By The Rev. Dr. C. K. Robertson
The story of Abraham and Isaac is hardly a fee-good tale. In fact, you might well find yourself calling out to the boy, “Run, Isaac, run! Don’t let him get you!” You might even feel some consternation with the lad. After all, how dense can he be? He’s carrying the wood for his own sacrifice: “Wake up, kid, YOU’RE the sacrifice!” It does not help that this passage holds such an important place in our Episcopal tradition, being read each year during the great Easter Vigil service.
But as should be obvious by now in this journey through Genesis, a literalistic reading of the biblical texts will not prove very helpful for us. Rather, we are called to do as the Prayer Book says, “to read, mark, learn and inwardly digest” Holy Scripture. The Word of God is not cotton candy; it is something to be chewed on.
So as we come to the tale of a father being asked to sacrifice his son, we must move beyond our shock or repugnance and instead consider the deeper realities to which the story calls us. “God will provide,” the father tells the son. These are not empty words, not some trite religious sentiment, but a bold assertion of faith in the face of life’s very real struggles.
It does not mean that we are free from struggle, from worry, from pain. No, for as we are reminded in Matthew’s story of the frightened disciples on the water, when we are in the very heart of the storm, and it seems as if Jesus is asleep and unaware of all that we face, the reality is that he is right there with us, in the storm, in the struggle, providing peace and calm and presence. The problems of life are legion. The potential sacrifices we face are great. But God’s presence and God’s provision are greater still. Thanks be to God!
When have you felt most alone, as if God was far away, asleep and unaware of your struggles? How did God’s presence and peace become known to you in that time?
The story of Abraham and Isaac clearly resonates for Christians in New Testament texts such as “For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son.” What do these words mean for you? How would you share the good news of God’s love with someone?
O God who provides, be with us in the midst of the storms of life, and help us to share your peace and presence with others, for the sake of your Son, Jesus Christ. Amen.