Here is part of today’s Old Testament reading, the story of the Binding of Isaac: ‘When they came to the place of which God had told him, Abraham built an altar there, and laid the wood in order, and bound Isaac his son, and laid him on the altar, upon the wood. Then Abraham put forth his hand, and took the knife to slay his son. But the angel of the Lord called to him from heaven, and said, “Abraham, Abraham!” And he said, “Here am I.” He said, “Do not lay your hand on the lad or do anything to him; for now I know that you fear God, seeing you have not withheld your son, your only son, from me.” And Abraham lifted up his eyes and looked, and behold, behind him was a ram, caught in a thicket by his horns; and Abraham went and took the ram, and offered it up as a burnt offering instead of his son. So Abraham called the name of that place The Lord will provide; as it is said to this day, “On the mount of the Lord it shall be provided.”’

St Athanasius wrote: ‘And when he was tried, by faith he offered up Isaac, and sacrificed his only-begotten son— he who had received the promises. And, in offering his son, he worshipped the Son of God. And, being restrained from sacrificing Isaac, he saw the Messiah in the ram, which was offered up instead as a sacrifice to God. The patriarch was tried, through Isaac, not however that he was sacrificed, but He who was pointed out in Isaiah; ‘He shall be led as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers he shall be speechless;’ but He took away the sin of the world’.

As, today, we enter into this story, let us honour the offering of Our Lord, the ‘Lamb led to the slaughter’ to make atonement for us, the one offered ‘in the place of Isaac’. May you find much joy and peace in this, and may God bless you this day.