God tested Abraham: A Sermon for Proper8, Year A 2016

Marc Chagall, The Sacrifice of Isaac, 1966

We’ve been reading the story of Abraham these past few weeks, and today we hear the most dramatic episode in his story. Indeed, this may be one of the most dramatic stories in all of scripture. It confronts us with a horrific dilemma and its implications concerning God’s nature and the nature of the relationship between human beings and God, the nature of faith, are deeply unsettling. Continue reading

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Hagar’s Tears: A Sermon for Proper 7, Year A 2016

When the water in the skin was gone, she cast the child under one of the bushes. Then she went and sat down opposite him a good way off, about the distance of a bowshot; for she said, “Do not let me look on the death of the child.” And as she sat opposite him, she lifted up her voice and wept.” Genesis 21: 15-16

These verses, from Genesis 21, our reading from the Hebrew Bible this morning, are terrifying and heartbreaking. They tell the story of a mother at wit’s end, facing the death of her beloved child, and her own death. She is hopeless and in despair. And in her situation, she is like so many others in our world, victims of violence and oppression abandoned by their families, their society, their fellow humans. Hagar is like all of the refugees in the world, looking for a safe place to live. She is like all the mothers in the world, searching for food and water for herself and her children. She is like the millions in our nation who are staring at a future with no safety net, no healthcare, no hope. Continue reading