Showing posts from June, 2014

Reflections on the text – Genesis 22:1-14

Read the text here:  Genesis 22:1-18 Hineni = Here I Am! In many respects this story of the Sacrifice of Isaac (or, as it is known in Jewish Tradition – “The Binding of Isaac”) is one of the most difficult stories in the bible to interpret and for 21 st century believers to even hear.   The principal objection centers around the issue of human sacrifice, or even worse, child sacrifice and the suggestion that God not only approves, but that God is the one who commands it.   Even the fact that Isaac is not sacrificed in the end does little to compensate for the sense of revulsion we feel towards both Abraham and God in this story. So we reject and perhaps ignore the story.   Or we come up with a couple favorite explanations that we use to explain it away.   Perhaps the most prevalent of these explanations is that we want see the story as a story of beginnings and a transition from uncivilized cultures that practiced human sacrifice to the more humane animal sacrifice.   But the

Reflections on the text – Genesis 21

Read the text here: Genesis 21:1-21 Sarah & Hagar – Exile & Hope You will be a great nation… Your descendants will be as numerous as the stars… This promise from God to Abraham and Sarah must have seemed rather outrageous to this aging couple.   Well past childbearing years, how in the world could this promise be fulfilled?   So, never one to just sit on the sidelines and wait, Abraham and Sarah take things into their own hands.   Sarah gives Abraham her slave Hagar and from them is born a son – Ishmael.   There! Problem solved!   Well… not exactly.   The Lord visits Abraham and Sarah in the form of 3 visitors and tells them that Sarah will have a child and that Ishmael is afterall not the child of promise.   Sarah, for her part finds the whole thing ridiculous and she laughs – and the Hebrew word here does not indicate a kind of joyous laughter, but rather Sarah laughs a cynical, mocking laughter.   But (as Falstaff says in Shakespeare’s “Merry Wives of Windsor”

Reflections – Holy Trinity

3 Visitors - The Holy Trinity - By Rublev (14th C.) Genesis 18 Beginning with worship this weekend I will be focusing on a series of lessons taken from the book of Genesis which tells the story of the Patriarchs and Matriarchs of Israel: Abraham & Sarah; Isaac & Rebekah; Jacob & Rachel (and Leah and Laban and Esau); and Joseph and his brothers. These are terrific stories and have much to say to us today, but there is one verse in particular which lay at the foundation of each and every one of those stories – in fact, it might be argued that this verse really lay at the foundation of both the Old and New Testament – here is the verse: Now the Lord said to Abram, “Go from your country and your kindred and your father’s house to the land that I will show you. 2 I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you, and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing.   Genesis 12:1-2 +++ Today is the Feast of the Holy Trinity; the one church fest

Reflections on Pentecost – Acts 2:1-21

Read the text here: Acts 2:1-11 Unpredictable & Dangerous For the last few weeks we have been considering the Holy Spirit.   In the Gospel of John the Spirit of God is referred to as the Paraclete.   The literal meaning of Paraclete is “one that comes up beside someone.”   The image I offered was of a small child in a swimming pool learning to swim, with the parent holding on to the child.   There are other English words that are used to describe the Holy Spirit – “Advocate” is the word that is most often used to translate Paraclete.    John also uses a word that is translated as “comforter.” In the Gospels the Holy Spirit descends upon Jesus at his Baptism in the form of a dove.   And this is the image that has perhaps caught on the most.   Look at the cover of this bulletin for example – there you will see a typical drawing depicting the Holy Spirit: a sweet dove. But in the original languages the word “Spirit” is a little more nuanced.   The Hebrew word is RUACH