the redemption of boys

Then David comforted his wife Bathsheba. He went to her and had sex with her. She gave birth to a son and named him Solomon.  The  Lord  loved him  and sent word by the prophet Nathan to name him Jedidiah  because of the  Lord’s grace. (2 Samuel 12:24-25 CEB)

Redemption has nothing to do with whether you go to heaven or hell. THIS is redemption. A murder, an adulterous relationship, leading to the birth of a wise king, leading to the birth of our Savour.

There is nothing or no one that God’s love can not redeem. The path to redemption is in repenting and turning to the grace of God.

If God can redeem David, God can redeem the boys who were found guilty in Steubenville, and the kids who abused and raped Rehteah Parsons. They won’t be redeemed by us minimizing their heinous acts, but through repentance.

David was lucky. He didn’t lose his crown. But he lost two sons. These boys may lose opportunities in life. But they didn’t lose their lives.

Redemption is a brutal path. But the opposite direction is far worse.

2 Samuel 11, 12:1-25

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the morning after election 2012

David was frightened by the LORD that day. “How will I ever bring the LORD’s chest to me?” he asked. (2 Samuel 6:9 CEB)

Still trying to recover my sleep patterns after the death of my father and my mother’s illness, I didn’t stay up to see the President of the United States declared. However, I love the coincidence (and yes, I actually DO believe in coincidence), of entering back into this reading plan today reading about the crowning of David and the return of the Ark of the Covenant to Israel.

This chapters show the extremes of leadership. From the absolute glory of victory to the utter fear and trembling of the consequences of defeat. The weight on our political leaders is immense. Sure, there are perks, especially to being leader of the free world, but those are small compared to the burden of the legacy they are forming.

Whoever my leaders are, whether I agree with them or not, I have always tried to show them respect. Our leaders sacrifice a great deal of their lives as do their families. Their words and actions deserve due consideration. They have the responsibility to respond to criticism of their political actions, and the right not to have their personalities attacked.

So, as David reminds me of the burdens of leadership, I am very thankful for all the women and men who offer themselves to represent us in our governments. They will do great things we will never hear about and make horrible mistakes I hope we can critique, correct and then forgive.

I hope our leaders do not always follow David’s example, but I hope they receive encouragement from his story. The LORD makes a great promise to David and, I think to all leaders, that God will never take away God’s “faithful love” from David or his descendants (2 Samuel 7:15).

To all the candidates, may you sleep in this morning! And God bless you in your vocation. Thanks be to God.

A prayer for the nation by Jana Nardella

2 Samuel 5, 6, 7

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i will make of him a great nation

So she said to Abraham, “Send this servant away with her son! This servant’s son won’t share the inheritance with my son Isaac.” (Genesis 21:10 CEB)

I couldn’t write about this reading yesterday. There was far too much. I think I will write more blog posts on this story. How can I let the sacrifice of Isaac just go by? But how can I just respond off the cuff? So, today, I will focus on Sarah and Hagar.

At Trinity Aurora, where I serve,  we are in the midst of a preaching series called, “Hope in Uncertain Times”*. This reminds me of this family. Talk about uncertain times. All the journeying, famine, this growing family with a very uncertain future. No wonder Sarai wants to ensure security for the one son she never imagined she would conceive, with the fierceness of a mother.

We are also living in very uncertain times. Our instinct, especially with our current financial insecurity, is to focus on ourselves, our savings, making sure we maintain as much stability as we can.

God understands Sarai’s fears as well, and not only assures Abram, but protects the victims of Sarai’s insecurity. God follows Hagar and Ismael into the desert and saves them from death. They are not only saved, but they are made secure, as Ismael marries.

Two nations, two families, struggling to trust a God whose plans are elusive. God works in the uncertainty and creates security and family.

*You can read and listen to our preaching series at Trinity Aurora’s website. I’ll be preaching on Guilt and Self-Doubt on Sunday, February 5, 2012 at 8am, 9:15, 11:00 and 4:30. 

Day 8: Genesis 21:1-22:19

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your descendants will be oppressed slaves for 400 years

He said to Abram, “I am the LORD, who brought you out of Ur of the Chaldeans to give you this land as your possession. (Genesis 15:7 CEB)

Do you notice that God makes the covenant with Abram and THEN gives him the bad news? Nice.

If you were offered this deal, would you take it? You will be an ancestor to many, your legacy will be long, but your legacy will also include 400 years of slavery. That’s 16 generations of your progeny.

But here’s the thing. It’s not a deal. God declares it. As those who are in exile try to understand their plight, it is far easier to understand in the tapestry of God’s plan.

Of course, we accept the gift of children knowing their lives will not be cakewalk because we long for family. Of course Abram would take the deal, if it were an option. Because life, like family, however it is lived, is a gift.

Day 7: Genesis 15:1-21

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here’s your wife. take her and go

Why did you say, ‘She’s my sister,’ so that I made her my wife? Now, here’s your wife. Take her and go!” (Genesis 12:19 CEB)

Some biblical writers are incredible storytellers. Some, not so much. This writer falls in the latter category.

Here we have an incredible story of a family, receiving a message from God, following that voice through deserts, into a promised land, only to turn to famine, then move on to Egypt, where this couple has to hide their love for one another just to survive. Imagine what a painful conversation that must have been (vv 11-12), walking into a city knowing that your wife is going to be taken because of her beauty. How did Abram sleep, not knowing where his wife was?

Pharoah, of course, blames Abram for the plagues. Why didn’t you tell me she was your wife? As if anyone believed for one minute that Pharoah would have left her be if she was married. As Abram predicted, Pharoah likely would have taken Sarai and had Abram killed. Perhaps Abram and Sarai were simply scapegoats. Perhaps the plagues came because Pharoah was kidnapping women for his harem. Or any other injustice. Or, maybe, the plagues came because of dirty water, or airborne disease, as all plagues do.

It is important to reflect on what has happened in order to move forward, but sometimes, things just happen. If we dwell on looking for a cause, a reason, especially when circumstances are beyond our control, we can miss the big picture, and ignore what could be an insidious systemic justice.

Scapegoats distract us. Is there something I am deliberately using as a distraction?

Day 6: Genesis 12:1-20

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therefore it is named babble

Come, let’s go down and mix up their language there so they won’t understand each other’s language. (Genesis 11:7 CEB)

Would it be ok if I forever call this place Babble? It just seems to make sense. Is this where the word babble comes from, I wonder?

So, unless you come from the school of Christians trying to scientifically prove that every myth in the Old Testament actually happened exactly how it is written, I think we can agree that this is not really how language evolved. Language evolved in different lands, among different peoples.

I wonder how the writer of this myth reacted when she or he first heard a different language. Surprise? Thinking they were demons?

It is certainly easier when everyone speaks the same language, when everyone comes from the same background, the same values, the same religion, the same age. Things get done faster when we are all on the same page, sharing a vision. If life is about getting things done, then let’s stick to what we have in common.

But is life about getting things done? Life isn’t about building towers. We live when we grow, not necessarily when we build. We grow when we encounter new experiences, new people, learning new languages and ways of doing and being.

Day 5: Genesis 11:1-9

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i will give you everything

Last night at youth group we spent some time in the kitchen, talking about how we nourish ourselves. The juniors made soup, the seniors made analogies: spiritual metabolism, spiritual bran, spiritual heartburn. Later, we talked about where food comes from and making ethical choices around food, the impact of films like SuperSize Me and Food Inc. I shared my childhood experience of living on a farm and eating our own livestock. Yes, we named our animals.

In Genesis, God says,

“Everything that lives and moves will be your food. Just as I gave you green grasses, now I give you everything.” (Genesis 9:3, CEB)

This writer weaves a tale of a society moving from a hunter gatherer to an agrarian society. As a story of God’s action, I wonder. Why did God change humankind’s relationship with the animals, so that now humans can eat the animals?

I wonder if it was because Noah took care of them, and so now knew what it meant to eat another of God’s creatures. On the ark, Noah and his family were in the minority, one of many species that God created. Perhaps God reserved that right to eat animals until humankind could regard this source of food as beloved creatures of God, just like humans. If you would eat it, you must respect it, love it and, when the time comes to eat, give thanks for its life.

And all of this is the result of God’s promise to us, to never destroy, to love, to sustain and never abandon.

As I have been reflecting on this passage today, this song has been rolling around, an expression of love and sharing good things. I could sense God’s voice in the lyrics. I share it with you.

Day 4: Genesis 8:1-9:17

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