord, I feel barren in speaking out for you if it upsets even one person even a little. Will you speak through me? Amen.

Rece las Escrituras usando Leccionario en Audio
Leer Matthew 13:1-9, 18-23

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Leccionario Semanal
July 6–12, 2020
Resumen de la Escritura

Even great people in the faith have moments of imperfection. Not all biblical stories are biblical examples. Jacob should have fed his brother out of concern, but he takes advantage of the situation and robs Esau of his birthright. The psalmist asks the Lord to show him how to live. God’s word is a lamp to his feet and a light to his path. Paul in Romans contrasts the life of the flesh and the life in the Spirit. Without the power of God, we are doomed to repeat our mistakes in the flesh; but the Spirit sets us free. Jesus reminds us in Matthew that the effectiveness of the gospel is not based on our efforts. We sow the seed, but we cannot control whether it takes root.

Preguntas para la reflexión

Read Genesis 25:19-34. How do you experience God’s “nevertheless”—God’s grace—as you work through the baggage of your birthright?
Read Isaiah 55:10-13. How might experiencing moments as if for the last time bring the joy of a first-time experience?
Read Romans 8:1-11. In learning what spiritual practices strengthen you, what practices did you try that did not work? Now that you know what works, how might working on practices you once found unhelpful grow your faith?
Read Matthew 13:1-9, 18-23. In what unexpected place might you sow seeds of God’s love?

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