January 6: Hope

This morning, Psalm 8 came to mind. “LORD, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth.” The psalmist expressed my sense of the previous day. We are in the Masai Mara, a game preserve of several hundred thousand acres. If you’ve seen the movies, The Lion King or Out of Africa, that’s the scenery that we are experiencing. We are observing the Circle of Life. We came upon a pride of lions after a kill and watched with awe as the lions interacted with one another. Then noticed one lion injured in the course of making this kill. We watched a mother cheetah, playing with her cub – the only one of three cubs to have survived. We saw elephants, giraffes, water buffalo, antelope, warthogs, and many, many others all coexisting.

But places like the Masai Mara are disappearing. It would be too easy to pass judgment on all the reasons this is happening. We only need to remember our own nation’s history with the westward migration of the 19th century and what happened to the buffalo. Yesterday and today, we have spent time with a man named George who is passionate about preserving places like this and the animals that live here. As he described a 15-year-old leopard that is pregnant for what will likely be her last pregnancy, he began to cry. To him, this is not just a leopard. Nor should it be – just a leopard to any of us. He has worked for the past six years to create conservation practices and preserve what is a patch of paradise in a broken world. This morning as our group headed out to look for this leopard, one person made the comment: how could anyone look at what we are seeing and not believe that the Lord God made it all. These are not just leopards and lions and zebra. Somehow God intended that we not only coexist, but that we be the stewards who will care for all that God created. In a world that is filled with so much that is not right, this is a day of hope. We have spoke to someone committed to hope. We are in Kenya to be guardians of hope and the promise that God made in the scripture readings for today.

Today’s readings: Genesis 15-17 & Luke 6

Nobody’s perfect is a common expression to excuse human behavior, but as we read the Bible we see the reality of such an expression. The people that God chooses are not perfect. They are flawed and do some things that can leave us scratching our heads – people that sometimes resemble me! Not I need to look for an excuse. God laid out a grand covenant. The reading begins “Do not be afraid. I am your shield, your very great reward.” Come on Abram; trust God to be faithful! But no, Abram in chapter 16 takes matters into his own hands – a head scratching moment that results in certain estrangement from his wife, Sarai, and from God. How could Abram do it? How could I?

Genesis 17 with the story of how circumcision is a natural prelude to Luke 6. Although Jesus does not mention circumcision in this chapter, he goes to the heart of faithfulness. It is not circumcision, an external marking, but faithfulness is a way of living – an extreme love that goes beyond what’s expected and even beyond what seems common sense. It is a very different kind of head scratching way of living.

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