This week we’ve moved on from creation further into the Genesis telling of God’s interaction and relationship with the Jewish people.
Abraham has been following instructions from God for some time now. He had journeyed from his homeland of Ur to the land that God had set aside for him. It was not an easy journey. What Abraham did, leave the country of his ancestors, was not the usual. You didn’t leave the land you were born in. But Abraham responded to the call of God and followed where he was being led to. Abraham was promised to be the father of a great nation, a blessing to others, but there was one problem, his wife Sarah was barren and could not have children, so how would this all happen? We are told in the reading that the Lord did for Sarah as he had promised, and she bore Abraham a son. The nation had begun.
Our reading next takes us to Abraham being told by God to take his son Isaac and sacrifice him. The nation would end even before it had a chance to expand. Now we’re not told anything about Abraham’s response to this command, just that he rose early in the morning and took his son Isaac to where God had commanded. As a parent I can only imagine the ranting and raving that Abraham would have had at God.
Surely, God would not demand the sacrifice of a child? Jesus tells us more than once how important children are in the kingdom of God. I struggle with this passage – what is it telling us? Admittedly child sacrifice was a common practice in Abraham’s time. Maybe that’s why Abraham seemed to take this command without question. Scholars tell us that this is God standing up against that practice of sacrifice. God is showing that things will be different for God’s people, child sacrifice is no more. Another comment is that this is a pretty big test of the faith of Abraham. We know the ending of this event, but Abraham didn’t. I don’t think I would have been so trusting or obedient.
If we are honest, every day that we have has a component of sacrifice in it. Some of these sacrifices are big, others are very small, hopefully none that are life dependant. Sacrifice means that we give up something for another reason. A lot of time that sacrifice is made for another person. As we move forward in our challenge to create the spaces for God to be present and for all to be included, loved and respected we are going to have to make some sacrifices. That usually means setting aside our agendas, our perceptions, our bias so that others can be cared for and accepted. That’s not always easy.
As we work towards a more inclusive, welcoming and accepting church what are we going to have to sacrifice. It’s not something we want to do, but what do we have to do?