Worthy of a soap opera
So 16 days into September and we are only 10 chapters into Genesis – not a great rate of progress! These early chapters of Genesis are crucial though in setting the scene for the rest of history. The first 11 chapters are generally regarded as pre-history, impossible to fix in time. The last chapter in this section relates the story of the tower of Babel – which I do not want to comment on particularly as I have always thought it was about the consequences of building a tower to reach God and I now find out that is not the case and I can’t get my head round the story properly. Anyway, Rob Bell brings out some interesting points in his Tumblr entry Tower if you want to take a look.
So now we move on to a narrative like no other – stories of great men of God, people of faith walking their journey of faith with some very human twists and weaknesses, all worthy of a soap opera…. We start with Abraham and his story which covers Genesis 12 to 24 (time to get reading!). Here are some of my thoughts as I read to chapter 21:-
- actually we start with Abram who is called in Genesis 12:1 to leave and go….God’s plan was never for people to settle at that time (hence the problem with the tower of Babel). He need people to spread out and scatter across the earth so that the whole world could be populated. There are plenty of situations in our own lives where we are called to leave and go – not necessarily geographically, but to leave our comfort zone and step out into something new. This is not easy. Sometimes it is not nice. That is why it’s called a comfort zone. But that is how we grow. That is how we learn to trust, how we develop confidence….
- Genesis 12:2 is full of blessing. We all want God to smile on us and shower those we love with good things and prosperity and success. The story of Abram goes on to show that blessing does not always look how we think it will and that we should never do something simply for the reward at the end, but for the joy of the process and the fulfilment of the journey itself.
- Genesis 12:13 – ‘pretend you are my sister’. I struggle with this, of course I do. Who wouldn’t? Abram seems to make a serious misjudgement here. This can never be good. Pretending never ends well. And of course, it does not.
- Genesis 13:8,9 – Abram recognises that it is time to part company with Lot. All good things come to an end. There is a time to move on and it takes wisdom and courage to recognise when this is.
- Genesis 15:6 – God has made big promises to Abram that look ridiculously unlikely and Abram ‘believed the Lord and he credited it to him as righteousness.’ Believing in our potential and our ability to achieve the seemingly impossible is hard.
- It was too hard for Sarai – she resorts to a shortcut in Genesis 16:2 – Go sleep with Hagar and have a child with her. This is difficult to understand but the pressure on Sarai to have a child must have been enormous and she must have been under all kinds of stress, so it really is not for us to judge….maybe we would have even done the same….
- Chapter 17 is all about circumcision as a sign of God’s covenant with his people and why anyone would put themselves through this!
- Whilst Abraham is seen as a man of great faith, he has his moments of doubt, like in Genesis 17:18. Ishmael could be the solution and all this waiting could come to an end. Of course he doubts. He is human. We all have moments of doubt. It’s what we do with them that counts.
- Genesis 18:12 – Sarah is well-known for laughing when God says it is time for her to get pregnant when both her and Abraham are past it. This is how God works – in and through the most ridiculous of people and circumstances so that it is obvious that He is at work. Cue a song – ‘He turns our weaknesses into his opportunities, so that the glory goes to him.’
- same song – ‘Where things impossible by faith shall be made possible’ – Is anything too hard for the Lord? Genesis 18:14
- In Chapter 18 ( a difficult chapter preceding the difficult chapter that Andy has promised to write on in the next few days – Good luck with that Andy!) – Abraham enters into negotiation with God about saving the city. This is never a good thing although I guess Abraham’s motivation rises out of his compassion for the innocent who will suffer…..
- Genesis 20:2 – Abraham doesn’t seem to have learnt from his mistakes and does the whole ‘pretend to be my sister’ thing again!
- In Genesis 21, we reach the part of the story that I wrote an assembly about a while back based on the ‘worthy of a soap opera’ idea. If you are still awake, see what you think!
Scene Two actors to play an older man and his wife. Any props or costumes available to make it look like a scene at the bar of the Queen Vic. Eastenders theme tune.
Just imagine the scene. In a city just like London, in a street just like Albert Square, in a pub just like the Queen Vic, a man and a woman are having a heated discussion…..
Abe: Oh come on, love, don’t be like that. You know I love Isaac. He’s our boy. We waited years and years to have him. I can still remember the day he was born. What a party we threw in here that day! He’s my pride and joy. You know that, babe.
Sarah: Do I? Do I really? Sometimes I’m not so sure. For years, I’ve put up with you and that other woman. I’ve heard all the stories. All the regulars come in here night after night and I know what they’re saying. They think I’m mad for putting up with it. They think I’m a fool for turning a blind eye.
Abe: Aw darling, what can I say? You’re the love of my life. She means nothing to me.
Sarah: Well, what about that son of hers? Does he mean nothing to you as well?
Abe: Sarah, Sarah, don’t do this. Ishmael is my son too. I’ve got to look out for him and provide for him. I’m his father.
Sarah: I know, you really don’t have to remind me. Seeing them around the Square, bumping into them at the market…it’s torture, you know. I see the way she looks at you. She would get rid of me and get herself behind this bar in a flash if she could. I don’t know why she’s stayed here. I’ve turned everyone against her. There’s nothing for her here. Apart from you, of course.
Abe: There’s no love lost between the two of you, that’s for sure. But it’s always been that way. You’ve put up with it for years and I can never thank you enough for that. But what’s changed now? Why can’t we just carry on the way things are?
Sarah: Because Isaac has started asking questions, that’s why. And I caught Ishmael talking to him the other day – laughing with him, or at him, I’m not sure which. Listen to me, Abe, he’s not your proper son. He deserves nothing. You owe him nothing. Why should he get any of our hard-earned cash?
Abe: He is my son. He’s my flesh and blood. He means no harm. Just let him be.
Sarah: No, Abe, I can’t. I love you. I love living in the Square. I love running this pub with you. But they have got to go. It’s time to choose – her or me. Isaac or Ishmael.
Abe: Sarah, don’t do this. Don’t make me choose. Anything but this. I’ll make it up to you. I’ll do better. Whatever it takes.
Sarah: This is it, Abe. Either she leaves or I do. I’ll take Isaac with me and I swear on my life, you will never set eyes on either of us again.
Abe: Don’t make me choose between my boys. I can’t, I just can’t. (head in hands)
Play Eastenders drum roll and theme tune now if available
Since the beginning of time, wherever there are people, there is jealousy…
Jealous that he has more..
Jealous that she is more popular..
Jealous that he has more talent…
Jealous that she has more friends…
Jealousy is now, has always been and always will be.
It’s how you handle it that counts.
From the Bible to the soaps, jealousy will always play a part.
It’s how you handle it that counts.
Take a moment to think about the role jealousy plays in your life….
…who are you jealous of?
…who is jealous of you?
…how do you handle it?