Spring arrived this week in Victoria where we live. It seems late because the cold grey winter months have dragged on. In fact, it is cooler and raining again today.

Spring’s arrival seems sudden, but bright green foliage and pink branches carrying the running sap within the trees have been appearing for a while. Small bright gems of green with yellow showings of daffodils appear out of the brown earth and grow taller. Now we have whole streets lined with cherry blossoms which grow fuller and more mature every day.

This Sunday is Palm Sunday in many Christian churches. Some consider this the beginning of Holy Week. Singing Hosannahs and waving palm leaves for Jesus who is passing through an enthusiastic crowd is, for some of us, a sweet memory from our childhoods. The sweetness is perhaps more beautiful now because of the difficult Lenten journey we are passing through this year. Palm Sunday may be a foretaste for us of Easter, which is now as longed for in our lives as it is mysterious.

We will commemorate Holy Week in our churches with prayers and painful, sorrowful moments as we take stock of how far we are from peace in the world. This is true as we consider the lives of our brothers and sisters who are suffering profound difficulties, hunger, the death of loved ones and the loss of homes and communities which have been their sanctuaries.

Holy week, these final dark days of Lent, can be a time in which people who are walking with God need wisdom to sharpen their sense of what our ongoing journey of faith is about. 

The story of the call of Abraham in Genesis, the call to trust God as his guide, is a story worthy of our attention. 

One of my favorite authors, Marilynne Robinson, wrote a new book, Reading Genesis, published mid-March this year. Over the years, she has written many novels structured around the mystery of faith.  Reading Genesis, is not a work of fiction, rather, it is her commentary about what she notices when she looks closely at Abraham’s story.

Reading Genesis

The relationship between God and Abraham is one of friendship, even though God asks him to pack up everything and everyone in his household and go where God tells him to go into a strange and foreign land.  Some things Abraham dearly wants are promised to him and given to him. The biblical record shows that the fulfillments of the promises proceed as God said they would.

 The thing about Abraham is that he believes God’s promises and he does what God asks him to do. For this reason Abraham is known as “The Father of Faith.” 

 The outcome over millennia of what God asks Abraham to do is mysterious to him at the time of asking, but Abraham does what God asks him to do, and trusts that the story he is in with God moves towards a mystery which is good. 

The story of Abraham is great spiritual writing because it puts structure around purpose and meaning.  We understand that trusting faith, as shown in Abraham’s story, is the basis from which we understand our own call to seek God’s company within us as our truest friend. It is good to have Abraham’s company with us, and the companionship of our community of faith, as we ourselves move forward into closer relationship with God and God’s mysterious purposes. We are not alone on the journey.