“V” is for Vow (March 22, 2012)

…Opening To…

For me, kind Jesus, was thy incarnation, thy mortal sorrow, and thy life’s oblation; thy death of anguish and thy bitter passion, for my salvation. Therefore, kind Jesus, since I cannot pay thee, I do adore thee, and will ever pray thee, think on thy pity and thy love unswerving, not my deserving. (Johann Heermann, from The Hymnal 1982)

…Listening In…

When Jacob woke from his sleep, he thought to himself, The LORD is definitely in this place, but I didn’t know it. He was terrified and thought, This sacred place is awesome. It’s none other than God’s house and the entrance to heaven.  After Jacob got up early in the morning, he took the stone that he had put near his head, set it up as a sacred pillar, and poured oil on the top of it. He named that sacred place Bethel,though Luz was the city’s original name. Jacob made a solemn promise: “If God is with me and protects me on this trip I’m taking, and gives me bread to eat and clothes to wear, and I return safely to my father’s household, then the LORD will be my God. This stone that I’ve set up as a sacred pillar will be God’s house, and of everything you give me I will give a tenth back to you.” (Genesis 28:16-22; context)

…Filling Up…

This Lent, we are exploring our faith by running through the alphabet. Today, “V” is for vow. How often in our lives do we vow something? We might give assurances that we’ll get the paperwork done or promise to pick someone up after school, but we don’t “vow” to do these things.

Vows don’t happen too often – the solemn vow during the marriage service is the only one I can think of off the top of my head. Witnesses swear to tell the whole truth in court; government officials, new citizens, and military folks pledge to uphold the Constitution or obey officers. These are as close to “vows” as people make outside of the covenant of marriage. But the “solemn vow” of marriage is unique in society, and that makes it all the more special.

A vow is in a category by itself. It is neither time nor place specific. It covers more than the limited scenario during which one might make a promise. Indeed, a vow is not a promise, but the framework on which promises are hung. The vow in the marriage service begins “In the name of God.” The vow would mean nothing if God were not part of it. Just as the vow is the framework for all promises, God is the framework for the vow.

Have you ever vowed something? If so, how did the vow change your life? Was God a part of the vow? If not, how could you invite God to help you fulfill it?

…Praying For…

Dear God, you are the source of all trust and confidence, and the foundation of all promises and vows. Help me to be unwavering in my fulfillment of every promise and vow I make. In Jesus Christ’s name I pray. Amen.

…Sending Out…

I leave this moment with you, God, counting myself blessed that you would choose to make me the person I am and love me into the person I am becoming.

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