As a Lenten practice during this season, clergy and leaders in the church from youth to elders will be sharing their devotions.
Scripture: Judges 13-15
Key verses: (13:19-23) 19 So Manoah took the kid with the grain offering, and offered it on the rock to the Lord, to him who works wonders. 20 When the flame went up toward heaven from the altar, the angel of the Lord ascended in the flame of the altar while Manoah and his wife looked on; and they fell on their faces to the ground. 21 The angel of the Lord did not appear again to Manoah and his wife. Then Manoah realized that it was the angel of the Lord. 22 And Manoah said to his wife, “We shall surely die, for we have seen God.” 23 But his wife said to him, “If the Lord had meant to kill us, he would not have accepted a burnt offering and a grain offering at our hands, or shown us all these things, or now announced to us such things as these.”
Reflection: We are called to offer ourselves fully, and without pretext, to others. Consider Manoah and his wife, who faithfully listen to the advice of a stranger and, without knowledge of the stranger’s godliness, offer a goat and grain (both extremely valuable in historical context) to the altar.
What was the stranger’s advice? To trust that God would give them a son, and to raise that son as a Nazarite. Manoah and his wife desired a child, and yet Mahoah’s wife was barren. The stranger (the messenger from God) first comes to Manoah’s wife to give her the good news that she will bear a child, and instructs Manoah’s wife to live as a Nazarite. Manoah, however, wasn’t there for the first conversation, he wants more details and to hear for himself of these directions for raising the child. As the messenger appears a second time Manoah is pretty much told, “I told your wife what to do, listen to her!” This seems to be a turning moment for Manoah, whose reliance on the details seems to fade and whose trust seems to increase. Manoah buys into this vision fully, giving of himself and giving an offering of thanksgiving to God.
What are we willing to part with, without assurances, to honor a God “who works wonders”?
Will we fall with our faces to the ground and recognize God when our offerings are received?
How will we respond when we see God? Will we fear the Lord? Or, will we seek to understand the Lord’s announcements to us?
In this Lenten season, dedicate yourself wholly to each other, and to the Lord, and prepare to accept and learn from revelation!
Prayer: God, we thank you for the opportunity to offer ourselves to you in service of others. With acceptance that you may not always reveal yourself to us, we ask that you guide us toward a path of dedication to you and to your work in this world. Amen.
Author: Peter Kelpin
[Scripture quotations are from New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright © 1989 National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved].