Abraham and Isaac and Supreyes

CrossWalking Guide

July 2, 2017

Thanks for joining in today!  Please keep this guide near your cereal bowl or bathroom mirror – wherever you’ll see it easily – so that what happens today goes deeper in the tomorrows ahead.  If you’relooking for the teaching summary, keep scrolling…

Welcoming Song: Learnin’ to Fly

Welcome and Announcements

You are invited.  We choose to enter into this space knowing that God is present and desiring to move in, through and with us toward restoration and renewal.  For the whole world.  For strained relationships.  For communities.  For families.  For individuals.  Joining God in this resurrection venture is a choice that comes with a stretch.  A choice to make the most of this space right here, right now. 

What is your choice?  Will you join in today?  Are you willing to stretch?

Song: He Brings Me Love

Centering Meditation.  Read the following Psalm.  Have you ever felt like this?  Which parts?  How are you feeling today?

Psalm 13 (NLT)

O Lord, how long will you forget me? Forever?
How long will you look the other way?
How long must I struggle with anguish in my soul,
with sorrow in my heart every day?
How long will my enemy have the upper hand?
Turn and answer me, O Lord my God!
Restore the sparkle to my eyes, or I will die.
Don’t let my enemies gloat, saying, “We have defeated him!”
Don’t let them rejoice at my downfall.
But I trust in your unfailing love.
I will rejoice because you have rescued me.
I will sing to the Lord
because he is good to me.

Meditation Prayer. Sometimes, O God, it seems as though we’re all alone, like nobody cares. Sometimes we hear others laughing at us hurting our feelings making us feel unimportant or worthless. Yet you have promised always to be with us. Help us to remember that promise and to be strengthened by it. Amen.

Meditation Song: Reunion

The Focal Text | Genesis 22:1-14 (NLT)

After all this, God tested Abraham. God said, "Abraham!"
     "Yes?" answered Abraham. "I'm listening."
     He said, "Take your dear son Isaac whom you love and go to the land of Moriah. Sacrifice him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains that I'll point out to you."
     Abraham got up early in the morning and saddled his donkey. He took two of his young servants and his son Isaac. He had split wood for the burnt offering. He set out for the place God had directed him. On the third day he looked up and saw the place in the distance. Abraham told his two young servants, "Stay here with the donkey. The boy and I are going over there to worship; then we'll come back to you."
     Abraham took the wood for the burnt offering and gave it to Isaac his son to carry. He carried the flint and the knife. The two of them went off together.
     Isaac said to Abraham his father, "Father?"
     "Yes, my son."
     "We have flint and wood, but where's the sheep for the burnt offering?"
     Abraham said, "Son, God will see to it that there's a sheep for the burnt offering." And they kept on walking together.
     They arrived at the place to which God had directed him. Abraham built an altar. He laid out the wood. Then he tied up Isaac and laid him on the wood. Abraham reached out and took the knife to kill his son.
     Just then an angel of God called to him out of Heaven, "Abraham! Abraham!"
     "Yes, I'm listening."
     "Don't lay a hand on that boy! Don't touch him! Now I know how fearlessly you fear God; you didn't hesitate to place your son, your dear son, on the altar for me."
Abraham looked up. He saw a ram caught by its horns in the thicket. Abraham took the ram and sacrificed it as a burnt offering instead of his son.
     Abraham named that place God-Yireh (God-Sees-to-It). That's where we get the saying, "On the mountain of God, he sees to it."

Table Talk.  What surprises you about this passage?  What bothers you?  What inspires you?  Some people want to walk away from the faith because of this passage – why do you think that is?

The Teaching | Abraham and Isaac: Surprise Supreyes

We tend to focus our gaze on the fact that God was requiring Abraham to sacrifice Isaac.  When we do, the whole point of the story shifts to seeing God as a tyrant who puts his people through the paces, asking them to do horrible things as tests of faith.  When we keep our eyes fixed on this part of the story, every fear in us of God acting as a great judge is affirmed, and we walk around in terror, hoping not to make eye contact with God lest God call us to the same.

But this is not what the original hearers of the story would have zoned in on, because, while such a request would be grounds for putting God in prison today, it was normal and expected then.  Human sacrifice was the ultimate display of paying homage to God.  It had been done countless times through history as a means to keep the weather good and the crops coming.

What was so compelling in this story, then?  The fact that God stopped the execution and provided a ram instead of Isaac would have caused every person in antiquity to stop what they were doing and drop their jaw.  Gods don’t do such things.  Gods need to be appeased because we are so annoying.  Gods require more and more from us to keep them happy and us alive.  Gods do not do anything for humanity from a place of generosity or grace.  Gods demand human sacrifice – they do not call them off.  God not only calling it off, but providing a way out and God’s “expense”, and then ending the practice of human sacrifice?  That was front page news.  It was so astounding that most people would even call it fake news.  Yet it is the foundation of the new faith tradition begun in and through imperfect, completely contextualized Abraham and Sarah.

We are hardwired, it seems, to look for lightning bolts from God.  What if our assumptions about God at our core are wrong?  What if we’ve missed the real point of the story?  What if we assume God will surprise us with something good?  How might that shape our perception of reality?  How might that shape our capacity to see what God is actually up to?  Perhaps that is the great new thing that Abraham’s new faith tradition was really about.  How might things be different if we are constantly on the lookout for God to be good, providing an abundance of beauty and possibility?  What if we train our eyes to expect to be surprised by God’s goodness?  That would change everything.

Table Talk.  What seems to be sticking with you from our time together today?  What’s a take home message for you?  What might God be calling us to do in response to what’s happening here?

Offering Song: The Prayer I Used to Pray.  During this song, take a moment to place any offering, prayer request, comments and Clue In into the tins on the tables.  Thank you for your support!  CrossWalk can’t without your generosity.  Thanks for your prayer requests!  We consider it an honor to serve you in lifting your request to God.  Thanks for your comments!  CrossWalk is an ongoing experiment seeking to serve God toward resurrection/restoration/renewal – feedback helps us serve smarter!  Thanks for your Clue In!  If we don’t know who you are, it’s really tough to support you.  Thanks for being here today!

Notes, thoughts, doodles…

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