This morning's sermon didn't disappoint. I was there for the whole thing (no running away shrieking!) and was glad of it. Fr. David talked about this Marc Chagall painting, "The Binding of Isaac" (you can get a better view of it and other artistic representations here, but I'm staying away from the Caravaggio images, no thank YOU!). Above Abraham's head is Christ on the cross, showing how the "Aqedah" foreshadows the Crucifixion); also Sarah praying.
Fr. D. remarked on the importance of understanding the context in the culture...that the local customs of non-believers in God had long included child sacrifice, so that this was a way for God to show that this is NOT what God wants. And that every time the story was told, over the hundreds of years following, that was the main message the listeners heard. Not the way we hear it today, that has distressed and sickened me so. Hum. Also, (he said) to point out that that there is nothing we can DO to achieve God's love and forgiveness, it's a free gift. (? well right, but how's that the point of THIS story?) Do I feel great about it yet? no. It still sounds like mean old trickster God pulling the rug out from under Abraham (and Isaac!!!!!!) But I feel good about working honestly on it this week and I thank you RGBP's and commenters for all the thoughts and sermons that helped me do that.
The Gospel was connected in by Fr. David pointing out that what God DOES want is for us to preach the gospel at all times, using words if necessary (paraphrasing here). He used the "Whoever welcomes you welcomes me, and whoever welcomes me welcomes the one who sent me" to comment on the recent missionary trip to the Bahamas he had just returned from with the high school group - the immensely gracious hospitality they received that was such a gift to them, more than any gift they gave to the people they went to "help." He also talked about the other mission work that our congregation is doing...in Dallas, in the Diocese of Navajoland, in other places in the US and locally. He said, "A church that is only focused on itself is an abomination. And a Christian only focused on herself is an abomination too."
He PREACHED it, y'all.
He was sitting on a stool at the front of the congregation due to a hurt foot, and somehow that proximity made his words very much more immediate. We do not typically holler "amen" (or anything else) but it was electric preaching in that vein.
We have a member who grew up in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, who is organizing a brief mission trip there at the beginning of August. Ken and I are hoping to go.
I came across this hymn in the TEC hymnal, with words by Christopher Smart (the brilliant, putatively insane, eighteenth century poet and author of Jubilate Agno (" For I will consider my Cat Jeoffry.
For he is the servant of the Living God duly and daily serving him...") and "A Song to David." These lyrics were written in 1765, after Smart's release from Bethnal Green. Any hymn that uses the word stupendous twice...I gotta love it, and the "Glorious..." stanza is great.
We sing of God, the mighty source
of all things; the stupendous force
on which all strength depends;
from whose right arm, beneath whose eyes,
all period, power and enterprise
commences, reigns and ends.
Tell them I AM, the Lord God said,
to Moses while on earth in dread
and smitten to the heart,
at once, above, beneath, around,
all nature without voice or sound
replied, O Lord, thou art.
Glorious the sun in mid career;
glorious the assembled fires appear;
glorious the comet's train:
glorious the trumpet and alarm;
glorious the almighty stretched-out arm;
glorious the enraptured main:
Glorious, most glorious, is the crown
of him that brought salvation down
by meekness, called man's son;
seers that stupendous truth believed,
and now the matchless deeds achieved,
determined, dared and done.