This text is used for the Lectionary Year A on July 2, 2017.
“God Will Provide”
Life is a promising and dangerous adventure. The stakes are high. Participation is not optional. Everyone has to decide and act on the decisions made. We all have to figure it out. So we ask, “God, how can we successfully live out this adventure of life on earth?”. And it is as though God says, “Glad you asked. Because I will provide what you need when you need it.” Patience is trusting in God’s timing. And a life well lived requires well-placed trust.
The drama of Abraham & Isaac at Mt. Moriah revealed this drama in a troubling fashion. Why would God, whom we believe is loving, good, and trustworthy – ask for the human sacrifice of Abraham’s beloved son? Or for that matter any human sacrifice? What we find is that nowhere else in Scripture does God ask anyone else to offer a human sacrifice. So the bigness of this passage includes a major teaching that shaped the rest of Scripture and informs our life today. God’s goodness is what we can trust in when the options of our circumstances don’t indicate that we have any good options. Let’s pay attention to the story and let the meaning show us the way forward.
Spiritual Map Making
Abraham & Sarah and Isaac were spiritual mapmakers. That is, they followed God’s leadership into faith territory not previously understood or traveled. By their obedience to God’s call, and by God’s grace which forgave their failures – they became the leaders in God’s faith movement. (Known as Patriarchs and Matriarch of faith.) Their story is frequently referred to in the Old and New Testaments. They define how to live the meaning of faith as defined in Hebrews 11:1, “Faith is the substance of things hoped for and the evidence of things not seen.’
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This text is used for the Lectionary Year A on June 25, 2017.
Finishing Unfinished Family Business
Family. Simply saying the word stirs us. We feel. The feelings differ according to our personal stories, but everyone has strong feelings about “family.” Hopes & fears, laughter & tears, hugs & stare downs are images we see in our mind’s eye. Around family, there is little neutral ground.
A Complex Family
Our memories may include more – joy or sadness, gratitude or regret, praise or anger, awe or disappointment. And for all of us, there is some unfinished family business. This was particularly true of the complex family of Abraham, Sarah, Hagar, Ishmael, and Isaac.
In Genesis, the book of origins & patterns, God has much to teach us about finishing unfinished family business. Genesis 16 and following connected how Hagar entered this family story. She is Sarah’s Egyptian handmaiden and served as a surrogate wife for Abraham. She bore his children because Sarah was barren. When Ishmael (which means “God hears”) is born Hagar taunts Sarah with her ability to do what her mistress could not. This inability haunted Sarah. Enmity grew between them. Abraham led a tension-filled home life. He was torn between a divided loyalty among his wives and children. A divine breakthrough was desperately needed.
Family bonds continue to strengthen and/or weaken us throughout our lives. What enables family to be positive? The key is to accept God’s blessings and to live the best blessing as it was best given by our family of origin. That may also mean to minimize the “curse.” Family issues continue to play themselves out until we deal with them. God’s grace can heal the wounds. And we must live continually beyond what family “shadows” linger.
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This text is used for the Lectionary Year A on June 18, 2017.
“When Faith Turns a Smirk into a Smile”
Laurens Vander Post, a South African explorer who lived among the Bushmen of the Kalahari Desert, realized that they would only tell “their stories” to him after months of living in their midst. First, they had to trust him. For to them, their stories possessed the secrets of their soul. To tell their stories was to risk their lives. If an enemy came to possess their stories, they would be destroyed.
Like them, most of us are only willing to tell our personal stories to people we believe are trustworthy. We want people to laugh with us, not at us. We don’t want our stories to be distorted and spread around for others to trample upon. We are vulnerable as we share our stories.
The Bible is God’s storybook. God wants us to know His story. Not because He thought everyone would love Him because of the stories, though that was His hope. Not that He thought everyone would get it, though that was His aim. Not that He thought everyone would live better lives because of lessons learned from the stories, though that motivation moved Him. He had the stories written because they give witness to His glorious acts of salvation and that whosoever had “the eyes to see and the ears to hear” would personally trust God enough to step into the salvation being offered.
The Laughing Side of Faith
God is a promise maker and a promise keeper. Abram & Sarai were called out from the land of Ur as people of promise. Through them, God would reveal the Promise Land. Theirs is an intriguing story of how God can draw out extraordinary growth by stretching believers into extraordinary levels of courageous faith. Abram and Sarai became Abraham & Sarah (Genesis 16-17) by seeing the shortcomings of their current level of faith and being stirred by God into a new faith dimension.
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This text is used for the Lectionary Year A on June 11, 2017.
The Goodness of God’s Creation
Every good story begins somewhere, goes somewhere, and ends somewhere. Genesis is the story of stories. Not only is Genesis the first book of the Bible but in Genesis we see the beginnings of our lives, and our universe. And in Genesis 1 we see God’s intended trajectory, where He wants this story to go. To understand who we are and where we are headed, we need to understand Genesis.
So let’s get started by stepping into the story’s opening verse. “In the beginning God created…”. is among the most quoted literary lines in all the world. God is our Creator. From Genesis 1:2:4a we read the written revelation of God revealing Himself through creation. By paying attention to keywords and phrases in these 35 verses we: 1) can learn essential information, 2) be inspired to live at our best, 3) recognize the divine imperative.
A Divine Trail of Words and Praises
1) “God created… God said… God saw… God called… God made… God blessed… God rested.” These seven action verbs highlight that God acted intentionally to bring creation into being. (They are found in Genesis 1:1,3-12, 14, 16, 18, 20-22, 24-29, 31; 2.:2-3).
2) These active verbs are parallel to the use of “let” which indicates God’s permissive will to bring creation into being. Nine times “let” is used in telling about the initial six “days” of Creation. The word “let” has the sense of God’s graciousness. Creation came as an extension of His generosity.
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