Wednesday, February 19, 2014 – Week of 6 Epiphany, Year Two[Go to Mission St Clare for an online version of the Daily Office including today’s scripture readings.]
Today’s Readings for the Daily Office:
Psalms 101, 109:1-4(5-19)20-30 (morning) // 119:121-144 (evening)
1 John 2:12-17
It’s hard to imagine a family more rife with power struggles than Jacob’s family. On Monday, we read the story of Rachel and Leah bargaining for who would spend the night with Jacob, their husband. Rachel gives up a night with him in exchange for the mandrakes that Leah’s son had found, and Leah speaks to her husband authoritatively: “You must come in to me; for I have hired you with my son’s mandrakes.” Jacob doesn’t appear to have a say in the matter.
In today’s first reading, Rachel similarly takes charge. As Jacob prepares to separate his household from his father-in-law Laban, Rachel steals her father’s household gods. (These figures of family deities seem to have conferred family authority on whoever possessed them.) Not only does Rachel steal them from her father; she also doesn’t tell her husband.
Even more boldly, Rachel uses a cultural taboo in order to fully protect her possession of the household gods. She hides them in a camel’s saddle and sits on them. When Laban comes into Rachel’s tent looking for the gods, she explains that she can’t stand up because “the way of women is upon me.” Thus, Laban can’t look where Rachel is sitting, and he fails to find his gods.
Great Biblical narratives like the saga of Jacob’s family don’t exactly inspire direct emulation. Rachel gains control of her family by lying, cheating, and stealing—not necessarily in that order. However, I can’t deny my admiration for a woman who takes charge in order to help her family fulfill its purpose.
What are some creative ways for you to take charge today? What push does your family or your community need? What bold steps will bring you closer to your future?
Jacob had been caught in a cycle of trying to please Laban but always ending up tricked and exploited in the end. Laban was stuck trying to control and possess his children and his property when they needed to be free from his grasp. Rachel’s daring actions and clever solutions finally shook her family out of these restrictive patterns.
Today, we, like Rachel, might face an opportunity to leap into action, to leap into authority, or simply to leap forward and see what happens. I hope that, like Rachel, we’ll be ready to take charge when the time is right.
Lora Walsh blogs about taking risks and seeking grace at A Daily Scandal. She serves as curate of Grace Episcopal Church in Siloam Springs and as director of the Ark Fellows, an Episcopal Service Corps program sponsored by St. Paul’s in Fayetteville, Arkansas.