Tag Archives: song of moses

By the oaks of Mamre

Icon of the Trinity by Andrei Rublev

Icon of the Trinity by Andrei Rublev

Today’s readings provide an object lesson in the power of the Daily Office to trigger associations in the Christian imagination.

We begin with the Old Testament reading from Genesis in which Abraham is buying some property from the Hittites in order to bury his wife Sarah in a cave in a particular field facing Mamre.

So the field of Ephron in Machpelah, which was to the east of Mamre, the field with the cave that was in it and all the trees that were in the field, throughout its whole area, passed to Abraham as a possession in the presence of the Hittites, in the presence of all who went in at the gate of his city. After this, Abraham buried Sarah his wife in the cave of the field of Machpelah facing Mamre (that is, Hebron) in the land of Canaan. (Genesis 23:17-19)

The canticle which follows, the Song of Moses, is one of the songs we sing at the Easter Vigil, when we recount Christ’s resurrection from the tomb and his victory over death.

So we have this association between the Genesis story and the resurrected Christ. Sarah is laid to rest in a cave; the cave where Christ was buried is empty when the disciples arrive there on Sunday morning. Every cave reminds us Christians of the cave which could not contain Jesus.

But the association goes deeper.

Just as Sarah’s tomb faced the oaks of Mamre, where she and Abraham laughed with the three travelers who were really God (Genesis 18), so we rejoice in the garden outside of Christ’s empty tomb and worship him as our risen Lord.

The chain of associations triggered by today’s readings — and by every day’s readings — helps us see Jesus throughout Scripture, from creation through the appearance to Abraham and Sarah, to his incarnation and passion.

We come to see and name him as one of the persons of the Trinity, as “Christ, the king of glory, the eternal Son of the Father” (BCP 96).




Hasten the coming of your kingdom


O God, you have made of one blood all the peoples of the earth, and sent your blessed Son to preach peace to those who are far off and to those who are near: Grant that people everywhere may seek after you and find you; bring the nations into your fold; pour out your Spirit upon all flesh; and hasten the coming of your kingdom; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen. (BCP 100)

Morning Prayer on Thursdays has a baptismal flavor.

After the Old Testament reading on Thursdays, we say or sing Canticle 8: The Song of Moses, in which we praise God for saving the people of Israel at the Red Sea. For Christians, the Exodus story is especially linked with the Easter Vigil and baptism.

At the Vigil, we retell the Exodus story and make it our own, singing in the Exsultet that “this is the night when Christ broke the bonds of death and hell.” The Easter Vigil has been, since the earliest days of the church, the time when new Christians are baptized.

The Prayer for Mission above reflects that same baptismal emphasis. It is our prayer that everyone will come through the waters of salvation, that everyone will enjoy new life, that everyone will be filled with God’s spirit, that God’s kingdom, already here in part, will become fully realized.

The writer of the letter to the Hebrews describes the kingdom as “sabbath rest” in the passage appointed for today. He suggests that the way is still open for us to enter into God’s rest, to enjoy life and peace in the kingdom of God.

He writes, quoting Psalm 95, “Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts” (Heb. 4:7). Every day we begin Morning Prayer with that same sense of urgency.

Come on in, the water is fine! Bring your friends, too! Don’t wait — jump on in!