Sept 19 Binding of Isaac

Living into this God Given World: Struggling with Trauma

Genesis 21:1-3; 22:1-14

John 1:29

Call to Worship

God without name

You are the Great I am

As we journey up the mountain with Abraham and Isaac, may we offer only the sacrifice of Praise.

Come let us praise God together.

Prayer of Confession: God, I confess that it is hard to know who it is who is hearing you right. Do you call us to sacrifice children? Will you provide for us when we forget to bring the sheep? We confess that sometimes we do not have the answers to hard questions. We confess that sometimes the struggle is real. Help us God, when we do not know what to do, or who to ask for help. Help us to make the right decisions, help us to do that which is right we pray. Amen

Assurance of Pardon: Jesus promises that all we need to do is confess, and already our sins are forgiven. Know and be comforted by the truth: In Jesus Christ we are forgiven.

Prayer of the Day/Dedication: God, we give thanks for the sheep, for the clarification, for the opportunity to give God the sacrifice of Praise. May we go into the world knowing, that Our God is good and merciful, may we go into the world assured that our God will only ask for acts of love and grace. May we be dedicated to do only those things today and everyday we pray. Amen.

Hymns: Immortal Invisible God Only Wise, Amazing Grace,

With Children: Discuss sacrifice, and how our God would never ask us to sacrifice our children and only asks for the “sacrifice” of praise.

Some Things to consider when interpreting this very difficult text:

From the perspective of a parent trying to explain the story to her child: by author Cindy Wang Brandt who wrote “Parenting Forward” https://cindywangbrandt.com/child-abuse-in-the-near-sacrifice-of-isaac/

From the perspective that Abraham was abused and that might have figured into his own response to one of his children being exiled and the other being potentially sacrificed from Rabbi Danya Ruttenberg: https://lifeisasacredtext.substack.com/p/why-didnt-abraham-protest-on-behalf

More Narrative Lectionary Year 4

If you find these resources useful please consider contributing to my Doctorate in Ministry in Creative Writing! I have already Successfully funded year 1, and am now working on Year 2!

Sacrifice of Isaac

This is a tough passage. This is the passage where, I don’t know how I feel about God, when the story begins “Take your son, your only son and sacrifice him.”

I want to say that we should never have to sacrifice our children, but then I think about the fact that its 4th of July, and that wars exist, and people have been asked to sacrifice their children for many reasons.

So I don’t know how I feel about God at the beginning of this story, but I do know how to feel about Abraham. As a pastor, I definitely understand him. He is trying to be there and ┬ábe responsible and hold fast to all of his commitments. When God calls him, Abraham says “Here I am” when Isaac calls on him, he says “Here I am”

“Here I am” for God and my family. I definitely feel that stretch. It makes me think of last Friday when I couldn’t make an out of town meeting and I was working and conniving to figure out how to get childcare for my special needs child to get there. How can I be both places at once?

And I feel for Abraham when he answers Isaac “God will provide the lamb” even as he has already promised to sacrifice his son. He is hoping, somehow for everything to work out.

And then part of me sees the humor in the ram that is caught in the thicket. I am, personally, very suspicious that the ram was there the whole time, but Abraham was so focused on trying to get through the horrible act of sacrificing his son, that he can’t see any other way out.

But isn’t that grace? Finding the path you didn’t see was there before? Ever have a solution presented to you that in retrospect was super-obvious, but your were so focused on getting through it, that you missed it?

This is why we need outsiders, and others perspectives. They help us to find the grace, the other path we might have missed.

So, I signed in to my meeting last Friday, remotely, feelings sad that I couldn’t be there in person, when my youngest, Ashburn, threw up. And I went and cleaned the mess and realized, I wouldn’t have been able to make the meeting in person anyway, and the online attendance was way better than trying to be there, because if I hadn’t been online I wouldn’t have been able to make it even with a babysitter, because Ash was sick. Grace is funny like that sometimes.

Like a child throwing up.

Or a Ram with its horns caught in the thicket.

Offering another perspective, another path, another way.

And that is why we gather and talk about who God is in our lives, so we don’t miss the other path, so we don’t miss out on the grace.

Esp. when its so obvious it makes us laugh. (And I just realized, this story does not require the sacrifice of laughter i.e. Isaac but instead welcomes/prompts it)

I’m not sure how I feel about God at the beginning of this story, but I know how I feel at the end, Our God is the God of Hope, the God of new paths, the God of laughter, the God of Grace.