Journey to Daily Prayer – Day 12
Second Sunday in Lent
“Fire and smoke”
Happy Sunday! And welcome to another episode of “Weird Old Testament Stories!” But here’s the key to understanding this story: what’s the difference between a contract and a covenant? In Scripture, a contract is a conditional pact between two parties to get something from the other; but a covenant is a promise between two unequal parties to offer themselves to each other. So, the Eucharist is a covenant renewal ceremony: God gives himself to us in Jesus’ sacrifice, and we respond by offering ourselves, our souls and bodies, as a reasonable, holy and living sacrifice back to God. Similarly, our Old Testament story is a covenant renewal ceremony. God renews his covenant to bless Abram with the Promised Land (an allegory for eternal life) by passing through animal sacrifices with fire and smoke; and Abram promises to trust God. Today’s Luke reading however is Jesus’ rebuke against slipping into a contractual relationship with God—where we receive Jesus’ body and blood, but our hearts are far from him; where we self-righteously walk through the wide door but presume that we have entered through the narrow door; where we say “Lord, lord!” but Jesus says “I don’t know you!” You see the wide door seems fine when we become dull to what Jesus has done for us. But the narrow door is desirable when our hearts are invaded by the smoke and fire of God’s Holy Spirit. So today, ask God’s Spirit to invade your heart so that you can see Jesus in Word and Sacrament, and join angels and archangels and the whole company of heaven, to say,
Holy, Holy, Holy!
Lord God of Hosts!
Heaven and Earth are full of your glory!
Hosanna in the highest!
Blessed is he who comes in name of Lord!
O God, whose glory it is always to have mercy: Be gracious to all who have gone astray from thy ways, and bring them again with penitent hearts and steadfast faith to embrace and hold fast the unchangeable truth of thy Word, Jesus Christ thy Son; who with thee and the Holy Spirit liveth and reigneth, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.