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A Terrifying Darkness (Lent Poem)

“Count the stars,”
he told me.
“This land will be yours,”
he said.
Outrageous!
I thought.
“How will I know?”
I asked.

I brought the sacrifice,
slaughtered the animals,
sat down,
and waited.

He didn’t warn me
that after the promises,
the obedience,
and the waiting,
the darkness would come.


From Genesis 15, the Old Testament lectionary reading for today.

This is one of several passages in which God makes a covenant with Abram. What struck me in this particular instance is the strange, unsettling way in which God reiterates the covenant. What was Abram expecting; how did he think God would respond to his request for a sign or guarantee of the promise? Why did God put Abram to sleep and send a "terrifying darkness" after making these massive and intimate promises? And what does either of these questions have to do with us today?

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