We are a commune of inquiring, skeptical, politically centrist, capitalist, anglophile, traditionalist New England Yankee humans, humanoids, and animals with many interests beyond and above politics. Each of us has had a high-school education (or GED), but all had ADD so didn't pay attention very well, especially the dogs. Each one of us does "try my best to be just like I am," and none of us enjoys working for others, including for Maggie, from whom we receive neither a nickel nor a dime. Freedom from nags, cranks, government, do-gooders, control-freaks and idiots is all that we ask for.
Today's sermon at church was about faith, about Abraham's faith but mostly about the times when his faith was weak or non-existant.
Pastor said "Don't focus on how small your faith is; focus on how big the God is in whom you can have faith." Actually, she said it much better than that.
And the Lord said, If ye had faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye might say unto this sycamore tree, Be thou plucked up by the root, and be thou planted in the sea; and it should obey you.
A little rhetorical hyperbole there on the Lord's part, but I get the point. However, after gardening and transplanting all afternoon, despite my level of faith, I had to do it all myself. God willing, the plants will prosper.
Maybe Bird Dog can tell you about the sermon today but one of the more memorable sermons I've heard was about Abraham and the story about God asking him to sacrifice his son. The name of our pastor's sermon was "What Kind of God Do You Think I Am?". Our pastor pointed out that there were no records of God speaking to Abraham again after he was going to kill his son. If I remember, one of his points was that this was a test that Abraham failed.
I'm really amazed at this. I'm a Jew (like Joe), and the Akeida is crucially important to us, and we study it in depth, and we see it exactly opposite to how you and your pastor do. To us it's the pinnacle of Abraham's and Isaac's careers and the major source of the merit we, their descendants, share eternally. It has a central place in the Rosh Hashana prayers, for example. If you're curious, google 'Akeidat Yitzhak'.
THe standard Christian interpretation is the same as Starlady's description of the Jewish one. I think Mudbug's pastor was trying to be provocative (and succeeding). In my opinion, Mudbug's pastor preached an excellent sermon. Has me thinking, even if I end up returning to the idea that Abraham was just being intensely faithful.
When I was a child, the story of Abrahman and Isaac was routinely taught in Sunday School, as an example of the faith we should all have. I have been teaching Sunday School for years now, and this story is never mentioned any more. I am sure that the writers of Sunday School curriculums think it is too negative for the little kiddies to handle. But it always seemed inspiring to me, as a child.
I am not a Biblical scholar and I don't necessarily agree with my pastor's interpretation. It was certainly different from what I had understood before, though I did see a certain justification for it if he was correct that God never talked with him again.
I think Park might be right that he was being provocative or he might be just wrong.
Abraham had a twenty-pound sack of mustard seeds when he honored the Lord in the binding of Isaac. It was an intense act of faith. Thinking of his fidelity in that moment, the power of his commitment, is poignant.
Later he showed some chutzpah in the desert, when he struck the rock with his staff. That was an act of faith as well, but it was his deviation from the direct command of the Lord kept him from entering the promised land.
If only I had a sliver of the faith Abraham possessed....