Saturday, January 24, 2015


Dear Christa—
God chose Rebekah for Isaac. Abraham sent his servant to his homeland, to his family, to seek a wife for his son. The servant prayed to the God of Abraham, who appears to be his God too. He had depended on God to go before him, and he had. There the servant found Rebekah.
Rebekah is a hard worker—and a risk taker. She speaks to the stranger. She waters his camels. She invites him home. She accepts his gifts; and, in a matter of hours, collects her things and leaves her home forever—to marry a man she has never seen.
I wonder what she thought on the journey back. Did she doubt herself? Did she wonder about this servant she was traveling with? Whatever her thoughts, she had made her resolve. When she sees Isaac approaching in the distance, she throws on the veil and is led away by him, and Isaac loved her.
We don’t really know much about Rebekah. Laban and their mother appear to be calculating, and Rebekah is eventually the same in her actions of deceiving Isaac and sending Jacob away to protect him, the blessing, and the birthright he’d stolen.
Rebekah had favored Jacob; Isaac favored Esau.
There’s danger in that picture. Favoritism in general and in families in particular has a way of working to a bad end that God eventually has to wrestle out of us. Somehow, it isn’t quite communicated to Esau what’s important to the family, and Jacob—well, you know what they say about the apple not falling far from the tree—at least on his mother’s side.
Not much is revealed about the household of Isaac and Rebekah.
Two brothers who could have been good friends, could have been a support for each other, could have been iron that sharpens iron; but they were not. Parental favoritism slammed a wedge between them…one that appears to have never quite loosened out.
Sometimes, the example is in what not to do.
Yes, favoritism has a way of working to a bad end that God eventually has to wrestle out of us.
—the parishioner who doesn’t do anything

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

God Revealed

Dear Christa—

There comes a time of testing in every life, and Abraham was no exception. But, this isn’t really a story about Abraham. It’s a story about God.

God told Abraham to take his son, the promised son, and sacrifice him.

To our world and culture, this seems crazy, and we wonder who in their right mind would even consider such a thing—even for God.

But, for the world and times in which Abraham lived, this did not seem strange. Common was the sacrifice of babies to the demon gods of the surrounding cultures. Babies, so many babies, sacrificed to Ishtar and Baal. Rare is the ancient culture where there is not evidence of human sacrifice.

So, Abraham gathered his son and the necessary articles needed for such a task and started out to the place where the deed would be done.

But, this is not a story about Abraham. This is a story about God—real God.

We admire Abraham for following such a request. We admire Isaac for his part in the situation. Their faith was great, but this is not a story about them. It is a story about God—a God far different from the demon gods, who required human sacrifices.

Just as Abraham raised his hand to slay Isaac, God sent an angel at that moment to stay his hand. And as Abraham lifted his eyes, he saw a ram in the thicket. God had indeed provided his own sacrifice, just as Abraham had believed.

And this act of God’s separates him from all the false ones of Abraham’s day.

God was not like the false gods. God never required a human sacrifice. Here is knowledge that a mere human sacrifice would not appease him. He was not that kind of God.

God would provide his own sacrifice in his own time, in his own way. He would sacrifice himself.

Today, the very thought of sacrificing our children is appalling, and it should be.

We do not serve that kind of God. He is not like the others.

—the parishioner who doesn’t do anything

Saturday, January 3, 2015

For Lot's Sake

Dear Christa—
God chose Abraham. And when God revealed himself as the one true God, Abraham chose God. A covenant was made, and from that time on, God had a relationship with Abraham that was significant.
The rest of the world seemed to be about doing their own things, worshiping their own gods—the fake ones—the ones that really placed the focus on people and their selfishness. But, it didn’t change that the world was still the creation of the One, True God. And, he was aware and took action within his world.
There came a time that God decided to bring judgment on Sodom and Gomorrah, but before he did, he told Abraham of his intention. And Abraham’s reaction is where the story gets interesting.
As Abraham walked with God and learned of his intentions, his thoughts bent toward Lot, his own flesh and blood. Lot had been foolish in many ways, thinking he could mix the ways of the world and the ways of God. People of Sodom knew him, but they did not listen to him.
So, as Abraham walked with God, he inquired of the Lord if he would destroy the righteous with the unrighteous. Realizing he was pressing God, very God, he still pleaded for the salvation of his kinsman. Would God destroy it for the sake of 50 to 10, he asked. I notice in what way he asked his petition—honoring, yet pushing, for so great was his love for Lot. And, God promised he would not destroy it for the sake of 10 righteous people. Surely in the cities of the plains, there were 10 righteous people, but there were not.
Yet, as the angels pushed Lot and his family on their way, they told Lot they could not do what they’d come to do until he was gone. God would stay his hand for even this one wayward man. It appears he did it for the sake of Abraham.
What if I loved as great as Abraham? What if I boldly asked for too much, for beyond reason, for the undeserving? Are we not all undeserving?
What if I believed in God to that extent?
What if I expected God to act to that extent?
—the parishioner who doesn’t do anything