Genesis 22–24, Psalm 8, Matthew 8
The story of Abraham and Isaac is hardly a feel-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. It doesn’t help that this passage holds such an important place in the Episcopal tradition, being read each year during the 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 asked to sacrifice his son, we must move beyond our repugnance and instead consider the deeper realities to which the story calls us. “God will provide,” the father tells the son. These words are not some trite religious sentiment, but a bold assertion of faith in the face of life’s very real struggles.
This 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, 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!
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 do you share the good news of God’s love?
When have you felt most alone, as if God were asleep, and unaware of your struggles? How did God’s presence and peace become known to you?
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.
-The Rev. Dr. C. K. Robertson
Canon to the Presiding Bishop
of The Episcopal Church
New York, New York