As Lent begins, I ask for what I always ask, to pray and meditate faithfully. I ask for patience, tolerance, compassion, and empathy. I ask to abstain from anger, anxiety, compulsive behaviour, discouragement, and self-importance. I ask to know and follow Jesus more closely, seeking justice, loving kindness, and walking humbly.
21 Tell me, you who desire to be subject to the law, will you not listen to the law?
22For it is written that Abraham had two sons, one by a slave woman and the other by a free woman.
23One, the child of the slave, was born according to the flesh; the other, the child of the free woman, was born through the promise.
24Now this is an allegory: these women are two covenants. One woman, in fact, is Hagar, from Mount Sinai, bearing children for slavery.
25Now Hagar is Mount Sinai in Arabia and corresponds to the present Jerusalem, for she is in slavery with her children.
26But the other woman corresponds to the Jerusalem above; she is free, and she is our mother.
27For it is written,
‘Rejoice, you childless one, you who bear no children,
burst into song and shout, you who endure no birth pangs;
for the children of the desolate woman are more numerous
than the children of the one who is married.’
28Now you, my friends, are children of the promise, like Isaac.
29But just as at that time the child who was born according to the flesh persecuted the child who was born according to the Spirit, so it is now also.
30But what does the scripture say? ‘Drive out the slave and her child; for the child of the slave will not share the inheritance with the child of the free woman.’
31So then, friends, we are children, not of the slave but of the free woman.
1) "...listen to the law;" "...born through the promise;" "...this is an allegory;" "...the Jerusalem above;" "...she is free;" "...Rejoice, you childless one;" "...burst into song and shout;" "...you who endure no birth pangs; "...the children of the desolate woman are more numerous;" "...children of the promise;" "...
2) I appreciate Paul teaching us to read scripture metaphorically, not literally. I do not appreciate his attempt at allegory. and here is where Paul's letter that has become scripture must be read metaphorically. It is no longer acceptable to say that any child is "born to slavery," unless it is mean that every last human being is a "slave" to nature. A racial distinction between who is born to slavery and who is born to freedom is simply not acceptable. Those who follow the law, do not experience themselves to be "in slavery." However, when they try to impose the law on others, who have already expressed an experience of salvation through belief in Christ, trespass. But I also think criticizing Paul for his acceptance of the socio-economic reality of slavery is like criticizing us for our participation in fossil-fuel driven socio-eco- economy. It is wrong, we should be criticized, but without a the use of public transit, and occasionally driving my car, given the world as it currently is, I wouldn't be able to do much, like, see my mother or chosen family once a week. We are all born to slavery. What choices can we make so that the freedom we receive in the promise may more clearly be revealed?
3) What is the invitation in all this? How do I live out the promise? How is the promise made manifest in my thoughts, actions and words? How do I choose to live freely and to help others discover freedom? ...with great difficulty sometimes.
"Holy One, help us all live into the freedom of your promise, whatever our practices and observances."
Breathprayer: "Rejoice... you are children of the promise."