Speaking to the Soul: Nothing to Offer

Week of 4 Epiphany, Year Two

[Go to Mission St Clare for an online version of the Daily Office including today’s scripture readings.]

Today’s Readings for the Daily Office:
Psalms 72 (morning) // 119:73-96 (evening)

Genesis 22:1-18

Hebrews 11:23-31

John 6:52-59

I’d like to propose an alternative model of faith in today’s first reading. In this episode from Genesis, the angel of the Lord praises Abraham for not holding back his only son, Isaac, from God. By showing himself willing to sacrifice his beloved son, Abraham passes God’s test. The angel of the Lord stops Abraham from killing Isaac with a knife just in time, and a ram appears for Abraham to offer in Isaac’s place. It seems that Abraham can’t imagine faith and worship without having something to offer as a sacrifice.

Isaac, on the other hand, approaches God with nothing to offer. In one of the most heart-wrenching scenes in Scripture, Abraham takes the wood that he plans to use for the sacrificial fire that will consume his son, and he lays it on Isaac to carry himself. As Abraham and Isaac make their way into the distance to worship, Isaac asks his father, “The fire and wood are here, but where is the lamb for a burnt offering?” Isaac has no idea that his father plans to use him in place of the lamb.

Thus, Isaac approaches God in all innocence, humility, and vulnerability. He comes to worship with nothing to offer. What a model for us to follow as we walk through our day and into God’s presence. May we come with nothing to offer but our purest selves.

Lora Walsh blogs about taking risks and seeking grace at A Daily Scandal. She serves as associate priest of Grace Episcopal Church in Siloam Springs and assists with education, young adult ministry, and campus ministry at St. Paul’s in Fayetteville, Arkansas.

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