July 2, 2017
Matthew 10:40-42
Romans 6:12-23
Genesis 22:1-14
Psalm 13

Faith in the Face of Loss
Proper 8 | OT 13 | Pentecost 4

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Beth Herrinton-Hodge
In this week’s lectionary text from Genesis, Abraham faces the most extreme test many of us could possibly imagine when God commands him to “Take your son, your only son Isaac, whom you love, and go to the land of Moriah, and offer him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains that I shall show you.” The specter of the death of one’s child is unbearably painful -- yet Abraham demonstrates the depth of his faith in the Almighty (who provided the unlikely child) by cutting wood for the fire, saddling his donkey, and heading out with Isaac for the location God had shown him. After arriving, building an altar, laying wood on it, and tying Isaac on top of it all, Abraham prepares to slaughter his son. But at the last moment, satisfied that Abraham would not withhold anything, God implores Abraham to spare his son and provides a substitute sacrifice in the form of a ram. In the next installment of The Immediate Word, team member Beth Herrinton-Hodge points out that while Abraham passed the “acid test” of his faith in God, and was rewarded with avoiding the loss of his son, no such substitutes are available to the parents, families, friends, and communities of those who are victimized by violence in our world. How do they -- and we -- maintain our faith in the face of such senseless loss of life? After all, making sense of unexplainable evil and suffering is one of the most extreme tests to our faith in a loving and merciful God. How can we keep our faith when the lives of the innocent are not spared? Here’s a preview:

Faith in the Face of Loss
by Beth Herrinton-Hodge
Genesis 22:1-14; Psalm 13

Philando Castile, Otto Warmbier, Nabra Hassanen, Charleena Lyles -- four names... four humans whose lives were lost. We speak these four names, along with the names of countless others in our communities who have lost their lives to violence. These killings, this loss of life, stand in stark contrast to the spared life of Isaac in our Genesis text. 

What do we say to parents who have lost their children to senseless killing? What do we say to the children who have lost fathers, siblings, friends? The son of Abraham was spared. God provided a surrogate for the sacrifice.

What surrogate stood in for Philando, for Nabra, for Otto, for Charleena? Why weren’t these humans spared?

Psalm 13 gives us words of lament: “How long, O Lord? Will you forget me forever?... How long must I bear pain in my soul?” Yet like Abraham, the psalmist trusts in God’s steadfast love. Life involves hurt and hope, pain and praise, threat and trust.

We speak their names. We mourn their deaths. We hold on to hope while praying for help....
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Immediate Word Team
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George Reed

Mary Austin

Ronald H. Love

Dean Feldmeyer

Chris Keating

Robin Lostetter

Beth Herrinton-Hodge