Category Archives: love

Rebecca’s Voice

This is such a hilarious and ‘delicate’ depiction of birth that I couldn’t resist it!

Genesis 25:19-34

The Birth of Esau and Jacob
19 This is the story of Abraham’s son Isaac. 20 Isaac was forty years old when he married Rebecca, the daughter of Bethuel (an Aramean from Mesopotamia) and sister of Laban. 21 Because Rebecca had no children, Isaac prayed to the Lord for her. The Lord answered his prayer, and Rebecca became pregnant. 22 She was going to have twins, and before they were born, they struggled against each other in her womb. She said, “Why should something like this happen to me?” So she went to ask the Lord for an answer.
23 The Lord said to her,
“Two nations are within you;
You will give birth to two rival peoples.
One will be stronger than the other;
The older will serve the younger.”
24 The time came for her to give birth, and she had twin sons. 25 The first one was reddish, and his skin was like a hairy robe, so he was named Esau.[a] 26 The second one was born holding on tightly to the heel of Esau, so he was named Jacob.[b] Isaac was sixty years old when they were born.
Esau Sells His Rights as the First-Born Son
27 The boys grew up, and Esau became a skilled hunter, a man who loved the outdoors, but Jacob was a quiet man who stayed at home. 28 Isaac preferred Esau, because he enjoyed eating the animals Esau killed, but Rebecca preferred Jacob.
29 One day while Jacob was cooking some bean soup, Esau came in from hunting. He was hungry 30 and said to Jacob, “I’m starving; give me some of that red stuff.” (That is why he was named Edom.[c])
31 Jacob answered, “I will give it to you if you give me your rights as the first-born son.”
32 Esau said, “All right! I am about to die; what good will my rights do me?”
33 Jacob answered, “First make a vow that you will give me your rights.”
Esau made the vow and gave his rights to Jacob. 34 Then Jacob gave him some bread and some of the soup. He ate and drank and then got up and left. That was all Esau cared about his rights as the first-born son.

O Lord,
you have answered my cry,
our cry
to you.
There is life within me
hope,
joy,
anticipation
dwell deep inside.

And yet,
there is not peace.
It feels more like war.
Wrangling,
struggle,
fighting for the upper hand,
the greater share
of life within me.

Why should this be?
Should the fruit of love,
the gift from you,
the next generation of life,
not be love,
harmony
and mutuality.
Can they not dwell
in peace
even inside me?

But this is not their way.
They represent two different ways,
two new beginnings,
two different kind of strength.
Each will live their own way,
seemingly always in conflict,
one caring so little for his inheritance,
the other too much.

They pain me now
and will go on to bring pain
to our family
and to each other.

But they are mine.

Lord,
I see Jacob and Esau,
warring factions
right from the start,
wanting different things,
seeing the world in different ways

and I have to stop
and wonder,
what about me?

What about your world?

What about your people?
The church?

We are all different,
with different ways,
different perspectives,
different priorities

But how do we work them out?
How do we learn to live together?
How can we be different,
but together?
Committed to going in one direction
in our different ways?

Show us how to live together
in peace
not conflict.
To live for the good of all,
but especially the weakest;
to celebrate difference
and learn from it,
not fight over it;
to share different perspectives
that we can all see a bigger picture.

Because we are all yours
and you love each one of us,
equally,
with our different gifts and insights.


The Lord Provides

God Commands Abraham to Offer Isaac

22 Some time later God tested Abraham; he called to him, “Abraham!” And Abraham answered, “Yes, here I am!”

“Take your son,” God said, “your only son, Isaac, whom you love so much, and go to the land of Moriah. There on a mountain that I will show you, offer him as a sacrifice to me.”

Early the next morning Abraham cut some wood for the sacrifice, loaded his donkey, and took Isaac and two servants with him. They started out for the place that God had told him about. On the third day Abraham saw the place in the distance. Then he said to the servants, “Stay here with the donkey. The boy and I will go over there and worship, and then we will come back to you.”

Abraham made Isaac carry the wood for the sacrifice, and he himself carried a knife and live coals for starting the fire. As they walked along together, Isaac spoke up, “Father!”

He answered, “Yes, my son?”

Isaac asked, “I see that you have the coals and the wood, but where is the lamb for the sacrifice?”

Abraham answered, “God himself will provide one.” And the two of them walked on together.

When they came to the place which God had told him about, Abraham built an altar and arranged the wood on it. He tied up his son and placed him on the altar, on top of the wood. 10 Then he picked up the knife to kill him. 11 But the angel of the Lord called to him from heaven, “Abraham, Abraham!”

He answered, “Yes, here I am.”

12 “Don’t hurt the boy or do anything to him,” he said. “Now I know that you honor and obey God, because you have not kept back your only son from him.”

13 Abraham looked around and saw a ram caught in a bush by its horns. He went and got it and offered it as a burnt offering instead of his son. 14 Abraham named that place “The Lord Provides.”  And even today people say, “On the Lord‘s mountain he provides.”

 

Reading this passage at face value, it is very difficult, really problematical.  God asking someone to sacrifice their much longed for and God-given gift.  Has God changed his mind?  Is he so cruel as to do that?  To ask for a child back?  This is not the kind of God I think I know and believe in.

What kind of father would do that to his son?  To go as far as to actually tie him up and lay him on the altar?  Was he deranged, lost all perspective, so caught up in religious mania?

What is this story doing in the bible?  Can it actually have anything to teach us?

We read the unfolding tale knowing what the ending is.  Ultimately Abraham goes on to take Isaac home with him, who goes on to be father of Jacob, and grandfather of the Twelve Tribes of Israel. I guess we don’t know how his life would have gone without this experience?

We can read it through a New Testament lens of God’s sacrifice of his own Son.  But that is not how it would have been for Abraham, or Isaac, as they live this experience, or for those first reading it.  They set out on this journey of faith.  Abraham clearly believed that God was going to do something different, because he told the men “We will be back”, but I don’t suppose he actually knew until it happened.

Just to be clear, I don’t for one minute think that God gives us things and ‘asks for them back’ or just takes them back.  Yes things happen and things and people that we treasured are taken from our lives – but never, ever by God.  See how complex this passage is…

So, I wanted to try and put myself in Abraham’s shoes as he walks this walk to Mount Moriah, his beloved Isaac by his side.  What did he think God was doing and saying – and what might it have to say to us?

I thought I had it all,
everything I’d ever wanted,
even what you promised me,
waited so long for,
and now…

You are asking me to give it up,
surrender,
sacrifice,
offer it back to you.

My most precious thing.
not just mine
but the whole family,
everyone involved.

What am I to do?
It is your gift to me,
I love him.

And there he is,
trotting along beside me –
Isaac,
my amazing son,
longed for love of my life,
trustingly,
quite literally putting his life in my hands.

How can I let him go,
my life,
my future
and the future you promised for me
and the generations to come?

Did you not mean your promise?
Was it just this –
so far and no further?
Is there a greater plan?
Do you have something else in mind?
Something I don’t understand?

So here I am Lord,
here we are,
walking as you asked,
coming to where you called us.
In fear,
in trepidation,
in hoping
that this time
I’ve got it very wrong,
that this is not what you are asking.

But I am here

And I trust that you will provide
as you always have
and you always will.

What is my most precious thing Lord?

What do I cling to
hold tightly to me,
prize above all things?

What have you given me
that fulfils my purpose
and calling?

What am I so thankful to you for?

And yet
I have to ask
if there is anything you are asking me to give you?
Not for you to destroy it,
take everything away,
but so I can receive it back
maybe in a changed way,
a new way,
a stronger way,
your way.

Help me to make sense
of the gifts you have given me
and what you want me to do with them.

To see
and understand
what you provide

 

 

A Warm Heart

Diane Griffiths / CC BY (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)

 

This is my offering for our Circuit Daily Devotions this week.  This is a shortened version, if you want to hear the full version, you can find it here

On Sunday it will be Aldersgate Sunday, commemorating the day John Wesley’s life changed forever.  The day that he had an experience of God that ‘warmed his heart’. You can read more about it here.

This is an account of his day from his diary

Wednesday May 24, 1738.

What occur’d on Wedn. 24, I think best to relate at large, after premising what might make it the better understood.  Let him that cannot receive it, ask of the Father of Lights, that he would give more Light both to him and to me.

I think it was about five this Morning, that I opened my Testament on those words, “There are given unto us exceeding great and precious Promises, even that ye should be partakers in the divine Nature.” 2 Pet. i. 4.  Just as I went out, I open’d it again on those Words, “Thou art not far from the Kingdom of God.”  In the Afternoon I was asked to go to St. Paul’s.  The Anthem was, “Out of the Deep have I call’d unto thee, O Lord: Lord, hear my Voice.  O let thine Ears consider well the Voice of my Complaint.  If thou, Lord, wilt be extreme to mark what is done amiss, O Lord, who may abide it?  But there is Mercy with thee; therefore thou shalt be feared.  O Israel, trust in the Lord: For with the Lord there is Mercy, and with him is plenteous Redemption.  And he shall redeem Israel from all his Sins.”

In the Evening I went very unwillingly to a Society in Aldersgate Street, where one was reading Luther’s Preface to the Epistle to the Romans.  About a Quarter before nine.  While he was describing the Change which God works in the Heart thro’ faith in Christ, I felt my heart strangely warm’d.  I felt I did trust in Christ, Christ alone for Salvation: And an Assurance was given me, That He had taken away my Sins, even mine, and saved me from the Law of Sin and Death.

– John Wesley

The Message puts 2 Peter 1:4 like this:

Don’t Put It Off

3-4 Everything that goes into a life of pleasing God has been miraculously given to us by getting to know, personally and intimately, the One who invited us to God. The best invitation we ever received! We were also given absolutely terrific promises to pass on to you—your tickets to participation in the life of God after you turned your back on a world corrupted by lust.

And the part of Luther’s Preface to the Letter of Saint Paul’s Letter to the Romans reads

Faith is a work of God in us, which… makes us completely different people in heart, mind, senses and all our powers…

Translated by Bro Andrew Thornton, St Anselm Abbey

We are going to use a combination of these to guide our time with God as we reflect on what it means for us in our situation.

If you would like a text version of the meditation, you can find it here: 200522

 

The anthem is Psalm 130. This is a beautiful modern rendition of that Psalm