Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Genesis 22:1-18

Pentecost +7 – Year A

Genesis 22:1-18

There's a song popularized by the Mills Brothers:
     You always hurt the one you love
     The one you shouldn't hurt at all
     You always take the sweetest rose
     And crush it till the petals fall
     You always break the kindest heart
     With a hasty word you can't recall
     So If I broke your heart last night,
     It's because I love you most of all

What strange things we project onto love. Can you really love sinners without really simply loving sinners. Can you love G*D and go all the way to hurting a loved one in your heart (if not in deed – stopping one ram short of sacrifice).

"Love me more (and more and more and more)" is an appeal to betrayal of other loves.

In an Edenic garden no slack was given, G*D sacrificed G*D's own image. At the beginning of this story, still no slack is given, Abraham is to sacrifice his own image. This is either profound counterintuitiveness or its just dumb. What have you found about losing your life for the sake of another? What have you found about the cost of not losing your life?

Have you found the shifting point that moves from "prove your love to me by betraying another love" to "stop that"?

= = = = = = =

Here is a slightly modified comment from one of the lists I follow (Midrash). Thought you might be interested:

…a caution.... we can get all kinds of self-righteous about the text (and yes, it is a horrible story - it is supposed to be!), but at some point don't we want to see what it brings, instead of reading ourselves into it? (Have you ever noticed how quickly mainliners and progressives can turn into Biblical literalists?)….

It does no good to require of Abraham the sensibilities of a 21st century, college-educated social worker. He lived 3,000 years ago as a primitive tribal chieftain at the edge of pre-history, where … child sacrifice was not uncommon among other peoples in the area. Here's an ancient piece of oral history, told and re-told for a reason. Probably to discern who God is - and turns out God is NOT the one who demands child sacrifice. … it illustrates an evolution in our understanding. Seems to me Abraham is not the one who says "No", but God is the one who says "No." … Abraham had it wrong, and God intervened.

How is that illustrative to us? All the ways we still sacrifice our children, even down to sending them to war for what turn out to be questionable reasons. Does God not still say, "No."?

This story pushes me into the territory of personal heresy, because if it is true and remains true, then God's intention in sending Jesus among us was NOT substitutionary blood atonement, but that we might listen to him and be reconciled. And the accepted doctrine that Jesus had to die for our sins turns out to be a strange twist on a sad set
of events. What if, what if, we were to say that God became incarnate in Christ Jesus, the Word became flesh, and (like Abraham) we misunderstood and killed the messenger, the reconciler, instead? And the Resurrection was God's way of saying, "NO! Stop it!" (?)

And instead of killing the Son through whom the future was promised, we back away from the knife, the Cross, and come down from the dark mountain chastened?
 
     S.W.

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