Why is it that in much of the Biblical narrative, God seems to leading us to death?
by Russell Rathbun
Old Testament Reading: Genesis 12:1-9
For Sunday, March 20, 2011
Year A – Second Sunday in Lent
It had been a stumbling, halting courtship.
The first encounter between the creator and the newly created started out well, until the creator threw them out. Things seemed like they were getting back on track, starting to gain a little traction, never mind the speed bump about a meat or grain offering, and then God just couldn’t take it anymore. What with all the multiplying, the Nephilim chatting up the daughters of humans, dogs and cats living together; and that loud music at all hours (if you can call it music)! Every damn thought or inclination was evil. God had to shut it down.
Bag of Puppies
He saved what he could and drowns the rest like an overlarge and rambunctious bag of puppies. But you can only drown so many bags of puppies, so God thought, “At least, maybe if they can’t understand each other, they might straighten up long enough to make something of themselves.” And it does appear that after a postlude of initial encounters between God and humanity, that (what can you say?) didn’t go great, our Holy Narrative has found its first sustainable protagonist.
We meet Abram when the Lord is telling him to go from his country and his kindred and his father’s house—to a land that I will show you. In other words, leave everything that makes you who you are, that gives you meaning, that enables you to feed and care for your family and come with me—but I am not going to tell you where we are going until we get there. Abram seemly packs up and heads out without question.
Called, pulled or driven
The OT and Gospel texts for Lent this year all seem to touch on the idea of coming out. In all of these narratives texts folks are being called, pulled or driven out from their current realities to something new and transformative.
Abram is being called—or being told to go—out into nothing with nothing. God has given the promise that he will make a great nation of him. The hearer of this promise cannot help thing of the first notable thing learned about Abram, that his wife Sari is barren; there was no child in her. This is a remarkable text as we move through lent, towards death. It seems the inevitable fate for Abram, moving into and with utter barrenness. There is one more remarkable thing about this moving into the unknown, God is going with them.
The Hardest Question
Why is it, not only in Lent, but also in much of the Biblical narrative, that God seems to leading us to death?