This week’s NL passage is the story of Isaac. It can be found here, and the Working Preacher commentary can be found here.

Perhaps you’ve read the story of Luke Howard, who has been playing the piano non-stop at College Green in Bristol for 24 hours in a bid to win back his ‘lost love.’ They dated for 4 months, and he feels this grand (pardon the pun) gesture will win her back.

In the beginning, the young man was lauded for his sacrifice and his ingenuity. And then people began calling him creepy.

When creating a grand gesture of love, like sacrificing-your-son-on-an-altar-of-God’s-choosing or playing-the-piano-in-the-park-until-your-girlfriend-comes-back-to-you, how do you tell whether it’s good or creepy?

Here’s what creepy looks like:

  1. It involves violence against another person;
  2. It goes against the choice of the other person involved;
  3. At any point, she said no;
  4. Your story goes viral, but not in applause;
  5. Planning requires grabbing a knife; and
  6. Your wife will be angry.

Seriously, today’s text just makes me crazy. How can you not know that building an altar for a sacrifice and putting your son upon it is wrong?

And what about all those “sacrifices” we make, which are so detrimental to our own lives, and the lives of those we love? I’m not saying that all sacrifices are bad, but they must be measured and in the end must create more good than bad. “I sacrificed my own well-being for the sake of my church,” may not be a good sacrifice. “My son sacrificed his life to fight in battles against [any people group],” may not be a good sacrifice. “I sacrificed the love of my life for my family,” may not be a good sacrifice.

There should probably be some balance.

Where are you going with today’s text? Here are some other ideas:

  • Sarah is blessed with a baby after many barren years. What does this text say about modern motherhood?
  • Frankly, Abraham seems mentally ill to me in this text. How can we better honor individuals and families dealing with mental illness in our churches? For more reading, start here.
  • We use sacrificial language about the way we give, about the way we make life choices, about the work of the cross. Can you think of other metaphors that might work better?
  • Finally, this text may open wounds of child abuse. Are there ways where you can honor those in your congregation who may have been abused? Ways to help others recognize their own abusiveness and begin to set their relationships right?

Rev. Lia Scholl is not-that-kind-of-Baptist preacher and pastor in Winston-Salem, North Carolina (U.S.) and is the author of I Heart Sex Workers (Chalice Press, 2013).

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2 thoughts on “Narrative Lectionary: What Abraham Did (Gen 21:1-3; 22:1-14)

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