Tagged: promise

Genesis 22:1-14

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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Genesis 21:8-21

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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Romans 4:1-5, 13-17

This text is used for the Lectionary Year A on March 12th, 2017.

When the apostle Paul wrote the Book of Romans he had never been to Rome. In spite of that unusual fact, he knew the Romans. The Romans included a unique mix of Roman citizens, non-citizens, Greeks, Jews, barbarians, educated and non-educated persons. Rome appeared to many as the center of the world.  Roman power, government, law, oppression, and the Roman penchant for keeping Romans happy with a supply of bread and entertainment known as the circuses kept the Romans in order and believing in the Roman ideal. “When in Rome do as the Romans do,” while a cute phrase for today’s culture, became a way of life for Romans. Put simply, you did not want to violate Roman law and protocol because to do so involved harsh consequences.

The church started, more than likely, near the Jewish synagogue. Church planters taught the Christian basics of Jesus’s death, burial, resurrection, and how to live as a Christian. The whole realm of Christianity appeared foreign to Roman officials and to next door neighbors. What was Christianity? Was it a form of Judaism with its special practices of feast days, Sabbath rites, and dietary restrictions (Romans 14)? Or was it a religion altogether different from Judaism? And, if the church started near the synagogue and many of the first Christians in Rome were Jews, who and what kind of person should the church welcome (Romans 14:1; 15:7). Whom to welcome into the church and how to relate to others who had become Christians created questions and even problems in the church. Never mind that the answer to such a question and problem should be simply solved both then and now, the reality of “other” people different than them stirred controversy and conflict in the church.

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