Genesis 15:1-12, 17-18
Luke 13:31-35 or Luke 9:28-36 (37-43)
The future is a theme consistent through all three readings. And not just the future, we hear of a hopeful future in a time when things may look bleak. In the reading from Genesis we hear of God making the covenant with Abram. But much better put, God CUTS a covenant with Abram. God enacts with Abram what was a traditional way of two kings or leaders making a covenant with one another. And by walking between the halves of the cut animals, God (represented again by the smoking fire pot and flaming torch) is saying "If I break this covenant, may I be cut in two like these animals." Those are strong and powerful words of assurance that the promise of descendants will come true. And notice one other thing: God does not require Abram to walk through the pieces of animal. Abram does not make a promise to God. This is one-sided: God makes the promise and takes the oath to Abram. So the promised future is not dependent on Abram's faithfulness, but only on God's.
Paul is writing to the Philippians from prison, and yet he writes of hope and promise. He writes to encourage his readers, not to reassure himself. He writes to encourage those who might doubt their faith and the path they have chosen because of Paul's imprisonment. They might be doubting the protection and life-giving power of God. And so Paul writes words of promise. "He will transform the body of our humiliation that it may be conformed to the body of his glory" (v. 21). These words speak to the priorities we make of earthly things instead of heavenly things. But the promise is also much more basic. This body of humiliation, this body lying in prison, will be set free and made glorious.
As Luke's Gospel moves along through the thirteenth chapter, the pressure on Jesus increases and the knowledge of the horrible events to come becomes more clear. In this passage, some Pharisees try to warn Jesus off of Jerusalem because of Herod's intent. This prompts Jesus to lament over Jerusalem in the most tender of terms. But in the midst of that lament and his understanding of Jerusalem's pending rejection, Jesus promises a faithful future. Verse 35: "You will not see me until the time comes when you say, 'Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord.'" There will be a time when Jerusalem sees Christ for who he is. There will be a time of faithful confession and proclamation, and of...