Sunday, February 11, 2018
Binding and Swaddling
Swaddle - to bind (an infant) with long, narrow strips of cloth to prevent free movement; wrap tightly with clothes.
Bind - to fasten or secure with a band; encircle with a band to tie anything
Looking over the shelves in my small office, I noticed two bundles: one tied with salmon-colored fabric, the other tied with bright, orange ribbon.
The fabric-bound letters are from my long-time friend, Annabel. She died December 30, 2016, but left me with a stack of love and encouragement bound carefully so I don't loose any of her thoughts. Binding the letters tightly helps me keep all of her love, wisdom, and observations about life and people at the ready whenever I need to hear her voice.
The other is a stack of birthday cards I received last year. They are bound together by an orange ribbon that was tied around a gift. I bound all of the love and good wishes for a happy day that I received into a bundle to keep always.
Binding and Swaddling in the Bible
Jewish exploration of scripture, called Midrash, often calls Abraham's sacrifice of his son, Isaac, "the binding of Isaac." Binding in this context illustrates how Abraham carried through God's command (Genesis 22:9), binding Isaac to the altar so he could not move.
In the New Testament we read how Mary wrapped Jesus in swaddling cloth, binding him closely to feel comfort - safe and secure much like modern mothers do with their infants.
Binding God's Love
In church recently, the theme for the day was stewardship and service in the church and community. The offertory hymn, "By Our Love," by Christy Nockels contained this stanza -
The time is now,
Come church arise,
Love with his hands,
See with his eyes,
Bind it around you,
Let it never leave you,
And they will know us by your love.
This anthem emphasis shows the love of God so that "we can love with his hands" and "see with his eyes." The binding or holding together of God's love in our hearts fills us so that we are empowered to love and serve others wherever we go.
Binding and Swaddling
Binding or holding together keeps us steady in God's love. We can stay safe and secure in God's love for our own lives and for the way we "love with his hands" and "see with his eyes."
Binding my batch of Annabel's letters and my birthday cards helps me hold the sentiments of love, encouragement, thought and prayer.
Abraham bound Isaac to fulfill God's direction. His actions reflected the depth of his obedience to God. Isaac was Abraham's love bound on an altar.
Mary bound or swaddled Jesus like mothers do today. When we, too, bind or swaddle our hearts with the love of God, we can, like the anthem says, "love with his hands" and "see with his eyes."
Questions for Reflection
1. Do you have cards or momentos you have tied or bound together? What do they mean to you? Why have you bound them together?
2. Every day we have encounters, experiences or private moments with God that bind us closer in God's love. Keep a list of those times and offer gratitude.
3. Just like Mary swaddled Jesus, our hearts are swaddled when we received love from God through others or from God directly.Treasure these deep in your heart.
Prayer: Thank you, God, for ways to describe how, when you come to us, you leave a permanent imprint on our hearts. Bind your word, your care, your joy, your transformation around our hearts, swaddling you close to us, for all we need. Amen.