Genesis | ‘Surely God is in this place!’

God-stories are always anchored to particular places. So what are our God-stories, and how can they charge the landscape? (Listen.)

Once upon a time, our ancestor Jacob went on a journey. He left the place called Beer-sheba and came to the place called Luz. It had been a long day on the road;  it was now twilight. The first stars were becoming visible in the darkling sky. So he took one of the stones of that place, a flat stone, a smooth stone, and brushed off the dirt; then he used it as a pillow. He wrapped himself tightly in his traveling cloak, and drifted into a deep, God-filled sleep. While he was dreaming, he saw a stairway reaching from that place all the way to heaven, and God’s messengers were moving between heaven and earth. Continue reading “Genesis | ‘Surely God is in this place!’”

Prayer | Into the garden

Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in paradise. (Luke 23:43) 

It’s hard to read the Bible and not become a gardener: because gardens are central to our story. We begin in Genesis, in a beautiful place of innocence, life, creativity and newness. God walks the garden in the cool of the evening, crushing thyme between her fingertips and enjoying the heightened scent. Birds are settling into their roosts for the night; small sounds travel on the evening air; silvery leaves and white flowers seem to glow. Continue reading “Prayer | Into the garden”

Genesis | Rehabilitating Eve

We all know the story. Adam and Eve, naked as jaybirds, are wandering the garden. Then that devious, cunning, and above all evil snake points out the fruit to Eve and whispers suggestively, ‘Take, eat, for then will you be wise.’ Eve plucks the luscious fruit, and bites into it suggestively. Juice runs down her chin and between her naked breasts. Adam swoons. Eve flutters her eyelashes at him; ‘Take, eat, for then will you be wise,’ she murmurs. And Adam reaches out his hand to the ripe and fragrant fruit, raises it to his lips, and eats. In this way does sin enter the world—and it’s all the woman’s fault.

Continue reading “Genesis | Rehabilitating Eve”

Cartalk / Tabletalk 10: Redeeming the rubbish

We often assume God works only through good things, but here we see God working through bad. Remember, Joseph’s brothers nearly killed him, then they sent him into slavery and exile. Yet when they meet up again years later, Joseph attributes even their destructive choices to God’s design. Where have you seen ‘God in the compost’, redeeming the rubbish of life? Continue reading “Cartalk / Tabletalk 10: Redeeming the rubbish”

Cartalk / Tabletalk 8: Jacob wrestles

Jacob doesn’t have to wrestle. He could stay with his women and children and servants: there is safety in numbers. He could sedate himself with wine or the web or some ancient Palestinian Prozac, and allow his encounter with the stranger to remain a blur. He could yield to the stranger at the beginning, crying ‘I give up! Leave me!’ But he doesn’t. He allows himself to be alone, vulnerable, wide awake in the dead of night. The stranger comes. Jacob wrestles; he grasps; he is wounded: and he is blessed. Continue reading “Cartalk / Tabletalk 8: Jacob wrestles”

Cartalk / Tabletalk 7: Sisters, wives, handmaids

A couple of weeks ago, we looked at sibling rivalry through the story of brothers, Jacob and Esau; here, Laban’s decision and Jacob’s passion trigger an intense rivalry between sisters and, for all we know, handmaids. (You can read about the rivalry in the next chapter of Genesis.) This is a real rollercoaster of a story, in which men’s actions have devastating effects on four silent women. I wonder how these women experienced the events of this story. For example, what if Leah longed for Jacob? Could she and Rachel have negotiated the switch with their father? And where do you see God’s action in these lives? (For a reflection on this, click here.) Continue reading “Cartalk / Tabletalk 7: Sisters, wives, handmaids”

Cartalk / Tabletalk 6: Jacob’s dream and God’s generosity

In this story, Jacob responds to God’s free gift with fear and awe, worship, and a concrete gift: the tithe. The tithe is ten percent of one’s income, and it is how congregations have traditionally funded their pastors, church buildings, and mission. Of course, being Jacob his gift is conditional (if God does this, then I’ll do that); it is a marked contrast to God’s unconditional generosity. Continue reading “Cartalk / Tabletalk 6: Jacob’s dream and God’s generosity”

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