James 2, 21-23
Something to read
Was not our ancestor Abraham justified by works when he offered his son Isaac on the altar? You see that faith was active along with his works, and faith was brought to completion by the works. Thus the scripture was fulfilled that says, ‘Abraham believed God, and it was reckoned to him as righteousness’, and he was called the friend of God.
New Revised Standard Version
To read the King James Version, click here
Something to think about
Abraham is held up as one who was justified by his works. But in drawing on this story, we may ask what Abraham’s works actually were. After years of longing for a child and being miraculously blessed in his longing, it would appear that his work is about the most appalling act of child sacrifice.
And yet, at the last minute, God intervenes and stops him. We are told that his faith is brought to completion by his works.
Perhaps it is through his works that Abraham comes to understand something new about God. Through his works, he realises that God is entirely different to what he had thought.
Scripture can affect our faith, but so can our experience. And perhaps the story of Abraham is an invitation to discern where we have experienced God in our actions and to consider what God is really calling us to do. The story would suggest that it will never be a path of violence.
Something to do
Look back over a block of time – perhaps just a day, or a week, or a month. Consider what actions and experiences have connected you to the love, faith and hope of God. Then think about what has blocked that connection. Spend a moment in prayer offering this to God. (This is a condensed version of one of the spiritual exercises of St Ignatius of Loyola, a form of contemplative listening to discern the presence of God in our own lives.)
Something to pray
Gracious God, give us wisdom to perceive you, intelligence to understand you, diligence to seek you, patience to wait for you, eyes to behold you, a heart to meditate upon you, and a life to proclaim you, through the power of the Spirit of our Lord Jesus Christ, Amen (a prayer of St Benedict)
Kate Tuckett is a former Church Resources Manager for Christian Aid and is now a Curate in the Diocese of Southwark.