Monday, June 27, 2011

From Sarah, with love... (Sermon from last Sunday)

He must be crazy! Stone cold crazy! And don’t tell me he did it to show his faithfulness to God. I don’t believe that for even a minute!
All our adult lives have Abraham and I prayed to God for a child to be born to us. And what did we get? Nothing. But whenever I came to the well or spent my monthly time in the red tent, the other women would whisper. Poor Sarah. She is still without child. Barren. Surely Abraham will look for another wife soon. 
Thankfully he didn’t. And so our marriage lasted longer than some of those blessed with a child each spring. 
And believe me, I have always tried to be the dutiful wife. When he told me, a few years after retirement, that God had called him (and me) to leave home and wander in the wildness instead, I went with him. 
And when God promised us a son who would be the father of thousands and thousands of people, I tried to believe even that. 
But this, this I can’t understand! When God wanted to destroy Sodom and Gomorrah, towns where people killed, murdered, raped and thieved freely, Abraham intervened. He spoke up for the people there. Though they hardly deserved it and as you know in the end we failed to find even 5 righteous people… I was proud of him then. 
But this time, he kept silent. Not a single word came over his lips when God ordered Abraham to sacrifice our son. The only son. The child we waited for so long. And he doesn’t say a word. He just marches off into the wilderness, schlepping our son behind him. 
Do you know this feeling? When you see something awful happening and no one, not even one, is speaking out against it? Do you know that feeling when the people you love betray you? Because, seriously, did Abraham think I wouldn’t find out? Why didn’t he tell me? 
And what about God? Why did God bring Abraham and me into such a horrible situation to begin with? Yes, I know that we have to be faithful and that living faithfully means to go where God wants us to go. But asking us to kill our only child?!? I can’t see the love of God in that. All I am left with are questions: where are you God? And why? Why did you ask us to do this? Why did this happen? To me? To us? To others? 
I know people say my husband showed his faithfulness and has now received God’s rewards for it. But I don’t buy that. Agreeing to kill your own and only child is not faithful - it is crazy! 
Yes, our son is safe. An angel from God saved him in the end. But I still have nightmares about the whole affair and I often wonder: what next, God? What else will you come up with? 
When I look back at that time, and I don’t like doing it because it still doesn’t make sense, I have to admit that I learned a few things.
First, we at times come to a place in our lives when we feel utterly lost, abused, pained and even abandoned by God and God’s love. These times are horrible and dark and feel life-threatening. These are also the times that makes us realize that being obedient to God is not an easy thing to do. It is hard, painful and can very well be life-changing. And I don’t mean that only in a good way…
But I have learned that even though God asks obedience of me, God is also forgiving all the times when I am not. Like the time when Abraham told the world I was his sister and I almost got married off to someone else because of that stupid lie. Or the time when I treated my handmaiden so horribly. God’s well of forgiveness does not seem to ever run dry but readily quenches our thirst instead.
I have also learned that God can and does take all my fears, anxiety, anger and pain. God seem to want them all. I cried, pleaded, swore, screamed, but God never punished me for that. God was just there. Caring. Loving. And yes, in the end giving this son and saving him!

And I learned that no one can ever fall too deep for God to reach him. In our darkest moment God reached down through an angel and saved our beloved Isaac. No one is ever lost to God. Not when we mourn. Not when we fear or struggle with anger. 
Not even when we are faced with impossible situations in our lives. God is still there to reach out to heal, bless and restore. 
The next time you are down in the pit remember this: you are never alone. God is always with you. Look around. You will see, experience and feel God’s presence in your life. And when you are down it is OK to be angry, frightened or upset with God. And you can tell God. With God we don’t have to hold back. 

And mostly know this, God can and does turn around even the most horrible situations. Have faith, God is with you. Every day. Even on those ugly, painful and dark days. On those days that do not make sense and leave us weary and crying. God is there. Because God is faithful. God is forgiving. And most important of all: God is love. 

1 comment:

Geertje said...

Hallo Frau Ringel,

wenn dies die Predigt war, über die die Gemeinden nicht glücklich waren, ich wäre es auch nicht unbedingt gewesen.

Trotz des tröstlichen und zuversichtlichen Fazits, das ich teile, kann ich mich nicht wirklich identifizieren. Nicht, dass ich wüsste, wie es ist ein Kind sterben zu sehen - es gar von eigener Hand verursachen zu sollen! Aber ich bin weder Abraham noch seine Frau. Geschweige denn Gott, der genau dieses Opfer bis zum Schluss gegangen ist. Kein Engel hat verhindert, dass Jesus starb - für Sie und mich. Ich glaube, dass wir nicht alle Dinge wirklich verstehen können. Dinge, die gewesen sind und Dinge, die heute geschehen. Ich glaube, dass es normal ist, in bestimmten Situationen Angst und Wut zu haben. Aber ich glaube nicht, dass Gottes Liebe mich missbraucht.

Möglich, dass ich leicht Reden habe. Möglich, dass ich noch hadern werde. Aber ich glaube an einen liebenden Gott. Und daran, dass ich eines Tages Antworten auf alle meine Fragen erhalten werde.

Ich glaube, dass auch Abraham darauf vertraut hat. Was er genau gedacht hat - auch damals schon galt " Du sollst nicht töten." - weiß ich nicht. Aber ohne Liebe und Vertrauen zu seinem Gott hätte er nicht getan, was er getan hat. Und Isaak? Er war kein Kleinkind...

Ohne Zweifel eine unvorstellbare Prüfung. Aber ohne Zweifel auch ein Beweis, dass Gott nichts Sinnloses fordert, dass er nicht fern ist. Und da, wo uns doch Schlimmes widerfährt oder abverlangt wird, glaube ich an seine Fürsorge ("Spuren im Sand").

Soweit kurz vorm Einschlafen. Ich hätte mich von Ihnen verabschiedet (Kaum zu glauben, wie unchristlich man sich mitten in einer Kirche verhalten kann.)

In diesem Sinne wünsche uch eine gute Nacht,