Daily Reflection
March 29th, 2007

Barbara Dilly
Department of Sociology and Anthropology
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Genesis 17: 3-9;
Psalm 105:4-9;
John 8:51-59

God’s covenant with us began like a legal transaction between two parties. But unlike most transactions made between two parties, this everlasting pact gets renewed with each new generation. One of the parties, namely God, never changes and never dies. God is always God. The other parties in the covenant, the children of Abraham, do die. And over the generations we have even become very different people. Christians, Jews, and Muslims are all the children of Abraham. And we all share the covenant God made with Abraham’s descendants to be our God. Our part in this covenant is to keep God’s word.

Now, as we Christians prepare ourselves to experience the death of Christ, we listen as Jesus says to us that if we keep his word, we will never see death. What does this mean to us when we know that Jesus did die and we too must die? What does this mean to us when we know that even the children of Abraham continue to kill each other in the name of the same God as they have done for generations? For me, this season of Lent is a time to mourn the deaths of Jews, Muslims, and Christians killed by their fellow descendants of Abraham. It reflects a broken covenant with God for all three groups. I can’t speak for anyone else here, not for Jews, not for Muslims, and not for other Christians, only from the depth and darkness of my own reflections on this great sadness.

I mourn each of the deaths as members of my own family, but as a Christian, I take comfort in believing that Jesus personally atoned for all of these deaths. Our covenant with God is not about ever tasting death, but about the triumph of life over death. Jesus’ death keeps God’s covenant with us alive even when the descendants of Abraham, including me, don’t do our part. Even when we don’t keep the Word of God, God keeps God’s word. This season of spiritual renewal is a time for me to acknowledge my responsibility to honor that covenant because God is still active in the deal. That is difficult for many of us to accept and hold on to when we suffer the deaths of loved ones to the tragedy of war. But in the midst of this despair, God remembers his covenant with us. It is a living covenant that is just as alive and binding for us today as it was the day it was entered into with Abraham. We can do our part in renewing this covenant by working for peace.

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