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Lenten Devotions from Fourth Presbyterian Church

Thursday, April 6, 2017

Today’s Scripture Reading | Genesis 24:1–21                 

Now Abraham was old, well advanced in years; and the Lord had blessed Abraham in all things. Abraham said to his servant, the oldest of his house, who had charge of all that he had, “Put your hand under my thigh and I will make you swear by the Lord, the God of heaven and earth, that you will not get a wife for my son from the daughters of the Canaanites, among whom I live, but will go to my country and to my kindred and get a wife for my son Isaac.” The servant said to him, “Perhaps the woman may not be willing to follow me to this land; must I then take your son back to the land from which you came?” Abraham said to him, “See to it that you do not take my son back there. The Lord, the God of heaven, who took me from my father’s house and from the land of my birth, and who spoke to me and swore to me, ‘To your offspring I will give this land,’ he will send his angel before you, and you shall take a wife for my son from there. But if the woman is not willing to follow you, then you will be free from this oath of mine; only you must not take my son back there.” So the servant put his hand under the thigh of Abraham his master and swore to him concerning this matter.

Then the servant took ten of his master’s camels and departed, taking all kinds of choice gifts from his master; and he set out and went to Aram-naharaim, to the city of Nahor. He made the camels kneel down outside the city by the well of water; it was toward evening, the time when women go out to draw water. And he said, “O Lord, God of my master Abraham, please grant me success today and show steadfast love to my master Abraham. I am standing here by the spring of water, and the daughters of the townspeople are coming out to draw water. Let the girl to whom I shall say, ‘Please offer your jar that I may drink,’ and who shall say, ‘Drink, and I will water your camels’ —let her be the one whom you have appointed for your servant Isaac. By this I shall know that you have shown steadfast love to my master.” Before he had finished speaking, there was Rebekah, who was born to Bethuel son of Milcah, the wife of Nahor, Abraham’s brother, coming out with her water jar on her shoulder. The girl was very fair to look upon, a virgin, whom no man had known. She went down to the spring, filled her jar, and came up. Then the servant ran to meet her and said, “Please let me sip a little water from your jar.” “Drink, my lord,” she said, and quickly lowered her jar upon her hand and gave him a drink. When she had finished giving him a drink, she said, “I will draw for your camels also, until they have finished drinking.” So she quickly emptied her jar into the trough and ran again to the well to draw, and she drew for all his camels. The man gazed at her in silence to learn whether or not the Lord had made his journey successful. (NRSV)

There’s nothing quite like a good love story, but this one seems a little different. Reading it took me back to the first time I really got to witness a marriage between friends from a very different culture. The couple was very much in love but first came together via a family connection, much like Isaac and Rebekah. Perhaps a part of today’s story is a guide to a good and long-lasting bond—seek kindness and generosity, seek someone who will not only offer you water but offer it to your “camel” too. However, I think the more interesting part of the story happens just after today’s selection. Abraham’s servant seeks permission from Rebekah’s family to take her to Isaac. They agree, but with a hedge, asking for ten days or so to wrap things up. Then, someone gets the idea to just ask Rebekah. Her response is amazing: “I’m all in—let’s go now.”

We stand at the brink of our Holy Week, our remembrance of the culmination of Christ’s commitment to be all in—no hedge. Just when things looked bleak, the saving water of God flowed to give life not only to Christ, but to all of us “camels” who are tagging along. How fortunate we are!

Thank you, good Lord, for being all in, for holding nothing back. Grant us the courage to drink of the water you provide, your great gift of forgiveness and redemption, and to use it to help make your world whole. Amen.

Written by Jim Kulich, Member of Fourth Presbyterian Church

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