Tag Archives: Genesis

Fri, March 17th

By: Brittany Fiscus-van Rossum

Genesis 12:1-4a

Reflection—v. 2, …you will be a blessing

Sometimes we forget what all Abraham’s call entails. We get so caught up in what it means that Abraham is chosen, special, and called that we can forget what exactly Abraham is called to do. God tells Abraham that God is choosing him to ‘be a blessing’ so that ‘in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.’ If we are to think of our own call as Christians in this way, then we must accept the work that goes into being a blessing to others. We cannot ignore those seeking refuge in our country. We cannot ignore those living on the streets without access to showers, shelter, and healthcare. We cannot villainize and disassociate from those who may have voted differently from us. The work of being a blessing is a daunting task to anyone who may rather turn inward and put themselves first in the difficult times ahead, but that is not what our call entails. When God called Abraham to be a blessing, things did not suddenly get easy for him. It was a difficult journey, one in which he fell short, doubted, and messed up. Like Abraham, we are not called to be perfect, but in our beloved choseness we are called to the difficult work of being a blessing.

Prayer Everlasting God, guide us that we may be a blessing to all others, and instruct our hearts that we may do so in gracious and accepting love.


Sat, March 11th

By: Maggie Leonard

Genesis 2:15-17, 3:1-7

Reflection—v.5, you will see clearly and you will be like God, knowing good and evil

The debate continues.  Did God lie?  Did God want to keep us ignorant?  I’m never quite sure who comes off looking like the biggest jerk here—the sneaky snake, the disobedient humans, or the cryptic god.  Though, as we think about being the children of God—can I really blame God for wanting to shield our innocence? In the Italian movie, Life is Beautiful, a loving father goes to great lengths to shield his young son from the realities of Nazi hatred, going so far as to turn the experience of living in a concentration camp into that of a game.  The father tried to protect his son from seeing the death that already surrounded him.  How could anyone see such atrocities without feeling their own heart break?  Catherine of Sienna once said, ‘Every step to heaven is heaven.’ I suspect the opposite could be true, ‘every step toward death is death.’  When we do things to hurt one another, when we turn our backs to God, when we see death around us, we experience death—all of its pain, all of its loneliness, all of its destruction.  I suspect that in knowing the difference between good and evil, that humans were able to see the difference between love and pain.  Knowing was as good as death.  Our work now, is to see and understand suffering, but to choose life, to choose love.

Prayer Author of life, may I not be blinded by pain but turn to the love you offer.


Fri, March 10th

By: Maggie Leonard

Genesis 2:15-17, 3:1-7

Reflection—v. 3, Don’t eat from it, and don’t touch it

If boundaries are primarily about how folks engage one another—what we allow or don’t allow—limits are about our own awareness about that of which one is personally capable.  Limits are about what we can do or can’t do emotionally. If I can’t touch my toes, I shouldn’t force my physical limit lest I risk pulling something.  If I’m at my emotional limit, I shouldn’t continue having a difficult conversation, lest I yell and stop real communication.  This doesn’t mean that I take a break from the conversation forever, but rather until I regain control of my reaction to my emotions.  Being aware of my limits is a way that I have the humility and vulnerability to admit what I cannot do—and to continue to pursue personal growth toward love.  Limits are not meant to be an excuse for poor behavior, something to which I point and make excuses for how I’ve hurt others, but rather a marker of where I am today.  In noticing my limits, perhaps I can celebrate where I have grown and it gives me an idea of the work I have yet to do.  Our limits are not always static, if I wake up tired and grumpy (which never really happen, by the way…) my emotional limit will look different than a day when I am feeling well rested and energized. During Lent we do the important work of surveying ourselves and being honest about our strengths and limits.

Prayer Healing God,  help me to clearly see myself without judgement, that it might help me to take a step back when necessary and to keep growing toward you.


Thurs, March 9th

By: Maggie Leonard

Genesis 2:15-17, 3:1-7

Reflection—v. 3, Don’t eat from it, and don’t touch it

‘You aren’t to be friends with folks—not with other interns, not with me, not with our community members.’  That’s what I tell my interns.  I know, it sounds harsh. It’s not a popular sentiment, especially coming from a supervisor whose job is to love people and facilitate community. Truth be told, I was super resistant to the directive when it was given to me at my first job.  However, I’ve found the boundary to be really liberating and has offered me a lot of sanity.  Boundaries are really hard for many of us to engage—maybe even most difficult for those of us who find much of our identity in helping others or who are passionate about our work.  But not having boundaries is exhausting. Boundaries help us to remember where one person’s responsibility begins and where our responsibility ends. Having boundaries between work and personal time (and relationships) allows us to develop a fuller sense of self—practice engaging other topics of discussion, develop diverse relationships, gain a wider perspective (talking to my engineering, journalist, public health, and programmer friends always brings about a different view of the world), and explore new hobbies.  This Lent, let us consider both how we will engage others and how we will allow them to engage us in such a way that we both might be healthier.

Prayer God of all the peoples, help me create space in my life to appreciate the diversity of life that you offer.


Wed, March 8th

By: Maggie Leonard

Genesis 2:15-17, 3:1-7

Reflection—v. 3, Don’t eat from it, and don’t touch it

Do you remember that movie—the name escapes me… the really inspiring one where the person realized what they were incapable of doing?  They saw their limits and realized that they really couldn’t overcome them?  Oh right.  Me neither.  That’s not a story that we celebrate in our culture and it’s not the outcome of this story either.  Overcoming odds is what makes our hearts soar—and with reason!  But I worry sometimes, that we have become a little reckless in our limit pushing.  We don’t believe others when they tell us no—whether it is about borrowing an object or the acceptability of touching another body.  We push our own physicality to the limits, often to the detriment of our health, whether it’s through our drinking or eating (or not eating) or our training. Or in the case of Adam and Eve, boundaries were ignored and, as we later discover, there were unforeseen consequences.  Recently, when I was grocery shopping, I noticed words written upon the piece of wood used to divide one customer’s purchases from the next in line.  It said,  ‘It’s okay.  Boundaries are healthy.’  I had to giggle—sometimes I feel sheepish when I use the divider between myself and another customer.  But boundaries are important, and not just for groceries.  More on that tomorrow…

Prayer Triune God, you are three in one, one in three—three distinct persons, indivisible.  Thank you for your example of healthy relationship.


Tues, March 7th

By: Maggie Leonard

Genesis 2:15-17, 3:1-7

Reflection—v. 3, not the fruit of the tree in the middle of the garden

One thing has become apparent to me, temptation has always been a part of the human story.  It is inevitable.  I suspect anything that really tempts us feels quite central to our story as well—it becomes a focus, constantly drawing our attention, everything else surrounds it.  When I decide that I shouldn’t do something, often it is what draws my attention.  I think about not doing that thing… until I do it.  We lose sight of all the other trees in the garden and focus on the one, until we eat of its fruit.  Now, truth be told, I value critical thinking and a skeptical eye, but so often we make poor excuses and contort ourselves mentally to convince ourselves of something other than the truth.  Instead of allowing our mind to cycle around the thing that we want, the thing that begs our attention, can we take a wider view?  Can we see the range of options—to see the whole forest of fruit trees—and perhaps even find liberation in the number of choices we have, instead of focused on a comparatively smaller limitation?

Prayer Provider God, hep us broaden our view of your world, that we might not become obsessed with the cant’s and wont’s in our lives, but that we may see all the options that you place before us.


Mon, March 6th

By: Maggie Leonard

Genesis 2:15-17, 3:1-7

Reflection—v. 4, the snake said to the woman, ‘You won’t die’

I feel conflicted about the character of the snake in this story.  I set out to write this reflection about how brokenness was already in the garden before the apple was eaten, that the snake was manipulative.  But really, what does the snake stand to benefit from the humans eating from the tree?  Generally, manipulation is accompanied by one’s self interest.  The snake doesn’t gain anything in this senario.  Right now, I’m not convinced that the snake tried to trick Eve.  He literally told her, if you eat that apple, you will see clearly and know the difference between good and evil.  That is indeed what happened… Perhaps what paints the snake as sinister, is our own aversion to snakes (as is asserted later in the chapter—people, generally, don’t like snakes).  We might have to come face to face with our snake-ist tendencies.  We don’t like snakes, we don’t trust snakes—we expect the worst, and see the worst in snakes.  When my dog was bitten by a brown recluse spider, I assumed a snake had done the damage.  I spent a week killing all the harmless garden snakes in my yard that served to control other pests.  If we project ill-will on snakes, which have no premeditated reactions, how much more might we project ill intentions on people to whom we have an aversion or perceived differences?

Prayer God of reconciliation, help us to see when we manipulate perceived intentions to coincide with our assumptions.  Gather us together as your diverse people.


Sun, March 5th

By: Maggie Leonard

Genesis 2:15-17, 3:1-7

Reflection—v. 4, the snake said to the woman, ‘You won’t die’

Wait, what?  Did the snake—the most intelligent of all the wild animals, according to verse one—just call God a liar?  God said, ‘Don’t do this or you will die.’  The snake img_20161205_110951said, ‘You won’t die.’ And the woman and the man did not die… so… that’s awkward.  Either God lied to us, or God doesn’t know everything. OR maybe we have a limited view of what it means to die.  The snake is indeed smart, but I can’t help to think that the woman, and we, have been the victim of a gifted manipulator.  There are some who will come up with new words, trying to redirect a conversation with their nuance.  And there are others who will change the conversation by redefining the words in play—the snake is the latter of these.  ‘You won’t die,’ he says.  There is an inference that eating the apple from the knowledge of good and evil will not kill humankind—they will continue to live and breathe. But perhaps this is not the implication of these words.  Theologically, we believe that Jesus came to give abundant, full life to the whole world—to offer healing and mercy.  Knowledge itself does not kill, but it does give us options.  So often we do not make decisions that nurture love, humility, patience, kindness, and peace.  Seeking other things, like notoriety, money, momentary pleasure, and indulgence slowly bring us toward death—separating us from God. God doesn’t lie, but we do rationalize ourselves away from the life and truth God offers.

Prayer Holy God, help us to trust in your truth.