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Lenten Devotions from Fourth Presbyterian Church

Thursday, July 6, 2017

Today’s Scripture Reading | Genesis 24:34–38, 42–49, 58–67           

So he said, “I am Abraham’s servant. The Lord has greatly blessed my master, and he has become wealthy; he has given him flocks and herds, silver and gold, male and female slaves, camels and donkeys. And Sarah my master’s wife bore a son to my master when she was old; and he has given him all that he has. My master made me swear, saying, ‘You shall not take a wife for my son from the daughters of the Canaanites, in whose land I live; but you shall go to my father’s house, to my kindred, and get a wife for my son.’ I came today to the spring, and said, ‘O Lord, the God of my master Abraham, if now you will only make successful the way I am going! I am standing here by the spring of water; let the young woman who comes out to draw, to whom I shall say, “Please give me a little water from your jar to drink,” and who will say to me, “Drink, and I will draw for your camels also”—let her be the woman whom the Lord has appointed for my master’s son.’ Before I had finished speaking in my heart, there was Rebekah coming out with her water jar on her shoulder; and she went down to the spring, and drew. I said to her, ‘Please let me drink.’ She quickly let down her jar from her shoulder, and said, ‘Drink, and I will also water your camels.’ So I drank, and she also watered the camels. Then I asked her, ‘Whose daughter are you?’ She said, ‘The daughter of Bethuel, Nahor’s son, whom Milcah bore to him.’ So I put the ring on her nose, and the bracelets on her arms. Then I bowed my head and worshiped the Lord, and blessed the Lord, the God of my master Abraham, who had led me by the right way to obtain the daughter of my master’s kinsman for his son. Now then, if you will deal loyally and truly with my master, tell me; and if not, tell me, so that I may turn either to the right hand or to the left.” And they called Rebekah, and said to her, “Will you go with this man?” She said, “I will.” So they sent away their sister Rebekah and her nurse along with Abraham’s servant and his men. And they blessed Rebekah and said to her, “May you, our sister, become thousands of myriads; may your offspring gain possession of the gates of their foes.” Then Rebekah and her maids rose up, mounted the camels, and followed the man; thus the servant took Rebekah, and went his way.

Now Isaac had come from Beer-lahai-roi, and was settled in the Negeb. Isaac went out in the evening to walk in the field; and looking up, he saw camels coming. And Rebekah looked up, and when she saw Isaac, she slipped quickly from the camel, and said to the servant, “Who is the man over there, walking in the field to meet us?” The servant said, “It is my master.” So she took her veil and covered herself. And the servant told Isaac all the things that he had done. Then Isaac brought her into his mother Sarah’s tent. He took Rebekah, and she became his wife; and he loved her. So Isaac was comforted after his mother’s death. (NRSV)

Many years ago I traveled to India for an international peace conference. One of our activities was to visit women in a small village. For this meeting, we were about fifteen women from around the world sitting on carpets laid on a dirt floor, speaking through an interpreter with about twenty women from the village.

Some of the women wore large gold nose rings, and we asked about them. The nose rings were a sign that they were married, they told us, but not all the married women wore them. We asked why those who wore them did so. “Because we think they are beautiful,” they said.

This made a huge impression on me as I realized in a deeper way that our different experiences and different cultures gave things different meanings and different symbolic value. Knowing this, I wonder if the gift of a nose ring to Rebekah was a symbol for marking her as married or betrothed.

Rebekah was strong and generous and independent, especially in such a patriarchal family. It’s amazing that her family asks her if she’ll go with the servant to become Isaac’s wife (rather than just sending her). And it’s also amazing that she says yes. Just as Abraham had done a generation before, Rebekah took a risk and left everything she knew.

The unnamed servant who found Rebekah interpreted the events as a sign of God’s faithfulness and steadfast love. Not knowing how to find a wife for Isaac, the servant took the steps that he could take, but he also left a lot in God’s hands. He went to a new place, he prayed, and then he waited. He watched for God’s action, and when he thought he saw it, he took the next step.

Sometimes praying, waiting, and watching could take a significant burden from our shoulders, if we can remember that God is at work in the world, too. It’s not just on us.

God Who Sees Me, help me to see you. Help me to slow down enough to pray and wait and watch for you acting in my life. Then give me the courage to respond to you calling me. Amen.

Written by Nanette Sawyer, Minister for Congregational Life

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