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Monday, March 10, 2014

Scripture Reading: Genesis 11:31—12:3
Terah took his son, Abram, and his grandson, Lot, son of Haran, and his daughter-in-law, Sarai, his son Abram’s wife, and they went out together from Ur of the Chaldeans to go into the land of Canaan; but when they came to Haran, they settled there. The days of Terah were two hundred five years; and Terah died in Haran.

Now the Lord said to Abram, “Go from your country and your kindred and your father’s house to the land that I will show you. I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you, and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and the one who curses you I will curse; and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.” (NRSV)

I have a new law clerk, who is diligent and bright. She is from Ukraine. She came here with her family to a strange country, with a new language and new laws. A wife and mother, she has a law degree from her home country, but to practice here, she must start her schooling all over again. That would daunt me, but she is undaunted.

In today’s scripture, God gives Abram a command and a promise. The command: leave everything safe and familiar behind. Your country, your kindred, your father’s house. Go to a new land that I, your God, will show you.

Then comes the promise: I will bless you and make you a blessing.

Each year, millions of people, like my law clerk, do what I cannot imagine: they go from their country and kindred and start life in a new place, sometimes fleeing war or persecution or dire economic hardship. That has implications for us, as those who are called on by Jesus to welcome the stranger (Matthew 25). How do we treat those who come to make a new life in this country? How do our laws treat them?

God’s promise to Abram was not only that he would be blessed in this new land, but that he would be a blessing. So, too, are many of those who, like Abram, left everything they have known and have planted themselves on new soil. May we be ready to receive them with the open hearts Jesus calls us to have.

The roots of the word Lent are from the Old English, Dutch, and German words meaning “springtime, spring.” Look around: Green shoots are springing up out of earth that had been frozen, God remaking creation and us.

God, transform my heart so that I may show forth your love. Amen.

Written by Jeanne Bishop, Member of Fourth Presbyterian Church

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