January 2017

The God of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and Joseph Before we called God by the Trinitarian name “Father, Son, and Holy Spirit”; before we called God “Father of our Lord Jesus Christ;” and before we called God by the name given to Moses on the mountain, I AM WHO I AM or Yahweh, we called God by the name of the persons he hung around with long ago and far away. We called God by the name of one or more of the four great patriarchs of the faith whose life stories are found in the first book of the Bible, Genesis. At least three good things happen when we reconnect with the family saga of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and Joseph… (1) We discover how much religious faith we share with Jews and Muslims. It helps us elevate those things that hold us together and to separate and renounce distorted versions of all three major faiths. Nothing could be more important for the peace of our nations and the future of our children than to engage in this interreligious conversation… (2) We recall how God works through, around, and sometimes despite families. We are given families at their sacrificial best and at their petty worst. Just about every dysfunction you can name in your family, Freud, the Jewish psychoanalyst had already spotted and diagnosed in that Genesis crowd. There is a whole school of contemporary psychology, Family Systems, that camps frequently in Genesis 12-50. And yet, and yet, there is always God at work bringing grace to and from even the worst family fiascos… (3) We take solace in the long work of God. Genesis gives us a God whose plans are too grand to be accomplished in a few months, or years, or even in a lifetime. God’s plans require persons willing to play a part in a play then surrender that part to another before the play ends. We experience sacrifice for a larger cause in this saga. We see the need to adjust our clocks to the timing of the Almighty and to trust that God finishes what God starts. In the next weeks (Jan 22 – Feb 19), I invite you to join me as we reconnect with our ancestors in the faith. I ask you to do these three things in preparation. (1) Read and reread Genesis 12-50, in multiple translations if you can. (2) Listen for distorted versions of Judaism, Christianity, or Islam in the news. How is the God of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and Joseph misrepresented? Tell me about it. (3) Trace your ancestry back four or more generations and share any surprises with me by note on Sunday morning or an email. I look forward to our journey together. -Pastor...

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