Lectionary Year A
June 30, 2002
(FS) C. ADDRESS
"What Would YOU Sacrifice?"
Intro: What a horrible story! Genesis has drawn a compelling story of
Abraham: of an impossible promise of a son, a child whose name would mean
"Laughter", given to a barren wife aged beyond hope; a promise
wonderfully kept. Abraham has his heart's desire, a gift from God.
Then, God speaks again. "Take Isaac, the beloved, your only son, and
I. A TERRIBLE CALL! ABRAHAM IS ASKED TO GIVE UP HIS HEART'S DESIRE, HIS
A. He moves, though-- perhaps in a trance, perhaps in deep, deep faith.
He has knife in hand, and Isaac lies bound before him, when God stays his
B. He's passed the test: he trusts God even with his son.
C. Now, Jewish scholars have said that the fact God asked Abraham to sacrifice Isaac wasn't shocking for the Ancient Near East. God's refusing
the offering was revolutionary. God would never countenance human
sacrifice, the ritual offering of babies.
II. NOW, OF COURSE, WE CHRISTIANS CAN SEE ANOTHER LARGER STORY WHICH
WOULD UNFOLD LATER: A STORY OF A 'FATHER' WHO SO LOVED THE WORLD, AS TO
GIVE UP THE ONLY, BELOVED SON. We know the story of that sacrifice. When
it ended with Jesus dying nailed to a cross, there was no ram conveniently
caught nearby to be substituted.
Of course, God would never demand our children!
Then again...maybe it depends on what we mean by "demand".
III. FOR GENERATIONS OF JEWISH PARENTS, IN MEDIEVAL SPAIN, OR CENTRAL
EUROPE, THIS STORY OF 'THE BINDING OF ISAAC' GAVE THEM COURAGE.
A. Many a parent in those places had to chose between staying faithful to
the God of Abraham, or falling away and giving in to pressure to conform.
Some had to chose between forced baptism, or death at the stake. Others,
later, between opportunities for education and "assimilation" or
persecution and contempt. They saw in the story of Isaac that perhaps
they, too, were being called to choose between an easy accomodation or a
faithfulness that entailed sacrifice. How dare they make that choice for
Yet, they did.
B. There are parents today who have to choose between what they believe
to be God's call, or an easier life for their children.
illus.: A South American Presbyterian missionary I knew in South Texas, on
leave to study in the U.S. He and his wife had three young children. What was his
dream while he was able to live here, with the opportunity to make a life
in the USA? To go to one of the Republics in Central Asia, risen from the old
USSR. Dangerous, hard terrain. What right had he to make a decision to
take his family there?
Only that he felt a very powerful call from God.
C. Could WE do that? Probably not. Our children are going to be affected
by our choices, our commitments!
What about our commitment to the "KING OF KINGS"?
What about when the demands of our childrens' other activies clash
worship, etc., on a constant basis?
What about if our understanding of good stewardhip/Christian
clashes with the longings for clothes, toys, etc. ur children
Could WE sacrifice those things...
and ask our children to live with the consequences?
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