This week’s readings are generally about the faithful. Deuteronomy describes God’s faithful care of a “wandering Aramean” or “Syrian about to perish”—most likely Jacob. The psalm echoes God’s faithful care of God’s own, safely abiding in the shadow of the Almighty. Paul reminds the Romans how uncomplicated it is to come by salvation: it only takes faithful hearts and faithful speech. And we see Jesus’ profound faithfulness as he survives the devil’s temptations in the wilderness.
Preaching these texts looks easy enough, maybe even uninspiring. It doesn’t get much more basic than faith.
Our Deuteronomy passage is set in the land of Moab, beyond the Jordan, maybe where Jesus went after his baptism and ordination. The 40 years in the wilderness are over, and the children of Israel have not yet been allowed into the Promised Land.
“Tell me a story.” No bedtime liturgy would be complete without these four magical, sacred words, or the four magical words that follow: “Once upon a time. . . .” Story shapes us. Fantastical bedtime stories fill us with fervent hopes for lives full of high adventure and romance, through which we learn chivalry, fidelity and courage.