Readings for February 28, 2021
Second Sunday of Lent
Genesis 22:9-13, 15-18
Psalm 116:10, 15-19
Back in high school I had a teacher who wanted us to reply, “here” when he took attendance. Putting greater effort into being funny than being studious, I tried to find new and creative ways to answer when my name was called. My teacher was exceedingly patient, always responding, “a simple ‘here’ will suffice Mr. McGee.” His daily, deadpanned rejoinder was far more amusing than anything I said in my attempts to be funny, but it also offered a lesson akin to today’s readings: Sometimes, I just need to acknowledge my presence to who is calling my name, and then listen and do what is asked of me.
Abraham offers no quips or witticisms when God calls to him. He simply responds, “Here I am.” There is no argument when told to offer his son as a sacrifice and seemingly no surprise when, just before carrying out what he was told to do, he is called again. “Here I am” offers more than a GPS location–for surely God and God’s messenger knew where Abraham was physically. Rather, it offers an attitude and acknowledgement of where he was spiritually, affirming he was ready to hear what God had to say and then to act on it. What Abraham does that is often so difficult for me is acknowledging where he is in the moment in a way that indicates he is ready to move forward at God’s command.
Of course, moving forward is not any easier than listening. Peter responds to the Transfiguration in the same way that I imagine I would have, terrified yet wanting to stay in the moment. “It’s awesome that we’re here, let’s build a few tents so we can stick around a while.” But God steadfastly replies, repeating what He had sent the angels to say at Jesus’ birth and what He had declared at Jesus’ baptism, “This is My Son, listen to him!” as if to say, “a simple ‘here’ will suffice.” Peter, James and John need to move ahead, go back down the mountain, and live beyond the moment. And Jesus needs to continue on to Jerusalem, where he will be tried, tortured, and killed.
While all these years later I still too often seek to be funny rather than smart, I must work to increase my faith with a simple, “here I am” and listen to what God has in store for me next. I do know that God is steadfastly calling me, to live in the moment prepared to act and move to the next. Here I am Lord. I’m listening.
My Lord God, may I have the strength to answer “here I am” when you call me, affirming I am ready for what You ask me to do. May I keep from using distraction to avoid Your call. May I resist the urge to stay in one place rather than move forward in Your commands. Thank you for Your steadfast call and for Your unending mercy. Amen